Ama Dablam

Home – getting back from Ama Dablam

When I made the somewhat difficult call to leave the mountain and get home, I thought I’d make a little video for Jette.

It follows my journey from Camp one on Ama Dablam and continues down through the snowline to Pangboche, Tangboche, Namche Bazaar and Lukla, then on to Kathmandu, Singapore, to Melbourne and then HOME!

At 4:40, due to a cheap upgrade, I was sitting in Business Class, stinking like hell, sipping wine and watching the entire Himalayas slide by.

Nepal slideshow – pre-trek

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Running of the Yaks

This one time, at Pangboche, Dave and I got the idea to make a running of the Bulls parody called Running of the Yaks.

This is how we spend our rest days up in the hills, immaturity abounds. Running at 3985 meters above sea level sure is a challenge though!

Yaks are really slow, dumb, and are only dangerous if you get in their way.

PS ‘Proper’ mountain videos coming soon.

 

Now to arrange a flight home.

grey Now to arrange a flight home.

Mountains up where jets cruise?!

Mal had decided to go to Pokhara for Paragliding as he had unrefundable tickets and Shaun was heading to Thailand to rock climb, but I had my heart set on getting home. My ever efficient travel consultant Mel Whtye told me that my flight was closed to changes and that I would have to go to the airport and beg – time for the puppy dog eyes and a good story. Andrew came along as well to try his luck.

Enter Binita Dahal, she must have sensed our desperation to get home as she pulled out all stops to try and help us, squinting at her screen and tapping away at the keyboard she told us, “Sorry sir we only have Business Class tickets open for the Kathmandu to Singapore leg”

“This is fine, done…oh, how much is that?”
“Ummm, $150 to upgrade sir, sorry”

“Seriously, I’ll take it…” I said quickly as Andrew stood beside me nodding and grinning.

Before making the change, Binita had to wait until the flight was closed for good, only fifteen minutes before take off. She then took our money and put it into a very non-offical looking bum-bag (Fanny-pack for American readers) and handed us our boarding passes. I paid the bag weighing man 500 rupees (about US$5) and he weighed my bag to be 10 kgs lighter than it was. This saved me a lot of overweight baggage charges, or over $160 postage if I couriered it home. Binita then efficiently whisked Andrew and myself through a very long customs line, shepherded us to a waiting, empty bus and made sure we were on the plane without issue. After finishing this post I will be writing a letter of commendation for her. Here is a video of Binita, if you get to Kathmandu Airport before I do, please give her a big hug from me:

The next thing I was sitting in a massive chair next to a lovely, chatty Singaporean Obstetrician who smelt like fresh laundry. I was drinking fine orange juice and watching the Himalayas slipping by. Landing in Singapore we were met by two lovely Singapore airlines employees who showed Andrew and I to an electric golf buggy thing and whisked us away to our next flight. I have always, always wanted a ride through an airport on one of these so I was excited, to say the least.

Like the little children we are, Andrew and I were making constant Dr Evil jokes and loving the whole experience. All the while the two Singapore Airlines Employees tried to keep a straight face, but they occasionally they laughed along with us. We decided to change flights to a later one (so we would arrive in Melbourne at the same time as our bags) so I asked the driver, “Would you mind taking us to MacDonalds drive through? Then maybe we could do a few Airport laps…”

The lady seemed keen but had other people to organise, “Sorry sir, this is as far as we can take you.” If, like me, you have always wondered what it is like to ride on one of these, here is a quick point of view video:

This left Andrew and I time to walk (sadly) to the Butterfly garden via Burger King and to have a bit of an explore around Singapore Airport, arguable the best in the world.

I had yet to tell Jette that I was on the way home but I did mention in my last email that if I went quiet, then I was likely on my way home.

Home home home!

Home is lovely, my wife is lovely, Australia is so civilised…time to wade through hours of video footage, then plan the next mountain challenge.

Oh no! I have a very exciting book launch to survive first.

Mountain porn videos coming soon, so watch this space grey Now to arrange a flight home.

Blue skies and Happy Feet

Ben

PS How did a cattle class cruising shmuck find the whole business class thing? Well, definitely the food and service was better, but after a few hours I was still squirming in my seat and wriggling like a pre-schooler needing the toilet. At the end of the day I am not much of a sitter-downer. It was a nice experience, but I would never pay what they normally charge for business class. Give me farty old economy seats and my dirty old red rucksack any day grey Now to arrange a flight home.

grey Now to arrange a flight home.

Singapore airlines Business class baby!

grey Now to arrange a flight home.
Singapore airlines Business class food

 

And here I am!

grey And here I am!

Lukla runway

Again, the twin otter pilots wait on the runway revving the engines hard before hurtling towards a sheer cliff face…for me it was a bumpy, nervous flight but Mal assured us all that he has had worse. I gave Mal my video camera so he could record the takeoff. Mal also managed to record Dave’s brilliant reaction to the short take off (and Dave’s trust in his lucky penguin)

We landed in Kathmandu soon afterwards having survived the rigours of Khumbu Valley trekking. Trekking in the Khumbu Valley is a very different experience to the type of trekking I am used to. In Tasmania (where I grew up) it is possible, and common, to go on overnight, or longer, trekking trips without seeing a single human; trail etiquitte, robbery and over crowding are hardly considered. Not so the Khumbu, as I said in a previous post this trail is teeming with every sort of person imaginable: the weary climber heading home, the excited, chatty first timer, twitchy guides trying to monitor their charges, tired porters and of course myriad people trying to get up to see Everest Base Camp.

I truly do not understand the Everest Base Camp (EBC) thing. I have it on good authority that EBC is just the world’s highest rubbish bin, getting cleaner, but still it is just some rocks, a big mountain and holes where old toilets were dug. Why not trek to a similar height along a remote trail, enjoy some differtent mountain views and be original? Says the guy heading home from trying to climb one of the most visited mountains in Nepal.

So my ranting may be backfiring here but, oh, one more thing, only wear aviators if you are a 1960’s fighter pilot.

Okay to stay somewhat on track, Everest Base camp is around 5500 meters high. A few years ago I trekked part of the Peruvian Huayhuash Circuit which is at similar altitudes as the Everest Base Camp trek (more about this in my book *hint*). I enjoyed 6 days in the stunning Cordiella Huayhuash, was the only Westerner for miles, had the track to myself and the scenery was astounding. I made friends with two local farmers who caught trout and let me stay with them for two nights. The whole experience cost me nothing but food and a bit of altitdue sickness. There are so many, much more beautiful places to visit than shit ridden Mt Everest Base Camp, just ask me if you are ever stuck for ideas. grey And here I am!

Back at our original Hotel in Thamel the guard recognised me and saluted, I saluted back, grabbed my bags and ran to the shower.

Oh dear God. How good that first proper shower was.

Six weeks without a proper shower! The amount of hair that came out of my head was concerning, but shoulder length hair probably needs proper-washing more than six weekly. I will not detail the dead skin that came off my legs (as I wear merino tights on mountains -grr right?!), nor the colour of the water going into the drain. Suffice to say when I emerged I felt like a new man.

Now all I needed now was a flight home…

grey And here I am!

Yakdonalds – Lukla

 

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This business partnership has expired.” Ben has no idea what adventures are in store when he sets out to discover what lies over that next mountain.

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