Nepal - Saribung - HT Wandelreizen - September/October 2012

Below you will find a list of pictures, taken on our Saribung trip in Nepal from September 17 2012 to October 9 2012.
The most interesting images will have a red bullet in front of them. In a hurry? Just want to see the pictures? Check out the slide show.
The days we were walking we kept track of how much time we spent walking. This is excluding the time for breaks.

September 15 & 16: Amsterdam - Delhi - Kathmandu

We had a good flight from Amsterdam to Delhi. Checks in India lasted a little longer than usual, but once we were in we had luck: we were upgraded to business class on the flight to Kathmandu. It was very busy at the airport as 3 planes arrived within a couple of minutes. That meant long lines at the immigration desks. Around 12.30p.m. we got the keys of our room at Hotel Amar, the usual hotel for HT. After resting/reading for a while, we had dinner at the hotel.

September 17: Kathmandu

We did some shopping: we rented plastic shoes for the summit and bought down jackets. After dropping this off at the hotel, we went for snacks at Weizen: chocolate pie and apple muffins. Because of the rain (it had been pooring all day) we stayed in and had dinner at the hotel.

September 18: Kathmandu - Pokhara

Around 8.25a.m. we left the hotel with our mini-bus for the 225km / 140mi trip to Pokhara. After a while we got in a traffic jam. We could see a landslide in the distance. When we got close we could see what had become a torrent streaming down the hills, across the road. The water had swept away part of the road, which meant it had become a crossing point for a river about two feet deep. The water was going very fast. If it would sweep away the bus, it would lift it over the edge of a cliff on our right side... The driver was obviously insecure whether he would make it, which made us worry a bit too. Eventually he went for it and we got across safely.
We arrived in Pokhara, took a shower and went for dinner at "Once upon a time", but not before buying some sets of prayer flags we planned to put up at the summit and passes along the way.

September 19: Pokhara - Jomsom (2.740m / 9,133ft.) - Kagbeni (2.850m / 9,500ft.)

We learned that the last couple of days, no planes had been able to fly. But we were lucky, at 7.55a.m. we went up for the 20 minutes it takes the plane to fly to Jomsom. We had wonderful views along the way. Once we arrived, we discovered our luggage wasn't there. We soon learned it had been on the plane, but they'd forgotton to unload it. The plane would be back in a while anyway, so we could go to the lunch spot and wait for the crew (which wasn't there yet anyway - the bad weather had caused delays for them too) and our luggage to arrive.
We went for a walk around Jomsom - apart from the remains of a plane that had crashed into the surrounding hills earlier that year, there's not much to see. The weather had been bad before, but today it was great: clear blue skies. Then our crew and luggage arrived. The luggage was lifted unto the mules and we started walking around 2.45p.m.. We walked along the Kali Ghandaki river to Kagbeni (we walked this trail in the opposite direction in 1998). We arrived around 5.45p.m. at the Paradise Lodge where we put up our tents in the garden.
This day we walked approximately 2h35m.

September 20: Kagbeni (2.850m / 9,500ft.) - Chele (3.065m / 10,217ft.)

Around 7a.m. we had bed tea and around 9 we started walking. The first hour we went sightseeing in Kagbeni: small alleys, monasteries, mani walls and such. Around 10a.m. we left Kagbeni and headed for our lunch spot in Tangbe where we arrived around 12.30. We left around 2. The landscape was beautiful: rocks in all kinds of colours, rocks shaped like pillars, etc. At Chhusang we left the trail to visit Tetang where we visited one of the oldest monasteries in Nepal. We then headed back to the trail and the last bit of the day was a steep climb to Chele.
This day we walked approximately 5h30m.

September 21: Chele (3.065m / 10,217ft.) - Shyammochen (3.778m / 12,593ft.)

We both didn't sleep well. Patricia had intestinal problems to add to that. After breakfast (pancakes and boiled egg; we skipped the porridge) we started walking around 8am with nice views of Nilgiri and a bit later Annapurna I and Tilicho Peak as well. We went up to the first pass (3.607m / 12,023ft.) and then slightly down to Samar, where we had lunch. From Samar we went down to the river and then up to a pass (3.834m / 12,780ft.). Shortly after there was a lower pass and then we had to go down again to 3.400m / 11,333ft. We saw some vultures on the way up to the plateau and Shyammochen (3.778m / 12,593ft.). We were quite tired when we arrive around 4.45p.m. We took the first Diamox to help in the acclimatisation process before going to sleep.
This day we walked approximately 5h45m.

September 22: Shyammochen (3.778m / 12,593ft.) - Ghemi

Another bad night, especially for Patricia. More intestinal problems. We started walking again around 8am, again with nice views of the Nilgiri. After an hour of Nepali flat we reached Geling. The first part of its monastery is open to all, the second part only to men. After Geling we reached the first pass of the day: Nyi La (4.000m / 13,333ft.). The road then went slowly down through a wonderful landscape of red and grey colours. From the second pass, Ghemi La (3.784m / 12,613ft.) we could see Ghemi slightly lower in the distance. After dinner, both of us had diarrhea so we started taking ciproxin.
This day we walked approximately 3h45m.

September 23: Ghemi - Near Ghar Gumba (3.974m / 13,247ft.)

We had an early start as some planned to do the afternoon walk from the campsite near Ghar Gumba. Patricia was doing well after the ciproxin, Arjen was still having some problems. We started towards a pass (3.725m / 12,417ft.), from there to Dhakmar and then to the second pass (4.035m / 13,450ft.). A bit further we crossed the third pass (4.135m / 13,783ft.). Once again we walked through a beautiful landscape with Annapurna and Nilgiri behind us and Bryce canyon-like rocks in front of us.
Around 11.30 we arrived at the Ghar Gumpa monastery. Lots of Chorten and prayer flaggs near this 8th century monastery. Slightly higher we reached the campsite at (3.974m / 13,247ft.). We spent the afternoon reading in the sunshine. After dinner, only Arjen took a ciproxin; Patricia was feeling well again.
This day we walked approximately 3h30m.

September 24: Near Ghar Gumba (3.974m / 13,247ft.) - Lho Mantang (3.694m / 12,312ft.)

We had breakfast outside in the sun. Before 8a.m. we were already on our way. Around 9.45 we reached the Marang La pass (4.300m / 14,333ft.). We could already see Lho Mantang in the distance. The city (population approximately 1,000) is the largest in the region and capital of the kingdom of Mustang. We arrived at our campsite (next to a lodge) just before lunchtime. We spent the afternoon reading in the tent - too much dust and wind outside. We went to bed quite late around 9.20p.m.
This day we walked approximately 3h10m.

September 25: Lho Mantang (3.694m / 12,312ft.)

On a good day the king accepts visitors into his palace. Unfortunately he had a sore knee and was not able to see us. We did visit 2 monasteries: Dragkar-Thegchen Ling Ghompa and Jampa Gompa, a museum and a school for monks. We then went to Hotel Kagbeni where they have an actual Illy Espresso machine. Wonderful to have coffee again! Back at our lodge we picked up shampoo to wash our hair at a local water point. The afternoon was spent reading and charging our gadgets as this was likely to be the last place that had electricity.

September 26: Lho Mantang (3.694m / 12,312ft.) - Yara (3,670m / 12,233ft.)

An early start as we would visit the Thupchen Gompa for the Puja. We brought our prayer flags so they could be blessed. Around 6a.m. we arrived at the Gompa, but it took a while before the monks arrived. Eventually they arrived and performed a ceremony. At some point our guide managed to bring our flags to the attention of one of the monks who brought them to the leader who then blessed them. Around 7a.m. we left for breakfast and by 8.30a.m. we started walking. First slightly down and then up to the Lo La pass (3.962m / 13,207ft.). After that it was Nepali flat until we reached the highest point of the day (4,097m / 13,657ft.). The views were wonderful again. Mustang really is one of the most beautiful places on earth. We then went down to Dhi (3,448m / 11,493ft.) where we had lunch. After crossing the Kali Ghandaki river at Dhi it was slowly up, with a steep climb at the end to Yara (3,670m / 12,233ft.).
This day we walked approximately 4h35m.

September 27: Yara (3,670m / 12,233ft.) - Near Luri Gompa (3,865m / 12,883ft.)

We walked in the river bed upwards to the Luri Gompa. There were quite some fossils and crystals to be found. We did not put up our camp next to the gompa, but a bit closer to the river to make life a bit easier for the cooking staff. As the luggage had not arrived when we arrived at the camp site, we continued to the gompa (3,980m / 13,267ft.), a tiny gompa built in a cave. We then visited a slighly larger gompa futher down, before heading back to our campsite where we had lunch. After lunch we re-packed our luggage for easy access to the warmer clothes as we would be much higher the next day. The porters were supposed to join us this day, but they only arrived after 6p.m., much later than anticipated. They had to walk from Jomsom. Our mule-man would be heading back 2-3 days later and then they should take over. We were glad all were ok when they arrived. They have brought al our climbing gear and food supply as would not be able to buy food for a week. This meant for example 300kg rice...
This day we walked approximately 2h10m.

September 28: Near Luri Gompa (3,865m / 12,883ft.) - Ghuma Tanti (4.766m / 15,887ft.)

As it was almost full moon we didn't need our headlights when we had to go out at night. After the start around 7.45a.m., the path immediately lead up. Up was about all we would go that day, ascending about 1.000m / 3,300ft. The steepest bit was early in the day. After 3 hours we had already reached 4.600m / 15,333ft. from where the ascend was less steep. We had lunch in a spot that allowed us to send a text message home to let them know we were fine. We went up slightly more and then down and a bit up again to reach our campsite at 4.766m / 15,887ft. A very strenuous day. When we went to bed just after 8p.m., ice had already formed on the outside of the tent.
This day we walked approximately 4h25m.

September 29: Ghuma Tanti (4.766m / 15,887ft.)

We could get up late as this was a resting day. We had breakfast outside in the sun. Together with one from the group and the second guide we went for a short walk. We took part of the path we would also follow the next day and then deviated up a steep trail (if it was a trail) to reach 5.011m / 16,703ft. before heading down again to the campsite. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and reading as the next day would be very strenuous again. Afer dinner, like the day before, there was already ice on the outside of the tent.
This day we walked approximately 1h25m.

September 30: Ghuma Tanti (4.766m / 15,887ft.) - French Camp (4.998m / 16,660ft.)

From the early start (7.30a.m.) we went up to the first pass at 5.307m / 17,690ft. where we arrived around 9.45a.m.. From there we had to go down to a small river. On the way down we said goodbye to our mule-man and give him his tip. Just after 11a.m. we reached the river annex lunch spot at 4.916m / 16,387ft. After lunch the path went up steeply to the second pass at 5.495m / 18,317ft. which we reached at 2.30p.m.. Arjen was quite tired and lay down for a while. Then it was down again until we were almost at French Camp when we had to do the final bit of climbing. Arjen had difficulty doing that last bit, but eventually we reached French Camp (4.998m / 16,660ft.) around 4.35. The guide decided we would not go for Damodar Kund as planned which would be an extra 3km / 2mi... Total distance ascended as well as decended was over 1km / 0.6mi.
This day we walked approximately 6h35m.

October 1: French Camp (4.998m / 16,660ft.) - Japanese Basecamp (5.254m / 17,513ft.)

It had been a cold night; the first night we had used our fleece bags inside our sleeping bags. Arjen woke up with a bad case of Diarrhea again. Before having finished the pancake, he vomited that out again too... About half an hour after we started walking we reached Damodar Kund, a place where a lot of Indian Pilgrims go. It is a place of holy lakes that if you swim in them, you'll be safe from demons. Arjen was having a very tough day as he was troubled with diarrhea. Around 1p.m. we reached the campsite, Japanese Basecamp at 5.254m / 17,513ft. This was a very rocky place, so we had trouble finding a good spot. Fortunately the porters were able to help out. Patricia went for dinner, but Arjen had to stick to tea as even thinking of food caused problems. With the next three days climbing about 300m / 1,000ft each, we were wondering how that would go.
This day we walked approximately 2h55m.

October 2: Japanese Basecamp - Camp at 5.600m / 18,667ft.

As Arjen still had diarrhea he started with ciproxin again. One of the porters helped by carrying his daypack. The way up was very beautiful: wonderful views of the glacier and white peaks behind it. Around 12.25 we reached the new campsite. The porters had some fun climbing the seracs next to the campsite and we all practiced walking with a rope and crampons as a group. Up till tea after dinner Arjen seemd to be okay, but then he had trouble swallowing the diamox and the reflux led to the entire dinner coming out again, including the ciproxin. Because we measured the saturation and heart rate every day, it was obvious Arjen wasn't doing well. Each time we measured, saturation went down and the heart rate up.
This day we walked approximately 1h50m.

October 3: Camp at 5.600m / 18,667ft. - Flat spot at 5.300m / 17,667 ft

Overnight Arjen was feeling even worse, with a headache to add to the problems. Saturation was down to 63% and his heart rate was above 110, just laying down. He also was not able to walk in a straight line and had slight problems with his speach. The decision was easy: Arjen had to go down as this was clearly becoming a case of HACE. As Arjen did not want to go back alone and spend two weeks without Patricia, she decided to go back as well. As a helicopter evac was the only solution (as it was unwise to go back over both passes we crossed two days earlier), we were glad the insurrance company that our guide contacted via satellite phone, immediately agreed this had to be arranged. Together with our tourguide, climbing guide and some porters we would go back to a flat spot around 5.300m / 17,667ft. where a helicopter would arrive later that day to pick us up. As time went by it became clear the helicopter would not arrive that day as there were many tourists that wanted to fly out of Lukla (Everest region) by helicopter as the planes could not fly due to bad weather. These flights earn the helicopter companies more, so they do not care so much for ill people (to be honest, I don't blame them for that anymore, but at that time I certainly felt different). The alternative, an army helicopter could not be arranged anymore as it was too late in the day (it was impossible to fly because of clouds and winds after 2p.m.). The insurrance company promised the helicopter would arrive the next day. We put up the tent as it had started to hail. The schedule of the rest of the group was altered so our tourguide, the climbing guide and 2 porters could stay with us. Cosy with six people in two tents.

October 4: Flat spot at 5.300m / 17,667 ft - Damodar Kund

Arjen was feeling slightly better (less headache), but Patricia was getting a cold and had a sore throat. After breakfast, a long period of waiting and phone calls back and forth started. Eventually it became clear: there wouldn't be a helicopter that day either. Kaji, our climbing guide tried to move heaven and earth, but they again stuck to flying out tourists out of Lukla. The rescue agency told us we would have to go down to Damodar Kund as more types of helicopters could get to that altitude and then they could guarantee a flight out the next morning.
So, we started walking again, together with 2 porters and Kaji. Our tourguide had to go back to the group as they would have to go up the next day. Kaji and the porters would have to do 3 days of climbing in 1... Around 3.45p.m. we arrived at Damodar Kund. Once we arrived there Arjen confirmed this to the rescue agency who then confirmed a helicopter would arrive by 8a.m. the next morning to pick us up. We joined a group of Swiss and Germans for dinner - should you guys ever read this: thanks again for letting us join your table! - and went to bed before 8p.m.

October 5: Damodar Kund - Kathmandu

We got up early and had breakfast with the other group again at 6.30. There was a text message on the satellite phone that the chopper had left Kathmandu. Almost immediately we heard it. We gave the 3 guys that had joined us back to Damodar Kund a tip (I hope we didn't overdo it, but then again, this help can't be rewarded by money anyway). at 7.30 the helicopter touched down and within 2 minutes we were on our way to Kathmandu. We stopped in the middle of nowhere to refuel (I still wonder who put those jerrycans of fuel on that empty plateau). We then went to Jomsom where we refueled again and picked up some goods to go back with us to Kathmandu. The views during the flight were wonderful, although we could hardly enjoy them because of the reason we where on this flight.
Around 9.30 we arrived in Kathmandu. An ambulance was already waiting for us. It drove us straight to a private clinic in the city (even turning on the sirene, much to Arjens' shame). After an intake with a doctor (a lady from South Africa), the diagnosis turned out to be HACE caused by dehydration due to the diarrhea. Strange that part of your body can be dehydrated while the other part has too much fluid... After having about 1200cc of fluids through an IV, and because of the extra oxygen at this much lower altitude (Kathmandu is at about 1.700m / 5,667ft.) Arjen was starting to feel better again. By 3p.m. he was allowed to leave the clinic. Patricia had had contact with them, the insurrance company and HT in the meantime. Everyone had been very helpful. Someone from Amar's hotel came to pick us up. Back at the hotel, one of the HT people stopped by to see how we were doing. Okay, considering... Amar was celebrating his birthday and he insisted we joined for the buffet. Very nice of him. The insurrance company called. They needed a "ready2fly" statement issued by a doctor before they would rebook our flight. That meant we would have to get that the next day.

October 6: Kathmandu

We picked up the statement at the clinic and went to an internet cafe to scan and email that to the insurrance company. After that we returned the plastic shoes andd went for lunch at the Pumpernickel. After that we returned to the hotel where Arjen laid down to rest and Patricia cleaned our tent. The insurrance company called. First to say we would probably be able to fly home the next day, but then that the flight was full and it would be the day after. We kept track of the twitter feed of the rest of the group as they were supposed to summit this day. By 8.15p.m. news finally came that they'd all reach the top. We were glad for them, but felt sad as we had hoped to be there too. We heard that Arjens' mother and stepfather would come to pick us up at Schiphol. Glad to know we would not have to use public transportation during rush hour...

October 7: Kathmandu

We decided to do a short city walk between Thamel and Durbar Square. It led us through the less touristy alleys. Quite nice, but tiring too. The afternoon we spent resting in the hotel.

October 8 & 9: Kathmandu - Delhi - Amsterdam - Home

After several (four!) security checks and long lines, we eventually reached the gate. Around 4p.m. the plane left for Delhi. The entrance this time took much less time, which meant extra time in the main hall. By 1a.m. the plane for Amsterdam finally left. The flight was quiet and we landed early around 5.40a.m.. The parents were already there and by 7.30a.m. we arrived back home. A different end to this trip than we had anticipated...

October 2013

While on holiday in the USA, we learned that an avalanche had hit a group of people climbing the Himlung, killing 3, including Kaji Sherpa - the climbing guide that helped us so well. Very sad news...