The last three days in Kathmandu have been dedicated to pulling together a rag-bag of gear before leaving tomorrow morning for Everest Base Camp. (Exploring the city properly will have to wait – all being well, I will have 5 days in Kathmandu before leaving for Tibet).
My flat cap, as always, travels with me in a nod to climbers from a not-so-distant age. For other kit, a friend tipped me the wink that “Shona’s Alpine Rental” was the sensible choice. Run by a Brummie called Andy and his (Nepalese) wife Shona, these two have built a reputation for honesty and straightforwardness, in a town of sharpsters selling amazingly accurate copies of North Face and other branded gear.
While Andy gave typically Brummie advice (“Oh yeah, yew’ll be foyne with those”), Shona took a quick look at my North Face jacket (bought in Darjeeling for 25 quid) before announcing “Ahhh…. Is very interesting… Bangladeshi fabric, Chinese zips… thank you! I do not get chance to see Darjeeling work often!”
My flight to Lukla (the staging post for the trek to Everest Base Camp) leaves early in the morning to avoid the winds that gather later in the day. With ample time for acclimatisation, I should reach the base camp in 8 or 9 days time. It will be a fascinating time of the year to be there, with all the climbing parties getting close to the summit. The exact timing of summit attempts will be dependent on the increasingly mercurial gulf stream.
I may even meet these enterprising cricketers on the way down, who just completed a cricket game at 5164m, close to Base Camp, yesterday.
You can track the progress of all the climbing parties attempting Everest this year at this remarkable website, which keeps a live check on where they all are.
I will return to Kathmandu on or around 15 May.