Saturday, August 29, 2015

August 30, 2015
Kathmandu, Nepal

It's 4am on Sunday and I'm still, unfortunately, at the Hyatt in Kathmandu.  Yesterday we  successfully completed a dress rehearsal of our heli flight to Samagaon.

We left the hotel promptly at 6, loaded with bags of gear and food, made our way through the dusty streets of Kathmandu, our driver skillfully avoiding a large brown cow running towards us, being chased by a pack of mangy dogs.

At the domestic terminal of the Tribhuvan airport, I walked through security side-by-side with locals, listening to the metal detector beep as I passed.  A stray dog followed me all the way through the airport to security, hoping for a bite of my muffin.

I was handed a boarding pass and said goodbye to the half of my team that would depart on the first flight.  An hour later, they phoned from the tarmac; they were still waiting in the rain to take off.  Another hour passed before we were escorted to the tarmac.  I started to get excited about flying and watched our heli gracefully land.  Then the first half of my team walked off of it.  They were unable to fly higher than 3,000 feet due to low clouds, making it unsafe to fly through the narrow valley connecting Kathmandu to Samagaon.  

We all went back to the hotel and relaxed by the pool, disappointed at 12:30 when three helicopters flew by, headed in the direction of Samagaon.

My escort through security
Photo:  Lisa White

Hopefully today will be a better weather day! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

August 28, 2015
Kathmandu, Nepal

I'm sitting at the pool at the Hyatt Regency.  The air to me smells like brown sugar and flowers, and all around me are lush green manicured shrubs.  It's still technically the monsoon season so the sun is fighting to break through the clouds and everything is sticky and damp.

Outside the ornate gates of the Hyatt Regency is a completely different world, full of honking cars spewing black exhaust fumes and motorbikes stacked with people.  A few steps fron the Hyatt remains a refugee camp filled with tidy rows of tents and tarps, home to families who lost their homes in May's earthquake.  Some locals say that 75% of the inhabitants don't need to be in the camp, but have gotten greedy from the regular meals that are provided.  The only similarity between this world and the one inside the Hyatt's walls is the thick, damp smog.

Earlied today I traveled by taxi to the neigborhood of Thamel.  Because so many climbers and hikers travel through Kathmandu on their journeys, the narrow streets of Thamel are home to more gear shops than Seattle.  Most of the dark, dusty shops sell knock-off equipment, which shop owners are completely transparent about.  But, there are also bright, shiny Mountain Hardwear and North Face stores.  Some climbers have difficulty buying quality gear in their home countries due to local regulations, and purchase everything when they get to Kathmandu.  The thought of climbing a Himalayan peak with entirely new, untested gear stresses me out.  I'm happy that I have easy access to quality gear and that I've had the opportunity to earn the scratches and dings on my equipment.

August 29, 2015 
Kathmandu, Nepal

It's 4:30 in the morning, and I'm still suffering from jet lag, I'm happy to have slept for 5 hours, but the pigeons cooing and flapping their wings outside of my open window distracted me from sleeping longer.  I'm also anxious to leave Kathmandu and travel to the mountains.  The helicopter leaves at 6am!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 9, 2015
Training was a little light this week, thanks to travel and meetings in Philadelphia.  I endured several treadmill runs plus one muscular endurance workout and one high intensity AeT run.  

I rounded out the week with back-to-back double hikes up the cable line trail on Tiger mountain with a 33 pound pack.   The cable line trail is steep, rocky, but thankfully short, gaining 2,022 feet in 1.5 miles.  It's one of those trails visited mostly by people training for something.  We're all heaving and sweating under heavy packs, carefully manuvering in heavy montaineering boots on loose rock.  Those of us completing the hike multiple times just nod and grunt at one another with as our ear buds blast motivational tunes. 

Tiger mountain cable line trail
Photo:  Lisa White

In May - actually five months ago to the day - I hiked up the cable line trail without any weight in 53 minutes, this weekend my fastest time was 1:06.  Even though it was tough, I feel like my aerobic fitness has definitely improved!

I've also spent some quality time this weekend with the Hypoxico tent.  I feel like I haven't spent as much time sleeping in the hypocic tent or doing hypoxic training.  So, twice this weekend, I turned the tent into my office.  Murray, of course joined me.  He just can't stay out of that thing!

Murray and me getting some work done in the tent
Photo:  Darrin White

Sunday, August 2, 2015

August 2, 2015
It's hard to believe that I'll be leaving for Nepal in just 24 days!  I feel like it's crunch time  ... for the past two weeks I've planned my schedule  in order to maximize my time to train while not compromising recovery or - my favorite - sleep!  Although, sleep isn't quite as enjoyable in the hypoxic tent.

My training for the past two weeks has consisted of one hard run for an hour, two recovery runs, one muscular endurance session, two or three hypoxic training sessions, and climbing or hiking on the weekend.  Whew!

Yesterday I headed south to Mt. Rainier and hiked to camp Muir with a 25 pound pack ... twice.  In order to finish my double header before the heat of the day, I started in the early morning.  There was still a warm breeze blowing as I started out on the familiar asphalt path and made my way up the rocks to Pebble Creek.  Under the full moon, I didn't even need a headlamp.  I hadn't been on Rainier in a few weeks, and I was surprised that there was exposed rock almost up to 8,500 feet.  As I was trudging along in the moonlight, I heard running water on the Muir snowfield and looked up to see a waterfall exposed in the snow, something I've never seen before at that location.  It's hard to believe how much snow and ice has melted on Rainier this summer, it feels like a completely different place.  Things were quiet at camp Muir during my first visit since all of the climbers were on their way to the summit, I watched the horizon start to lighten for a few minutes, then started down.

Sunrise on Mt. Rainier
I began my second trip to camp Muir at 6:30 am, there were just a few other hearty people on the trail, and I was so thankful to be able to witness the mountain waking up.  The moths that had fluttered by me during the night were gone, replaced by grasshoppers and birds.  I watched a bear rambling through blueberry bushes on a slope below me, looking for breakfast, and saw a spotted fawn test her courage by jumping after its mother across a gurgling creek.  I felt more connected with the mountain because I had experienced this transition from night to day.  

I made it to camp Muir in 3:03, took a break to rest, eat and drink, and then headed back down and enjoyed perfect snow for book skiing.  I was back at Pebble Creek in 1:10.  Along the way I noticed delicate moth wings in the snow.  I thought about the moths that had escorted me last night and wondered why the had lost their wings.

Waterfall on the Muir snowfield
Photo:  Lisa White
 I also thought about the snow below my boots, how long ago had it fallen, 5 years, 50 years?  How much of it would be left when fresh snow fell this winter?  Mt. Rainier is a wondrous place!