Nepal Appreciation Thread: You been there? Stories/photos!


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Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2011 - 11:01am PT
Ahhh Thamel. I still love it in all its insanity and filth and tourisimo. Here's two different shots. One on your typical day, all the husstle and busstle of a touristy day on the streets,
And a starkly different day a in 2010. Maoists had taken over the area, burning storefronts, beating people up and traveling in thug packs that would pull folks out of their vehicles and pummel them. A bigger version of the "strikes" that happen weekly. It was super spooky. A ghost town. We had to travel that day to speak in a little chuch ten miles away. We rented bikes and rode back streets, fearful of getting mobbed. My wife was a champ and rode like a madwoman while fires burned in the streets. One of the more intense days of my life.

I'd love to dig beneath some of the the tourist ideals of Nepal and hear a bit from those who have spent some real time there. Its a real mess when you peel back the wallpaper. We've done three humanitarian/churchplanting trips in the last two years. The life in the villages is not good, and the maoists are really mucking things up, not to mention the current power struggle in "parliament". In my opinion, hope lies in the young generation and in those with a vision for restoring Nepal to its roots.

Trad climber
SF Bay Area
Dec 2, 2011 - 11:10am PT
*reading this thread and enjoying the photos...especially those of mountains!*

Thanks for sharing!


Trad climber
Lander, WY
Dec 2, 2011 - 11:22am PT
I've been there a lot, starting in 1979. Took the bus from Bodnath to Kathmandu with a couple of French freaks. We rode most of the way on the roof of the bus because everyone else had eaten the slop at the Raksal border post and were lining the inside with vomit. Coming into Kathmandu in the evening with the mountains in the distance. I thought they were clouds they were so high and then I realized, those are mountains.

I trekked to Muktinath by myself in December. Thought I would go over the Thorung La but too cold and too much snow. Saw the Miracle of the Fire and the Water. Pretty cool. Cold wind from Tibet on the Kali Gandaki. Rested a bit. Living in Pig Alley two doors down from the Chi and Pie. Befriended some Nepalese freaks. One night we got stoned on their Hashish in the back of the Chi and Pie. Like the locals anywhere, they kept the good stuff for themselves. I realized I couldn't remember how to get back to my room. They had a good laugh and then took me home, put me to bed. Sweet people.

Trekked into Everest from Lamu Sangu, 40 days, by myself. First day was trudging up the hill out of Lamu Sangu, man comes up to me in the forest, asks me to come to his place and have some tea. Follow him down through the terraced fields. Feeling something strange. At his house, a woman washing dishes. Won't look at me. Another man, sharpening a kukuri. Looks at me out of the corner of his eye, sly. The man who brought me there looks off over the valley, won't speak to me. Weird vibs. Darkness. I grap my pack and start back up the hill as fast as possible. He chases after me, yelling to come back. I throw rocks at him and he leaves off. I get up to the top of the hill later to a tea stall. The owner asks me if I am alone. Asks me if I had seen anyone else. I told him my story. He tells me I was very lucky. A British couple had been robbed and the man murdered in the same place the week before. I give him a description of the people and continue on.

Two weeks later I'm at Lobuche, 14000 feet last stop to Base Camp. Stay with an old Tibetan woman in what turns out is a hut for porters going back and forth the Everest. I'm the only one there. The first night we're sitting across the fire from each other. She hands me a big bowl of rice and greens. As I'm chowing down I look over the rim of my bowl. She's staring at me like Yamantaka, wrathful deity. Who the f*#k are you and what the f*#k are you doing here, boy? You should be over in the other huts with the trekkers. I give her a huge Tibetan tongue out of mouth greeting full of rice. She nearly falls in the fire laughing. She tells every porter in the days after about me. We get along wonderfully.

Luck out and see Everest without cloud from Kala Pattar. Get to Base Camp. Huge scenery. Obviously massive avalanches roaring up there, so lost in the landscape not even ice dust is visible.

Go back to Tengboche. Meet a couple of Swiss freaks who tell me to go up to Gorkyo. A sherpani and her child up there herding yaks. Place to stay. No other westerners. Cross to Phorche and go all day alone to Machaarma. Stay with the middle sister that night. She sings as the star light and night wind seep through the unchinked stone wall. Next day I get to Gorkyo. Pema Sherpani and Zangmu, her daughter and 6 yaks. The eldest sister gets the highest job. Next day with the sky tin pan and the wind building, I go to a dark rock across the glacier from Cho Oyu. Fall asleep and dream, so tired. Crawl acros the snow in the building storm in places, make it back for a two day full tilt snow storm in the hut. When it's over, it's clear, but chest deep snow. No worries, someone will break the trail in in a day or two. Climb the Kala Pattar there. Better view, can see the North Face of Everest from there. Next day, Pema's husband breaks trail in with two yaks. He's been on Everest with the Japanese at 24,000ft. Heard through the Sherpa grapevine there was some Westerner with his wife in Gorkyo. He had descended from 24,000ft after the storm, walked in one day what had taken me 4 days to hike, picked up the yaks in Machaarma, and came up. Everything cool. Nothing going on. I retire to the moraine on the Ngozumpa for the afternoon with Zangmu while they get reacquainted. Leave the next day.

Hook up with the Swiss for the trek out to Lamu Sangu. Trek of the poor. None of us, the two Swiss, me, a Dutch freak and an German, can afford the Lukla cop-out. Catch Hepatitis A on the way out. Hot season coming on. So sick I wake up one morning and think if I don't get out, I'll go home in a box. Get a flight to Dehli and then London and finally LA. Had lost 40 pounds and a bit yellow. Got to visit Room 13 in LAX while they tore everything apart. Thought they had a hot one. I've given everything away before I'd left. My parents thought I was still in Asia. When I walked up the driveway to their house in Placerville, my father didn't recognize me. Took me a few months to get well.

Went back several years later, 1985 I think, with Kristi. We spent four months travelling through China and Tibet. Had to walk into Nepal in monsoon. Roads washed out. Walking across the border into Nepal, children laughing. We remarked to each other that it was the first time we'd heard laughter in 4 months of China. So much for the People's Revolution. Got to Kathmandu and ate for a week, four meals a day. And Nescafe: yea! Trekked into Langtang at the end of monsoon. Have a wonderful picture of Kristi taken from the window of our hotel room in Trisuli Bazaar before starting the trek. She's washing her face in the water pump by the road. She had her trekking dress on and there are a dozen ragged little kids standing in front of her staring at her intently while she washes her face. Warmup hike, lots of leeches. At the end of the valley, we both felt very weird vibs, like there was something there that didn't want us there. We felt it at the same time. Best to not ignore such things, especially when in parallel. Jumped up and headed back to the cheese factory hastily.

Went back to the big city, regroup. Fly into the Arun River to avoid the Falcipuram malaria down lower. STOL flight into a dirt field. Cross the Arun on a huge steel suspension bridge. Sleep that night on the porch of a Rai village as it pours rain. BonPo shaman in the middle of the night passes through, blowing his counch and blessing the Hindus. All the books say we can't do this without porters, guides. We'll get lost. We take a tent, a few days emergency food and a kerosene stove. Go for it. Fantastic trek over to the Everest region, over three passes over 11,000 feet in rhododendron cloud forest in bloom in the fog. See two other Westerners in those 10 days. Full days of hiking between villages. Lost a couple of times, but figure it out. The last day, trail fades to a steep slab falling into a raging post monsoon torrent, no holds. We friction across with our packs. No mistakes or die. 10 days back to the Arun. We make it. Go to Base Camp, Gorkyo, the Kala Pattars. Pema Sherpani still herding yaks at Gorkyo. She recognizes me when we walk in the door. Mr. Bob. Zangmu is in Kathmandu in school. Doing well. Not so nice now, many of these westerners. Some leave without paying. So little money to them, but to us, it's a lot. Why do they do that? And they demand things, more food like in Namche, pancakes and omelettes. They get angry if she runs out. Not very nice. Trek out to Jiri and the new roadhead by ourselves. Everyone has money now. They can fly from Lukla. We just want to make it last a little longer.

Haven't been back since. Sounds like so many people now. Maybe Kathmandu would like to visit, but the trekking, prefer to remember it like then.

John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Dec 2, 2011 - 11:25am PT

The Mountains.

Nepal is all about the Mountains.


Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2011 - 11:47am PT
AMAZING stories....a real Friday morning treat here at work. The one about the murderers gave me chills. What a formative time in your life. Nobody can ever steal those moments. How cool. Thank you for sharing.

Its amazing how this place can form a youthful mind body and soul.

Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 2, 2011 - 11:48am PT
Mattq331. Wonderful artwork bro.

Fritz, Thanks for sharing.
Jim Leininger

Trad climber
tucson, az
Dec 2, 2011 - 04:19pm PT
Been there 2X, in 2000 and in 2008... It is a magical place once you get up into the Khumbu region... The people, places and sights are all amazing... Hope to go back, possibly in 2013 to take my oldest granddaughter, or maybe even both of them...

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 2, 2011 - 04:50pm PT
WOW! Thanks everyone, for more great photos, and Branscomb-----glad you survived your memorable journeys in Nepal.

Here's some more favorites from my 2005 trip with friends up towards Everest.


Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 3, 2011 - 12:04am PT
Mustang Nepal 2008


Mountain climber
Dec 3, 2011 - 12:54am PT

Dec 3, 2011 - 04:09pm PT
In '85 I crossed the border into Nepal from India. I was on an all day bus ride from Varanassi. The bus stopped many times for chai, probably at the tea stands that give a kick back to the bus driver. But you might as well drink a sweet chai and smoke out with the Euro freaks. By the time we arrived at the border, late in the evening, I was more than sufficiently stoned.

The Nepali customs agent asked me a few polite questions, I mumbled some answers. Then with a smile he asked, "Are you carrying anything illegal?, Do you have any hashish?". At that moment I remembered the 10-gram finger of hash in my front pants pocket. My face must've gone white; I was still new to Asia; my mouth dropped open. He laughed heartily, stamped my passport and sent me on.

I walked to Everest Base Camp from Jiri and back. There were much less trekkers below Namche Bazaar. I recommend the walk rather than a flight to or from Lukla.

The grandeur of the Himalaya is exceeded only by that of the Himalayan people.

See the link below about an American guy who started an orphanage and rescued trafficked children in Khatmandu. Yes he has a book. Even after following the Greg Mortensen affair I choose to believe this guy.
sandstone conglomerate

sharon conglomerate central
Dec 3, 2011 - 04:14pm PT
Great thread, keep the pics coming. Vicarious living through excellent photography.

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 4, 2011 - 12:09am PT
Mustang is close to still being a 16th century Tibetan Kingdom.

Ain't enough tourists to change it----yet.


Trad climber
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 5, 2011 - 07:56pm PT
Photo bump.

Fat Dad

Trad climber
Los Angeles, CA
Dec 5, 2011 - 08:21pm PT
Wonderful photos everyone. It looks like you were all there in the fall. Either that or you had much better weather than I did.

I was there in the Spring of '92. I remember being all excited the night before we flew out of Bangkok, thinking I would get these outrageous views of the peaks. Visibility was so poor because of the haze you could only see a few miles.

Spent a few days in Kathmandu and then did the Annapurna Circuit over the following three weeks. The Thorang La (17,700') is still my altitude record. Took massive amounts of slides, none of which I've digitized, so I've got nothing to share (yet). I'm from LA and did the hike while the entire Rodney King/LA riot thing took place and was blithely unaware of it until we hiked out to Pohkara. I no longer knew the day of the week, etc. When we found a guest house in Pohkara, right on the lake, I remember asking the guy working there what day of the week it was. He shrugged. He didn't know but could find out if I wanted.

I still regret not going to Mustang while I had the chance. I'm really tempted to go back when my kids get older but afraid that I'll be disappointed by some of the changes. I hear you can now drive all the way to either Jomson or Manang now.

Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 5, 2011 - 08:45pm PT
Jan '89...


Trad climber
San Diego, CA
Dec 5, 2011 - 08:51pm PT


Trad climber
San Diego
Dec 5, 2011 - 08:57pm PT
Here are a few shots from two different trips

Trad climber
Choss Creek, ID
Dec 5, 2011 - 10:43pm PT
More great photos & stories from everyone. Thank you for taking the time to post those photos.

Access into Mustang is limited, and trekking companies have to pay higher fees.

1. In 1968 I read a great adventure book by one of the first westerners to visit Mustang (in the U of Idaho library). I thought Mustang seemed "too cool" and I mentally vowed to visit there someday. (Mustang the Forbidden Kingdom, Michel Peissel 1967).

2. In Jan. 2008, I was invited to go on a 16 day Mustang trek by a high school friend that I had done my 2005 Nepal trek with.

Eight of the eleven trekkers on the trip would be friends. The trekking company owners were Idaho friends, and have a awesome Nepali trekking organization. How could I refuse?

After a few days in urban Nepal: day one of the trekking trip we flew a twin-prop plane into the small town of Jomoson at 8,900 ft.

From there we did horse-supported hiking for the next 16 days. Each day we tent camped, rose at 6:30 AM, packed all, but what we might need for the next 12 hours, of gear into individual dry or duffle bags for horses to carry, had breakfast, and hit the trail by 8:00 AM.


Morgan Hill, CA (Mo' Hill)
Dec 6, 2011 - 10:51am PT
Messages 21 - 40 of total 69 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
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