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SummitTrek News, Everest, Basecamp Trek, Peaks in Nepal climbing trekking news 2010

(Photos in slideshow: Valerie Hovland, Tunc Findik, Elselien te Hennepe, Bruce Manning, & Preston Stroud)
SummitTrek News: Recent walks in the Everest region of Nepal 2010

Dispatches: Please click one of the links below to go directly to that dispatch or just scroll down. Please click here to view news and photos from our recent Everest View Glacier School and Basecamp Trek.

Service Walk to Rural Nepal November 2010:

Autumn 2010 - news from walks in the Everest regions:

4 December, 2010

today the primary school text books ordered by Peter, Inge, and Mitch arrived and Deha and Jangbu checked them. The 500 books weigh a total of 120 kilos.

Peter, Inge, and Mitch decided to buy 500 primary level school books to send with Jangbu up to Patale. Each book cost less than 200 rupees, $3, 2.3 euro, 2 pounds. We applaud them for their determination in taking a stand against ignorance. It is people like these upon whom we rely for their generosity and kindness and desire to get involved in changing the world.

As a side note, we note that the textbooks we bought are referred to as "nursery" books in Kathmandu. This is pre-class-1 level. However, out in the village, children up to the fourth and fifth class seem to be reading at this level. It's a strong call to action which cries out for the urgency of educating the next generation of children. How could a child in class 4 or 5 still be at the "nursery" level????

Thanks for following our service trek and please be sure to join us for the 2011 service trek 15-29 june. During that trek we will walk the lush unspoiled green foothills near Mount Everest, spend fun time with friendly Nepali families who we have known for many years, stroll through uncut ancient forests and tiny terraced farms and clear flowing streams, visit and deliver crucial supplies to rural hospitals and schools, conduct medical checkups on patients (for our medically minded members), teach in the local schools (for those more educationally focused members), help build schools and a new health post (for the handy people among us), upgrade the village hydroelectric system, (for you electrical whizzes), experience ancient sherpa culture first hand, strategize with the villagers how to earn a better, safer, healthier, more educated life without wrecking the place and the culture, and spend valuable unforgettable moments in a land where we have never seen another tourist, far from the beaten path. This is not a high altitude trek, and we will never set foot upon snow. The trails wind up and down through rolling hills and the highest altitude reached is 2800 metres, 9800 feet. In June, the temperature never drops below 5 degrees c, 40 degrees f. welcome to our june 2011 service trek, and please tell all of your friends to take a look at www.ServiceTrek.org and www.MEFnews.org.

Welcome to our team, and thanks for your compassion, helping families living in the shadow of Mount Everest to help themselves with healthcare, education, cultural, and environmental preservation. back to top

 

 

 

Mitch took this photo of our sturdy mountain bus. It was blessed by Sai Baba, a swami from India who says he can work with the gods to make anyone rich! Mitch, Peter, Inge, Grace, and Jangbu at the book shop choosing readers. They bought 500 books to send up to the village. Thanks you guys! (photo DL Mazur). Rickety bamboo bridge mysteriously crosses the Leekoo Kola River. School kids lining up to do Nepalese 'jumping-jacks' while shouting 'good morning sir' (photo by Christine and John). Smoky streets of Kiji Bazaar village, (photo Peter Thornton).  Squash Falconer strikes a pose next to an unusual character we met in the restaurant at Leekoo Kola before boarding the bus (photo Peter Thornton). 

3 December, 2010 

The Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development (mefsd) has a generous sponsor named Ms. Kharis Fausset.

We are deeply grateful she is concerned about family planning and helping the villagers to stem the tide of the birth explosion which is sweeping Nepal at the moment.

In honour of Ms. Fausset's support, we spent the day interviewing people in front of a video camera, as we are making a simple informational film about family planning in the village. There is no cost involved in making the film as all involved people are donating their time, equipment and materials.

We interviewed the following key players:

1. Brian Rolfson, casualty/emergency doctor who just finished the November 2010 service trek and examined patients in the village. He is very up to date on current conditions at the Patale health post and recently spent a large chunk of time with the health workers so knows what they are capable of, awhat areas they need improvement in

2. Jangbu Sherpa, village leader, who is one of the most respected leaders in the village and an implementor of community action groups, including the women's group, school committee, an a new family planning committee being formed in the village. back to top

3. Sani Sherpa, one of the mothers from the village, has started her own successful restaurant and her and her husband have made a conscious decision to limit their family to just 2 children

4. Deha Shrestha, project manager from the MEFSD, has been to the village several times and acts as the main translator at the health post. He led our recently completed November 2010 service trek.

Deha is putting the finishing touches on the video and highlights from it will be ready for your review in a few days.

Many thanks for your interest in this extremely important family planning issue to try and reduce the rapidly exploding population growth in Nepal.

Thanks for following our service trek and please be sure to join us for the 2011 service trek 15-29 june. During that trek we will walk the lush unspoiled green foothills near Mount Everest, spend fun time with friendly Nepali families who we have known for many years, stroll through uncut ancient forests and tiny terraced farms and clear flowing streams, visit and deliver crucial supplies to rural hospitals and schools, conduct medical checkups on patients (for our medically minded members), teach in the local schools (for those more educationally focused members), help build schools and a new health post (for the handy people among us), upgrade the village hydroelectric system, (for you electrical whizzes), experience ancient sherpa culture first hand, strategize with the villagers how to earn a better, safer, healthier, more educated life without wrecking the place and the culture, and spend valuable unforgettable moments in a land where we have never seen another tourist, far from the beaten path. This is not a high altitude trek, and we will never set foot upon snow. The trails wind up and down through rolling hills and the highest altitude reached is 2800 metres, 9800 feet. In June, the temperature never drops below 5 degrees c, 40 degrees f. welcome to our june 2011 service trek, and please tell all of your friends to take a look at www.ServiceTrek.org and www.MEFnews.org

Welcome to our team, and thanks for your compassion, helping families living in the shadow of Mount Everest to help themselves with healthcare, education, cultural, and environmental preservation. back to top

 

 

Market day in Kiji Bazaar means butchering farm animals beneath squash trees (photo Brian Rolfson). Mighty Mount Gaurishankar looms above the Nepal Tibet border. a stunning view from our service trek (photo Brian Rolfson). Lovely mani prayer stone along the trail (photo Brian Rolfson). School administrator shows off the library at Kiji Bazaar, 50 books and so many more are needed. Who wants to help? (photo DL Mazur).

2 December, 2010 

Today dawned sunny and clear and the city of Kathmandu was already humming along busily by 8am. After a delicious 5-star breakfast we went book shopping at several educational book shops around Kathmandu. Peter, Inge, and Mitch decided to buy 500 primary level school books to send with Jangbu up to Patale. Each book cost less than 200 rupees, $3, 2.3 euro, 2 pounds.

We applaud them for their determination in taking a stand against ignorance.

It is people like these whom we rely for their generousity and kindness and desire to get involved in changing the world. back to top

As a side note, we note that the textbooks we bought are referred to as "nursery" books in Kathmandu. This is pre-class-1 level. However, out in the village, children up to the fourth and fifth class seem to be reading at this level. It's a strong call to action which cries out for the urgency of educating the next generation of children. How could a child in class 4 or 5 still be at the "nursery" level????

This evening we had a delicious group meal with all of our members and the staff from the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development and celebrated the success of our trip and all of the great new friends we have made. We will certainly keep in touch!!!

Thanks for following our service trek and please be sure to join us for the 2011 service trek 15-29 june. During that trek we will walk the lush unspoiled green foothills near Mount Everest, spend fun time with friendly Nepali families who we have known for many years, stroll through uncut ancient forests and tiny terraced farms and clear flowing streams, visit and deliver crucial supplies to rural hospitals and schools, conduct medical checkups on patients (for our medically minded members), teach in the local schools (for those more educationally focused members), help build schools and a new health post (for the handy people among us), upgrade the village hydroelectric system, (for you electrical whizzes), experience ancient sherpa culture first hand, strategize with the villagers how to earn a better, safer, healthier, more educated life without wrecking the place and the culture, and spend valuable unforgettable moments in a land where we have never seen another tourist, far from the beaten path. This is not a high altitude trek, and we will never set foot upon snow. The trails wind up and down through rolling hills and the highest altitude reached is 2800 metres, 9800 feet. In June, the temperature never drops below 5 degrees c, 40 degrees f. welcome to our june 2011 service trek, and please tell all of your friends to take a look at www.ServiceTrek.org and www.MEFnews.org.

Welcome to our team, and thanks for your compassion, helping families living in the shadow of Mount Everest to help themselves with healthcare, education, cultural, and environmental preservation. back to top

 

 

Colourful people walking to the Kiji Bazaar (photo Peter Thornton). Dan looks on as high school admin explains the accoutrements of the classroom including home made white board and wood panelling (photo Peter Thornton). Kiji Bazaar, shopping in remote Nepal at its best (photo Peter Thornton). Farm family prepares their rice paddy with a water buffaloes pulling a wooden plough (photo by Brian Rolfson).

1 December, 2010

Hello everyone, thanks for following our service trek and keeping up with whats going on at www.MEFnews.org .

Also, before we get started with the dispatch, we welcome you and everyone to our June 15-29, 2011 service trek, and please tell all of your friends to take a look at www.ServiceTrek.org and www.MEFnews.org. Welcome to our team, and thanks for helping families living in the shadow of Mount Everest to help themselves with health care, education, cultural, and environmental preservation. back to top

Service Trek 2010 dispatch 1 December:

Today we awoke early on a gorgeous sunny, quiet and crisp autumn day in the village of Kiji Bazaar. We were sleeping in tents in the middle of a small but pretty and green cornfield behind the medieval inn we dined in last night.

I hope you wont mind very much if a stray off the path for a moment... Have you ever heard of mountain climbers and explorers speaking of "firsts" such as the first ascent of Everest or the first European to visit the Congo, or etcetera?

Well, somehow, each time we do this service trek, all of the members of our team feel like they could be the first foreigner to visit the region.

Local people keep telling us foreigners have come to this village before, but its hard to believe, as we never saw one single foreigner during any moment of our entire trek. This has to be one of the most foreign and exotic places I have ever been to in Nepal. There are a mixture of hill tribes inhabiting the region, thus a multitude of languages are spoken and written, with a wide variety of religions practiced, and every imaginable type of garb worn by the locals.

True to form, the unusual even bizarre or funny nature of Kiji Bazaar's setting rang out first thing this morning. We had not realized (duhhh, silly foreigners) that today was market day in Kiji Bazaar. Thus imagine our surprise when the very friendly and curious locals welcomed dawn to their town by toting large sacks of fruits and vegetables and slaughtering farm animals. The medieval nature of this village was exposed in its raw full-blown glory through its tall brick wooden shuttered buildings packed in a warren of narrow dirt lanes, dogs and cats and little kids and elderly people skittering and moseying through the sun beamed morning mist and a few whiffs from wood cooking fires amongst tinkling temple bells, clattering pots and pans, murmured prayers, kids giggling while parents scrubbed them at the village tap, slurping sweet sugary tea, the "whack-whack" of people chopping kindling, fruit and veg, and butchering fresh meat in a buzz of cottage industry not seen in Britain nor Europe since at least the 18th century. back to top

After such an unexpected farm-village style awakening, we enjoyed a calm breakfast of fresh omelettes, home baked bread, and tea and coffee down at our local inn with its comfortable wooden table, benches, and wide board paneling, hand sawn from some ancient community pine forest.

During breakfast, our host the local district school administrator and his lovely wife and their cute-as-a-button 7 year old daughter all joined us.

The locals here are incredibly friendly, often beyond belief. Mom and dad announced it was their daughter's 7th birthday, which took some translating as Nepal has 5 calendars. We hastily sang the little darling a rousing chorus of happy birthday, certainly the first time in her life anyone has done that. Then Christine magically whisked out a scrap of paper, pen, and scissors, and worked together with the little girl to produce a magnificent set of paper dolls. Certainly another first.

Apparently flattered by their daughter's first birthday party, our hosts decided it was time for us to visit their humble flat in a mud splattered two story building at the top of a precarious rickety old stairway festooned with lovely red and yellow chrysthemums blooming raucously from rusty old fruit tins. This nuclear family of mom (a high school teacher), dad (superintendant of 41 schools), and their two kids live in one tiny mud plastered, unpainted room lit by just a bare bulb dangling on a string from the ceiling, with a tiny smoky closet micro-kitchenette for cooking on a wood fire. The bathroom was no where to be seen.

After breakfast we toured the local school which has 12 classes and is overloaded with 500 students in just 11 classrooms, thanks to the population explosion which is raging out of control like a wild forest fire.

Shockingly, 60% of all Nepalese are under age 40 and approximately fourty percent are less than 20 years old!!! In this school, kids have to go to school in shifts, so three different age levels might use a single classroom. back to top

Our hosts, Mr. and Mrs school administrator, showed us well around the school and we admired the well built wood paneled classrooms with their sealed floors, tightly fitting doors and windows and whiteboards at the head of each classroom. The student's desks were a marvel to behold, ingeniously comfortable and clean, with convenient shelves and smooth writing surfaces.

Nothing like the knotty rough planks slapped together that they call "desks" out in Patale village. These Kiji Bazaar classrooms are a rather more hygienic, warm and bright learning environment than the windblown, dusty, dank, dark caverns called 'classrooms' up in patale village. We were surprised to learn that a classroom could be outfitted very well for just $300, 240 euro, or 200 pounds including all materials, labour, and transport.

After our school visit we asked to see the school library and computer learning center which the thoughtful administrator has asked the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development (MEFSD) if they might provide books and laptop computers for.

The library was a small wardrobe size cabinet containing 5 shelves. On two shelves were  a total of 50 books in English, covering topics such as English literature, mathematics, science, and world history, which are the course books students are expected to buy. There was a copy of 1 of each required course book. I guess you would call these the 'master copies'. Not sure where the students actually purchase/aquire their text books? FYI: the prices on the back of the book said they cost 150 rupees, $2, 1.5 euro, 1.3 pounds each.

The library contained just these 30 books, with no other novels, nor magazines, nor reference books of any kind. The mefsd would like to provide novels and reference books, plus magazines to equip the library. If anyone knows how to get books and magazines such as these delivered to Kathmandu, please let us know. books in nepali are required only up to class two, after that, all courses are taught in English, so language should not be a problem. back to top

The computer centre was an open air mud structure with a tin roof at the edge of the school ground. It has a marvelous view of the surrounding countryside through a large "picture window" frame with no glass in it.

There are no doors on the building and it looks to be under construction.

The MEFSD would like to assist in finishing the room, at a cost of just $300, 240 euro, or 200 pounds including all materials, labour, and transport. Then, the mefsd hopes to find donors to give 5 laptop computers.

They don't have to be new, but they need to have at least 500 mb ram, and 20 gb hardrive. If you know of anyone who might be able to kindly donate a laptop computer, please let us know!

After such an educational tour, it was already 9:45 am and our sherpas were tugging at us to leave.

However, we could not help noticing the spectacle that was unfolding below us (the school sits on a small hill 40 metres, 130 feet above the main town) in the central bazaar "square", really a patch of mud surrounded by small shanties. Brightly dressed people were lugging around sacks on their backs and wandering about, other people had dropped their sacks and spilled them into various colourful piles upon the ground, containing tangerines and bananas, potatoes, carrots, garlic, squash, spinach, tobacco, and all manner of household goods such as tea, salt, sugar, spoons, soap, socks, hats, shoes, underwear, and on and on. We looked at one another, heads nodded, and our little gaggle of foreigners dressed in western clothing felt mysteriously drawn to wander down into the bazaar as if pulled by invisible threads to join the throngs of tribal hill villagers wearing various saris, turbans, golden nose pendants, sandals, blankets, barefeet, sparkling tunics, rags, beckham t-shirts, thick gold ear rings, baseball jackets, walking sticks, dhotis, babies swaddled in blankets on mama's backs, fur trimmed woolen jackets, and the odd pair of fake ray-bans.

As we wandered about the large bazaar ground like kids in a kandy store, our sherpa escourts realized that their foreign guests were becoming overly enthralled with the melee around them and they forcibly extricated us amid protesting advisories of "very late, must go now, no time, big walk, long way, lets go". Okay, okay, okay... we all knew we had to leave, so we found our way back to the path leading up to our campsite. back to top

However, in true nepali fashion, where the best laid plans can go awry at any moment, we were mischeviously waylaid by the school administrator, who detoured us and our sherpas from the main path down a narrow tributary trail, from whence, after a 1 minute walk, we popped onto a miniature football ground ringed by foot high green grass all topped off by a 3 story brick building watching over us. Upon the tiny pitch stood a group of 40 children of around age 7-10 wearing what looked to be white hospital gowns.

We foreigners stood in the long grass on a slight rise above the little pitch and watched as a tall man in a black motorcycle jacket and black trousers with gel in his hair rang a little bell and walked down the path onto the pitch while the students simultaneously shouted: "good morning sir" and automatically formed into 4 queues. "Sir" walked purposefully to the head of the queues and said something quietly and the students began to jump up and down and wave their arms rhythmically, something akin to what one might refer to as jumping-jacks.

At this point our sherpa's eyes were beginning to glaze over, so we knew we had to go now, before we got sucked into visiting another school, and somehow we managed to escape the morning exercises and the little school.

At long last, we set off for another lovely stroll across rural Nepal, trying to reach the nearest road where we could board a bus to Kathmandu.

Our walk covered a long stretch of undulating hilly ground and we were treated to some of the finest, most-expansive, spectacular views of Gaurishankar, Manaslu, and the Tibet-Nepal border one could ever hope to see. The weather was clear as a bell, with not a touch of breeze as the warm December sun sparkled down upon us in the autumn air. we walked down through the hills, skimming along well trodden gentle trails past gorgeous emerald green ruby farms of lush banana trees, buzzing honey bee hives, and cozy ricks of corn drying beneath tidy thatched roofs. The land was abundant and the locals were busy in their own relaxed but methodical way, rice paddies were being prepared for the next crop, winter wheat was in place, rows of cows, goats and water buffalo munched their grass, thorny briar branches, and corn stalks. It seemed that all of the flat surface around the farm houses held layers of drying fruits and vegetables of nearly every imaginable type and colour. back to top

Finally we came to a late afternoon tea stop on a bluff high above an expansive river valley, known as Leekoo Kola. And low and behold, what did we see far below at the bottom of the valley? My God, it's a road! Our first in many days! As we were marveling at the road in the dusky evening light, we heard a whacking noise in a tree above and behind us and turned around to see a tiny 5 year old girl in a pink dress sprinting out of the way as a large 2 metre, 6 foot long green branch crashed to the ground just beside her. What is going on here?!?! Well, as we watched we realized that a teen age girl was 6 metres, 20 feet high up above the ground in the ancient oak tree over our heads and she was chopping out leaf-heavy branches, which were falling onto the ground while the tiny 5 year old girl was piling them, before dragging them off to feed to the goats. Their mother lounged quietly on a big stone and watched us and her children somewhat disinterestedly while smoking a tobacco leaf wrapped around some local village blend of flammable herbs or something. We stood jaw-dropped for several minutes watching the scene amazedly as this teen aged girl confidently waltzed around high above our heads in the tree branches carrying a very large reverse-curved khukhri knife and systematically chopped the spiny branches away from the main thick branch she was standing on. A shower of green branches exuded from her swinging khukri's razor sharp blade. Down on the ground, the tiny little 5 year old was a bit more stumbly as her sister bombarded her with branches from above, and there were several kind-of shocking near misses. We all stood agape in silence at yet another scene depicting the beauty, risk, hardship, and adventure of daily life for poor families in these foothills near Mount Everest. The day was coming to a close and it was becoming even a bit darkish and we still had a long walk to the bottom of the valley, 300 metres, 1000 feet below, and then another kilometre across a river. our casualty emergency room doctor Brian summed it up better than anyone when he said: "I think I should get going before I have to sew some more people up after a major accident". We all stood up and left shaking our heads. back to top

The trail wound down the steep slope and we reached the bottom of the valley just before dark. We broke out our headtorches, and crossed a makeshift, thrown together three-stick bamboo bridge over the leekoo kola. The bridge must get washed out every few months by the look of it. As we tiptoed over the river in near total darkness, we watched a few workers shovel concrete from the bucket of a large excavating machine into wooden form boxes, atop a sort of small tower in the middle of the river. They were building one lone bridge piling in the night, working under one flood light, like some kind of little team of urban pioneers in the dark wilderness amid a raging river. As we climbed the bank of the river on the other side, we saw a flipped over excavating machine which had been righted, but sustained major damage, and looked to be all of a giant smashed metal praying mantis. At the rate they were going, it looked as though it might take 10 years to finish that bridge.

Now it was totally pitch black and we ambled up a road for a few hundred metres and found our way into a crude plank "restaurant" where you could stand outside and see into the restaurant by peeking through the cracks in the planks. The restaurant seemed to have no door. We gratefully sat down and enjoyed a cool drink and some noodle soup.

Deha announced that our bus was waiting for us and the local village leaders had decided that they would give us two choices. Choice "a" board the night time bus and drive to Kathmandu now, with the entire bus to ourselves, or choice "b" wait until the morning and take a day-bus with lots of stops at every village and hut, and a multitude of interesting passengers carrying assorted items like piglets, babies, chickens, goats, smoked fish, propane tanks, bales of sheep wool, potatoes, baskets of grass for the cows, etcetera. The team met out side the restaurant and voted to depart immediately in the night bus.

We quietly went back into the restaurant, lit by one naked bulb on a string, and proceeded to pay off all of our staff in the semi darkness. A lot of locals politely and amazedly watched as we completed the process orderly and quietly. The normal custom of Nepal dictates a certain amount of debate and "lively discussion" at bill paying time, especially with a large group, however, we tried to show how truly orderly and perhaps even a bit dull our western style bureaucracy can be, as we carefully noted down all of the staff names and the payments. back to top

The bus was finally loaded, the driver having been thoroughly checked out and found to be highly experienced, very familiar with the road, and sober as a judge. The bus looked strong as an ox, especially for our wee group, and we set off into the night in this rather loud smoky large throbbing monstrous TATA Indian bus, the work horse of the Himalaya. This bus road perhaps is one of the highest moments of extreme adventure during our service trek, as we climb through rugged foothills of Nepal on simple roads which have been just recently hacked out of the mountains, much as Michelangelo might make the first pass on a block of marble, fresh from the quarry, and it could be difficult for even Michelangelo to tell what the finished statue was going to look like, but you know he is definitely up to something!!

Oh, well, "this is Nepal" we said. And truly, "this is Nepal" had become a kind of mantra for our trip. It's a way of saying that everything here is very different than what we are used to at home, but don't worry, everything here somehow has its place and the chaos will somehow be navigated. And, true to form, after 6 hours of jostling and bouncing over some wee roads which seemed to be seriously "under construction", and then another 6 hours of smoothish roads, we magically reappeared at the offices of the MEFSD in Kathmandu and were shepherded off to a various hotels for hot showers, cups of tea, and some well earned delicious meals. Of course "this is Nepal" had the final say and we had to carry our bags the last 200 metres to the office, because our big fat mountain bus could not fit down the skinny svelt Kathmandu street the office was located upon.

Thanks for following our service trek and please be sure to join us for the 2011 service trek 15-29 june. During that trek we will walk the lush unspoiled green foothills near Mount Everest, spend fun time with friendly Nepali families who we have known for many years, stroll through uncut ancient forests and tiny terraced farms and clear flowing streams, visit and deliver crucial supplies to rural hospitals and schools, conduct medical checkups on patients (for our medically minded members), teach in the local schools (for those more educationally focused members), help build schools and a new health post (for the handy people among us), upgrade the village hydroelectric system, (for you electrical whizzes), experience ancient sherpa culture first hand, strategize with the villagers how to earn a better, safer, healthier, more educated life without wrecking the place and the culture, and spend valuable unforgettable moments in a land where we have never seen another tourist, far from the beaten path. This is not a high altitude trek, and we will never set foot upon snow. The trails wind up and down through rolling hills and the highest altitude reached is 2800 metres, 9800 feet. In June, the temperature never drops below 5 degrees c, 40 degrees f. welcome to our june 2011 service trek, and please tell all of your friends to take a look at www.ServiceTrek.org and www.MEFnews.org.

Welcome to our team, and thanks for your compassion, helping families living in the shadow of Mount Everest to help themselves with healthcare, education, cultural, and environmental preservation.

"This is Nepal"! back to top

 

 

7 year old birthday girl showing off her paper dolls alla Christine (photo Brian Rolfson). A picture of Sai Baba, the man himself, who is the 'real' driver of this bus, anyway (photo Brian Rolfson). Brian works on Grace's blister while 20 children stand trasnfixed (photo Squash Falconer). Deha and Jangbu accept delivery of 120 kilos of books, before loading on bus roof top to be taken to the village by porters (photo DL Mazur).

30 November, 2010

This is Grace from Canada with a dispatch for November 30th on the Service Trek 2010.

This morning we packed up and left Patale. Some of us began trekking to our lunch area while others had a last meeting with the local community to discuss their educational and health needs. We had lunch at one of our porters father’s house and had a wonderful chat with the family.

The views were awesome in the afternoon. We walked at a steady pace up and down trails passing cows on the pass and had sunny views of the surroundings.

We arrived at Khiji Patale to be greeted with a woman beating her drunk husband who was rolling around on the ground, smiling of course. We settled down at a medieval tavern with a chicken in the basket and then walked past a market square with a few shops open before having a delicious dinner with the man in charge of the school district. He’s in charge of 41 schools and joined us for dinner to explain the educational system and how to increase teaching quality and productivity. He enjoyed his time with us and we had a few laughs.

The night ended with Christine and Dan making jokes and sending the room roaring with laughter. That was our evening. back to top

29 November, 2010

Health Clinic Dispatch -

This is Brian Rolfson calling from Dhaurakharka in Nepal for the Service Trek on the 29th of November to talk about the health post and maybe some of the future needs for other health care workers who come here to help out.

We saw about 31 patients today. Several people that we saw had relatively serious eye problems. They’re either blind in one eye and then going blind in the other eye because of some problems with their corneas. There are also cataract problems in some of the elderly.

There may be some future needs that would be helpful for this place. I think there would be a real need for a pediatrician or someone with special training in pediatrics like a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant. There were several children that I saw that may have some type of congenital problems that may be helpful for the families to know about and have regular follow-up visits. They could use regular checkups, assessments of their nutrition and it would be very helpful or them to have someone with a specialty in pediatrics coming here.

As far as the health care workers, they do a really good job of recognizing symptoms and what medications can teach certain symptoms. It would be very helpful to try to teach them about physical exams and how to look at the whole patient, so that they could do more than just treat symptoms and know what they are treating. It would be good for them to get some more training in this so they are more comfortable in treating disease and not be as shy about examining patients.

Some of the specific things they could use here would be an extra otoscope and othalmoscope that may be rechargeable or use replaceable batteries. That would be very helpful for them here. The otoscope they have is fairly limited on what they can see.

Some specific medications that they have a need for are some albuterol inhalers with spacers. I’ve found that the elderly people here have a bit of a hear time learning to use the inhaler. That’s a real need here.

If anyone wants to come here it’s a beautiful place. It’s rewarding and those specific needs would be very useful here. That’s about all I have to say. Thank you very much. back to top

School Dispatch -

Hi, this is Mitch Campbell. I’m from Canada and I’m doing the dispatch for the Service Trek today on November 29th. As I do this I’m looking at 2 baby goats that are running around us, which is quite nice.

I just wanted to explain a little bit about what we did. On November 29th we spent our 2nd full day in Dhaurakharka as part of the Service Trek. As usual the day started out crisp and clear with tea served in our tents, which I think is just wonderful. I love camping in this area because we’re treated to the most wonderful views. The locals and the staff are incredibly friendly.

After breakfast we headed down the valley to visit a high school in the village of Charmading. On the way down we saw the local power generating station and it’s quite small. We were joined on the way down by an increasing number of well dressed school children on their way to school. It is kind of funny because you can’t really get lost. You just follow these well dressed kids and know you’re going to get to the right place.

The high school in Charmading was recently expanded. Dan had a meeting with the school teachers and administrators there to find out about what could be done to improve conditions. During that time we were tasked with entertaining over 200 students, which is quite a challenge. We played frisbee, volley ball, hop-scotch and all sorts of other games.

Later we left the school and had lunch at the home of the mother of one of the health post workers. Then we walked up the valley to a primary school in a small village. There were 30 students there out of a total of 60. We split them up into 3 groups and brought school supplies for the children. We entertained them with games, taught them some English, counting, did some paper mache, and used balloons as rockets. I thought it was actually quite heartwarming to see the student’s eagerness to learn and their smiling faces.

During the past days we’ve been having meeting with the school committee and teachers to find out what can be done to improve conditions there. It seems like one of the main things needed is a strong school committee for starters in order to make sure the teachers are even coming to work. You wouldn’t think that is an issue, but it is. Some of the teachers just don’t show up. Another thing is also school supplies. Those are some of the things that I think we can all help with and it’s nice to know that there is something we can do to help them.

Later we hiked back up the steep hill to our campsite in Dhaurakharka. We were treated to an outdoor shower. I thought that was awesome because I hadn’t showered in a while.

As if our day wasn’t amazing enough, we were treated to a ceremony by the local villagers that included them singing and dancing. It’s pretty cool to think that they don’t need any music. They provide all of the music and beats with their voices and by stomping. We were of course pulled into the fray and all had a good time.

As I walked back to my tent I was treated to a perfect view of the night sky that included a clear view of the Milky Way. I think this was really a spectacular day. It’s hard to complain at all when you’re looking at such wonderful views and being with such wonderful people. Hopefully other people have been convinced that they have to come on the Service Trek because I highly recommend it. Thank you. back to top

28 November, 2010

Health Clinic Dispatch -

This is Brian Rolfson from SummitTrek. I’m an emergency medical physician from Colorado and I’m calling a dispatch about November 28th to talk about what happened today.

We went up to a gompa early in the morning to do a puja ceremony. It was a very fascinating and interesting ceremony by the local lama here in Dhaurakharka. Then we ate some food at various houses. People wanted us to come visit them and presented us with kata scarves, which was a very great experience.

In the late morning and afternoon I spent the day working in the health post here with the local health care workers. It’s a very interesting clinic. We saw about 50 patients in a very short period of time. The problems ranged from everything to a local girl with pneumonia to a little child who wasn’t speaking, but it turns out he’s hard of hearing and deaf and that’s the reason he’s unable to speak at about 2 years old. A woman wanted us to check her 7 week old newborn baby to make sure he was okay. There were a lot of eye and skin problems. It seems that a lot of people have gastrointestinal problems here which isn’t surprising, but they are overall very fit people. They seem to be very strong and the majority of them don’t have anything serious, but they are very thankful people and its fun taking care of them all.

The health care workers here do a very good job. With the short amount of training they’ve received they have a great understanding of the medicines that they have and the things they are able to treat. It’s always surprising when you meet someone that has very minimal training and the types of things that they actually understand and have learned over the years. It was a pleasure working with them. They have a good supply of medicines here. There isn’t a large variety, but it’s adequate for what they need. I think overall they do very well with what they have here.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing the same thing in the clinic working with them and hopefully we can do some good here and help some people.

I hope everyone back at home had a happy Thanksgiving weekend. It’s been a lot of fun here. We’re standing here in the sunshine on the hills in the little village of Dhaurakharka. Everywhere you walk here is up or down and not flat, so the people are very strong. I guess that’s all I have to say. Thanks. back to top

Chu inspecting a child's ear in the health post of Patale (Ying Hsu). Alexa helping in the health post at Patale (Ying Hsu).

School Dispatch -

Hi, this is Squash Falconer calling in a dispatch for the Service Trek 2010. Today’s date is the 28th of November.

We’re in a village near Patale and this is our base for the next few days. For the first time in ages this morning we got up and didn’t have to pack up our tents. Instead of getting up for breakfast we were invited to attend a puja ceremony by the local lama. A puja is a Buddhist ceremony during which prayers, blessings and offerings are made.

We had to hike up the hill to get to the temple. We sat around the edges while the lama prayed and a monk prepared and blessed some food, which happened to be coconuts, biscuits, and some crushed maize. That was all okay, as was the water and chaang, which is a Nepalese beer that we were given to drink. The confusion came when an oil type liquid was offered to each of us. Without any hesitation John drank it and the rest of us observed as the other Nepalese put it on their heads because it was actually hair oil.

The service lasted 2 hours and afterwards we went to see Dorje who is the cook on our trip for breakfast. The tea was a bit of a shocker. Unlike the usual sugary milk tea we’ve been drinking it was salted yak butter tea, so we left the drinking of that to John again. The breakfast was a feast of eggs and pastries including apple pie and pickled vegetables.

We then received our first prayer scarves of the day and left for the walk back to our tents. This involved another stop at the sherpas house with more prayer scarves and tea. It’s quite incredible how generous the people here are.

It was almost lunch time when we arrived back at the tents. No one was hungry, so instead of lunch we headed off to a nearby local school that the trek had never visited before. The idea was to spend a few hours teaching the children, but also to establish what the situation is with the school and how we can help them in any way.

As we walked over the hill the school came into view and the children saw us and rushed out. There was lots of noise and commotion, but that was all hushed and settled by the time we arrived at the entrance where a big welcome march had been constructed from tree branches and signs. 60 children made 2 neat lines and stared curiously at us as we made our way in. We quickly learned that there was just 1 teacher.

We split the children into 3 groups of 20. Mitch and Inge headed up the science lesson. They taught the children about north, east, south and west. Mitch is already a teacher so there lesson was pretty professional. Peter and Grace taught basic anatomy, which finally got going after the children stopped repeating “my name is Peter” after Peter had introduced himself. In the final classroom John, Christine and I did arts and crafts. Chaos reigned supreme as we made a huge mess of paper mache.

The children at the school literally have nothing. There 3 classrooms are completely bare and materials are limited, if exist at all. We took the children pens, paper, balloons, straws and frisbees. There excitement with all of this was sky high and they were particularly delighted with the balloons. To end the day we gave each child a school book bag which had been kindly donated by a sponsor. They loved them.

After lots of prayer scarves and flower garlands were given out, the children left us and we had a meeting with the school teacher and local lama to establish what was going on. We were surprised to learn that the school has 150 pupils and 5 teachers, but as we saw today they don’t all turn up. In order to help them we needed them to tell us what they wanted. It was decided that we would attempt to get together with the school committee for a meeting before we left.

Evening’s dinner was hosted by Jangbu’s mother at the house next door to where our tents are. We had chips and dal bhat, which was delicious. To our surprise, the school committee had been rallied and we had our meeting after dinner. There were quite a lot in attendance. The meeting covered several key issues and allowed the locals to discuss what they would like to do and how they might do it. This alone is a really positive step in the right direction.

Today was an absolutely brilliant day. In other news, Peter still is insisting he heard an elephant on the first morning and has been having ongoing debates with Inge today about the noise they make. Everyone is having lots of fun and doing really well. Until next time, bye. back to top

 
The teacher and children of the school accepting the generous donation of hats and blankets from Shaker High School in New York. The children of Patale wearing their new warm hats (Dan Mazur).
27 November, 2010

Hello, this is John Simmons from the UK providing a Service Trek dispatch for Saturday the 27th of November, 2010.

Yesterday, we had another night of good food and great hospitality. We awoke this morning to clear skies and sunshine with great views north and east into the Khumbu mountains. Everest could be seen in the distance with ventricular clouds rushing across the skies characterizing high winds and a fierce storm. There was no wind for us. We had hot sunshine and clear skies all day.

Today’s trek has taken us through perhaps what the best trekking in eastern Nepal has to offer. We experienced the settlement of Jafre and its fascinating Buddhist temple, splendid wall paintings and huge prayer wheel. We went from there into some magnificent ancient woods for over an hour with huge mature trees, rhododendrons, and wild flowers.

At around 11:00 we reached a clearing and stopped to have a delicious picnic provided by Dorje Sherpa made of eggs, pita bread, and oranges. We sat back on the sheltered sunny banks and concluded life was good.

For some odd hours we trekked across wonderful countryside to eventually reach Jangbu Sherpa’s farmstead to be greeted by his wife and two young boys. It is a wonderful place. We were given an excellent brew of chaang and tea for those of the less adventurous. Then followed a fantastic meal beautifully served and we were impressed by the family home and hospitality we were given.

After about 2 hours of food, chat and great hospitality we left Jangbu’s for the neighboring farmstead of Tenzing Sherpa and his family. Tenzing greeted us with more tea and chaang with great kindness. He is a sherpa of distinction fixing rope and summiting Everest 8 times at 20 some years of age. He was a modest and very special host to us.

Dark was then closing in so we moved on to cross down into the valley to check briefly on one of the two schools we were visiting. The school had prepared a greeting for us, but was closed so we will revisit tomorrow.

Finally in the dark and under head torches we reached our final destination, Dhaurakharka Patale Health Centre and the house beside. Tents were prepared and more delicious food was given.

In conclusion, it was a wonderful day, good trekking and very special hospitality was provided by sherpa families who greeted us as friends, smiled, and with kata (Buddhist prayer scarves) making us all feel very welcome in this special part of Nepal. This is John Simmons signing off. back to top

A view from above of our camp in Patale. Stuffed animals we handed out to the children (Chu Trandinh).

26 November, 2010

Hi, this is Inge from Denmark calling in for the Service Trek.

Yesterday morning, the 26th of November, we got up to sunny blue skies. We had a delicious breakfast of fresh made flatbread and eggs before starting the trek to Jafre. There were beautiful views along the ridge of Everest and other snow-capped peaks.

Before noon we arrive at Tsingane where we had another lovely second breakfast. Some of us tried ‘chaang’, which is certainly an acquired taste. It is made locally from corn, but smells rather like petrol.

When we hiked through the small villages along the way we were met with big smiles and attention like rock stars from the locals. They really are friendly. We arrived at our destination, Jafre, at 2:00 pm. where we had a sumptuous lunch of pancakes and homemade potato chips with ketchup.

Our tents in the village drew lots of attention from the local children, who stared at curiosity at them and us equally. Later in the afternoon the 4 women on the trip, including myself, had a hot shower. What a luxury! It was very nice. While we took showers the guys hiked up to a local gompa, which is a Buddhist temple, and enjoyed the beautiful views there. For dinner we had momos, fresh made dumplings, which were super tasty and vegetables from the greenhouse next door. We really are eating like kings and queens. Apparently that will continue tomorrow on the 27th where we are supposed to go for lunch at Jangbu’s house and other people’s houses for perhaps 2nd, 3rd, and 4th lunch.

We finished the evening with more jokes and laughter before heading early to bed. Now I would like to make a small dispatch in Danish, my native language (please click the audio link above). back to top

 
Our awesome Service Trek team (Shelley Bloom). A view across a suspension bridge we crossed (Ying Hsu). Our team taking a break along the trek back to Kathmandu (Ying Hsu). Our awesome trek organizer, Murari Sharma, holding up a baby goat he met along the trek home (Ying Hsu).

25 November, 2010

This is Peter Thornton from Vancouver calling in for the Service Trek 2010 on the 25th of November from the Okhaldhunga region of Nepal.

This morning after some tea and a chapatti breakfast that we ate surrounded by some chickens and other farm animals we set out from the local hospital in Okhaldhunga. We went up the long hill filled with small farms and terraces growing millet, chickens, buffalo, goats, and other crops including potatoes.

We made our way up through these farms on narrow mud and stone paths through farm houses. We noticed roads had been put in all of the steep hillsides. Each bend requires hours of manual labour to dig ditches and ramparts. The roads torturously make their way up and down these hills that allow tractors and other 4-wheel drive to move across to move crops and other essentials, including deliveries to hospital, which we witnessed. It’s really opening up the region. However, erosion is a problem and once initiated, huge scars are opening up on some of the hillsides. These are difficult to arrest and the environment is one of high humidity, rainfall and steep slopes. For example, today we climbed over 1200 metres up to 2760 metres.

Tonight we ate in a local home under solar powered florescent lights eating traditional Nepali food like dal and rice. Tonight we are sleeping in one of the most bizarre campsites I’ve ever seen with 9 tents perched together in an excavation hole on a hilltop. The beacon for finding the site is the toilette tent, which is visible at the very peak from miles around. I have to wonder what do these locals think of us?

That’s it. This is Peter signing out from the 2010 Service Trek. back to top

 

The scenic foothills along the trek (Alexa Dillhoff). Dan playing a game of ball with some of the local children (Alexa Dillhoff). Our comfortable camp (Chu Trandinh). Buddhist statues inside a monastery we visited (Chu Trandinh).

24 November, 2010

It’s Wednesday the 24th of November, 2010. It’s about 9:15 in the evening and pitch black. We’re standing in the middle of a field. My name is Christine Archer and I’m from Warwickshire in England.

This was the first day of my first Service Trek with Dan Mazur and his team. Having met yesterday, the group enjoyed the chance to learn one another’s names, sort last minute queries and shop for the very necessary extra thick sleeping mats that we’re all going to enjoy this evening.

Just a quick recap on the day, we flew from Kathmandu this morning on a small green and white twin otter plane, estimated age of 40 years old with broken back seats and an awful lot of luggage. With only a slight delay we flew around 9:45 a.m. on an approximately 45 minute journey leaving the spread of Kathmandu and its polluted air quickly reaching terraced greener hills in the spectacular backdrop of snow defined high mountains. There was just so much to watch and discuss. back to top

Our pilots circled around the hills to approach Ramjatar, which is a small very rural airport on the top of a flat stony hill. Our landing was deafening and better I’m told than a too smooth connection. There was bouncing on the dry red earth, which was peppered with stones and thinly covered with dry grass. The plane pulled in front of the control tower guarded by a few young soldiers who watched us descend with curiosity. They smiled at us as we murmured “Namaste”, as we walked off of the field.

The buildings are shadowed by trenches dug to connect to the residential blocks to the tower and a small utilitarian bunker, but these are thought to be bounded by flower beds. They are protected by small fences and a solid row of San Miguel beer bottles, brown and dusty in the earth.

We sat and waited for our transport for about an hour in a small, but clean shop which provided us with a kitchen for our freshly prepared dal bhat lunch and hot tea to follow. The locals harvesting the millet in the fields carried on working while watching and curiously discussing our party from a distance.

To summarize the next few hours we all boarded a metal covered jeep with as much of our luggage as we could get on the roof for a journey of at least 1 ½ hours. The newish road was very stony, steep and challenging for our young, but competent driver who ground and carefully geared his way to Okhaldhunga. Our road literally stopped at the gates of the main local hospital.

We had come to visit Dr. Eric Bowler and his wife Christine. I make no apologies for now concentrating on this inspirational and rare couple.

We arrived to again curious, but reserved interest of local patients and staff and descended several levels of terraced buildings, which housed the hospital. This is one of the cleanest areas I’ve seen since arriving in Nepal. back to top

Christine and Eric welcomed us into their house here. We all removed our shoes and sat on the low seats around their main living area. Dan Mazur explained his project to them, which is the setting up of a private clinic in Patale to particularly help young women with pregnancy and child birth. A young Nepalese woman, Dati Sherpa, has been trained as an auxiliary nurse midwife. This visit was to hopefully create links giving support and opportunities for mutual development. A fascinating discussion and informative hour followed with Eric sitting cross-legged facing the group fielding questions and covering all manner of topics.

Eric and Christine are Norwegian working through a Christian based NGO called ‘United Mission Nepal’. As a senior doctor and pediatrician Eric is responsible for the hospital and overseeing the training of his newly qualified assistant. With a tight team of members and staff who help to treat 28,000 out patients they see each year (that’s 28,000!), they also deal with about 50 births every month. If the young mother has complications she stays in a special unit in the hospital during her time. They deal with all manner of conditions and accidents, occasionally sending cases to Kathmandu, but the range and resourcefulness they display is awesome. The caring thought is evident even down to the mesh drying unit set up outside their home, where Christine explained they dry their ingredients for a special tonic soup prepared for the new mothers which helps the breast milk to flow.

The truly remarkable fact is that this hospital is being effectively and caringly run in such difficult times. There was a huge battle in this area about 7 years ago between Maoist supporters and the royal Nepalese army. During the day the RNA controlled the town, but at night the Maoists were dominant. The hospital treated men from both factions. Subsequently the political instability in Nepal has meant no proper government has been established despite 17 attempts to elect a prime minister over a 6 month period. The interim government is unable to put in place long term plans for health and development. However, some progress is being made with some funds reaching the hospital and also regular supplies of medicines are being established. There is an effective structure in place covering rural and looking into district health committees. If there are any senior doctors out there who would like to volunteer for a 3 month sabbatical when Eric goes on holiday, he’d love to hear from you.

This is a remarkable country. My first impressions are that it is welcoming, friendly, powerfully positive country, hugely complex with serious and immense political problems, but it really is beautiful and I’m looking forward to more explanations and meetings. Namaste. back to top

 A spectacular "mani wall", stone inscribed with Buddhist prayers. The team crossing a suspension bridge (Chu Trandinh).

23 November, 2010

Today we sat and had tea together in the meeting rooms at the Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development (MEFSD) with all of the members and leaders. Here is our team roster:

  • Deha Shrestha from the MEFSD;
  • Dan Mazur from SummitTrek.com;
  • Christine Archer from Warwickshire;
  • John Simmons from UK;
  • Squash Falconer from Derby and France;
  • Peter Thornton from Canada, Wales, and Australia;
  • Michel Campbell from Canada and Denmark;
  • Inge Hove Nielsen from Denmark;
  • Grace Lian-Bodenbach from Singapore and Canada;
  • Brian Rolfson from Colorado.

During the meeting we talked about what all of our member's expectations are for what they hope to achieve during the service trek, and we spoke of our planned itinerary, what we have in store for us each day, necessary trekking equipment, etcetera.

Lots of members chimed in about how they want to be involved, so we made exciting plans for visiting and teaching in schools and also for visiting hospitals and health clinics and examining patients and doing staff training.

We had a delicious lunch at the British Embassy, thanks to MEFSD director Murari Sharma.

After lunch we want to a school supply store to purchase needed learning materials for the 200 children we will be teaching and we also visited a medical supply chemists/pharmacy shop to pick up needed medicines for some of the 6000-10,000 people who live in the valley we will be visiting. Then we went to purchase our mattresses, trekking sticks, and other necessary bits and pieces along the way.

It was a very full and rewarding day and we truly enjoyed meeting everyone and it looks like we have a very fun group.

Now we are excited for tomorrow's (24 November) flight to Rumjatar in a small 16 seat plane chartered by the MEFSD. Wish us luck!! back to top

 

The team boarding the plane (Shelley Bloom). Inside a Buddhist monastery we visited (Chu Trandinh).

22 November, 2010

Well, today begins our service trek to remote Nepal. our team has been arriving slowly over the last few days and today more are arriving. We plan to have a team meeting on the 23rd at 10am. During the meeting we will review our itinerary and plans for the service trek, then we will review the members equipment, complete necessary shopping and have a group dinner. We plan to depart Kathmandu and fly to Rumjatar Airport on 24 November.

Tomorrow 23 November, I will also publish the team roster, after everyone arrives, so you can see the final list of who is on this trip. The weather has been really good of late, cool (15 degrees c, 59 degrees f) and dry. The farmers have brought in their harvest and this year was a bumper crop, so there are plenty of delicious healthy fresh vegetables and fruits. Stay tuned for tomorrow's dispatch! back to top

A view of Swayambhunath Stupa, the "Monkey Temple". It is the most ancient and enigmatic of all the holy shrines in Kathmandu valley. Swayambhunath's worshippers include Hindus, Vajrayana Buddhists of northern Nepal and Tibet, and the Newari Buddhists of central and southern Nepal. Each morning before dawn, hundreds of pilgrims will ascend the 365 steps that lead up the hill, file past the gilded Vajra (Tibetan: Dorje) and two lions guarding the entrance, and begin a series of clockwise circumambulations of the stupa. On each of the four sides of the main stupa there are a pair of big eyes. These eyes are symbolic of God's all-seeing perspective (Dave Dogruel).

Bottled Water along the trail to Mount Everest Basecamp

Here is a special www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MEFnews.com dispatch about bottled water along the trail to Mount Everest basecamp.

Well, you might know that it is important to drink at least 4 litres/quarts of water per day person while you are walking to Mount Everest basecamp in order to prevent dehydration and protect yourself against altitude sickness.

The leading cause of altitude sickness (besides altitude itself) is dehydration. So, while you are hiking along the Everest Trail, how will you obtain the necessary water? Well, you could bring your own bottle and specialized backpacking filter or "steripen" or "puritabs" or iodine tablets or "pyush" chlorine drops. You could purchase boiled water from the teahouses, or you could purchase "bottled water" sold in sealed plastic containers in little shops along the trail. Bottled water for sale can cost as much as 350 rupees $5 per bottle along the trail. When you finish with that bottle of water, what will you do with the bottle? Well, if you were in Kathmandu you might be able to give it to a recycler person and the bottle might be sent to India to be shredded and remade into clothing. However, in the Khumbu Valley, these bottles are not recycled, but rather tossed into dumps along the back of the village or thrown into the river. Sometimes the bottles are burned, releasing lots of nasty black sooty smoke. Have you ever wondered how water is bottled? Well so did we, and we visited a water bottling company in a tiny village in the Khumbu Valley near Everest. Please enjoy the photos and the video clip (click here to view) !

 
  

 A variety of commercial bottle water is available for sale in the Khumbu Valley. Kitchen ware peddler wading through puddle in front of Himalayan mineral water shop. Worker in the Khumbu mineral water plant. Worker explains how to fill bottles in the Khumbu mineral water plant (photo DL Mazur).

Himalayan Yaks

This is a special www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MEFnews.com dispatch about yaks on the trail to Everest Basecamp.

There are a lot of unique things which trekkers will see on the way to Mount Everest Base camp. Some of these are unique sites that you may see only once. Others are daily events that you will become accustomed to, but which may be seen nowhere else in the world. For example, the use of livestock to transport supplies has passed into history in most of the developed world, however, in the Khumbu Valley, where Mount Everest is located, livestock transportation is a fact of daily life. Yaks are the vehicle of choice in this remote region, where there are no roads, but plenty of windy wide trails with little or no snow. The word "Yak" is used loosely to refer to several different species of the cow family, and perhaps the Chinese describe this beast best by referring to it as a hairy-cow. In fact, the exact word Yak means a male of the species, while females are referred to as Naks, and babies as Nak-chung or Yak-chung. True yaks are very large and hairy, and they are generally unable to live below 3000 metres, 10,000 feet, due to the heat, which kills them. They have been successfully cross bred with cows or oxen, to produce a cross-breed known as Zopkiok, Zum, or just plain "Zo". These hybridized animals are very successful at carrying loads at lower elevation, perhaps down to 2000 metres or 6560 feet. Because Zos have shorter hair, they don't generally do well in cold snowy winter weather, but you will see groups of them on the trail to Mount Everest, in addition enourmous herds of Yaks. Yaks and Zos are mostly docile and harmless to humans, but it is advisable to steer a wide berth around them and avoid cornering them or crossing a bridge toward an oncoming animal.

Those horns look sharp and you would not want to be speared one. Yaks mate at the end of the monsoon in September. During this time the males battle for who will dominate the herd and make strange grunting noises and like to tear up vegetation (and perhaps other male yaks) with their horns. One amusing note, "yak cheese" is sold along the trail to everest and in Kathmandu. However, this is a misnomer, as yaks do not produce milk. The cheese is made from cows milk at dairy farms in the foothills and carried up to the Everest region to be sold by the more trendy name: "Yak cheese". We could only imagine what a real yak's cheese might taste like. How awful!

Please enjoy the photos and the video clip (click here to view)! back to top

 

 

 

 Yaks fighting at Pheriche in Mount Everest National Park (Murari Sharma). A third yak considers joining the battle  (Murari Sharma). A zopkiok on the Everest trail, passes close to trekkers between mani stone wall (Dan Mazur). Blonde yak leading the yak train on the way down from Everest basecamp (Dan Mazur). Yaks have the right of way on the streets of Namche (DL Mazur).  Fully loaded zos moving up the trail to Namche Bazaar while porters walk downhill (DL Mazur). Massive Khumbu valley yaks on the trail to Lobuche (Dan Mazur).

Sherpa Houses on the way to Everest Basecamp

Here is a www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MEFnews.com dispatch about Sherpa houses along the trail to Everest Basecamp.

Sherpa houses can be as simple as one room made of mud and rubble with a roof of woven bamboo splints, windows with hand-split wooden shutters and no glass, and a curtain for a door. Or they can be as complicated as a multi-story building of ornately carved stone blocks with multiple wooden verandas, glass sun rooms, slate or steel roofs, etcetera. Here are a few photos to get you thinking about potential building styles on the walk to Mount Everest. back to top

 

Traditional Sherpa village of Milingo with basic stone and mud structures in the forest at Deboche. Foreground: Everest basecamp trekker walking past a tiny one room house in village of Sanasa, in the distance - massive hotel in Loshasa. Just one door is all that is needed on this sherpa house in Pangboche, note the ramp to get to the door is more durable, simpler and longer lasting than a stairway. Sherpa farmstead at Orsho on trail to Mount Everest, note the steel roof and glass windows. Super basic sherpa house in village of Fungki Thangka with basketry roof and smoke hole on left side (D.L. Mazur).

Musk Deer

Hello there, here is today's www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MEFnews.com dispatch about Musk Deer.

Musk Deer are an extremely rare and endangered species of deer living in the ancient un-cut giant rhododendron forests at the base of Mount Everest. They are very hard to see as they are well camouflaged and blend into the scenery nearly perfectly. One day while we were surveying the deep forest for a potential location for the new Deboche waterline, we stumbled across one and were lucky to get close enough for some photos taken by our project manager, Mr. Mingma Sherpa, from Namche Bazaar. Musk deer are unique in that they have canine incisors (fangs), and their musk glands are worth big money for medicinal purposes. Some say that the gland of the musk deer can cure asthma, others say it is an aphrodisiac. Because of the demand for their gland, musk deer have been nearly hunted to extinction. However, a small herd survives to this day inside Mount Everest National Park. back to top

 

 

Elusive musk deer hiding in the ancient rhododendron forest at base of Mount Everest. Musk deer turns sideways to camera, can you see the canine incisors? Musk deer rears up from her bed after a nap. Musk deer running away from camera in the mossy steep forest. Sleeping musk deer relaxes in the forest (Mingma Sherpa).

Carrying Pipe

Hello everyone. Here is today's www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MEFnews.com dispatch. It's a video showing our 15 porters carrying pipe for the Deboche waterline project. The video has been taken by Jangbu Sherpa, Sirdar (headman) of the project. The Mount Everest Foundation for Sustainable Development needed to transport 1500 metres (nearly a mile) of plastic pipe from Kathmandu to Deboche, where it would be installed to supply water to the Deboche Convent, where twelve nuns had to carry all of their water up till now. So, the 1.5 kilometres of pipe was manufactured in Kathmandu, then loaded on a truck for the 10 hour windy and bumpy journey to the village of Jiri. Then 15 porters, from the Sherpa tribe, walked down from the hills around Everest, and each shouldered a coil weighing 30 kilos (about 66 pounds). They then slowly walked up hill for 10 days, carrying their coils of pipe, until the reached the village of Deboche, where they would install it. In this video clip, we can see the sherpas walking through the forest, carrying the heavy coils. Please click here to view this short video clip . back to top

Tengboche Monastery

We would like to offer you this special www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MEFnews.com dispatch about Tengboche Monastery. One of the highlights of the trek to Everest basecamp is a visit to Tengboche Monastery, also known as Tengboche Gompa. It lies atop a hill on the trail to Everest and is a very sacred temple to the Sherpa people and a fascinating colourful spot to stop for tea and enjoy a well deserved rest after climbing the seemingly never ending Tengboche Hill. Here are some wonderful photos provided by Mingma Sherpa from Namche Bazaar. back to top

 

Decorative statues and art at Tengboche Gompa entry gate, Wangde in background. Fine view of Everest massif with Nuptse and Lhotse from Tengboche Gompa, prayer flags frame picture. Tengboche Gompa - right group of lodges, left background - Kwangde, Numbur and Tangkompoche, mighty 6k metre peaks. The chief monk of the Tengboche Gompa on the right and one of the monks on the left (Mingma Sherpa).

Buddhist Nuns

Well hello all of our www.SummitTrekNews.com and www.MefNews.com readers.

This is a little report for your interest about Buddhist Nuns. Now lots of you might have heard about Buddhist monks and monasteries, but did you know that there are also Buddhist nuns and convents? We at www.SummitTrek.com have been working together with www.MountEverestFoundation.org to rebuild Nepal's oldest Buddhist Convent, called Deboche Ani's Gompa, at the base of the mighty Mount Ama Dablam (please see www.AmaDablamClimb.com) just 26 kilometres, 16 miles from Mount Everest. Deboche, as the locals know it, was first built in 1925 and is home to 12 Buddhist Nuns, known as Anis. They spend their days praying, counseling the locals, planting and harvesting crops, carrying water, going about their daily routine. The nuns are from age 25 up to 85 and are from Nepal and Tibet. One nun has been there more than 50 years and spends much of her time praying in solitary meditation. Here are some photos to show you a bit of what a Buddhist nun's daily life might be like.

The names of the nuns who were in residence, courtesy of Marcia MacDonald:

The total number was 11 but some were off visiting families.

  • Ani Pema: has been the head nun for many years and has been in retreat for over half a century. She is now in solitary retreat. A wonderful inspiration to the nuns and while she is alive she will welcome new nuns to the nunnery to study there.
  • Ani Ngawang Jinpa has been at Deboche for 11 years and is currently the acting head of the nunnery and is responsible for buying food and overseeing the others.
  • Ani Palmo has been there for 9 years. she is from Tibet.
  • Ani Paldu has recently arrived from Tibet.
  • Ani Ngawang Dolma has also been at Deboche for 9 years and has returned to Tibet twice to see her family.
  • Ani Ngawang Chhutin has been in residence for 9 years.

Thanks a lot for taking a look at the life of the Buddhist nuns of Deboche! back to top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuns pose in the doorway of the convent (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). A nun takes a break from praying in the convent (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). A nun working in the field (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella).Nun at Tengboche Gompa festival (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Ani Nawang Pema, the oldest and most famous of the Deboche nuns, has been meditating for 50 years (Marcia MacDonald). Anis work in the kitchen preparing a meal around their wood cook stove (Marcia MacDonald). Nun poses for a portrait (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Nuns at Tengboche Gompa festival (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Nuns at work cultivating the potatoes (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Nuns join a festival at Tengboche Gompa (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Nuns praying in the big prayer room with drum (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Nuns strike a pose next to the rock fence  (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Two nuns enjoy the morning sun rise outside their convent (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella). Two nuns take a break from their work on the farm (Justin Dickinson of the Big Umbrella).

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