Position Date: 2010-09-03 00:25:03
Position Latitude: 27.6883
Position Longitude: 86.7308
I feel like I can always use one more day. This morning was no exception Up most of last night finishing office work and other last minute details, I thought another day in Kathamndu might not be such a bad thing. Besides, from what I've been told, the weather has been terrible the past several weeks very few flights have made it to Lukla. The chances of a cancelled flight were fairly high.
Then, I tend to always feel that way prior to an expedition departure. In 2005, my expedition partner Lonnie Dupre and I were at a remote Siberian weather station called Sredney awaiting a helicopter flight to the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Sick with the flu, I hoped for bad weather to blow in and delay our departure. A few minutes later, a huge orange helicopter landed and whisked us away on one of the most difficult two weeks of my life.
Then again, I'm not complaining. Time is of the essence. Getting to Base Camp, Camp 1, and higher all depend on a complex series of steps. In expeditions, small problems can easily stack up to and become big debilitating issues. So the fact that we hit an two hour weather window after no flights had been into Lukla in almost a week is nothing less than a gift. Perhaps my efforts with Nima yesterday in the Karma department paid off. Unfortunately, I need a bit more work as Nima (another Nima) and Tshering (another Tshering, our sidar) didn't make it in on a later flight as all other flights were cancelled after our plane landed.
I'm reluctant to write more about my good luck with flying this year. All my flights in Antarctica and Arctic were on schedule - a statistic so mind blowing to me that I am hesitant to talk further about it as I feel like it might suck all the luck out of my remaining years.
Trying to catch a few minutes of extra sleep in the small twin otter plane, Tshering, shook me awake and said, 'Eric, Lukla'. He pointed forward out the cockpit window to emphasize the point. Clouds, mountains. I didn't see anything. Out the side window, I could see the steep vegetation covered mountain slopes of a giant valley. Craning my neck to see around the pilots, the clouds cleared revealing a clif face, and incredibly, the start of a uphill sloping runway. Lukla airport is precariously placed to put it mildly.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing and walking around town. I managed to fenagle another nap. Later, I feasted on a huge plate of noodles crowded in a small corner of the my hotel's kitchen of with Tshering and some of his friends. We huddled on benches watching a movie about Everest from the perspective of Sherpas. It was in Nepalese, but Tshering, ever concerned about my well being, called out familiar scenes.
'South Col,' he add quietly.