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Nepal 2010 – The Diary
Just an update as it stands in Nepal at the moment. I have held countless telephone calls with The British Embassy and The Foreign Commonwealth Office - all of whom have given no reassurance or offered any help. The only organisation that has done anything constructive has been The Scout Association at Gillwell Park. They have been hindered by Jet Airways who have provided no information or options to us.
I understand that The Foreign Commonwealth Office must be inundated with people in worse situations than us, but it was my belief that they would have shown more concern than they have done for a group of 43 which includes 31 young people from the age of 13 to 18.
After watching the BBC news in Nepal I am not pepared to be forced into getting stuck at Delhi airport with thousands of other people who have been there for five days now. This is in line with the advice given by the Foreign Commonwealth Office.
Everyone remains in good health and we will endavour to remain positive and make the most of our time in Nepal.
I would like to personally thank Daisy at The Scout Association, Gillwell Park who has helped us during this difficult time for myself and the leadership team.
We are now back in Kathmandu. I have spoken to Jet Airways, the insurance company and The British Embassy. We are still unclear whether we are flying tomorrow or not. However The British Embassy have stated that they have put us on a priority list in case our flight is cancelled and advised us not to travel to Delhi if our onward flight is unconfirmed.
Everyone is well and we will update you once someone can confirm whether we are flying or not.
We left ABC in the early morning, to reduce the risk of avalanches,and headed towards the Annapurna glacier. The glacier entrance was situated about 20 minutes walk away from ABC. When we reached the glacier edge it became aparent that the descent was harder than we first anticipated, this was shown when the porters requested the use of a hand line to traverse the steep icy slope. After several scary moments we reached the bottom and proceded to cross the glacier, which consisted of large scree slopes, to the other side. After a brief rest the porters decided to play a distasteful joke on us which involved throwing rocks off the cliff face that we were about to ascend, rocks some of the team believed to be porters themselves. We then set off up a slope to the top, around 100M above us. After a brief lunch stop we were ordered by Matt to prepare to stablize ourselves with our ice axes. The remainder of the path up to camp was very exposed and well worn; at times it was not apparent where the path was or even if one existed at all. Finally we reached Glacier Camp, which was well recived by all.
The following day we all, despite some people feeling possible effects of altitude sickness, set off towards High Camp. However not long into the days trekking the altitude took its toll and forced Ben to make the tough decision to go no further and return to Glacier Camp. Not long after James found himself in the same position and returned to Camp to prevent further symptoms that could have ruined the rest of his trip. Whilst the remainder of the Summit team pressed on, once again without the use of handlines, we recieved a message that Ben and James had recieved the OK and that they would be remaining at Camp in order to recuperate. Despite two team members returning to camp morale was still high as we pressed onwards towards High Camp, with some members of the team even stopping to celebrate (with a "Haribo Moment") reaching the 5000m landmark. Not long after we reached the location of High Camp at 5100m, the location that would prove to be the highest point we would reach on the expedition. This was because, after assessing the route up to Tent Peak, Matt decided that the time scale we had been provided would not be sufficient enough for a safe summit of the peak. It was also decided that the peak itself was a lot more technical than we were prepared for and that summiting it would require expertise we didnt really have. This was a big blow as it felt almost like we had failed in our task - however we were reminded that reaching 5100m was still a massive achievement.
After celebratory sweets, group photos and assessing the amazing surrounding views we headed back towards Glacier Camp. On the way down the weather was against us,with the clouds coming in, so we quickly went back down to Glacier Camp, where we were to spend the night. The following day we used fixed ropes down into the glacier, with some fairly near misses. We once again walked over the glacier, and as we approached the edge we could already hear rock falls caused by the thawing ice. Once again using fixed lines we ascended the glacier face. We safely made it out of the glacier and had a reasonably relaxed walk to MBC, considering the days events, where we were reunited with the ABC Team. The night was spent discussing the past weeks events between the two treks.
We left Phedi in the morning and said goodbye to the mountain guides who accompanied us on the trek. We also met four old Explorer Scouts who were on their gap year. We then had an hour and a half bus journey to the rafting start point. There we ate lunch while the rafting instructors prepared the rafts. After lunch we had a safety briefing and were given our equipment - a helmet, paddle and lifejacket.
Organised into groups, we got on our rafts where we then practised the various commands (Forward, Back, Left Back, Right Back, Hold on and Hold on and Down). Shortly after we started rafting and we had our first rapid within five minutes. We did 2 hours of rafting, but had to get out and walk for a couple of rapids because they were too dangerous. These were called "Little Brother" and "Big Brother".
Once we arrived at our riverside campsite on a beach, it was very sandy, we unloaded the rafts. Then as we started to put up the tents it poured down with rain. After the tents had all gone up they told us the camp rules. Then we had a nice dinner of spag bol and chips.
On our second day, whilst we had breakfast the rafts were loaded by the guides. Then we started rafting but some of the smaller members of the ABC team had to miss out the first rapid. This day was the best rafting day as the teams were having waterfights. Pradip was getting really competitive and throwing buckets of water at the other rafts.
We had our lunch break and did another 2 hours of rafting before reaching our next campsite.
The day we reached ABC. It was a half day, because it consisted of an hour and a half walk from MBC to ABC and an hours back. Unfourtunately there was no snow because of consistant hot weather. It was a triumphant feeling to have reached our goal. We stood on the edge of the Annapurna glacier and it was breath taking. The trek back to MBC was extremly easy as it was all downhill.
Then we began are trek to rafting, most of it was downhill except for a couple of stairs up hill which were very difficult. The best bits were finishing the walking and taking in the stunning views at our campsites. At one of our stops we went to hot springs at Jhinu which was extremly relaxing.
Everyone was extremly happy and pleased at what they had acomplished in treking. Bring on the rafting!
We had a really early rise at 5 to get a 8:10am flight to Pokhara to get on mini buses to get to the starting point of the trek, Naya Pul. We had a fairy easy start to our trek in very hot weather and managed to get to our first camp site, Ghandruk, in a quick time so caught up on some sleep.
On the second day of treking we went a long distance to Chomrong, a longer day than the day before. We had to start off walking down towards the river where we stopped for lunch before starting our ascent over the landslide to reach Chomrong. In the evening, after dinner we had some local people come down to the campsite playing music and dancing to raise a little bit of money for the village.
The third day, we set off from Chomrong to Dovan. We began by making the descent back down to the river, then began the arduous climb back up the mountain. After reaching the other side of the mountain we got to Sinua where we had lunch before our way into the jungle towards Dovan. We got about 15mins past Bamboo, the village before Dovan, before being sent back to Bamboo due to lack of tent space in Dovan.
The next day we began from Bamboo and set off to Deurali. The day began badly with deja vu, it was difficult to take in, however we stuck through it and soon made it to Himalalya, where we had lunch. We then set off to Deurali where we set up camp and had a nice hot bucket of water for a shower (it was Amazing!!)
The following day we set off for Annapurna Base Camp (ABC) from Deurali. We made a gradual ascent to MBC, not without being tricked by the 'false' MBC along the way, for lunch before making the final push for ABC where we set up camp for the night. The veteran members of the team remarked on how bare and free of snow the landscape was looking in comparison with previous years.
We were allowed a much welcomed lie-in the next morning for our scheduled acclimatisation day at ABC. After a slow start, we all kitted up with harnesses, crampons and ice axes to practice on the small snow-covered slope that was situated just beyond our campsite. We set off as one big group all harnessed up in our equipment ready to set off up the hill; our two guides helping us along the way. after a slow ascent upwards we made it to the top where we gazed at the view and took photos. We then made are way back down the hill where we stopped for lunch, washed clothes and relaxed for the rest of the day. After lunch, a friendly American couple became interested in our journey and kindly agreed to take a small book full of messages down to the ABC team as we assured them they would definitely spot the hoard on the way up! As this was the last day before our ascent to tent peak the chef made us a cake which the whole summit team was delighted about.
Firstly we were dropped off by minibus at Naya pul and we began our 11 day trek. It was one of the hardest days and was mostly up hill. We met the guides for the first time and were surprised at how hot and tiring it was. It was hard adjusting to the climate and after 5 hours we arrived at our first campsite at Ghandruk.
The next day we woke up to "bed tea", hot washing water and a fantastic view. After breakfast we started our walk to Tada Panni. It was a half day, but still very hard as most of it was very steep steps going up. We arrived at our campsite and had lunch. We also experienced our frst showers whilst trecking, some were colder than others unfortunatly. Some were so cold people suffered from brain freeze!
After the usual "bed tea" and washing water we started of for Chomrong. Our third day of trecking was steep down, across a bridge and then straight up again. We stopped of for lunch and after more walking we arrived at our campsite.
The fourth day, thought to be the second hardest was a long trek to Dovan. It was about 5 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. Mostly through forests and we saw a few monkeys. The trek was straight down, over a bridge, up then straight and then once again we had to go UP and then we went down again. Finally we reached our campsite, had dinner and then went to bed after a long day.
The fifth day, was a short day from Dovan to Deurali and was fairly rocky. We crossed over rivers and a few people were sick. At the campsite, like usual, our tents were put up by the lovely guides, dinner was cooked and we had a rest afternoon. Unfortunatly it rained :(
The next morning things had seemed to brighten up, and off we went again. Heading towards MBC and was an easier day for most! We saw some stunning scenary and were pleased when we reached our campsite as it meant we ony had one more days walk to ABC. We were happy to meet up with the Summit team at MBC althought it was much earlier than expected. We spent time catching up with them and discussing our seperate trecks.
It was cold and wet and we had buckets of hot water instead of proper showers. However we were close to ABC and the next day we would set off to reach our final goal.
First of all everyone is fine and well and we have just got back from rafting. We are now in Pokhara and have just finished dinner. There will be lots of updates from the team very shortly.
We are currently looking into all channels open to us regarding the issues with the flights into the UK. I am not prepared to risk the well being of the team by flying from Nepal to Delhi if there is a chance that we will have to stay there overnight(s) - especially as we do not have visas to enter India. We will update you as much as possible (power cuts permitting) both through the website and home contact. Please do not worry everyone here is in good spirits and looking forward to Kathmandu.
As many of you may have seen there has been a problem with the diary page of the website. This should now be fixed and there are a couple of audio entries from the summit team.
Yesterday was our last day of trekking and today we've had a short walk and are staying in Phedi overnight before we go rafting tomorrow.
We've had a great time trekking with excellent weather, outstanding views and a good team spirit. We will update again on Tuesday after our rafting.
On Saturday morning we left bright and early after breakfast and embarked on a painful five hour coach journey. During the coach journey there were many bumps and turns and a lot of beeping. We had one stop through out the whole journey in which we saw a goat being skinned and prepared for a feast on the beach below.
When we finally arrived at Chitwan National Park we grabbed our bags and headed off to our rooms. During the first day in Chitwan we visited four different villages in which all the people living there are immune to Malaria. We had dinner and headed off to bed.
The next morning, up at 6 am for breakfast at 7 am and after breakfast we headed off to an elephant ride, in which we saw many different animals. After this we bathed the elephants in the river in which we all got drenched by the elephants spraying water all over us while we were on their backs as well as being tipped off the back of them. Before lunch we had our own free time which we spent in the swimming pool.
After lunch we went canoeing and saw two species of crocodiles and many birds. After the canoe we walked through the jungle an to an elephant breeding centre. After watching the elephants we walked to ox carriages where we were carted back to the hotel where we had dinner and went off to bed.
The next day, we packed everything up and left for half 8 for another five hour journey to Pokhara. Once we arrived we settled into the hotel. The best hotel yet. We went out in our groups for lunch and now we have free time till 9pm.
We woke up around 7 and had breakfast of traditional Nepalese food. After this we headed out for a walk around the streets to see how people live and work in a less developed country and some of the sights we saw were totaly unbelievable. We spent most of the morning out and when we arrived back at the hotel we got ready for this days trip to Patan, an old Nepalese town. We then made our way though this sacred collectoin of Nepalese buildings, with a tour guide telling us about the area.
After Patan we then got on a coach to 'The Monkey Temple' and as you have probably guessed there was lots of monkeys. This was a historical Buhddist place for the Nepalese people.
After this amazing visit we then made our way down a set of stairs which had 365 for every day of the year.
On the arrival back we went and packed our bags for our expedition and made our way back downstairs for dinner. We were left to get whatever we liked and we ended up in a small steak house (it was very nice). Tomorrow we leave for our expeditions.
Around a day later we have all arrived safely in Kathmandu. We had a slight delay in Delhi as the plane didn't show up. The drive was fairly long and chaotic because of the sheer volume of traffic and no-one obeys the rules.
We've all unloaded our luggage and about to sit down for our briefing and group meal. Tomorrow we are going to spend the day in Kathmandu looking around and preparing to leave the day after next.
This is the first of the expedition's diary entries which we will be updating with information of our journey. Obviously while trekking, there will be limited opportunity to update the blog. However when we are in towns and cities with internet access we will update with details from our previous day's adventures.
Please bookmark this address, and stay tuned for more updates.