Everest / Alpine Expeditions

Return to Everest Update 24 March: Scott Parazynski: Deja vu all over again

By Keith Cowing
Scott Parazynski
March 24, 2009
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Day 3/March 24, 2009 (Tuesday)
Deja vu all over again

When you go across the border to Canada, as an example, subtle things make you feel like a foreigner: the way certain words are said or written, the availability of certain foods (have you ever tried poutine?) or the fact that some signs are bilingual. Step off the aircraft in Kathmandu, however, and you get this sense amplified many orders of magnitude! It’s not just the Sanskrit lettering and unfamiliar Nepali sounds, it’s the controlled chaos on the roadways, the barking street vendors, the wandering livestock and melodious Eastern music that startle my system, yet also seem inviting and comfortable again. It is most excellent to be back here.”

Factoid: traveling in this part of the world brings together many cultures, languages, traditions and religions. I flew on Qatar Airways from Frankfurt to Doha and then Kathmandu. It was interesting to see the moving GPS map display for this Islamic country’s national airline: regardless of where we were in a turn or location, a vector or arrow would display the direction and distance to their holy city of Mecca (in support of daily calls to prayer).

From landing gear retraction in Houston to main gear touchdown at Kathmandu International, my journey lasted 30.5 hours across 10.45 time zones (yes, Nepal is rather unique in that they are 5 and hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time — which makes calculating the time back home a bit less intuitive). Stepping out of the plane and downclimbing the air stairs I was met with a balmy 28 deg C on a sunny, smoggy day – a far cry from the chill we’ll see in the Khumbu region in just 2 days time.

Marching through passport control, I met up with Dick Colthurst and his climbing camera team from Tigress Productions: very nice guys, clearly innovative with their technologies, and very skilled filming in high places. Mingma and others from Beyul Adventures met us outside the terminal, whereupon we were whisked away to a minibus and the Hotel Tibet (familiar to me as last year’s city hotel). Eric Simonson, Mark Tucker, Justin Merle and Mike Hamill were all there to greet us – very nice to reconnect with old friends, and meet several of the other climbers and trekkers.

My roommate Stephen is a trekker and investment banker from South Africa; turns out that there are more South Africans on the IMG team than any other nationality this season. An all-female climbing team from Singapore, a sub-set of the IMG summit team, left earlier today for Lukla and a warm-up climb of Lobuche – but otherwise most everyone from the climbing and trekking groups was present and accounted for.

We had our kick-off party atop the Radisson, a catered event at their rooftop garden, with a beautiful panorama of the city (which looks much better with the incandescent glow of dusk than with its daytime brown haze). Eric impressed me with his ability to pick up names, as he’s just met 40+ people and really does seem to have a solid command of their first names and a little about each one. Everyone seemed engaging and enthusiastic for the adventure ahead – it would seem impossible to not be…

I weighed myself in at a strong but fairly lean 205 pounds: I wonder what I’ll weigh 8 weeks from now? I lost a full 25 pounds last season, much of it lean muscle mass, which took about 3 months to get back in the gym (and kitchen!).

Earlier in the afternoon I stopped by a little shop I’d used last season to prepare shirts and patches, this time to modify a small case for my SPOT Satellite Personal Tracker. I asked him to add a redundant mechanism to hold the unit in it’s Velcro case, and I also created a means to strap the device on or near the top of my backpack when in motion. This should make for ideal satellite communications while on the trek and mountain in the days ahead. I also “introduced my SPOT” to Nepal by kicking off a simple 20 minute sequence to verify its place in the world. I hope to get to the SPOT tracking web site tomorrow and validate my position, but my eyelids feel like lead, so this is forward work. I’m finally going to bed!

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻