Mountain Link Dhaulagiri Expedition 2002

Saturday March 23, 2002: Namaste Mountain Friends!

Kathmandu is alive and kicking! Our team arrived in the hectic Kathmandu airport on Friday, March 22nd.

When Mike Lindaas and I boarded our flight in Seattle, WA the pilot got on the intercom and announced, "Sorry folks for the delay but it seems that our jet is a little overweight this morning, we'll need to unload some of the cargo and we'll be on our way". Mike and I looked at each other and knew exactly what was going to happen.

And guess what wasn't at the Kathmandu airport? That's right, only 2 out of our 9 duffels arrived. But that's okay, another expedition was missing 17 duffels. So today, Sunday, March 24, Mike, Lhawang and I will be returning to the airport to retrieve our gear. The rest of the team will be enjoying a second day of visiting the sites of the city.

Tomorrow, the team will be putting the finishing touches on packing up, and then we depart on a 15-minute flight to Pokhara. We spend a day in Pokhara, so we'll talk with you again real soon ... Jeff Justman (aka JJ)

Sunday, March 24, 2002: On the day of our arrival to Kathmandu the jet lag settled in and we tried to catch up on some much-needed rest. At the dinner meeting everyone was nodding off as Robert was trying to tell us what the plans were for the following day. Finally he gave up and called it a night and we picked it back up the next day. 

The following day was our first full day in Kathmandu and we spent it as any group of climbers and trekkers would; we went sight seeing and shopping! For most of us, this is our first time in Nepal so everything is just amazing. We went to two places yesterday, the Monkey Temple and Boudhanath and ended up wandering around just gazing at the beauty of both the Temples and the people. We ended up sitting on a rooftop at Boudhanath eating lunch and just contemplating that we were actually sitting in Kathmandu. You could look from the room top and see a few snowy peaks deep in the distance; the peaks seem to just give a hint of what lay ahead. 

We sat talking about how all these people were surrounded by such beauty but they didn't seem to notice. They went around on their daily tasks not bothering to notice the striking sights that lay right before them. As I thought about this I began to see that in myself. Living in the Bay Area I normally concentrate more on the negative than the positive, because it's there. I'm going to have to work on that. The guides have all been busy setting everything up for the rest of us, which has given us time to go out and enjoy the city. Shopping seems to be a favorite past time. Everyone is making sure they get that perfect gift for that special person. We leave tomorrow and everyone is really excited to get moving. This is really cool. Dan Bridges

Monday, March 25, 2002: It has been a hectic morning as the team is putting the finishing touches on packing and getting ready to leave for Pokhara. Last night we enjoyed a great meal at New Orleans in the Thamel district of Kathmandu. Live music was blaring with tunes from B.B. King to Bob Marley. The band even dedicated a song to the team for good luck. Appropriately, it was Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here".

We are definitely looking forward to our 15-minute flight to Pokhara. It will be nice to have a change of scenery. After a day in Pokhara, we will head to Lomsom to begin our nine-day trek into Dhaulagiri Base camp. Satellite phones and computers have been tested and all systems are a go. Robert met with Elizabeth Hawley who keeps tabs on all the statistics and "going ons" in the Himalayan climbing world. It will be interesting to see if any other teams will be on the mountain this year. Everest will see expeditions by the dozens this spring; we may be the only ones to enjoy Dhaulagiri. As for right now, I need to go and make sure I have enough socks. Talk to you again soon... Jeff Justman 

Tuesday, March 26, 2002: We have been in Pokhara, Nepal for a day and a half. This morning we gained our first glimpse of the Himalayas. The Annapurna range was peaking out in the morning sun. The team spent the day wandering the streets of Pokhara sightseeing. The children in Pokhara added to our experience. They enjoy being the subjects for pictures. I think what they liked the most was seeing their image in the digital camera once the photo was taken. Their giggles have been the highlights of our experience in this wonderful Himalayan village.

We thought the people in Kathmandu were nice; Pokhara is the same. Tibetan women show beautiful jewelry and trinkets. I feel guilty turning them down when I realize they are selling me something I would buy in the States for $20 and they are selling it for only $2. However, as my Mom taught me, you can't buy everything. Tomorrow our flight to Jomsom departs very early at 5:30AM. Upon arrival, we will spend the day putting the final preparations for our trek into Dhaulagiri Base camp. Until next time, the team all says, "Hi" to family and friends ... Keep Climbin' Jeff Justman

Wednesday, March 27, 2002: Early this morning, Dhaulagiri came out of the clouds for the first time. Since the mountain was still there, we jumped in a small prop plane for a scenic flight over the Annapurna Himal. After landing in Jomsom, we arranged our gear again and settled into our new hotel. Generally, tourists do not visit Jomsom; this makes it a more cultural experience for our team. I am struck by how friendly the people are to us. They always smile and say, "Namaste" when you walk by.
Tilicho Peak, 7140 meters
The views here are incredible with 7000-meter peaks touching the sky. At this elevation, it seems the sky is getting darker blue by the moment. Robert mentioned, "From all the villages in Nepal that I have been, these are the best mountain views I've ever seen." Today, the team will trek around Jomsom, which is at an elevation of 8900 ft. We depart tomorrow for our first big day of trekking towards Dhaulagiri Base camp. Enjoy JJ


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