Project 314: Blog #2 – “Daddy go climb Daddy’s big mountain now?”

April 13, 2023

Jake Meyer

Client Accounts' Director
Jake and his three children sitting amongst bags packed for Jake's trip

Day 2
Kathmandu

The last few weeks in the UK have been a bit of a whirlwind. Work has been extremely busy this year (for good reasons), but as such, this project has been a strange sort of side hustle – feeling very peripheral to everything else going on. Fortunately, I’d done a first draft pack of my kit about a month ago, which gave me a little bit of time to source any extra bits and bobs. To be fair, I certainly didn’t need to buy any new climbing kit, so it was mainly food, medical supplies and other sundries that I had to gather up, as well as sponsors’ flags, banners and badges.

The two weeks of work were completely manic – including working with clients straight across a weekend as well. This meant that by the time I downed tools on Thursday evening, I was pretty exhausted and very cognisant of having two and a half days to balance both the final prep and focusing on my

family.

Jake and his three children sitting amongst bags packed for Jake's trip

Jake and his three children sitting amongst the bags packed for his trip

The fact that it was Easter weekend was in many ways a blessing, as it gave us something that we could all focus on. My older girls (Ottie, 8, and Poppy, 6) have been very aware of the impending expedition, but perhaps haven’t quite appreciated that I’d be away for such a long time. Thankfully the youngest, Sienna (2) is blissfully ignorant of the length of time I’ll be away and has kept on asking me if “Daddy go climb Daddy’s big mountain now?”

Easter day itself felt a little like the last day of the school holidays before going back to school. Everyone trying to do lots of fun things to make the most of the day, but at the same time, still counting down the minutes until the taxi arrived. Laughs and tears in equal measures – and whilst I was excited to finally get going, the latter certainly doesn’t make it any easier to say goodbye.

Saskia, my wife, has as ever been a complete rock. I am so blessed to have her in my life, and whilst I know that there would be no complaints from her if I decided to hang up my crampons and take up gardening, she’s been incredibly stoic in her support of my illogical passion.

Thursday 13th April is our 10-year wedding anniversary, and this will be the 3rd big (two month) expedition I’ve been on in that time. In the preceding years that we were together I had several other big trips and six months in Afghanistan with the Army. Putting up with my costly wanderlust is just one example of her awesomeness. I could go on extolling her endless virtues, but she’ll be reading this, so I’ll save her blushes.

Landing in Kathmandu 18 years after my last visit was like déjà vu – some strange half-recalled dream that you can’t quite work out if it was real or not. There is a wonderful madness yet embracing intimacy to Kathmandu. ‘Hustle and bustle’ is a tired cliché with which to describe cities, but I struggle to find a more apt description of this vibrant capital. It was both familiar and different at the same time.

The stop/start chaos of the traffic is typical of so many cities, especially in this part of the world – chuntering overloaded buses battle with ubiquitous Toyotas (Corollas and Landcruisers), all plagued by swarms of motorbikes and scooters bending and weaving, demonstrating entropy in action. To be fair, I’m not sure I’d even be able to tell you which side of the road you’re supposed to drive on. Throw in an apparent lack of pedestrian crossing (or even pavements in many areas), and you’re adding soft and squishy humans to the transportation blender. The soundtrack of beeping horns and revving engines make any specific warnings indistinguishable, so you really have to have eyes in the back of your head whilst walking the streets.

Jake arriving in Kathmandu and being met by one of the team members from Seven Summits

Safely arrived in Kathmandu, Jake is met by a member of the team from Seven Summits

Nepal is so many things, but one of the most obvious, even to the first-time visitor is the genuine friendliness of the Nepalese. Even the guards and police that you see on the streets smile and go about their jobs with a playful sense of humour that should undermine their authority, but if anything makes you respect their humanity. I suspect that police forces the world over could learn a thing or two about this approach. As a dear friend of mine said the other day – “kindness doesn’t have to be at the expense of respect for authority”.

Thamel is the tourist hub of Kathmandu – narrow streets with a mixture of guest houses and hotels, bars and clubs, tour operators and agencies, and endless small shops selling Nepalese handicrafts, expedition clothing (mainly cheap knock-offs) and souvenirs. Flocks of white doves settle on rooftops and shop owners aggressively sprinkle water on the street outside their storefronts to keep the dust at bay – with no apparent regard for any passers-by who may get caught in the crossfire.

It is an assault on the senses, as incense and spice aromas battle with each other for dominance; dust from construction and pollution from motorbikes sting the eyes; and music, excitable chatter and offers for taxi and tuk-tuk drivers provide a hectic audio backdrop.

One thing I noticed is that much of the more traditional Hindi music that I remember from my last trip has now been drowned out by Ed Sheeran and Coldplay’s back catalogue. James Blunt still seems to also hold sway over the airwaves – which has an element of comfort to me given that the then newly released Back to Bedlam was a seminal soundtrack to my Everest trip in 2005.

Gone too was the tired spartan hotel that I’d stayed in nearly two decades ago – this time I had been checked into a sleek and trendy Marriot-Bonvoy franchise brand hotel. All glorious air-conditioning, mountains of soft bolster pillows, steaming rainfall showers and USB plug sockets. I honestly feel more like I’m on a business trip – and to top it off, in the last 24 hours there have been no electricity blackouts!

Soon, however, we will be saying goodbye to such comforts…

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+91 955 271 5800

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+44 (0) 1276 686644