Project 314: Blog #3 – A very international team

April 20, 2023

Jake Meyer

Client Accounts' Director
Even the hotel life seems to be tempting me with something…

Day 3
Kathmandu

I’ve repacked my equipment in preparation for transport to the mountain. Several bags of ‘mountain kit’ are going straight to basecamp, whilst I’ll have one duffel bag of ‘trekking kit’ which will accompany me for the next 7-9 days. I took time to put everything in the duffel bags into waterproof stuff sacks – as whilst it’s gloriously hot and dry in Kathmandu at the moment, who knows what the weather will be like as we head into the hills.

Catching up with Belgium climber Wim Smets in Sam’s Bar

I caught up with an old friend – Belgium’s premier 8000m mountaineer Wim Smets. I met this Vin Diesel lookalike on K2 in 2009 when we were on the same team – an accomplished and incredibly strong climber, who’s stature is only exceeded by his compassion and kindness. We formed a quick bond on that expedition and have kept in touch over the years.

Despite not having seen him face to face for nearly 14 years, we quickly fell back into the easy conversation of shared experiences and comfort in each other’s company. Wim is out in Nepal to attempt Makalu (the 5th highest mountain in the world) – his second attempt on it, having been caught (thankfully unharmed) there by the Nepal earthquake of 2015. If he’s successful, it would be his 6th 8000m summit – beating his own Belgium record. We went to Sam’s Bar and drank bottles of ice-cold Everest beer with a playlist of early-noughties rock and indie music in the background. Somethings never change.

It was also a chance to meet the rest of the team that I’m part of too. I will go into more detail about the team in due course, and no doubt introduce some of the characters to you – however given that I’ve only just met them and haven’t had a chance to ask their permission to include them by name in my blog (something that I would also see as an expected courtesy rather than strictly necessary).

Breakfast of champions at Aloft hotel in KathmanduSo at this stage, I can confirm that we are a very international team – I’m the lone Brit (and the only native English speaker), we have two from China, two from Poland (although they’ve come separately), and then one each from Japan, Iran, Romania, Germany and France. Ten in total at this stage. Everyone has multiple 8000m peaks under their belts, and the Japanese climber was actually on K2 on two of the years that I was there – and he ended up summiting the day after me in 2018 – so we already have lots in common!

Our Sirdar (Sherpa guide and leader) is called Nuri Sherpa, and has done 7 expeditions to Kanchenjunga and has summited 5 times. He’ll be leading a team of 11 or 12 Sherpas, some of whom have gone ahead to get to basecamp early and prepare for our arrival, and the remainder who will walk in with us. Again, more about them in due course as I meet them – but I’m certainly very excited to be working closely with wonderful Sherpas again.

Tomorrow we will fly to Bhadrapur – a town in the East of Nepal. From there we’ll then travel by jeep for a couple of days to Yamphudin, from which we’ll start our trek towards basecamp. Sadly (perhaps) although not unsurprisingly, wifi and connectivity is extremely limited or non-existent once we start trekking – so I’ll be relatively out of contact until we get into basecamp and can fire up the satellite modem. I will be using my tracker whilst I’m on the journey – which you can see on the link on this website – and I’ll be able to send a few short text updates along the way.

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