Monday, March 31, 2008

In Darjeeling, ain't no foolin!

Hello all! Jason here. First, thank for all the super awesome comments on the blog so far! We really appreciate everyone saying hello and leaving your thoughts about our trip. Second, let's here it for Allison for all the time she's put into this page and posting all the updates! Allison, the four of us here say...THANK YOU!!!! You're the best.
We arrived in Darjeeling yesterday after spending a night in Pelling, West Sikkim. Pelling is crazy, it's just a bunch of hotels on a hill. Really, just hotels. I don't know how the town is sustained. We couldn't even find a market?!? On our drive from Pelling to Darjeeling we stopped at a holy cave and hot springs along the river and had lunch in a town called Naya Bazaar. As we ascended from 1200' by the river at Naya Bazaar to Darjeeling at 7200', we passed by numerous tea plantations perched improbably on the very steep hillsides. It's mind-boggling how much agriculture is done on hillsides that drop so steeply.
It's been an awesome trip for sure. Here in Darjeeling now for a couple days we'll be doing the tourist bit and will be consuming loads of tea and food. Now's the part of the trip where we get all fat and happy like most tourists. We're SO psyched about how our expedition went! The trek in was fantastic, we summitted one of the peaks and saw some amazing territory. Each morning we'd wake up with a stellar view of Kachenjunga and I was just glad to be alive and in such a wonderful and amazing place. When we left for this trip I figured if we summitted just one peak of the two, I'd consider that total success given we had no knowledge of the routes and difficulty involved. Yahoo!!
It's been fantastic but I'm also looking forward to getting back home to enjoy spring in the Southwest and see everyone back in New Mexico. See you all soon!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Evening, Tshoka

Jason phoned from Josh's cell phone and left me a voice message. They were at Tshoka which is about 10,000 ft. It was snowing and raining some. He said they are 1 day away from Yuksum. He said in Yuksum they should be able to take their first shower in 24 days. Jason said that pretty darn sweet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Leaving base camp, Wednesday AM

Jason phoned and said they were packing up base camp this morning and moving down into the valley. Sam and Sarah had made more attempt on Tinchenkang. He said they got around 18,500 ft and the conditions on the mountain were bad. The rock band had a lot of ice rime on it. After packing up base camp they were going to make a trek to Goecha-la Pass. Goecha-la pass is just below Kanchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain. Then it would be a 2 day hike out. He said he would try and call Saturday or Sunday.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Base Camp, Monday Morning

More snow, Jason said it had snowed overnight. Jason said even the guides thought the weather was unusual, with this much snow this early. They had talked with Sam and Sarah at the 16,000 ft camp yesterday and were going to talk with them today via radios. Sam seems to have upset stomach. The same that Josh had a day or two ago.  Jason didn't have much to say since he has been at base camp for the last couple of days. His hike to the lake was nice.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Base Camp, Sunday Morning

I heard from Jason this evening and it had snowed again yesterday. He was glad to have a second rest day. He was planning a hike to lake (maybe Samiti Lake?) where a lot of trekkers go. Sam and Sarah were preparing to go to the high camp on Tinchenkang. Jason and Josh decided, if the weather cooperates they will go for the summit from base camp. Jason said if the weather did not improve maybe they would head out a day or two early to do some tourist activities.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jopuno Summit Day, 5,936 meters

Jason called tonight. He and Josh made it to the summit of Jupuno yesterday. Sam and Sarah made it to around 18,500 ft. Jason said it was an 18 hour day. They left base camp around 3:30 am and reached the summit around 1 pm and returned to base camp at 10:30 pm (He said the cooks prepared a big dinner). Jason said the day started out clear and became cloudy around 10 am (like the last couple of days, he said). Jason said they climbed a 45-50 degree snow slope, to a rock band then to very loose rock. Jason described it as loose shale. Jason and Josh did not have any summit views because of the snow. He said the descent was tricky with the snow on the loose shale. He said today was a rest day and his feet and toes were sore from the 5,500 ft up and then down. 
Jason said there was some sort of strike going on in India (bus?, road?) so they may have to charter a helicopter back.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

18,400 ft Jopuno

I heard from Jason this morning. He and Josh made it to 18,400 ft on Jopuno before it got very windy and they had to turn around. They were going to cache some ropes and axes but decide to keep moving up because the weather was nice but turn windy. Jason said the west ridge is nice, with a 45 degree snow slope then some rock to the summit. They cached the ropes and axes at 17,000 ft and tomorrow they all will be going for the summit. Jason said it had been nice at base camp, good food and it was nice to sit with everyone in the evenings. Hopefully I will hear something tomorrow evening.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

18,000 ft and snowing hard on Tinchenkang

Jason called tonight. He said they were moving back to base camp. They had run out of food and fuel. After a couple nice days of weather, it has turned snowy. Friday night when he called it had snowed. Sam and Sarah had to descend from their cache trip in the snow. Sunday, he said, Josh and him had made it to 18,000 ft and it started snowing hard and the visibility was zero. He said the day started clear but soon turn bad. Jason and Josh picked up the cache at 17,500 ft and with heavy packs was a slow descent to 16,000 ft camp.
They have decided to move back to base camp and hopefully dry out for a day or two. They may try to summit Jopuno next. Jason said they could just go from base camp for that summit. It was a short call but still great to hear his voice.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

16,000 ft High Camp

Jason called and left a voice message. They were at the 16,000 ft camp. They had taken a cache to 17,500 ft. He said the glacier looked interesting but he thought they could make it. Tomorrow they will try for the summit.

Moving to High Camp - 16,000 ft

Jason called last night but it was a short couple of calls because the satellite phone kept dropping the connection. Grrr:( They were moving to the 16,000 ft camp today. It was a beautiful day. They were hoping to head for the summit on Saturday. Josh and Jason are starting to feel better. Now Sam might have the head cold but is feeling well enough to move higher. And that is all we got to talk about.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

14,000 ft Base Camp

Jason called this am. Yeah! They were at their base camp at 14,000 ft and had established a high camp at 16,000 ft and left some gear there. Jason did some recon up the ridge to 17,000 ft and said it looked good. They plan to move up to the 16,000 ft camp and maybe go for the summit on Thursday or Friday. He said both him and Josh had head colds but nothing serious. Jason said the weather was good and they were above the clouds in the valley, the views are spectacular. I can't wait to see the pictures. Hopefully I will hear something on Saturday or Sunday.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

8:00 pm Sunday, Thansing Valley

Jason said they made it to Thansing Valley. They are about 1,000 feet below their base camp. The last couple of days have been shorter hiking days. Jason got to go for a hour long trail run above 13,000 feet. Tonight is the first night they have slept in tents. They had been sleeping huts before tonight. Jason said the food has been good and plentiful. They had apple pie for dessert! Yum.
Tomorrow they should be at base camp and be able to do some recon for the mountains they want to climb and maybe start climbing one on Tuesday. The weather has been clear in the mornings and cloudy in the afternoons.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Tshoka Saturday Morning

Jason called me this evening from Tshoka on Josh's cellphone! Amazing. Everything was going well. Tshoka is around 9500 feet. Yesterday, most of the day was snowy and rainy. They were heading to the next town which I think he said was Dzongri but could not hear well.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Yuksam Friday Morning

Jason called from Yuksam. Friday they start hiking for base camp. It should take around 3 days hiking to reach base camp. Jason said the jeep ride to Yuksam was steep ups and downs. He said the weather has been good. Jason said the terrain has been jungle-ish. He said the people have been very friendly and the food, good. The food has been more Asian inspired than Indian.
The satellite phone was cutting out so we didn't get to talk long.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

6:45 am Thursday, Gangtok

Jason called and left a voice mail message for me.
They were in Gangtok. They had spent the day touring monasteries and shopping in the markets. In Gangtok there are big banners for them, t-shirts and later on Thursday a press conference is going to be held. Also later today they will be driving to Yuksam.
They are hoping to start hiking on Friday and maybe get to basecamp on Saturday. Jason said he was looking at the third highest peak in the world, Kanchenjunga. He was looking at 20,000 feet gain from his hotel window.

Kangchenjunga Picture

He said their guide, Barap was a class act, very well organized, great skills. Until next time....

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


8:30pm Bagdogra, India

Yeah! I just got to talk to Jason via the satellite phone. He sounded alittle tired but very excited about their trip. They had met up with Barap of Sikkim Holidays and he is a very nice. And yes all the luggage had made it. The weather has been nice and is a little rainy, but Jason is hoping in the morning he might see Kanchenjunga, the third-highest peak in the world from his hotel window. March 5th they will take 5 hour jeep transport to Gangtok. Thursday, March 6th they will take another jeep transport to Yuksam where they will be begin our trek into basecamp.

Everyone was feeling good but tired from the traveling.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Delhi - Bagdogra

Jason sent me an email this evening.
We are in Delhi getting ready to go to Bagdogra. This places is nuts! And very polluted. Yeah, the time thing has really thrown me off. Its 12.5 hours or something. (Delhi time zone is 12.5 hours ahead of MST). All our bags arrived which is AMAZING! We'll fly to Bagdogra today to meet Brap and then get on the jeeps.
hello from Malaysia! As Allison posted our original flight to Delhi was cancelled so affyer a 14 hour flight (thankfully I scored an exit row seat for that leg!) through Taipei and to Kuala lumpur, we found ourselves with a few hours to explore downtoown KL. It was about 30USD each way for a taxi into the city and it was nice to walk around the very modern downtown area. In one hour we head off to Delhi (finally).let's just hope our bags arrive there with us.
We are still on schedule to catch our original flight to Bagdogra on Tuesday morning to finally meet Brap there.
thank you Allison for the last update here!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

LA - Kuala Lumpur - Delhi

After arriving in LA, Jason gave me call with an update.

Soon after landing the group found out their flight from LA to Frankfurt had been cancelled due to engine trouble on the flight coming from Frankfurt.
Now they had to collect their 12 bags and find a new flight. As it turned out only 10 bags came out and 2 were missing. Eventually the 2 bags showed up.
Their first option which would fly them to JFK with an overnight stay in New York quickly filled up.
Their next option was to leave LA at 11:35 pm fly to Kuala Lumpur via Malaysia Airlines, arrive there 12:05 pm with a 6 hour layover then fly to Delhi and arrive at 11 pm. Originally they should have arrived in Delhi at 4:30 pm.

Jason said he wold try and call from Delhi. Until then have a good day.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

officially on the way!

well we have started the trip! If its not packed, we dont need it, right!? Were in ABq at the airport having checked our 12 bags and paid $400 just for the extra bags. Ouch! I'm using the fancy iPod touch I got from Allison for valentines day to make this post.
Its always a bit tough to start these trips leaving friends, fAmily and 'normal' life behind. I'll miss you all.
See you in April!