Leadership

Daily update: Don't sway the suspension bridges

Our almostEverest climbers survived what may have been the craziest flight of their lives. They've met their Sherpas and porters, loaded their team of yaks, and they're heading up the mountain. Let the real fun begin!

4/13/00
Phakding, Nepal
4:45 P.M. local time (7:00 A.M. EDT)

And they say miracles don't happen.

We made it into Lukla. Our small, twin-engine-prop 12-seater airplane threaded the needle through the sharp Himalayan valleys and landed—uphill—into tiny Lukla.

Airstrip at Lukla, Nepal


It was there that we picked up our crew of porters and Sherpas (mountain people who will act as guides and porters in our expedition) and headed into the mountains. And here's a surprise. We also have two female Sherpas. The cultural experience should prove enlightening, to say the least. All of our crew seems excited about the trip, and more than a little curious about these "computer things" we carry. I have several small children gathered around me as I type this daily update. No, I'm not bringing fire to their villages, but it's very rewarding to enlighten these small children to the ways of the wired world.

Okay, some excitement. We crossed two suspension bridges on the trek to Phakding. The first was rope and low chain-link fencing and spanned a fairly deep crevice. Halfway across, I met a group of porters and some very nice, but nervous, British trekkers. The bridge swayed. Then it swayed some more. When I reached for the handrail, I realized:
  1. The handrail offered no support (very flimsy—I think it was there for looks).
  2. In three more seconds, I would lose my balance and fall.

Needless to say, I wasn't looking forward to ending my trek this early. I gained my balance and watched as the British girl did the same. I learned something. Always wait for porters—and yaks—to cross the bridge before you start onto it. I'm not used to sharing space with yaks. But I've learned very quickly about the beasts. As a matter of fact, one of the female Sherpas is leading a team of four yaks laden with our gear. Yes folks, we have a yak team pulling all of this fancy equipment up the mountains.

Loading Mike and Dave's yak team in Lukla, Nepal


We crossed the second bridge just before arriving at camp. We're about 100 yards from the Da Gosi River, and we can hear the roar of the aquamarine water as it cascades down from its source high in the mountains. This water is glacier-fed and almost florescent in color, as its mineral content is extremely high. Anyway, the second bridge was a little sturdier than the first one, but was also higher—and it swayed more. We had to wait for several yak teams to cross before we could start our own crossing.

Note to Compaq: Thanks for the Armadas. They're holding up well, so far—even on the back of a yak.

The trek into Phakding wasn't too bad—other than almost plunging headfirst into a ravine. We're camped at about 9,000 feet tonight in preparation for a very big day tomorrow. We'll be climbing another 2,500 vertical feet or so to Namche. Once there, we'll rest for a day to acclimate. See, if we try for too many vertical feet in one day, our heads will explode. I'm serious. We'll end up being the headless wonders of the tech world. A worthy legend opponent for the Yeti, huh? So we'll take it easy and hydrate ourselves.

I can't tell you how massive these mountains are. They tower over us like snow-covered titans, shining brightly beneath the glaring Nepalese sun. This really is the roof of the world.

Tonight we'll eat a hearty dinner prepared most sumptuously by our expert cook staff, and then play some cards with our crew. If all's well, Mike and I won't lose all of this computer gear in the approaching Hearts tourney. So if tomorrow you read something strange about warm yak butter tea, you'll know what happened.

Until tomorrow. Namaste.
David

Greetings!

I'll just make a brief comment—David just filled you in on our wonderful day. I just have this to say: if the trek from Lukla to Phakding was a beverage, you would want to drink and drink and drink until you couldn't drink any more, and then you would keep drinking, addicted to this liquid, until you burst. It's incredible. Jagged knife-edge peaks, green mountains, rivers, small towns, the crowds of trekkers, porters, yak teams going both ways, Buddhist shrines with huge prayer wheels that we take time to turn, and ancient stones carved with prayers.

We made it to Phakding, although I have a bit of tendonitis in one knee that's worrisome. (Fortunately, I have plenty of Advil.) This is the result of that climb the first day. I'll have to go a little slower than my companions and protect my legs. But now we're getting ready for dinner, camp is set up, and I'm looking forward to more trekking.

Peace,
Mike
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David Bard has been a fixture at TechRepublic for some time now. At one time he was editor-in-chief of LinuxRepublic and then AdminRepublic. Currently, he occupies space as an editor-in-chief with TechProGuild. In addition, he’s a freelance writer who has covered extreme sports for years. He also is a writer of horror and—contrary to what his climbing partner may think—is hoping the expedition to Nepal doesn’t provide fodder for his next story. When he’s not at home teaching his year-and-a-half-old daughter why it’s not a good idea to eat rocks, or trying to convince his wife why yet another expedition really is necessary, he’s usually off in some remote section of woods trying to discover himself. He’s still looking.

Mike Jackman is an editor-in-chief of TechProGuild, an editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with his co-editor-in-chief David Bard, he is traveling to Nepal to report on high-altitude technology and to climb 20,285-foot Imja Tse. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike’s an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.

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