Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Another Opportunity to Help Nepal

The geological process that created the Himalayas is what continues to bring heartbreak to Nepal.

Millions of years ago the tectonic plate carrying India slammed into and dived beneath the Eurasian plate, pushing the mountains up. The Indian plate is still moving, making Nepal "one of the most seismically hazardous regions on Earth," according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Translation – earthquakes.

But two major temblors in less than three weeks is more than any country can take.

Once again, Nepal needs our help, and once gain, I'm providing a list of relief agencies for anyone wishing to donate.

Time is running out, before the monsoon season arrives next month, to provide adequate shelter for those left homeless, so if you are still undecided, please act now.

Thanks to all of you who have already responded so generously.

Monday, May 11, 2015

What's Right With Our Youth Today

The media often focuses on what's wrong with kids, but last week, I witnessed something very, very right, an outpouring of generosity that left me in awe.

The children at my school, St. Joseph's Institution International (SJII), raised more than $25,500 Singaporean dollars (around $20,000 US dollars) for those suffering in Nepal.

There's no denying that many of our kids at SJII enjoy a life of privilege; yet, affluence doesn't necessarily lead to the sharing of wealth.

Well done parents and students alike. Your example is truly inspiring.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Nepal Earthquake Update

After a few anxious days of waiting, I found out that everyone associated with my trekking company and all the clients are safe. For that, I'm grateful. Thanks to all of you who expressed concern about their welfare.

I wanted to take this opportunity to again encourage those with some extra disposable income to consider making a donation to the relief efforts.

Here's an updated list of some of the agencies assisting in Nepal.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nepal Earthquake

I just learned of the devastating earthquake news out of Nepal.

In the interest of clarity for those who might not have read my initial entry, I am writing my Everest narratives from a journal I kept during my trip, which ended two weeks ago. I am back in Singapore out of harm's way.

It's hard to think past the tragic loss of life, but the reality is that Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries and will be hard pressed to handle the economic costs of meeting the immediate needs of those suffering, let alone trying to recover long term from the disaster.

A couple of minutes ago, I made a contribution to Catholic Relief Services, which is one of my favorite charities. If you could spare a few dollars, I would encourage you to also consider a donation to one of the numerous international relief agencies.

Here's a link from CNN with a list of agencies assisting in Nepal.

I appreciate all of you who have been reading my blog, but in light of today's events, I feel it best to suspend my posts for awhile. 

Everest Expedition (Day 9) - Dingboche

Trail to Dingboche, Nepal

"The guides are so serious all of a sudden," a fellow trekker said to me today. I've noticed it too, although it's subtle. There's less talking on the trail. There's less joking, and the guides are sticking closer to their trekkers, but mainly it's the increasing frequency of questions.

"How did you sleep last night?" which really means, Did you have any shortness of breath?

"How are you feeling today?" which is really asking, Do you have a headache? How intense is the headache? Is the headache getting worse? Do you have any nausea, vomiting or dizziness?

"What did you think about that last climb?" which is really meant to ascertain a hiker's energy level and rate of breathing.

If I were a guide, I'd be in everyone's business, too.

We're well above 10,000 feet, the altitude where 40% of us would be expected to experience some form of acute altitude sickness The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy.

Rest, drugs, or, perhaps, a day or two at a lower elevation, can alleviate most acute altitude sickness, but what the guides are really concerned about are the two biggies - high-altitude pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and high-altitude cerebral edema (swelling of the brain).

If those strike, it's life threatening, meaning the hiker has to be moved to a lower altitude immediately. Fortunately, such reactions occur in only about one percent of the population, but it's always on the minds of the guides.

Enough of the medical talk.

In case you're wondering, the picture at the top of this post is from a mountain pass about two hours straight up from Phortse Villlage.

I've already mentioned my guide, Pasang. It seems like an excellent time to also introduce you to my porter, Dorje.

I carry my own backpack, which is the tiny blue thing on the right, but Dorje carries extra gear that I won't need during the day, such as my sleeping back, poncho, and any extra clothing. Really, I probably don't need a porter because my pack is so light.

When I arrived at Lukla, one of the guides picked up my pack and laughed because it weighs about 15 pounds (7 kg). Hey, I've learned to travel light, but Dorje's services were included in my fee, and I feel good about providing him with the work. Plus, I plan to give him a nice tip.

As Pasang has told me on more than one occasion, money is hard to come by in the Himalayas, so trekking-related services are a way to earn a lot of much-needed income.

Dingboche, Nepal

We've now arrived in Dingboche. At 14,304 feet (4,360 meters), it's about the highest I've ever been, certainly the highest altitude where I've attempted to hike for several hours. It took me six hours of grueling trekking to get here. The view didn't come cheap.

The foot traffic is picking up, both with hikers and with porters carrying supplies to base camp on Everest.

Although there's an occasional "hello" from passing trekkers, each person seems to be absorbed, concentrating on the rocky, uneven trail; not wanting to waste too much energy in pleasantries, energy that's needed to climb; and focusing on reaching his or her personal goal, which for one might be getting to base camp or for another getting through the next hour.

Tomorrow, I've got another "rest day," featuring a local, two-to-three hour acclimatization hike and afterward just two more days to Everest. I'm extremely excited.

My strength remains high. My ankle feels fine, and the only problem I've experienced with the altitude is a slight headache.

Even though I haven't been in contact, I feel your positive thoughts and your love floating to me through the chilly, mountain breezes as I continue my trek toward the top of the world.