Posts filed under ‘climate change’

Mt. Everest in all her glory

Tangboche to Dangboche

A bleary eyed Eri with Mt. Everest in the background

Kanccha had dragged us from our beds at 6 in the morning with a gleam in his eye that we hadn’t seen before. With little or no explanation he hurried us to get changed, dress warm and bring our cameras. Up until this stage he always seemed rather disappointed in the mornings because he knew just how much we wanted to see the beauty of the Himalaya and almost took it personally when the low hanging clouds robbed us of the view he knew was there. Today however he walked with the languid gait of someone who knew he was about to deliver and his banter had an unusually excited air about it.

Struggling over rock and building material piled high behind the guest house we made our way to a raised area flattened with crushed rock about 5 metres across. “ helicopter landing pad” Kanccha said with a smile. Thank god we had walked here because landing on this little patch of rock would have been scarier than Lukla by a mile and not a proposition I would ever want to contemplate.

Straight out of bed it can be a little difficult to catch your breath at these altitudes and it wasn’t till we got to the landing that we were able to look up and start to take in the view. With all the skill of a circus showman he first pointed us down the valley and named and numbered the peaks that we had been walking between with a pride only an ageing local can carry off. After a minute or two and with other excited trekkers coming into view he casually said “ Look over your shoulder.” We both turned around expecting more of the same or more likely incoming clouds. What we saw instead was truly breathtaking. Before us was a narrow valley, walled by impossibly high mountains. Framing the view at the end was a sheer wall of snowed clad mountains, tiny in the distance and yet gigantic. Perched above it all was the unmistakable peak of Everest, unencumbered by clouds or fog. The dull white of snow slowly turning a deep gold as the sun rose slowly to the east. Even more so than yesterday, this was an incredible moment when you tried to comprehend that we were mere kilometres away from the base yet due to its immense height the peak seemed so far away.

Everest towering over the valley

It was a humbling to think that people at that very moment were trying to scale her and yet the mountain seemed strangely indifferent to them, the whole world, and us. As infantile as it is to suggest that this monolith of snow and rock could appear to be affecting such human emotions, for the first time in my life I truly began to understand why peoples all over the world have always seen god like qualities in natures form. I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling.

We stayed up there, oohhing and ahhring for another few minutes until surrounded by other trekkers and the moment was lost. Strangely the scene reverted to just a glorious landscape, ripe for the photographic picking of western tourists in a place where we were strangers and in many ways didn’t belong.

With breakfast finished, more photos taken and bags packed we set off up the valley for our final day below the tree line. It was a fairly uneventful day, strolling up the valley across roaring rivers, through picturesque villages and our now ever present friends the Tibetan Yak.

Above the tree line.

As we gradually climbed higher our surroundings began to change. Not long after lunch we at last broke through the tree line and stood on the border between the world below and a new and foreign place. A place so sparse, so rugged and so quiet we felt like intruders in a fantasy land that was to big for the mere likes of human beings.

Isolated house above the treeline

Dingpache

It was cold when we awoke the next morning and the lack of oxygen, meant that our movements were slow and conversation limited until after breakfast.
Despite the frigid air the sky was clear and our walking quite easy through the stone walled fields being tended by the local Sherpas. This was the last point of what we might call agriculture. From here on in we would only see wild grasses, shrubs and yaks. The sheer emptiness of the place an ever-present reminder of the harshness of life up here for man and beast.

By mid afternoon we had reached our next lodge at Dingpache nestled at the junction of the paths for Everest base camp and the Imja Glacier. We were now so close to Everest yet oddly we couldn’t see her. Between us the massive wall of Lohtse, the 4th highest mountain in the world and one of the most challenging climbs known to man. It was sobering to walk along the path and see so many stone memorials to those who had left their dreams and lives on its sheers cliffs.

Another good nights sleep followed only interrupted by dreams filled with anticipation for tomorrow’s final push to Chukhung and our chance to stand on the great Himalayan glaciers that we were here to see.

The final walk and our first glacier.

It was cold when we awoke the next morning and the lack of oxygen, meant that our movements were slow and conversation limited until after breakfast.

Words escape me when i try to describe how beautiful these mountains are

Despite the frigid air, the sky was clear and our walking quite easy through the stone walled fields being tended by the local Sherpas. This was the last point of what we might call agriculture. From here on in we would only see wild grasses, waist high shrubs and yaks, the sheer emptiness of the place an ever-present reminder of the harshness of life up here for man and beast.

Our pace was slow, due mainly to the fact that we were continually stopping for photos, brief rests and a chance just to ogle at the beauty of the mountains around us.

We reached Chunkhung in the late morning just as the clouds started to role up the valley. We thought that might be the end of our day but by 2 o’clock the sky had cleared and Kanccha suggested we go on up to our first glacier. We couldn’t wait and we were about to see firsthand the real effects of a warming climate on this beautiful land.

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December 3, 2009 at 6:08 pm 1 comment

A view of nature from the back of an elephant

After a long lazy lunch and a few furtive looks at a dark monsoon sky, we jumped in the truck again and made our way to the elephant ride.

Life from the elephants back.

Again my conscience was itching, riding these graceful beasts just so we can have look around the jungle in many ways grates. That said, like we were told at the elephant sanctuary, if we don’t somehow monetize the elephants this way, poachers and criminals will do it in far more damaging ways. Mankind’s abilityto bring the beauty of nature down to solely a financial value really is a scourge on our species.

Anyway when we arrived we were immediately directed to the largest beast in the field. The girls were quick to note, that the fact that I was the fattest man in the room  allowed us to get this graceful giant to carry us around the jungle. The cheeky buggers should really have been grateful, because the lofty heights of the back of this animal gave us an unforgetable afternoon.

Setting off, the loping gait of the elephant took a little bit ot get used to. That said, we were soon taking no notice of the rocking and rolling and were peering keenly into the jungle trying to make up for the mornings disappointment. Jumping at every movement real or percieved, saddled  with the hope that we would see a great rhino, we were instead soon lolled into a comfortable daze that seemed almost impossible to break until we brushed through  a particularly tight break in the trees and were rewarded with the most magnificent veiw. Wallowing by a water hole were two beatiful but sadly endangered Asian Rhino. Calm, graceful, and unfazed by our presence, these ancient looking animals reminded me of a time when humans were part of nature and not dominating it. I couldn’t help but wonder if  we have dangerously overstepped the mark and should really revert back to a more sustainable  place in nature for the benefit of ourselves and everything else that eeks out a living on this planet. The fact that we could endanger the very existence of such fantastic beasts just for short term financial gain really seems all the more ridiculous when you see these magnificant animals up close.

The rest of the afternoon consisted of more sightings, river crossings, beautiful jungle vistas and a wonderful feeling of being at least for a short time we were a part of nature rather than dominating and being disconnected from it.

Back to Kathmandu

The next day it was with a certain sense of disappointment that we raced back to Kathmandu to fulfull a few mediaobligations for WWF and more importantly wish Amand a fond farewell.

September 21, 2009 at 1:44 pm Leave a comment

Cycle for Change back in Kathmandu

Just a quick update to let you know that we are back in Kathmandu after a fantastic trip through northern India and southern Nepal.

Now as we have been told in no uncertain terms by some of you, we have been behind in our posting. In our defence we were away from anything remotely resembling a working computer with an internet connection for most of the time. Since back here we have been spending most of our time in interviews with the Nepali media with one appearance in the Kathmandu post last Thursday and plenty more to come. We also did a radio interview with a freelance journo for NPR in the States, so we have been non stop.

The big news and sad news it is, Amanda my dear little sister, was on the plane back to Sydney yesterday. Alas work calls but I must say we are very appreciative to her boss’ for giving her the time off to come for as long as she did.Thanks kiddo it was absolutely fantastic having you along for the ride and we look forward to the films when you can get them done. It’s weird not having you here.

Upcoming plans

1. Blog as much as possible.

2. Go trekking in the Imja region to look at Glacier lakes in the Everest area.

3. Get ready for the ride out of Nepal and into new adventures in Sikkim, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

4. Continue to lose weight – I have lost about 10kg so far and more to go. Can’t tell you how good riding over the worlds highest roads on a fully loaded bike is for wiehg loss. Stay away from fad diets, get yourself on a bike.

Anyway am off to write a newspaper article for one of the local papers, so keep checking back for updates over the next few weeks.

Stay tuned i promise we will be posting more often when things slow down a bit.

Read Kathmandu Post article here

September 5, 2009 at 7:39 pm Leave a comment

WWF launch – Cycle for Change introduction to Nepal community

Our last night in Kathmandu saw us attend a dinner and WWF program launch with the great and good of Nepali society at the Radisson hotel.

Launching Cycle for change and Climate for life

Launching Cycle for change and Climate for life

The event was primarily to launch a petition signed by 200,000, Nepali youth to be presented by the Nepali Prime Minister to Ban Ki Moon- UN Secretary General and leaders of major industrial nations in the lead up to Copenhagen in December.  Our small role was to give a short presentation introducing Cycle for Change and meet with influential media, TV personalities, political and business leaders.

We had a great response and met some truly interesting and inspiring people including a large number of WWF ‘s Climate Ambassadors. The Climate Ambassaders include local politicians, social entrepeneurs, and business leaders who are taking real action to promote behavioural change both politically and socially in the face of climate change.

Gavin and Eri with the WWF team

Gavin and Eri with the WWF team

We all had a great night and Eri was particularly happy to meet the NHK Nepal correspondant. Not only to promote our project, but to rest her brain and have a good chat in Japanese. The food was great , the company inspiring and the response to our project very encouraging. All in all it was a great way to leave Nepal and we now have some really excellent opportunities to promote Cycle for Change and Climate for Life when we get back to Kathmanu in a month.

August 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm 1 comment

Kathmandu Traffic

Today we hit the streets of Kathmandu on the bikes. After one or two minor hiccups at the start, the magic of the allen key solved all our problems and we were away.

Road rules are a little different to Tokyo and Sydney, but we did ok. We quickly realised that the locals are not shy about using their horns. Whether they were showing support, frustration or telling us that they were there, we peddled along to a car horn symphony. Our mini pelaton saw Gavin at the front, Eri in the middle and me (Amanda) at the back. Despite one or two taxis making urgent stops in front of Eri, we were able to work together and make our way to the WWF office and back home again. It was just a short spin of the legs, in crazy traffic but great to finally get out on the bikes. Bring on the mountains!

Team support from hotel security

Team support from hotel security

we made it

we made it

July 30, 2009 at 7:53 pm 2 comments

Day 2 meeting with WWF Nepal

Today we finally met the team at WWF Nepal face to face. We had a long series of meetings with all the team concerned with climate change. We had great discusssions about the goals of WWF Nepal in relation to working towards the COP 15 conference in Copenhagen. We also finalised how Cycle for Change and WWF Nepal are going to work together over the next few months.

Eri, Gavin andAmanda at the WWF Neapl headquarters in Kathmandu

Eri, Gavin andAmanda at the WWF Neapl headquarters in Kathmandu

Over three hours we finalised our itinerary and i would like to thank two time Everest Sumiteer Dawa Steven Sherpa for offering his advice and support for the Everest region section of our trip. We also discussed our journey across Nepal into the Terai region. We were very impressed with the creative ideas the team came up with to involve local communities in WWF programs and increase awareness of climate change in the area.

Terai is an often forgotten area of Nepal given that it is low, flat and hot, and really doesn’t fit with our image of a mountain kingdom. But this area is being as dramatically affected by climate change as the high Himalaya. and we are really looking forward to getting down there and showing you what this beautiful part of Nepal is really like.

July 29, 2009 at 11:04 pm 1 comment

Two weeks to go until Cycle for Change begins

Well the departure date approachs at a furious rate of knots and we are in the final stages of preparation before we leave for Kathmandu on the 26th of July. I finally had my bike delivered after a torturous three weeks of having it held up in customs but it was worth it. The Thorn Raven is an absolute beauty and I was able to jump straight on and it felt like i had been riding it for years. I must say the people at Thorn really put together a fantastic bike.

For the bike geeks here is my new pride and joy. The Thorn Raven- What a gem.

For the bike geeks here is my new pride and joy. The Thorn Raven- What a gem.

Besides that we hope to making some exciting announcements this week regarding some new partner organisations. We are finalsing details with NGO’s in India and  Bhutan in addition to a new equipment sponsor, all of which will allow us to tell the best story possible about the effects of climate change in the Himalaya and Bangladesh. Stay tuned for updates towards the end of the week.

photos of the bike

July 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm 1 comment

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