Posts tagged ‘Kathmandu’

A morning with Everest

Just wanted to let people know that we wil be away in the Khumba region for the next few days and off line. Can’t wait toget further up the valley after waking up early this morning and being treated to the sight of the peak of MT. Everest.

Will post photos when we get back to Kathmandu next week. I cant tell you how beautiful this area is.

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September 10, 2009 at 11:23 am Leave a comment

The Great Climb. Tagalang La- 5330m, the world’s second ( some say) highest road.

Ode to a big hill – “Ahh Taglang La, you painful, frightening beast of a pass, Even now i can feel the pain you put through my legs and my head, but we beat you and it will always be one of the best things I ever do”.

On the climb up Taglang La

On the climb up Taglang La

Today was to turn out to be  not only one of the biggest challenges of the trip but of our lives. You could almost taste the trepidation as we broke camp and wandered over to the local 0.0005 star restaurant for the obligatory omlette and chipatti. Away by 7.30, we started at a slow pace but none of us could stop thinking about the enormity of the day ahead. Although the climb looked deceptively mundane on the map, when you think about it,  we had a 29 km climb, ascending through serious altitude nearly 1.2 km from 4200m up to 5330m. Even just thinking about those numbers still makes me shudder, but sitting here now supping a clod beer reminiscing, I can’t begin to tell you how proud i am to be able to say that we all did this beast of a climb unassisted, fully loaded and better than any of us thought possible.

The easy bit-

The first 5 km was relatively easy over a 200m climb,  but things started to get tough when we came across a sign saying ” You are only 24 km from the Tagalan La”. What a truly cruel sign. To not also tell us that it was to be another 8 hours of steep, steep, switchbacks with the last 15km on truly appalling gravel roads and landslides, was almost criminal. Add to that scorching heat, Tata trucks and army convoys. You know what- it really did turn out to be one of the greatest challenges and most satisfying days of my life.

The first 10 switchbacks-

As the switchbacks started, we all dropped into our own pace and it soon became apparent that the way to beat this monster was to go at your own pace, empty your mind of what was coming up and just start spinning the peddles for hour after hour. At times we managed to spread out over about a kilometre and that sometimes translates into two or three switchbacks, but by waiting for each other, drinking loads of water, occasionally looking back and using common sense we began to tick off the kms.

These were the easy ones

These were the easy ones

The hard bit-

No matter how hard we thought the first bit was, nothing could prepare us for what was coming next. Actually we were prepared a little bit by a  constant tide of cyclists coming the other way telling us just how crap the road was and how long we still had to go. Their departing cries of “good luck” and “your doing great” followed by a shake of the head and the “thank god i am not going that way” look really started to wear thin about 12 minutes  after lunch. Things really got hard when the road turned from passable blacktop, to bone jarring, teeth rattling, boulder sized gravel. Throw in more and more traffic, roadworks and roads turning to rivers from glaiciers melting and the afternoon became  quite interesting. Oh yeh and a landslide that held us up for about 45 mins we could ill afford to lose.

45 min Landslide - not today!!!!

45 min Landslide - not today!!!!

This might not seem like a problem but as the day wore on we were down to about 3 km an hour and getting back down to a reasonable altitude after climbing that far can be a life and death consideration. The shadows were sarting to get long and i couldnt  shake a growing sense of urgency as the pass seemed to be getting further away rather than closer. As we got into the last 3 kilometres it started to become real that we would make it over the top, but like xmas, you know it would come but it seemed to take for ever. It was astonishing to discover that after all that climbing the last 500 metres would be the toughest. Axle deep in black sand we had to dismount and push, but at last at 4.40 we finally reached the top to be greeted by a howling wind,  20 Royal Enfields and the realisation that we really couldnt stay long and needed to start the 20 km descent before it got dark.

We made it - Taglang La 5330m, What a feeling!

We made it - Taglang La 5330m, What a feeling!

The descent and the arrival of an Angel

As we started our descent the fatigue kicked in and in many ways the ride down was shaping up to be as challenging as the ride up. Ten minutes in though we had an almost crash worthy surprise when around the corner came Tashi from WWF on a motorbike. I can’t even tell you how happy we were and our joy turned to elation when he said he had food and hot tea in his bag. A boiled egg has never tasted so good.  I cant remember being as revitalised by anything so much as that brief 20 min break by the side of the road, with Tashi’s little stash of gold.

From then on it was all down hill ( in a good way) but with Tashi as a guide and the promise of a warm welcome and hot food ahead of us  with the WWF team, an unscheduled extra 15km’s in the dark seemed  a small price to pay. Little did we know just how great our time would be at Tso Kar.

More photos from the taming of the Taglang la beast

September 5, 2009 at 10:22 pm 4 comments

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

Cycling out of Kathmandu.

Saturday brought an early start and finally the chance to get on the road. After a week of meetings and organising we decided to get our fill of culture and cycled off to the Swayamohunatha Stupa. Our first stop before heading into the mountains for a shake out ride.

Amanda and the bikes at the Stupa

Amanda and the bikes at the Stupa

The noise and bustle of the city waking up, the stench of rotting garbage, and the smell of the funeral fires as we crossed the river welcomed us to Kathmandu proper and the beginning of what was to be an eventful day. We were grateful  after a few wrong turns and our first encounter with a cranky dog, to find the right place, even if it meant climbing the many, many steep steps (in our cleats) up a crowded hill.

The stupa, famous for its iconic staring eyes (although now not so staring because of major restoration work) is one of Kathmandu’s many world heritage sites. It was great to clear our minds  wandering  through the ancient monastery. I think we were all feeling a little nervous before heading  into the Himalayan hills for the first time. What better place to relax and gain a sense of perspective than in this beautiful spot surrounded by incense, praying locals, spinning prayer wheels and cheeky monkeys (a nice change to the cycling cheeky monkeys known as Eri and Amanda).

Eri getting to meet the locals

Eri getting to meet the locals

Bikes all bagged up and ready to go next to a prayer stone

Bikes all bagged up and ready to go next to a prayer stone

August 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm 1 comment

WWF farewell

This morning we have been honoured with a lovely send off from the WWF Nepal. Cycle for Change share similar goals with WWF and in particular the Climate for Life project team. Together we aim to spread the message that the  `Himalayas are more than mountains`.  The changes that are occuring in the Himalayas not only have an impact on all the communities that live in the region but greater area.

Thanks to the team of WWF in Kathmandu for their words of support and well wishes. We look forward to being able to help promote their great work. Now we are heading out of town for our first preparation ride over four days. We’ll let you know how we go with our first hills very soon.

WWF team

WWF team

Checking out our wheels

Checking out our wheels

July 31, 2009 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

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


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