Introduction

This page is all about our preparations. These preparations started in early 2010. This page comprises these sections:


Paper work

Visa

For Nepal a visa is needed.

Dutch citizens can obtain their Nepal visa at the consulate on Herengracht in Amsterdam. It takes a few minutes. The application form can be downloaded beforehand.

Permit / peak royalty

Naya Kanga is considered a group "B" NMA trekking peak, for which a permit is needed. The royalty is $350 for up to 4 members. All royalty fees for the so called trekking peaks can be found on the website of the Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA).

Duty clearance

All cargo that is sent separately must be cleared by the Nepalese customs. Therefore a packing list is required. All items should be marked consumable or re-exportable. This year we paid a flat fee of $87 for clearance, temporary storage and transport to the office of our trekking agency. It was for 38 kg only.


Money

The unit of currency in Nepal is the rupee (NPR).

The rates below are the real time updated forex rates coming from www.exchange-rates.org.

Nowadays there are plenty ATMs in Nepal, even in the smaller towns. If you plan to bring cash then US dollars or Euros are the best options.

Please use the Mastercard (Cirrus) ATM locator to find out where these ATMs are located.


Flights

International flights

KLM (via Delhi, long wait, not recommended), Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines have connections from Amsterdam to Kathmandu. It is also possible to fly to Bangkok and then to Kathmandu. The average price is € 800-1300.

As of October 2009 the Dutch low cost carrier Arke Fly has a direct connection from Amsterdam to Kathmandu with a stop of 1 hour in Bahrein; one flight a week on Sundays.

We have used Qatar Airways. Unfortunately they forgot to bring along our baggage. But 24 hours later it did arrive at Kathmandu Airport.

Excess baggage

WWBSWe shipped excess baggage to Kathmandu by Worldwide Baggage Services (only from The Netherlands). Up to 45 kg including insurance costed us €154. Back to Amsterdam you have to use a local Nepales company; there are plenty in Kathmandu. We paid $240, which was considerably more than the €154 we paid on the other flight. So apparently Europe is cheaper than Nepal when it comes to shipping cargo.

It is advised that excess baggage is sent to Nepal 2-3 weeks prior to the expedition to allow for sufficient time for duty clearance. This was handled by our trekking agency.


Local support

Logo

We agreed on a full service trekking which was completely handled by our Nepalese trekking agency:

  • 1 Sherpa climbing guide who was also the cook (he had been on Everest twice!)
  • 1 cook helper
  • 7 porters
  • National Park permit, peak permit,
  • Kitchen utensils, kitchen tent, food, water, local transport

We have a friend in Kathmandu who happens to own a trekking agency: Ngima Sherpa from Unlimited Sherpa Expeditions. His agency took care of all logistics.


Accommodation in Kathmandu

We stayed in 2 hotels:

  • Nirvana Garden Hotel before the trip;
    this hotel in the heart of Thamel was not very comfortable, quite hard bed bottoms and a shower that did not work very well.
  • The Everest Hotel after the trip;
    This is quite a luxurious hotel close to the airport, great soft beds and a good shower, something we really needed after almost 4 weeks of trekking.

Altitude Sickness

Visit the Base Camp Clinic!What is it?

Altitude sickness is a complex of health problems that occur as a lack of oxygen. Usually one will not suffer from it in the lower altitudes (< 3500 m). Almost everybody will have some form of altitude sickness when climbing higher than 5000 meters. A full acclimatization needs 7 to 10 days and your body will not acclimatize fully above 5500 meters. There are three types of altitude sickness. They may occur on their own or together:

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).

AMS

Symptoms of AMS are:

  • Headache
  • Dizzyness
  • Sleeping problems
  • No or less appetite

You may suffer from AMS if these three facts are all valid:

  • You’ve been climbing recently and usually over 300 meters a day
  • You have been on altitude for some hours now
  • You suffer from a headache that you did not have before.

In addition, you must suffer from one of these:

  • Feeling sick, no appetite, vomiting
  • Very tired
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Having sleeping problems that you normally do not have.

HACE and HAPE

These two forms of altitude sickness are potentially lethal. You may suffer from HACE if:

  • you have a very heavy and persistent headache
  • You behave like a drunk
  • you seem to lose your coordination, you hallucinate, you have epileptic attacks etc.

To be brief: if you have both AMS and suffer from typical brain disorders (that you normally do not do) you may have HACE.

You may suffer from HAPE if:

  • you have AMS
  • you have a persistent cough
  • you feel very tired
  • you need a lot more time to recuperate.

Almost everybody will suffer from some kind of headache. A minor headache, which reacts well to painkillers, is not very important. However if you develop a headache during nighttime and it does not react to painkillers, you must wonder whether it is more serious than just AMS.

How to avoid altitude sickness

Here are some tips for avoiding or minimizing the chance that you get altitude sickness:

  • Recognize the symptoms and know what to do
  • Avoid a fast ascent to height above 2500 meters
  • Two or three night sleep on 2500 m
  • Avoid a gain of over 300 meters a day. It is good to climb higher that day but your sleeping altitude should not be over 300 m higher (Climb High, Sleep Low)
  • One extra day of rest after every 1000 meters
  • If you have any altitude sickness symptoms, do not climb higher
  • Descent if the situation worsens
  • Drink, drink, drink.

How to react if one suffers from altitude sickness

HACE

  • Descend immediately; at least 500 meters; try to reach the 2500 meters altitude
  • Use dexamethason
  • Stay at lower altitude until you have fully recovered (this may last a week). Ascending to soon may kill you!

HAPE

  • Descend 500-1000 meters
  • Use nifedipine

AMS

  • Do not climb higher
  • Drink a lot
  • Use painkillers and/or diamox

Diamox as prophylaxis

Acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is a well know drug for AMS. It can also be used as a 'prophylaxis'. This is only recommended if a fast altitude gain is inevitable, for instance if you fly to Lhasa without proper acclimatization.

Diamox not only helps against the symptoms of AMS, but also cures it! It help with the acclimatization process. It also seems to help against Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

Do not use sustained release Diamox!

Dosis as prophylaxis: start 24 hours before; 2 doses per day of 250 mg each. Continue taking it every day. Stop after the second or third night on altitude.


Other health issues

Altitude cough

Visit MountEverest.net!Many people suffer from a cough when they are on high altitude. This cough is also known as the Khumbu Cough. There is a face mask that heatens the air. See the website by Psolar.

If you get the cough during descent you can try codeine. If you lungs are affected then use antibiotics.

Visit the Base Camp website!More information about the Khumbu Cough can be found on the Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic website.

Headache

Headache is usually a symptom of AMS. Regular painkillers can be taken, although aspirine is slightly better, because it makes your blood thinner. Aspirin may also help a little against the Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

Sleeping problems

Sleeping pills are not recommended because they lower down your respiration, which can be dangerous on high altitude. Diamox may help a little if you suffer from Cheyne-Stokes.

Zoldipem and Melatonin are the only pills that have proven to have no negative effects on respiration.

Wrap-up

Most drugs can only be obtained on prescription. Apart from the list below everyone needs his own drugs for headaches (aspirin) and other minor problems. Of course a medical kit is also needed.

Diagnosis Medication Brand Dosis / remarks Amount we took with us
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) Acetazolamide Diamox Every 12 hours 250 mg, no sustained release 38 tablets 250 mg
  Aspirin    
Cheyne-Stokes respiration   Aspirin
Diamox
Both drugs relieve Cheyne-Stokes a little  
Bacterial infections Ciprofloxacine Ciproxin Antibiotics, finish treatment of 7 tablets 2x7 tablets
Amoxicilline / Clavulane acid   Antibiotics, finish treatment of 20 tablets 2x21 tablets
Parasitic diseases / Giardiasis Metronidazol   Finish treatment 2x20 tablets 250 mg
Lack of sleep Zolpidem   1 pill per night 14 tablets 10 mg
Serious pain Diclofenac     28 tablets 50 mg
Altitude cough Codeine   Use only on descent! 28 tablets 10 mg
Anaphylaxis Adrenaline EpiPen   1 auto-injector 0,3 mg

Communication

Thuraya SO-2510Satellite phone

A satellite phone may be convenient. But they are expensive! Thuraya has coverage in parts of Asia (including the Himalayas) and in Europe, not in the Americas. For full world coverage you need an Iridium. The advantage of a Thuraya is that it's cheap and it's light.

We have a Thuraya SO-2510. The SO-2510 can be used as a dial-up and GmPRS modem as well.

Coverage Area Thuraya

Web log

Whenever we had time and the possibility we published our diary on our blog (only in Dutch). We used our satphone to make an internet connection. And we also used Ipadio a lot. That is a free service that records phone calls and allows others to listen to those calls using a dedicated player. This a a sample phonecast from us (also in Dutch).


Gear list

Bodywear

RAB NeutrinoMammut AlbaronMillet Mittens

Item Type Remarks
Waterproof jacket Mammut Albaron Jacket Goretex Pro Shell
  Sprayway Goretex
Waterproof pants Sprayway 20/20 rain pant Goretex
  Berghaus Extreme Goretex
Windproof jacket Haglöfs Massif jacket Windstopper softshell
  Berghaus Choktoi Pro Windstopper technical fleece
Fleece shirt Haglöfs Single Top Polartec 100
  North Face Aurora Polartec 100
Fleece pants REI Teton Pant Polartec 100
  North Face Aurora Tight Polartec Powerstretch
Balaclava OR Windstopper
Down mittens Millet Everest 3 in 1 90% goose down outer, primaloft inner mitt
Waterproof gloves Ziener Mountain Goretex
Windproof gloves Mac  
  The North Face Pamir  
Down jacket RAB Neutrino Endurance Jacket Fill power 800
  Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Parka Fill power 650
Synthetic down pants Mountain Hardwear Compressor pants  
Trekking pants vauDe Farley  
Trekking shirts    
Synthetic underwear Odlo Cubic Briefs
  North Face Lightweight XTC Shirt long sleeves
  Haglöfs 010 zip polo Shirt long sleeves

Footwear

Koflach VerticalFeathered Friends Down BootiesLa Sportiva Spantik

Item Type Remarks
Hiking boots Meindl Air Revolution 5.0 and 5.1 Type B/C boots with Goretex
High altitude boots La Sportiva Spantik, Koflach Vertical  
Down booties Feathered Friends For around camp
Gaiters OR Crocodiles Goretex
  Mountain Hardwear Goretex

Sleeping

Mountain Hardwear SetiMountain Hardwear Trango 3.1

Item Type Remarks
Sleeping mat Thermarest Camp Rest or Basecamp Self inflatable
Sleeping bag Mountain Hardwear Seti Rated to -40C/-40F
Tent Mountain Hardware Trango 3.1  

Climbing gear

Kong LiftGrivel 2F

Item Type Remarks
Crampons Grivel Air Tech Step-in style crampons, for climb to Naya Kanga summit
  Grivel Air Tech Light New Classic Aluminium crampons, to be used on the approach with our fabric boots
Ice axe Grivel Air Tech  
Jumar Kong Lift Ascender  
Figure of eight    
Prusiks   6 mm static rope
Harness    
Karabiner   pp 2 small and 2 large (HMS type) and 4 regular karabiners
Rope   Fixed rope (300 m) can be bought in Kathmandu

Rest

Garmin OregonEee PC 901Petzl Tikka XP

Item Type Remarks
Duffel bags Salomon 1200 Capacity 120 l, max load 30 kg
GPS receiver Garmin Oregon 450t  
Satellite phone Thuraya SO-2510  
Laptop ASUS Eee PC 901 Netbook, solid state memory
Waterproof stuff sacks   Especially your sleeping bag must be kept dry
Glacier sunglasses    
Goggles    
Headlamps    

Kathmandu shops

There are fine shops in Kathmandu where you can purchase your outfit. They all sell Goretex, fleece and softshell jackets as well as down. All the well known brand van be found: The North Face, Mammut, Columbia, Lowe Alpine. However they are not the real thing, but locally made copies. Mammut jackets and TNF jackets can be 100% equal apart from the brand name on the jacket. Also the colors are identical. This does not mean that the quality is bad. But one is never sure that a 'Goretex' jacket is real Goretex.

An interesting local brand is Everest Hardwear. The brand logo is almost identical to the one of Mountain Hardwear, but the price is 80% less.

In Kathmandu there is also a shop that only sells it's own brand. The company is run by Sherpas. This shop is definitely more expensive: a down jacket (700 fillpower) was about USD 160. Still not very expensive, but a whole lot more than the Thamel shops. But the quality looked a lot better too.

And then there are the real shops with the real brands. There is even one shop that only sells Mountain Hardwear stuff, almost the complete catalog. And the prices meet western standards.

Some typical prices in Thamel:

  • down jacket: 5000-14,000 NPR
  • down trousers: 5000-14,000
  • down suit: 15,000-22,000
  • closed cell foam mattress: 200-1000
  • rope: $0.40-0.50 per meter