Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory

It had barely been 24 hours since we had summited Kala Patthar, the climax of our Nepal adventure, and our mood couldn’t have been better. We felt stronger than ever, and had already descended past Lobuche and all the way to Dingboche in a long afternoon (~4 hours). We were on our way to Namche the next morning, on the switchbacks right after Tengboche, when the 3rd earthquake hit. The whole mountain started moving, it felt like a fairground ride…

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Reaching our goal: Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar

It was our 9th day on the trek, and we woke up in Lobuche, hyper-motivated by what laid ahead. The day was perfectly sunny, and despite the steep, rugged terrain, we made it to Gorak Shep in less than 2 hours. We got a room at the Buddha Lodge, ate a garlic soup (supposedly the best for altitude) and rested until ~10am. Then, it was finally time to go to the Everest Base Camp.

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En route to Everest

After a full week in Kathmandu, we’re finally making our way to the Everest Base Camp! The last days of April were full of positive signs. Little by little, life in the city started to get back to normal; streets got busy with people, cars and bikes, and shops and restaurants began to re-open. We celebrated each one of those changes as an achievement: “look, that store wasn’t open yesterday”, “wow, a taxi driver just solicited me”… Professional teams are already working on clearing debris and reconstructing Durbar Square and other historic sites. Unfortunately, most Nepalis won’t get that much support. But at least there is a path forward, and tourism will play a major role in it. So please don’t stop coming to Nepal, this country and its people are wonderful.

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Day zero in Nepal

Things don’t seem to be getting better here in Kathmandu. As the death count rises toward 10,000 and the number of affected people to 8 million, new challenges appear. Aftershocks are more or less over, but power outages are the norm, communications are non-existent (cellular data are long gone, this post was published a day after being written in the only hotel that offers internet access a few hours a day), and sanitary conditions are the emerging risk. Local people remain crammed in improvised camps with no sewage systems, while trash piles up everywhere. Some people have started wearing masks. The pre-monsoon storm that hit yesterday, despite making everyone wet and cold, might have been helpful. Food doesn’t seem to be an issue for now, as most people abandoned their homes carrying goods, and there are several posts distributing help, but that won’t last long. Most of the effort is still concentrated on rescue missions. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to help. The lines at the gas stations are becoming longer and longer, and most other businesses remain closed.

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Aftermath in Kathmandu

It has been a bit over 24 hours since Kathmandu suffered the brutal earthquake, and you can still feel a tense calm in the air.

Our arrival in Kathmandu yesterday morning was surreal. 2 weeks ago I had decided to take a leave of absence and hike to the Everest Base Camp, an adventure that had been in my bucket list for years. As we boarded the plane that would take us from LAX to Guangzhou for a layover, we couldn’t imagine how much of an adventure we were getting ourselves into. The moment we landed, my phone started buzzing with messages, missed calls and emails… “Are you ok?” “Please call us” and similar. It took me a couple of minutes to realize what was going on.

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