Climbing School Update - January 2017

January 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

Namaste! I hope you are well and warm. We’ve had a particularly cold day and my toes have not been warm since I got out of my sleeping bag at 6:30 this morning. I expect they’ll warm up again when the yak dung stove is relit in a few hours.

Our students arrived today and have spent the afternoon checking in with our staff, renting equipment, and being assigned lodging at various guest houses. We also try to verify their initial assignment into either the Basic or Advanced course. They seem to wait patiently in line, but then again, it’s cold everywhere so there’s no rush to get anywhere else than where they are.

Yesterday, I mentioned various ethnicities with about 100 being present in Nepal. Our program includes at least 9 of those tribal or ethnic groups among our instructor and student ranks. Not surprisingly, Sherpas dominate both among students and instructors with well over 80% representation. The other groups present are Lama, Ale (pronounced Ollie), KC, Newar, Tamang, Hyolmo, Rai, Gurung, and Adhikari. I believe that these groups have certain regions in Nepal in which they tend to dominate but that these patterns are becoming more scattered over time. We also have little to no representation among the higher status (or caste) ethnic groups. I suspect that this is because the training program that we do is geared to hard, dangerous work in the mountains, not something that would be particularly appealing to the well off.

Student check-in should be completed by about 4 and we’ll hold a brief instructor’s meeting at 4:30 for some final details before we begin tomorrow. Also, we are going to have a 30 minute slide show tonight for instructors and some students. Two officials from Sagarmatha National Park would like to address our group, I believe regarding “rules and regulations” within the park. (Honestly, I suspect it’s as much an effort to exert some control over what we do. Chhongba has suggested that we give each of them a KCC jacket. Smart man.)

Incidentally, Sagarmatha is the Hindi name for Everest. Chomalungma (which is one of the many, many spellings I’ve seen for the name) is the Sherpa name. Sadly, the Hindi name was chosen for the park rather than the name used by the locals for their “mother goddess” mountain. I’m certain it has to do with political control. Perhaps some day in the future this will be “corrected” (see: Denali vs. Mt. McKinley. McKinley as a presidential candidate from Ohio who never even visited Alaska but his name was promoted by a local miner. Everest, on the other hand, was the chief surveyor of India when Everest was first spotted from a long distance and it’s height measured.)

I had intended to shower today but the weather was simply too cold. I did still remove my gray beard of 10 days and washed my head in a sink. I was actually looking forward to this and I asked the kitchen staff (fairly young kids who don’t speak fluent English, although it’s vastly superior to my Sherpa or Nepali) for a half-bucket of hot water for the purpose. I went to the washroom, took off the dozen or so (not quite) shirts and jackets, bent over, and poured a large cupful of water over my head. Alas, my much-anticipated moment of bliss was not to be. Somehow, my description of hot water must have been understood as “not frozen”. The water was not bitter cold but it was, well, cold. At that moment, though, with head dripping and half-undressed, I was able to appreciate the concept of commitment. I was already in deep, so simply proceeded. As my long time close friend Dewey used to say, “oh well”. I at least feel cleaner than I did before. I’ll also be clearer in the future regarding hot water.

All the best,

Steve Mock – ALCF Board Member & KCC Instructor

ps. Brandon, our builder here in Phortse, is posting each day some photos on both the KCC Facebook and Instagram pages.

posted in Steve Mock