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from Namche to Phortse

January 15, 2015

Our team trekked today from Namche to Phortse.  We had spectacular weather and a spectacular view.  There have been some recent snow storms so much of the trail was muddy, snowy, and icy making the walk a bit more treacherous than usual.  We had tea at Kanjoma and lunch at the Mong La before reaching Phortse at about 4:15 this afternoon.  There was a group at the entrance of Phortse to greet us.We’re getting settled into our guest houses this evening.  Several of us will go over to the ice climbing area tomorrow to look at conditions and finalize preparation for our 2-day instructors’ workshop.

Now that we’re getting established in Phortse and will soon get into our normal schedule I should be able to write more frequently and more fully.

All the best,


Last Day

February 1, 2015

We had a very good field exam day yesterday and met last night to finalize our graduation plans.  We have students who are graduating with honors and just a few who did not do quite so well but overall we were pleased with the students.  It also appears that this was the best-behaved group we’ve had.

Our graduation ceremony will be outside this morning and starts just as soon as the sun hits the location.  It’s too cold to hold the ceremony without some sunshine.  We should have that completed by around 10 this morning.  I have a lot of loose ends to tie up and some bills to pay but we will then all leave for Namche around noon.  We should be there by dinner time.  We’ll hike to Lukla on the 2nd and hope to fly to Kathmandu on the 3rd.

Last night in Nepal

February 5, 2015

 I apologize for not writing much in the last few days.  Honestly, the social calendar has kept us more than busy along with managing schedules for everyone and tying up some loose ends.  It’s been a productive few days in Kathmandu but very busy.  Perhaps the most stressful times are during the bone-jarring taxi drives through rush hour traffic.  Not something for the faint at heart.

Several KCC instructors left today and Rob and I leave tomorrow afternoon.  We’ll fly from Kathmandu to Seoul, South Korea, where we’ll spend the night and part of the day before leaving thereon Saturday evening at about 6.  By traveling east over the international date line we’ll actually arrive in Seattle about 11 hours before we leave!!  We “lost” a day on the way over but will pick it up on the way back.

The remaining western instructors spent the evening having dinner with Krishna and his family at their home.  I traditionally have my first dinner in Nepal each trip with them as well as my last.  We had a lot of good food, lots of laughter, and an excellent “trip ending” cake to celebrate.

Off to bed now for some much-needed sleep.  The trip home will be tiring and I’m already feeling pretty worn down!

All the best,





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.

Climbing School Update 1/15/2016

January 15, 2016

Dear Friends,

Namaste! I hope you are all well.

We had a beautiful weather day here with crystal clear, deep blue skies and sunshine all day long. Typically, clouds will roll in by early afternoon but today was just great.

Today and tomorrow are our Instructor’s Workshop. All the western and Nepalese instructors work together to review basic skills, do some practice, and also try to help introduce and practice new skills for the professional development of our instructors. This morning was spent with half the group working on knot tying and instructional ideas for use with students when KCC officially begins. The other half of the group worked on the principles of climbing anchor construction, various forms of equalization, and then a practice session. After 90 minutes, the groups switched assignments. Continue Reading >

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