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Title image - BAI takes you to: Everest Basecamp
Why climb with Berg Adventures

Leo Power Everest Marathon Dispatch

May 16, 2011 – Phakding, Nepal 2,668m/8,752ft.

Nepal! What a cool country. One of the first facts given to me by my hospitable guides is that Nepal has never been colonized which naturally tells me that they are one tough, independent and resilient people.

Nepal is landlocked and bordered by India, China and Tibet. The country is just 800 kms long and 200 kms wide (about the size of Florida).

64% of Nepal is mountainous and it is home to 59 recognized tribes which make up 37% of a total population of 28 million people.

One-third of the total length of the Himalaya lies inside Nepal and 10 of the world's 14 tallest mountains are in Nepal. Mount Everest is 4,850 metres or 29,028 ft.

Leo Power

Leo Power

I arrived Kathmandu late May 13, 2011 via St. John's- Toronto- Hong Kong- Bangladesh- Kathmandu, Nepal.

I celebrated my 50th on May 14 with my friend Wally Berg, Berg Adventures. I first met Wally, his wife Leila and their wonderful African staff in 2010 when David Aisenstat invited me to join him and 8 others to trek to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, commonly referred to as the roof of Africa.

All 10 of us were successful in summiting and so I decided to hire Berg Adventures to help guide me to Everest base camp, which is 17,678ft.

We departed the Hotel Yak and Yeti in Kathmandu (4,428ft) today at 5:15 am and headed for the airport where we boarded a 16 seat aircraft for a flight to Lukla (9,405ft).

What an exhilarating flight to Lukla- spectacular scenery and my first real feel for the majesty of the Nepal Himalaya, (there is no such thing as the Himalayas- a single Himalayan peak is a Himal meaning snow-covered peak) the world's highest mountain range. The landing was jarring and it was done on a short, sharply angled piece of asphalt runway.

My Lonely Planet guidebook claims some 100,000 trekkers hit the trails every year in Nepal and up to 50 flights a day can arrive at Lukla's Tenzing- Hillary Airport.

Wally travelled to Tanzania today and will join me on marathon day, May 29. His Nepalese staff is guiding me include Chief Guide Nuru who is a Sherpa, one of Nepal's most famous and legendary ethnic groups.

Sherpas from the Darjeeling area were hired in 1921 by the Mount Everest reconnaissance team and the Sherpa economy has been highly dependent on tourism since that time. Sherpas and people who live at high altitude have a unique physiology whereby their bodies have adapted to the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere.

Min, Berg Adventures guide for the past 10 years

Min, Berg Adventures guide for the past 10 years

Second guide is Min, a Magar, the largest ethnic group in Nepal. Magars were and are farmers and stonemasons and many have served as soldiers in the Gurkha regiments and in the Nepal army. The tough Nepali hill men who fill the Gurkha battalions since 1815 within the British and Indian armies are notorious for their raw fighting abilities and for their resilience so I feel a sense of great comfort that Min is around to protect me in the event of trouble! Just joking!

During the Falklands conflict it was leaked in June 1983 that the Gurkhas would be used by the Brits in an assault on an outpost near Port Stanley. When the Gurkhas arrived they found the enemy had fled!

Today there are 100,000 Gurkhas in the Indian army and 4,000 in the British army. The fitness tests for British recruits are deemed too easy for the Gurkhas- Brits must run 1.5 miles in 11 minutes; Gurkhas must do the same in 9.5 minutes. In Nepal the 2001 recruitment tests attracted 25,000 young hopefuls for just 270 slots for British Gurkas.

Jatha is our Chef and he is a marathoner who has run the Everest Marathon twice and has registered again this year. I cannot run as fast as Jatha but feel great that I know someone who will compete in the marathon and Jatha has indicated he will run with me which means I will delay his finish time!

Chandar is our kitchen helper and porter and Shaila is our porter. All three men are Rai people who mostly come from the hills of eastern Nepal. Rai speak a Tibeto- Burman language in 15 different dialects but like most people in this country the Rai speak the common Nepalese language. Rai people are skilled in using bamboo for houses, baskets, fences and water pipes.

Today's trek from Lukla took us to Phakding at 8,752ft, a 4-hour trek made very pleasant by the fact the warm temperatures meant I could wear shorts and a t-shirt together with the ubiquitous backpack.

Again the scenery was incredible and we passed many dozens of tea houses, lodges, a Reggae bar that would make Bob Marley proud, an apple orchard donated by Japanese interests, a mini-hydro project, a flower nursery, beautiful children, countless Buddha monuments, Buddhist monasteries, a Buddhist monk performing a religious ceremony in a private residence which I was invited to witness while a ceremonial fire using pine tree branches burned outside, a powerful river, an incredibly clean and pristine environment, countless work animals including donkeys and animals i believe are called Zyopkyo which is a cross breed of cow and yak, hard working hill people carrying enormous loads, men with huge hammers breaking huge stones for building material without gloves or eye protection and so forth.

I've had the good fortune to travel many countries- never have I met more gentle, spiritual, "at peace with themselves" people than the people residing in the Himalaya.

In Lukla we ate at Paradise Lodge, in Ghat we ate a delectable lunch of home cooked french fries at the View Lodge and tonight I've just dined on tuna spring rolls and pasta at the Himalayan Eco Resort. Tomorrow we rise at 6:30 am and will trek for approximately 6 hours to Namche Bazaar.

– Leo Power