Small wide world

27 Feb 2015
by Kari

The preparations in Nepal for the spring expedition are starting. After celebrating Losar, the work has taken up speed.

In Kathmandu, I also enjoy the New Year invitations of the Tibetans and Sherpas. They celebrate the event with many so-called “pic-nic parties,” at which hundreds of people from different communities meet and congratulate successful Sherpas. Sponsors like K&P are being honoured as well. K&P supports the school of Takschindu, a place which lies on the way from Jiri to Lukla, many of our Sherpas are from here.

I go to Kathmando every year around the same time. I then plan all of the many small things which make the difference, such as checking whether there are two of the large radios, or if the cream and cream dispenser are in order. If the tents are okay or if we have to order additional materials. Discussing with the Sirdars which Sherpas are accompanying which expedition and who is coming with us.Thanks to our good reputation with the Sherpas, K&P get to choose who travels with us, so that we have the best Sherpas accompanying us.

In the past years, much has changed in Nepal.

Many Nepali, and so also many Sherpas, are leaving, trying their luck in other countries, sometimes on adventurous paths. Kathmandu-Hongkong-Singapur, by ship to Chile, via Bolivia onto rat runs to Mexico and from there on into the US, somehow. For this adventure, they are willing to pay USD 35,000. It's a mystery to me from where they may have gotten such sums of money, and what kind of expectations they have of the “praised” land. This is no made-up story, one of our Sherpas told me that his wife is undertaking such a journey. What's crazy is that the two of them have children. Further expamples can be found in abundance, the planes to Qatar are full of Nepali looking for work – or for the wide world.

But let's come back to the not always idyllic world of Nepal. Most of the Nepali have understood that this cannot be the solution, but not many have realised that the changes have to take place right here. Maybe the youth can make a difference. Last night I saw two young Nepali walking through the streets, hand in hand, embracing each other. Five years ago, no one would have even thought of such a sight.

After a short glimpse into the world of Nepal, let's go back to the expeditions, which are my own small world and with which I try to give the people here the possibility to earn a living.

A few words on a topic which causes me to get an upset stomach time and time again:

The practise of mountaineering with or without oxygen bottles has become almost religiously disputed, and all religions practised in a fundamentalist way are scary!

Oxygen protects people like us from frostbite, brain damage and many other small damages which height can cause.
This is why K&P invests much energy in optimising bottled oxygen.

I'll try to be brief and present the efforts of optimising oxygen support:

  • 2006: first meeting with Henry Todd, Russel Brice and Kari Kobler to optimise the old oyxygen system (Poisk).
  • In the same year, meeting with R. Perren, a guest of K&P, where we got important information on the new regulators and that these are available on the market. We would just have to adapt them slightly. Developing our own system was not feasible financially.
  • 2009: Marko Reuss accompanies K&P on the Everest expedition, afterwards, Marco develops the first oxygen regulator which is truly good.
  • In 2010, this regulator is used, and our experience with it very good: Suddenly, a bottle of oxygen can be used much longer than before, because less oxygen is lost.
  • As of 2010, further development of the regulators and oxygen masks.
  • In 2013, the regulators and oxygen masks have advanced a lot, they are now a huge help, not like the Poisk masks and regulators, which were mainly a pain.
  • 2014: At Everest, K&P use 190 oxygen bottles which were newly developed in Europe.
  • I strongly doubt that this is the end of the developments.

I look forward to being on site at the 5th of April and starting the next venture.

Kind regards,
Kari Kobler