Introduction Preparations Itinerary Finance Links Report  
 

Introduction

This page is all about our preparations. These preparations already started in Spring 2008, 12 months before going to Nepal. This page comprises these sections:


Paper work

Visa

For Nepal a visa is needed.

Dutch citizens can obtain their Nepal visa at the consulate on Herengracht in Amsterdam. It takes a few minutes. The application form can be downloaded beforehand.

Permit / peak royalty

For climbing Baruntse a permit is needed. The royalty in Spring is $2100 for up to seven members. In Autumn it is $1050. All royalty fees can be found on the website of the Ministry Of Tourism of Nepal. The permit must be collected in person at the ministry.

Duty clearance

All cargo that is sent separately must be cleared by the Nepalese customs. Therefore a packing list is required. All items should be marked consumable or re-exportable. For consumable items you pay around 25-30% duty. For re-exportable items the tax is refunded when you leave the country again and export the goods again.

On the airway bill you must provide the 'Name of the consignee'. That would be the expedition name and trekking agency.


Money

The unit of currency in Nepal is the rupee (NPR).

The rates below are the real time updated forex rates coming from www.exchange-rates.org.

Nowadays there are plenty ATMs in Nepal, even in the smaller towns. If you plan to bring cash then US dollars or Euros are the best options. The dollar has been the preferred foreign currency for years but has lost it's position in favor of the Euro now.

Please use the Mastercard (Cirrus) ATM locator to find out where these ATMs are located.


Flights

International flights

KLM (via Delhi, long wait, not recommended), Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines have connections from Amsterdam to Kathmandu. It is also possible to fly to Bangkok and then to Kathmandu. The average price is € 1100-1300. There are no direct connections.

As of October 2009 the Dutch low cost carrier Arke Fly has a direct connection from Amsterdam to Kathmandu with a stop of 1 hour in Bahrein; one flight a week.

We have used Gulf Air. We got an extra baggage allowance of 10 kg per person.

Excess baggage

WWBSWe shipped excess baggage to Kathmandu by Worldwide Baggage Services (only from The Netherlands). 80 kg including insurance costed us € 235. Back to Amsterdam you have to use a local Nepales company; there are plenty in Kathmanu. It is advised that excess baggage is sent to Nepal 2-3 weeks prior to the expedition to allow for sufficient time for duty clearance. This was handled by our trekking agency.

Local transport

A flight from Kathmandu to Tumlingtar costs about € 115. It operates daily. To Lukla it is € 123.


Local support

Logo

We have done a full service expedition for which we needed:

  • Nepalese trekking agency;
    They took care of the local logistics: staff, permits, equipment
  • 2 Climbing Sherpas
  • Cook and cook helper
  • Porters

We have a friend in Kathmandu who happens to own a trekking agency: Ngima Sherpa from Unlimited Sherpa Expeditions. He took care of most logistics. And he was one of our Climbing Sherpas too.


Accomodation in Kathmandu

We stayed in the Tibet Holiday Inn in the Thamel. This was not a very good hotel. The only good thing was that it was just outside Thamel, only 5 minutes. A better option is the Amar Hotel. This is a good and not so expensive hotel. A double room with attached bathroom was USD 28. The downside is that this hotel is not in Thamel. But a taxi is only 100-150 rupees.


Altitude Sickness

Visit the Base Camp Clinic!What is it?

Altitude sickness is a complex of health problems that occur as a lack of oxygen. Usually one will not suffer from it in the lower altitudes (< 3500 m). Almost everybody will have some form of altitude sickness when climbing higher than 5000 meters. A full acclimatization needs 7 to 10 days and your body will not acclimatize fully above 5500 meters. There are three types of altitude sickness. They may occur on their own or together:

  • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
  • High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
  • High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).

AMS

Symptoms of AMS are:

  • Headache
  • Dizzyness
  • Sleeping problems
  • No or less appetite

You may suffer from AMS if these three facts are all valid:

  • You’ve been climbing recently and usually over 300 meters a day
  • You have been on altitude for some hours now
  • You suffer from a headache that you did not have before.

In addition, you must suffer from one of these:

  • Feeling sick, no appetite, vomiting
  • Very tired
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Having sleeping problems that you normally do not have.

HACE and HAPE

These two forms of altitude sickness are potentially lethal. You may suffer from HACE if:

  • you have a very heavy and persistent headache
  • You behave like a drunk
  • you seem to lose your coordination, you hallucinate, you have epileptic attacks etc.

To be brief: if you have both AMS and suffer from typical brain disorders (that you normally do not do) you may have HACE.

You may suffer from HAPE if:

  • you have AMS
  • you have a persistent cough
  • you feel very tired
  • you need a lot more time to recuperate.

Almost everybody will suffer from some kind of headache. A minor headache, which reacts well to painkillers, is not very important. However if you develop a headache during nighttime and it does not react to painkillers, you must wonder whether it is more serious than just AMS.

How to avoid altitude sickness

Here are some tips for avoiding or minimizing the chance that you get altitude sickness:

  • Recognize the symptoms and know what to do
  • Avoid a fast ascent to height above 2500 meters
  • Two or three night sleep on 2500 m
  • Avoid a gain of over 300 meters a day. It is good to climb higher that day but your sleeping altitude should not be over 300 m higher (Climb High, Sleep Low)
  • One extra day of rest after every 1000 meters
  • If you have any altitude sickness symptoms, do not climb higher
  • Descent if the situation worsens
  • Drink, drink, drink.

How to react if one suffers from altitude sickness

HACE

  • Descend immediately; at least 500 meters; try to reach the 2500 meters altitude
  • Use dexamethason
  • Stay at lower altitude until you have fully recovered (this may last a week). Ascending to soon may kill you!

HAPE

  • Descend 500-1000 meters
  • Use nifedipine

AMS

  • Do not climb higher
  • Drink a lot
  • Use painkillers and/or diamox

Diamox as prophylaxis

Acetazolamide (brand name Diamox) is a well know drug for AMS. It can also be used as a 'prophylaxis'. This is only recommended if a fast altitude gain is inevitable, for instance if you fly to Lhasa without proper acclimatization.

Diamox not only helps against the symptoms of AMS, but also cures it! It help with the acclimatization process. It also seems to help against Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

Do not use sustained release Diamox!

Dosis as prophylaxis: start 24 hours before; 2 doses per day of 250 mg each. Continue taking it every day. Stop after the second or third night on altitude.


Other health issues

Altitude cough

Visit MountEverest.net!Many people suffer from a cough when they are on high altitude. This cough is also known as the Khumbu Cough. There is a face mask that heatens the air. See the website by Psolar.

If you get the cough during descent you can try codeine. If you lungs are affected then use antibiotics.

Visit the Base Camp website!More information about the Khumbu Cough can be found on the Everest Base Camp Medical Clinic website.

Headache

Headache is usually a symptom of AMS. Regular painkillers can be taken, although aspirine is slightly better, because it makes your blood thinner. Aspirine may also help a little against the Cheyne-Stokes respiration.

Sleeping problems

Sleeping pills are not recommended because they lower down your respiration, which can be dangerous on high altitude. Diamox may help a little if you suffer from Cheyne-Stokes.

Zoldipem and Melatonin are the only pills that have proven to have no negative effects on respiration.

Wrap-up

Most drugs can only be obtained on prescription. Apart from the list below everyone needs his own drugs for headaches (aspirine) and other minor problems. Of course a medical kit is also needed.

Diagnosis Medication Brand Dosis / remarks Amount we take with us
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) Acetazolamide Diamox Every 8 hours 250 mg, no sustained release 70 tablets 250 mg
  Aspirine    
Dexamethason Decadron Dexamethason may help; see HACE  
Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) Nifedipine Adalat Oros Put 4 broken capsules of 5 mg under the tongue. Then start immediately with 1 tablet of 20 mg every 6 hours (only one day; descent immediately) 8 capsules 5 mg
28 tablets 20 mg sustained release
Cerebral Edema (HACE) Dexamethason Decadron Start with 8 mg, then 4 mg every 6 hours. Maximum 20mg per day. Descend! 60 tablets 1,5 mg
Cheyne-Stokes respiration   Aspirine
Diamox
Both drugs relieve Cheyne-Stokes a little  
Bacterial infections Ciprofloxacine Ciproxin Antibiotics, finish treatment of 7 tablets 2x7 tablets
Amoxicilline / Clavulane acid   Antibiotics, finish treatment of 20 tablets 2x21 tablets
Parasitic diseases / Giardiasis Metronidazol   Finish treatment 2x20 tablets 250 mg
Lack of sleep Zolpidem   1 pill per night 28 tablets 10 mg
Serious pain Diclofenac     60 tablets 50 mg
Tramadol     28 retard capsules 50 mg
Altitude cough Codeine   Use only on descent! 28 tablets 10 mg
Anaphylaxis Adrenaline EpiPen   2 auto-injector 0,3 mg

Communication

Thuraya SO-2510Satellite phone

A satellite phone may be convenient. But they are expensive! Thuraya has coverage in parts of Asia (including the Himalayas) and in Europe, not in the Americas. For full world coverage you need an Iridium. The advantage of a Thuraya is that it's cheap and it's light. To add to the costs is a Thuraya ECO-SIM pre-paid card, which is about $ 20. You can buy top-up scratch cards for extra airtime or you can use their website.

We bought the Thuraya SO-2510. Including a $ 80 top-up voucher and ECO-SIM it costed us € 540, which is cheap. We found it on eBay.

The SO-2510 can be used as a dial-up modem as well.

Coverage Area Thuraya

Web log

Whenever we had time and the possibility we published our diary on our blog (only in Dutch).

Walkie-talkies

We have one pair of Brondi FX-400 radios. The range should be 8 km (5 miles). These radios can be used to communicate between high camps and base camp. A special license is required in Nepal.


Gear list

Bodywear

Sub Zero ParkaTNF Mountain GuideOR balaclavaMillet Mittens

Item Type Remarks
Waterproof jacket The North Face Mountain Guide Jacket Goretex
  Sprayway Goretex
Waterproof pants Sprayway 20/20 rain pant Goretex
  Berghaus Extreme Goretex
Windproof jacket Mountain Equipment Aquafleece  
  Berghaus Choktoi Pro  
Fleece jacket MEC Baffin Jacket Polartec 300
  Cabelas Polartec 300
Fleece shirt North Face Warmin' Shirt Polartec 100M
  North Face Aurora Polartec 100
Fleece pants REI Teton Pant Polartec 100
  Mammut Vertical Pants Technopile
  North Face Aurora Tight Polartec Powerstretch
Balaclava OR Windstopper
Face mask PsolarX  
Down mittens Millet Everest 3 in 1 90% goose down outer, primaloft inner mitt
Waterproof gloves Ziener Mountain Goretex
Windproof gloves Mac  
  The North Face Pamir  
Down jacket Mountain Hardwear Sub Zero Parka Fill power 650+
Synthetic down pants Mountain Hardwear Compressor pants  
Trekking pants vauDe Farley  
Trekking shirts    
Synthetic underwear Lowe Alpine Dry Flo Briefs
  Odlo Cubic Briefs
  North Face Lightweight XTC Shirt long sleeves
  Haglöfs 010 zip polo Shirt long sleeves
  Haglöfs 031 Long John  

Footwear

Koflach VerticalFeathered Friends Down BootiesLa Sportiva Spantik

Item Type Remarks
Hiking boots Meindl Air Revolution 5.0 and 5.1 Type B/C boots with Goretex
High altitude boots La Sportiva Spantik, Koflach Vertical, Millet Everest  
Overboots Forty Below K2 To add extra warmth
Down booties Feathered Friends For around camp
Gaiters OR Crocodiles Goretex
  Mountain Hardwear Goretex
     
     

Sleeping

Mountain Hardwear SetiNorth Face WestwindvauDe Space K2

Item Type Remarks
Sleeping mat Thermarest Camp Rest or Basecamp Self inflatable
  Multimat Summit XL Closed cell foam, expedition quality
Sleeping bag Mountain Hardwear Seti Rated to -40C/-40F
High altitude tent Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.1 For camp 1
  The North Face Westwind For camp 1
  vauDe Space K2 For camp 2
  vauDe Hogan Ultralight Argon For camp 2
Snow stakes   For pitching the tent on snow
Bivi bag Terra Nova Discovery  

Climbing gear

Kong LiftBlack Diamond TracerCharlet Moser PulsarGrivel 2F

Item Type Remarks
Crampons Grivel Air Tech Step-in style crampons, for above base camp
  Grivel Air Tech Light New Classic Aluminium crampons, to be used on the approach with our fabric boots
Ice axe Grivel Air Tech  
Ice hammer Charlet Moser Pulsar or Axar  
Jumar Kong Lift Ascender  
Figure of eight    
Prusiks   6 mm static rope
Harness    
Karabiner   pp 2 small and 2 large (HMS type) and 4 regular karabiners
Rope   Fixed rope (300 m) can be bought in Kathmandu
Snow stakes   For fixing the ropes on snow
Slings   pp one 3 m sling and two 2 m slings
Helmet    
Ice screws?    

Rest

Eee PC 901Petzl Tikka XPMSR Dragonfly

Item Type Remarks
Duffel bags Salomon 1200 Capacity 120 l, max load 30 kg
  Gelert Expedition 120 Capacity 120 l, max load 30 kg
Stove MSR dragonfly  
GPS receiver Magellan SporTrak Color  
Satellite phone Thuraya SO-2510  
Radios Brondi FX-400  
Laptop ASUS Eee PC 901 Netbook, solid state memory
MP3 player    
Rucksack Lowe Alpine Crossbow Alpamayo or Cerro Torre At least 70 l, for the climb above base camp
Waterproof stuff sacks   Especially your sleeping bag must be kept dry
Glacier sunglasses    
Goggles    
Headlamps    

Kathmandu shops

There are fine shops in Kathmandu and Namche Bazar where you can purchase your outfit. They all sell Goretex, fleece and softshell jackets as wel as down. All the well known brand van be found: The North Face, Mammut, Columbia, Lowe Alpine. However they are not the real thing, but locally made copies. Mammut jackets and TNF jackets can be 100% equal apart from the brand name on the jacket. Also the colors are identical. This does not mean that the quality is bad. But one is never sure that a 'Goretex' jacket is real Goretex.

The same applies to down jackets. In Namche Bazar one can find down clothing for a good price. We bought a jacket for only 4000 rupees, which was 40 Euros or 60 US dollars. Maybe the quality is a little less, but who cares for 4000 rupees?

An interesting local brand is Everest Hardwear. The brand logo is almost identical to the one of Mountain Hardwear, but the price is 80% less.

In Kathmandu there is also a shop that only sells it's own brand. The company is run by Sherpas. This shop is clearly more expensive: a down jacket (700 fillpower) was about USD 160. Still not expensive, but a whole lot more than the Thamel shops. But the quality looked a lot better too.

And then there are the real shops with the real brands. There is even one shop that only sells Mountain Hardwear stuff, almost the complete catalog. And the prices meet western standards.

Some typical prices in Thamel and Namche Bazar:

  • down jacket: 5000-14,000 NPR
  • down trousers: 5000-14,000
  • down suit: 15,000-22,000
  • closed cell foam mattress: 200-1000
  • rope: $0.40-0.50 per meter
 
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