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Russian Everest team leaves the haze of Kathmandu
11:48 a.m. EST Mar 4, 2004
A climber’s first arrival at Kathmandu international airport is not an experience to be forgotten. You disembark from your flight cautiously looking for your luggage to come out from the ancient conveyor belt, knowing that it’s going to be a severe hassle if it doesn’t.

The receiving line

As you step through the arrivals area and are spewed out onto the street you are immediately forced into the ceremony of the ‘Nepali receiving line’ with folks of all ages reaching for your bags, offering to carry them for a small fee, and cab drivers motioning you towards their ramshackle vehicles in hopes of a fare. The experience is rather overwhelming, especially being in a daze from your lengthy plane ride. You can see the smog hanging over the city and air is filled with dust.

"Meter Cha?"

For veterans, they know what they’re doing, where they’re going, and probably have someone waiting for them. For the newcomers it’s a good idea to have someone waiting for you, or you might just not know which way to turn. If you do get in a cab, make sure they use the meter, “Meter cha?” Although the run to and from the airport is typically a fixed rate as the cabbies have colluded on that one.

In recent years the 'Nepali receiving line' has moved across the street and is a bit less intimidating. Kathmandu itself is a wild city – cows are parading down the street, and occasionally a circus elephant that was left behind can be seem roaming around.

Black snot

In all its splendor and history, Kathmandu is really a physically dirty city, with lots of pollution. A mixture of dust and diesel permeates through the air. At night you blow your nose and black stuff comes out. Climbers often can’t wait to make the jump up to Lukla or over the boarder and into Lhasa.

To the hills

And that’s what the Russians just did. After taking in the sights and partying in Kathmandu, they’ve flown into Lukla and are now on their way to Ama Dablam’s Base Camp, where they’ll be acclimatizing for their attempt on a new route up Everest’s North Side. The crew just sent back some pictures from today’s trek.

Perhaps the most exciting expedition on Everest this spring will be the Russians. A crack team will be attempting Everest via the center of the North Face. This is a severe, technical climb to the left of the Hornbein/Japanese couloir. The guys are going straight up, on a clean and lofty face. The technical difficulty of the route along with the extreme altitude makes this one of the most difficult challenges in mountaineering.

The expedition is a Russian dream team. There is previous Everest summiteers, Golden Ice Axe winners, and many, many 8000m veterans. Koshelenko, who just made the first summit of Nuptse East will be on the team as well. The Russians also have a young 22 year old – Alexey Bukinich – Koshelenko pulled for him, and he made the team.

Image from the trek courtesy of our friends at Mountain.ru.

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