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Making the Best of a Bad Situation — Part One

Hel­lo every­one, Namaste!

I hope every­one back home is doing well and excit­ed to see their loved ones return­ing from the Ever­est Base Camp Trek in Nepal. In clas­sic Mad­ness style we switched gears after the earth­quake and had a week to make the most of our time in this won­der­ful country.

On 28 April we woke to knocks on our doors at Camp de Base Lodge in Nam­che Bazaar. Our staff served us tea before a break­fast of por­ridge, bacon and eggs, and fresh toast. On the walk down, every­one felt some relief to leave the town where we’d expe­ri­enced the earth­quake. We soon arrived in a vil­lage called Chho­plung, about an hour below Luk­la. We made this vil­lage our last stop before fly­ing out to avoid the chaos of tourists book­ing flights and get­ting stressed out above us. After a nice din­ner and card games we all went to bed in our com­fort­able rooms.

The Moun­tain Mad­ness team leav­ing Nam­che Bazaar.

Our staff was work­ing on flights and we knew we would be sit­ting for a cou­ple days, but there was plen­ty to keep us occu­pied. After break­fast the next morn­ing, we walked with our sher­pas to their home vil­lage of Chau­riekhar­ka to sur­vey the dam­age to their homes. Those hous­es not com­plete­ly destroyed still have severe struc­tur­al dam­age to the foun­da­tion, walls and roofs, and are unin­hab­it­able. It is awful to think they will be liv­ing out­side under tarps dur­ing mon­soon sea­son as they will not be able to rebuild their homes in time.

The hous­ing sit­u­a­tion in villages. 

A local woman looks at her destroyed home.

Dawa and his wife invit­ed us to the yard out­side their house, where they cooked a deli­cious lunch in the rain over an open fire for the team. We feast­ed on the best momos I’ve ever had, as well as pota­to pan­cakes. For braver team mem­bers than I, there was chang — a local spir­it brewed from mil­let or rice that has an extreme­ly unique” fla­vor. It was quite hum­bling to have Dawa and his wife pre­pare us this feast in the rain and to hear their endur­ing laugh­ter despite the circumstances.

Best. Momos. Ever.

Chang, any­one?

The rest of the after­noon and evening we relaxed and made plans for the fol­low­ing day.

The 30th of April was wed­ding day for Erik and Jen! Although they had orig­i­nal­ly planned to tie the knot on top of Kala Pat­tar near Ever­est at 18,500 feet, they decid­ed What the hell, let’s do it here.” After break­fast we all hiked to the Bud­dhist monastery in the hills above us. A local Bud­dhist lama trav­eled in to bless their union inside the monastery. Then we went out on the steps where Hal, our awe­some Cana­di­an team mem­ber, offi­ci­at­ed the Eng­lish cer­e­mo­ny and Jen and Erik exchanged vows. A goal was still achieved, and the team was in great spir­its to wit­ness a new start for a won­der­ful pair of friends we had come to love over the pre­ced­ing weeks.

The monastery where Erik and Jen mar­ried. Stew­art Wolfe photos

After that we head­ed down to our lodge in Chho­plung. Some team mem­bers relaxed, while oth­ers went with me to Luk­la to try to obtain inter­net to no avail. We still had a nice time eat­ing pas­tries, drink­ing cof­fee, and play­ing pool. A relax­ing evening back at our lodge with fresh smoked salmon from Seat­tle that Mad­ness pro­vid­ed almost con­clud­ed the evening – that is, until a batch of rak­shi showed up with our staff (kind of like sake and vod­ka dis­tilled from rice). We all toast­ed the new­ly­weds and lis­tened to music from a phone. 

More to come…

~MM Leader Stew­art Wolfe