After a manic four to five days, during which most mountaineering expeditions descended on the Nepali capital after their successful or unsuccessful trips to mountains like Mount Everest, Manaslu, Dhaulagiri I, peace and quiet has now returned to Kathmandu. Well, relatively speaking as it is difficult to find piece and quiet in this city, unless it is a strike or in the middle of the night.
I guess I have interviewed around 50 expeditions in the past three days and I could literally not walk down the streets of Kathmandu without having to stop every five metres to talk to someone I know. But even though it can be quite exhausting at times and I am feeling slightly ‘over-socialised’, I love this time of year and it is great to know and chat to so many people.
After having met Kurt Diemberger, the Austrian mountaineering legend, I also had the honour of having lunch with British climber Sir Chris Bonington, who is certainly one of the top Himalayan mountaineers. Bonington has done several first ascents in South America and led the legendary 1975 South-West Face expedition to Mount Everest, during which Doug Scott, Dougal Haston, Peter Boardman, Pertemba Sherpa and Mick Burke reached the 8,848m high summit via a new and difficult route.
Bonington is also an old friend of Miss Hawley and he still comes to the Himalaya once a year to go trekking and when I met him, he had just come back from a trip to the Annapurna region. We talked about the controversial road, which has been built around the favourite trekking route and I was glad to hear that we agreed on this development. “Of course, the road is not nice for trekkers, however, it makes life for the locals so much easier,” he told me.
However, the Everest region seems to have a special place in Boningtons heart. When I asked him about his favourite region in Nepal, he told me that it was Kumjung . The reason for this was that he got very drunk on Chang, which is a locally produced rice wine and it is very easy to get inebriated on this liqueur as it does not really taste of alcohol. “And of course my good friend Pertemba Sherpa is from Kumjung and whenever I go there I feel very special.”
Together with all the other tourists, trekkers and mountaineers, Sir Chris Bonington has now returned to his home. The streets of the tourist district, Thamel, are empty and the bars and restaurants are struggling to fill their tables. However, I am looking forward to spending some days at home, enjoying the added hours of electricity and wrapping up the climbing season until I go on my next adventure, which is currently in planning stage! Watch the space ;-).