Now on vacation! Three weeks with wonderful students and now  two weeks to trek/climb Imja Ttse with friends Alex and (former) GTA (but reallly) IEP Co-Lead Tandra. The flight to Lukla was something! We had the early morning flight -seems all others were canceled after the first due to bad weather. It was a twin otter and as soon as the props started up cock roaches scurried out behind the ‘fasten seat belt sign’ – lots of fun! Great 40 min ride with some amazing views and a very short, bummpy, uphill landing on a short run way. Pretty easy hike from there to Phakding where we stayed at Dorjee’s lodge ‘Mountain Resort’ – nicest place so far! Dorjee called via cell phone and confirmed that all students scheduled to leave Nepal (most for India) left as expected. Lots of suspension bridges before arriving yesterday evening at Namche after a tough ~1500ft climb. Stunning scenery. Wish I could post some pics – but too much of a hassle here with laptop connections, no wireless etc.  Huge peaks outside my window this morning but things soon got socked in –  and the sound of people hammering/chiseling away at stones to make square blocks to build lodges – they are going up everywhere. Many people carrying baskets of potatoes or other things via head bands. I’ve tried (much to their amusement) and it is tough tough! Reminds me of the people I have seem with a hammering/ breaking rocks into gravel along the roadways/riverbeds. We have it so lucky. Next time I complain about my job or pay check – please feel free to kick me in the ass.

We did a day hike up to he Khunde medical hospital (built by Hillary) and I think I made some good connections for future grant proposals. I bought some warmer gear for the climb (albeit knock offs) and we stocked up on gas for the stove. If all goes well we will camp at high camp instead of base camp (maybe 5600m) and Dorjee will fix the most difficult ~200 mtrs. He will use a grigri or one of us will belay him. The summit bit, at a little over 1000 feet should not be too bad, but at 1900 ft you never know how you will feel! We will be roped up and are trained in self arrest techniques etc.  Enough for now! Hope all are well. -Seth

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