RAF100 HIMALAYAN VENTURE 18 - Blog by Emily Brittain
Emily Brittain, a 5th year medical student at Imperial College London with a Royal Airforce Cadetship, is part of a team of 12 University Air Squadron Cadets who are particpating in this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Over the next 2 weeks, Emily will be blogging about her experience. You can stay up to date with Emily's progress by following the Ex HIMALAYAN VENTURE 18 (HV18) social media or at @GLRFCA.
Blog post #1
It’s Trek Day 7 and our team has just arrived in Monjo at an altitude of 2,835m and settled into our tents. What an epic week we’ve had in Nepal so far!!
We landed in Kathmandu in our matching DMM t-shirts and Mountain Equipment trousers on 29 August and were greeted with flower garlands and big smiles from the Far Frontiers trekking crew. Here marks the start of the RAF100 flagship expedition! This is my first trip to Nepal, so I was glad we had a couple of days to explore Kathmandu before we set off into the wild. We stayed in a hotel in Thamel, the tourist hub - a bustling vibrant area which was noisy, dirty and colourful, packed with cheap good quality fake mountaineering gear and equipment, which we took full advantage of! We visited the commonwealth cemetery where we shared memories of the fallen mountaineers in the Everest base camp earthquake in 1987 and all those involved in RAFMA today and the past 75 years. This was thought provoking and gave our future endeavours perspective.
The infamous monkey temple was also well worth the visit, for epic panorama views of the city and array of nicknacks.
On the 30 August after the rude 4.30am wake-up call we set off on our 10 hour bus journey to our first stop - Shivalaya. I have to write a quick note about this bus journey as it was an experience like no other. A full day of traveling on roads with more pot holes than tarmac, which were apparently the local “motorways”, combined with the loudest horn in the world that went off on average every 6 seconds plus Nepalese music videos on loop made for a long day!!
It was however great to get out into rural Nepal - Shivalaya is a tiny settlement with tea houses and shops with a rickety bridge over the central river. We arrived and after a quick explore had tea and biscuits (soon to become a daily treat after a tiring day) and a delicious dinner of soup, spaghetti and sauce, chicken and vegetables. Our first night was a comfortable one, the tea houses along our route offer simple beds, long drop toilets (where we’ve already lost a phone down!) and a place to eat and natter about our days’ pursuits, plus the occasional energetic game of UNO or Jungle Speed!
The next few days along our route developed into a bit of a routine - we were woken up at 6am with “bed tea” and a bowl of warm water (parents take note please), and after packing up our duffle bags had a great breakfast of porridge topped with fruit and a bucket of honey, some form of eggs and chipati. Over the past 6 days we have had undulating days of steep uphill and downhill with lots of local dogs following us around and mules coming past us,staying at an average altitude of 2,500m. This has been challenging for us all despite our training, but our hill fitness is definitely improving already.
Our highest point so far has been the Lamjura La pass where we climbed to 3,530m, no effects of altitude sickness so far apart from the odd headache which is promising...!
Lunches have been leisurely hour and a half and we have been trying all sorts of Nepalese dishes cooked by our amazing porter team - our unusual favourites so far have been warm cucumber in sauce (!), crispy bitter gord, pilaf (rice dish) and dal bhat (lentils)
The views are absolutely epic (more photos to come) and the lush surroundings are buzzing with cicadas and we have been constantly attacked by leeches!
The weather so far has typically been hot and humid, peaking in the high 30 degrees at some points.A highlight of the trip was washing in the river at Surkhe, which was FREEZING, but so refreshing!The rain clouds often catch us up and it’s usually rain for the rest of the day after lunchtime.
Tomorrow we make the final push to Namche bazar where we will have our first acclimatisation days. I’m excited to see some snow covered peaks and to have a cinnamon bun! We then start our attack to higher altitude with the pass in our sights.
I will check in again soon... Thanks for reading!