GoPro Video at bottom! FINALLY!

Landing in Kathmandu was a bit like landing into a smoke filled room. I had expected to see a city surrounded by the Himalayas, however, I could see nothing but haze. The second I stepped foot outside of the plane to board the bus that would take me to baggage claim, I could feel the density of the air and smell heavy pollution filling my lungs. Since arriving, things have been a bit chaotic. The city, the people, the roadways, and even the arrival of luggage have all been disordered.

After grabbing my gear and meeting our Sherpa at the airport, we drove about 45 minutes to the Kathmandu Guest House in the Thamel. Thamel is known to be the “tourist” part of Kathmandu, however, it is more like having random suitable hotels mixed within 3rd world conditions. Kathmandu has been devastated by last year’s earthquake. The buildings are old, tattered, and many of them have been diminished to rubble. Looking around its clear to see how easily this place can be affected by such an event. It seems as though the city has been built on toothpicks full of buildings that can barely stand upright. The roads are full of giant pot holes and pieces of broken buildings making for an interesting driving experience. There simply are no traffic laws and we buzz through busy streets full of pedestrians, rickety old Toyotas, and mopeds occupied by entire families. The city is full of impoverished people and full of shops filled with traditional Nepalese robe, trinkets, and knock off outdoor gear.  Mixed within all of the commotion is the Kathmandu Guest House filled with the research group James and I will be accompanying.

Soon after my arrival I was informed that many of the Calgary group’s luggage has been hung up in customs in Toronto, including the valuable pelican cases filled with equipment vital to the research we will be conducting on the way up to Everest Base Camp. The cases are full of PowerLabs, Gas Analyzers, disposables, and connectors.. essentially EVERYTHING we need for the science.  Without these cases the research will be a no go!  All we could do was cross our fingers and hope for the arrival of luggage. Everyone within the group has been worried about the arrival of the equipment but, especially Trevor, who has been on the case at all hour of the night in order to get everything straightened out. He has spoken with customs and they will be “rush ordering” the equipment to our location. Now..  it is just a waiting game. We have no room to wait a day for the arrival of luggage so if it does not arrive by Wednesday evening, we unfortunately have to press forward and leave it behind.

As we anxiously anticipated the arrival of our pelican cases so we could begin to take measurements, the group decided to head off into the streets of Thamel and get acquainted with the city before we head off to Lukla. We spent the day visiting Swayambhunath, also known as the “Monkey Temple.” The temple truly was full of monkeys (see video) and they very much did NOT like to be filmed! I can’t deny.. they freaked me out haha. After being chased by several rather flighty monkeys, I decided to hang up the endeavor and walk up the many steps leading to the ancient religious architecture atop of the Kathmandu Valley. The temple was decorated with prayer flags and religious statues. Buddhist Newars had come to burn incense within the shrines and temples or had come to spin the prayer wheels in hopes of gaining wisdom and merit.

After a rather fun but long day of exploration and watching James having to fend off pushy peddlers throughout the streets (there was one particularly persistent fellow insisting James purchase a flute he had made.. James is so nice to everyone!), we came back to Kathmandu Guest House for dinner and to go over what to expect in the next couple of days. Sherpa Nima discussed the possibility of AMS with the group and things that we should do in order to combat the possibility. We also spoke about the missing luggage and Trevor let us know he would be arriving at the airport at 6:30 am the following morning to see if the luggage and pelican cases had arrived.

Today I bring you good news! The luggage has safely arrived to Kathmandu and the research will go on! We are all excited and will be taking measurements throughout the day. The measurements we will be taking daily include: PETCO2, resting RR, resting HR, resting BP, resting SpO2, PP, MAP, Cardiac Output, resting Tidal volume, ventilation, and AMS scores. The AMS Scores are determined by scaling headache, GI symptoms, fatigue and/or weakness, dizziness/lightheadedness, and difficulty sleeping on a scale from 0 to 3. Not only will all of these measurements provide us valuable insight into the research, but it will also help keep everyone on the trip safe.

Looking forward to posting again after taking these first measurements and then again at altitude! It will be interesting to see how all of these measurements change as we gain elevation. We fly to Lukla and begin our trek to Monjo (2840m) tomorrow. Wifi is terribly slow, especially with the videos, more posts to come as soon as possible!

-Kait