Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Namaste from Lukla, Healthy Yak complete

Dear Friends,

I apologize for my tardiness yet long days trekking, treating yaks, and lack of internet have kept me away from posting for a while. We have come almost full circle as we are back in Lukla and will fly to Kathmandu early tomorrow morning (April 21), a full day ahead of schedule. If it had not been for Ram, Nima, and Besh (our Nepal Veterinary Technician), the inaugural year of Healthy Yak would not have been so successful. We treated over 600 yaks, over a dozen horses, and over a half dozen dogs.

We even looked at a few sick critters along the way. Pictured is Besh listening to a nak (female yak). The owner feared 'bloat' yet it turns out we informed her that she was VERY pregnant. :)

After trekking through the Goyko region of the Khumbu we made it over the Chola Pass (~5300 m or 17,500') and up to Himex Everest Base Camp. I will admit I was over-joyed to be reunited with Russell Brice, Phurba Tashi Sherpa, my Sherpa from Everest 2009 Tashi Tshering Sherpa and many others from Base Camp including Dr. Piris, Guides Woody and Adrian, as well as my dear friend Jim Holliday (aka Big Hot Gouda) and Thomas from Norway, both of whom have returned (they were on the 2009 expedition) to Sagarmatha for a second attempt at the summit. After Everest BC we stopped for lunch at Lobuche BC where I got to see Ellen Miller and visit for a while with David Tait, both of whom were on the 2009 trip. I even ran into Billi Bierling on the trail below Tengboche walking out as she was on her way to BC to climb Lhotse. I wish I could share photos of everyone I was reunited with here (will post on Facebook and/or my website when back in the states). Pictured with me is Russell (aka Big Boss) and Phurba.

Today we left not only Namche Bazaar behind but also our guide and friend Ram. He picked up a new client there to take up Island Peak, while Himex BC manager Lak Chu walked us to Lukla in order to meet the rest of the Lhotse climbing team at the helicopter tomorrow. I want to take a moment to thank them for their participation in the project, Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health's generosity in donating product to the cause, and also the donors. I also need to thank Himalayan Experience and Mountain Experience for arranging the logistics of the trip. Last but not least, I want to thank my wife and kids for allowing me to travel so far from home to help a culture deep in the Himalayas. I must say it felt good to give back yet I am anxious to get home to them.

My anticipation is for more companies to donate product (and not just for the yaks as many horses, donkeys, and dogs are present in the Khumbu Region) to the cause in the future, a cause that can have a very positive and lasting impact on the Sherpa people of Nepal. Perhaps is in order? For now, Besh has enough product to follow-up with a second dose in about 6 weeks, along with another this Fall. Many more yaks will congregate this summer which will allow for even better access to promote their health.

Pictured L to R is me, Dr. Andrew Skidmore, Ram, Dr. Claire Windeyer, and Dr. Kristen Obbink - not pictured are Besh and Nima Sherpa, ALL of whom were members of Healthy Yak 2011 as we say good-bye from, beautiful Nepal. Namaste!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

In Gokyo now, 3 clinics completed

Dear all,

Internet has been non-existent since Namche as we have made it up to Gokyo at about 4790 meters or 15,600 feet. We treated over 100 yaks in Khumjung along with 8 horses and 2 dogs. We then trekked to the village of Phortse, home to ~50 climbing Sherpas and the Khumbu Climbing School (new facility currently under construction). Most of the male yaks are further up the valley so we treated the females (naks) and their offspring from last year. After Phortse we made it to Macchermo where we conducted our third clinic. In total so far we have treated 212 animals including about a dozen horses and 3 dogs. Thanks to our Guide "Ram" and his sidekick Nima Rita Sherpa (16 year-old Sherpa boy from Phortse), along with Besh, a veterinary technician near Khumjung we have been well-received. Since most of the men are away high in the Khumbu and the ladies are caring for the lodges, the kids Besh have taken the lead in deworming most of animals which assures the sustainability of this project. Together, along with Phurba Tashi Sherpa (lead Sherpa with Himalayan Experience) they will be able to apply a follow-up dose in 4-6 weeks, then again in the Fall.

Because of the poor internet connection multiple pictures are not an option. We will not have internet again until Gorak Shep, 3 days from now. We are still acclimatizing, climbing Gokyo Ri tomorrow before tackling the Chola Pass on the 15th before arriving into Lobuche Base Camp. Our next big yak clinics will occur in Pheriche and Pangboche on the walk out on the 18th and 19th. We hope to treat a few yak on the way to Everest BC however.

I hope to post again from Gorak Shep. Namaste from Gokyo, Nepal.

Friday, April 8, 2011

At Namche...first yak clinic tomorrow

Namaste from Namche Bazaar (11,200')!

The team is doing well as we arrived in Namche today and will head up and over the hill above to Khumjung tomorrow for our first yak clinic. Because we have enough product, not to mention there are now a lot of burros used for portering in the Khumbu (was not the case in 2009), we are going to offer to deworm them as well. On the way up the hill to Namche we got a spectacular view of my old friend Everest. I missed this shot two years ago. I hope this message finds you well. I am not sure when I will have such good internet access but hope to post again soon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Healthy Yak in Kathmandu and Rum Doodle

The Vet team is on the ground in Kathmandu and ready to fly up to Lukla April 7 to begin a 15 day journey through the Khumbu. Today we had lunch at the Rum Doodle Restaurant in the Thamel District where I was fortunate enough to receive my own "yeti footprint" to place on the wall. For successful Everest Summiteers, my footprint was placed just a couple meters away from the signatures of Everest icons Sir Edmund Hillary and Ed Viesturs. Unfortunately the technology is not working out very well this trip and I am unable to attach pictures today of the Rum Doodle or of the Healthy Yak team. Today we purchased 'team t-shirts' with yaks on them so I am a bit disappointed that you cannot see the photo. A big thank you again to Claire, Kristen, and Andy for participating in this project. Namaste from Kathmandu as I hope to post in a couple of days from Namche Bazaar.

Healthy Yak team in Kathmandu and Rum Doodle

After 36 hours of airplanes, airports, and the standard exciting taxi ride from the KTM airport to the hotel I finally made it to sunny and warm Kathmandu. Andy and Kristen arrived several hours later and today we met up with the fourth member of our Healthy Yak team, Claire Windeyer. After a brief meeting to review the logistics of the next two weeks high in the Khumbu Valley, we headed to the Thamel District to do some bartering and have lunch at the world famous Rum Doodle restaurant. I presented the store owner with a copy of my Nepal certificate for climbing Everest in 2009 and in exchange was given the opportunity to have my own yeti footprint placed on one of the establishment's walls, next to legendary climbers Sir Edmund Hillary and others. It is certainly an honor to be in such company...and not just at the Rum Doodle. The technology is allowing the text to post but not the pictures for some reason so I will try again later (sorry). Tomorrow we'll fly up to Lukla via helicopter to begin our trek. Stay tuned for more posts. Namaste from Kathmandu.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Where in the world is Healthy Yak?

In less then one week now the Healthy Yak (HY) project for 2011 will commence upon an April 5, 2011 arrival into Kathmandu, Nepal. After reorganizing our gear the HY Veterinary Team (members include Dr. Kristen Obbink, Dr. Claire Windeyer, Dr. Andrew Skidmore, and myself) will participate in an interview conducted by Kathmandu branch of the news agency Reuters. On April 7th the team will board helicopters for a quick flight up to the village of Lukla at 9,380 feet above sea level. From there it will be a ten-day trek up to the Himalayan Experience Ltd Everest Base Camp at ~17,500 feet. Along the route in, as well as back out, the HY team will conduct eight yak clinics in various villages. I hope to be able to send an occasional blog and maybe even a picture during this 3-week long trip to help the Sherpa people and their yaks high in the Khumbu Region of Nepal. For now please find below the HY itinerary:

  • April 5 - Arrive Kathmandu

  • April 7 - Fly to Lukla, trek to Phakding

  • April 8 - Phakding to Namche Bazaar

  • April 9 - Namche to Khumjung

  • April 10 - Yak Clinic #1 in Khumjung

  • April 11 - Khumjung to Phortse, Yak Clinic #2

  • April 12 - Phortse to Macchermo, Yak Clinic #3

  • April 13 - Macchermo to Goyko, Yak Clinic #4

  • April 14 - Goyko to Goyko Peak to Phang

  • April 15 - Phang/Yak Clinic #5

  • April 16 - Phang over Chola Pass to Dzonglha, Yak Clinic #6

  • April 17 - Dzonglha to Everest Base Camp

  • April 18 - Everest BC up to Kala Pattar then to Lobuche Base Camp, Yak Clinic #7

  • April 19 - Lobuche to Pheriche to Pangboche, Yak Clinic #8

  • April 20 - Pangboche to Namche Bazaar

  • April 21 - Namche Bazaar to Lukla

  • April 22 - Fly to Kathmandu

  • April 23 or 24 - Depart Kathmandu for home

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

New Dublin Dash!

I hope everyone had a groovy St. Patrick's Day! The town my family and I live near is called New London here in Wisconsin yet for the week encompassing St. Patrick's Day the name changes to New Dublin. A few years ago, according to USA TODAY, New Dublin is the second-best place to be in America during St. Patrick's. Chicago ranks #1. That being said, the luck of the Irish added to this year's New Dublin festivities the New Dublin Dash, a 1.5 mile walk or 3 mile run. My daughter and I participated along with a couple of her friends (in the first picture from L to R: me, Erika Dorrow, my daughter Bailee Fox, and Addy Graber).
Green was the theme as one would imagine but I couldn't help getting a picture with "Mr. Purple" (unknown identity).
Everyone had a blast with over 500 participants in the race and an estimated 20,000 people lining the streets of New Dublin to watch the participants finish the race, just in time for the start of the annual parade, this year encompassing over 125 entrants. Hard to imagine that in less then 2 weeks I will be landing in Kathmandu, Nepal to trek back up into the Khumbu to launch the Healthy Yak campaign. Standby for more blogs!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

South Africa Reunion and Blessings

February 7, 2011 - After a week of work all around South Africa I made my way to Didima Camp and Cathedral Peak area located within the heart of the Drakensburg region of SA. The views of the mountains were spectacular but even more so was seeing John Black, Robby Kojetin, Gilad Stern and his lovely wife Micky (she trekked into BC with us), and last but not least witnessing the marriage of John to Natalie Milnes. Natalie too had joined us at Everest BC two years ago and she could not have looked more beautiful on her wedding day with the mountains of the Drakensburg as her backdrop. I caught up with Gilad and Micky during a short trek into Rainbow Gorge where Gilad and I felt it was important to re-enact our 2009 Namche bare chest pictorial.

Seeing my Everest teammates from South Africa, not to mention my friends for life, was truly a blessing as was partaking in John and Natalie's wedding ceremony. The morning I left the Didima to drive back to Johannesburg (by the way, first time driving on the left side of the road and sitting on the right side of the car!) I awoke to a baboon in my chalet's bathroom, on his way to my kitchen! Ahh, a little excitement to start the day (not something I get to see everyday in the frozen tundra of Wisconsin!). I hope to post more pics on my facebook page as soon as I get back to the U.S. so be on the lookout.