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.