Monday, 31 December 2007

Mountaineering day on Cairngorm!

Here are some phtos of Tomaz and Sarah enjoying that last day of 2007. We did some self arrest with ice axes and then moved together up Alladins couloir in Coirie an t-Sneachda.
Wishing everybody a good newyear!

Sunday, 30 December 2007

Wonderful Cairngorm Day

Here we are on the Escalator, a grade II climb on Hells Lum Crag. As you can see conditions are good with plenty ice forming on the climbs. We met one team of climbers who had to retreat from Auld Nick as the ice was not thick enough on the upper-most pitch. There is also a photo of Kathy digging her snow pit for the information service. Behind you can see Shelterstone Crag and Carn Etchacan. We walked out over the plateau down into Corie an t-sneachda via the Goat Track. There were many people climbing there and the main gullies looked to be in good condition with some butress routes also beng climbed..The walking conditions and ski-moutianeering opportunities are opening up. There are many patches of ice and sastrugi.There is wind slab in sheltered gully tops, which means that any unsuspecting hill traveller would be well advised to stay alert and focused, making sure you put your crampons on early and especially before you get committed on the steeper and slippery slopes! Keep you ice axe handy and know how to self arrest, but of course, it's advisable not to trip and fall in the first place!
I apoligise for not up-dating our blog over the past few days, camera problems were to blame! Although I do feel its important to inform you that only a couple of days ago we did witness an important event. This was Blyth Wright of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service (SAIS) - N. Cairngorms using the new Threshold Sums version of the Cornice forecasting model operationally and for the first time! The results are yet to be revealed but we are assured by Blyth that this was a historic momment!

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christams Day in the Cairngorms

Yesterday Kathy and I went out to check the snow conditions. We moved together up Crotched Gully with a 25 metre rope placing some runners as we moved up the climb. Conditions were ace in all the gullies with good frozen neve, although there are places where the ice axes pulled through the snow, so some care has to be taken! We then dug a snow pit to record data for the avalanche service. As there was spindrift cascading down the gullies and snow forecast for last night the avalanche risk is CAT 2.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Father Christmas spotted in Aviemore

Merry Christmas to everyone from us at Team Ascent!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

A storm is brewing!?

The temperature inversion has been replaced by more unsettled weather but it's still cold and conditions in the Cairngorms
are still the same. What snow there is in the gullies is nice and firm and there are many water courses in various Corries and Glens that are well frozen making for interesting climbing. This photo was taken at 9am this morning looking out towards the Cairngorms across a very frozen Loch Morlich. The ice on the Loch was creaking and groaning but at the same time it was all very peaceful.


Wednesday, 19 December 2007


Its all a bit worrying... I saw Rudolf and all the other reindeer wandering about in the Cairngorms today... I thought Santa and his elves should have them all harnessed up and ready to go!! I have heard that he leaves things until the last minute though, and I guess if he can go around the world on his sled and deliver all those presents in one night he should be able to get them ready in time...!
Santa's Helper.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Conditions in the Cairngorms

These Ptarmigan were seen in Ciste Mhearad last January. If you look closer you may be able to see that their beaks are in the snow. The reason for this was that they kept getting blown backwards each time they approached the crest of the cornice, with perseverance they all made it in the end. What adaptable little birds!!

The photo of Coire an Lochain was taken around midday today. We still have a temperature inversion as it was freezing in the valleys and +5 on the summit of Cairngorm today. The ground is well frozen and all the boggy areas and seepage on steep ground is frozen solid. There were plenty of Snow Buntings and Ptarmigans flapping about, a perfect day for bird watching. Happy days. Kathy

Monday, 17 December 2007

Cairngorm days

It's remarkable weather in the Cairngorms at the moment and the long term forcast is for high pressure to dominate Scotland for the rest of the week. Remaining snow is now very firm underfoot which makes for nice conditions underfoot (ice axe and crampons are needed though). Most of the lower grade gullies in the Northern Corries are complete, the buttresses are quite bare with dribbles of ice and limited snow on the ledges, but some of the water courses are looking quite frozen due to the cold clear weather. Go on have a duvet day and take the day off work...Opps I never said that did I!?

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Conditions in the Cairngorms

High pressure is still dominating us here in the Cairngorms.
The Northern Corries are an interesting mix of bare rock on the buttresses with the odd dribble of ice here and there. Many of the main gullies hold firm neve. Lots of people were out enjoying the variety of conditons many in the Trident Gullies and even some very keen Rock Climbers doing The Magic Crack (HVS 5a), pretty wild in these cold temperatures! Kathy

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Today's photo's are of Search dog "Millie", with Heather Morning (Cairngorm Ranger) and Kathy (avalanche observer). Also a view of Alladin's and Fiacaill buttress in Coire an t-Sneachda, and views across to Loch and Carn Etchachan.

It's been a great weekend so far in the Cairngorms. We've had unusual conditions where although summit temperatures have been well above freezing even during the night, the snow has become frozen and hard. Apparently this is due to a very low humidity in the atmosphere combined with a high water density in the snowpack which gradually vaporises into the atmosphere leading to cooler snow. This amazing science has been sent to us by mother nature resulting in nice climbing conditions on some of the easier grade routes. There were a few people out today in the Northern Corries making the most of things. The forecast is set to be very similar over the next few days as the blocking high sits out to the North East.

Snow condition report

Graham, one of the guides in Arolla ( Switzerland) has sent in these photos to show the good snow cover. The skiing both on and off piste is good and the ice climbing is Ok, but not as good as it was a week ago. But perhaps us guides are just to fussy! All our winter ice fall course are available and please contact us direct should you wish some private guiding - Kathy reports that there is good frozen conditions on Cairngorm. Hannah BS was guiding for Team Ascent this week but has not sent in any images for the blog. It's also worth noting that the Scottish Avalanche information Service (SAIS) blogs are active again, for both Cairngorm and the Lochaber areas.

Friday, 14 December 2007

An offshore oil platform and my work buddies

Heres a photo of something completely different! My workmates in the North Sea! It's nightshift and we are all trained industrial abseilers, who have to abseil down the central core of one of the conctrete legs to carry out various tasks including ultrasonic insection of the oil pipelines. We are enthuastic about our work as its exciting, worthwhile and quite well paid. We have a close knit team of very exerienced people. Never the less, working nightshift is tough and we are delighted that Nuts had the good sense to issue a complimentary poster of Gemma Atkinson with their magazine. She is a valuable asset and greatly apprecaited by our team! If you click on the photo it's much clearer!

Monday, 10 December 2007

Snowy Lakeland tops

It's been a beautiful clear day in the Lake District today with a covering of snow on the mountain tops. Myself and Lassie the dog met up with Lakeland photographer Tony Sainsbury to take in some of the marvelous views from Silverhow top above Langdale Valley. Here you can see views of the Langdale fells which include
Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, and Langdale Pikes. Tony is a keen walker and regularly updates his website (or look under links on Team Ascents website) with his latest adventures in the Lakeland hills.
Scottish winter news will be posted on this blog later in the week! See you soon Kathy

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Amazing Day in the Cairngorms

Here we are again: Andy and I on a new route we did in the Cairngorms today. We named it Ptarmigan Ridge. Its about four long pitches with a fifty meter rope and will be grarded Scottish winter grade III, but its only this grade if you take the most direct line and stay on the ridge. Its an amzing route and a great day out and ideal for climbing in bad weather!
As you can see, there is lots of snow in the Cairngorms. There were people telemarking although the snow was wet and a bit scant at the level of the Cairngorm Car park however higher up and on the crags there is good snow cover! Much of it is unconsolidated and with the high winds you need to reamain alert and avoid avalanche prone slopes!

Monday, 3 December 2007

Cairngorm mixed climbing

It's been a great day in the Cairngorms, winds were high, but the climbing conditins have improved a lot in the last few days. The turf is frozen and good placements can be had! Here we are on Hidden Chimney!

European Ice climbing

Conditions are ace in Europe. Here is a photo of a climb in Arolla.. which is one of our main venues for our Chamonix ice fall climbing courses. It was snowing there in Arolla last night but our Team Ascent guides are keen and ready for action. Call us for private guiding +44(0)1479811556.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Winter Climbing today

Good quantities of snow in the Cairngorms. Here we are climbing in Coire an T-Snechda. The climb featured is"The Runnel", it was first climbed on Easter1946 by a EUMC party. Conditions were quite good really for the time of year. There was a strong wind blowing up the couloir ( Northerley), and there is some neve around, turf remains far from frozen, but one can get an exciting day out. Some of the stepper routes are probably quite Ok, although they are bound to be scartchy as there is nothing really frozen solid, so foot and axe placements have to be taken with care! Most of the gulies have adequate snow cover. Patches of wind slabs and this cracks a bit as you step on it, but reasonably obvious, Cat 2 on the Cairngorms avalanche scale!
Great adventures!

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Cairngorm snow

So, it's raining in Aviemore although there is snow in the hills. However its clear day forecast for tomorrow, so the freezing level will be lower tonight! Climb on, all be it a bit scratchy! Click on the photos and they enlarge!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Yaks, bells and yak herders

Here's some yaks coming down from Ama Dablam base camp!

Friday, 9 November 2007

Island peak summiteers

Here are photos of the group on the summit of Island Peak.... unfortunalely the only one of us who does not feature is Kambiz who got to 6000m but had to turn back as he was sufferng from the effects of his intense cold. However Kambiz and Nada one of the climbing sherpas got back to base camp safely and we all celebrated at base camp later .

Back in Kathmandu

Hi, we are all safely back in Kathmandu... arrived here yesterday from Lukla, we were very fortunate to get our flights out as we have heard that today there has been no flights to or from Lukla and its certainly raining here in Kathmandu so it must be snowing at higher altitudes.

It's deepwali festival in Nepal and its like Christmas with millions of fairey lights everywhere, there are also lots of candles burning on every house doorstep and mandalas being drawn out along the streets. There is a photo of one such mandala here. The other photo shows Ed Woolaston abseiling above camp 2 on Ama Dablam.

All our expedition members are doing OK and we are packing and getting reday for our international flights home tomorrow afternoon. We have jsut had big fairwell meal with all our sherpa staff at the Ying Yang Thai restaraunt and are now about to head back to our hotel for the night!
Ed had tried to get a standby flight out today, but after waiting at the airport for ages, there were no seats available, but he is orgnised and has flight back to the UK with the rest of us tomorrow night.
While we have all enjoyed our time here in Nepal we still have tons to do back home so we are ready for that.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Back in Namche

Hello! We packed up our 15 yaks and left Ama Dablam base camp yesterday. From the sat phone reports presented on the blog you would have ascertained that we got up both Island Peak and Ama Dablam. We have experienced many colds and the khumbu cough has been particulary bad this year. Now all the mountains are obscured with mist and last night during our overnight stay near Phunki Tanga it rained a lot which must mean that it is snowing on the mountains. We arrived here in Namche this morning and have time to put some photos on the blog. We are resting here briefly as this afternoon we are walking on, heading for the village of Benkar tonight and then Lukla on Wedensday night where we have our flight booked to Kathmandu for the 8th. Everyone is doing fine. Poor Ewan has been on three courses of Anti-biotics over the part weeks but is quite upbeat. John is ace, Kathy loving every minute of the trek and happy to have climbed Island Peak.. Ed is talking about his girlfriend all the time so he is obviously doing OK. We also had news that Kambiz is back in the Uk so we all hope that his high altitude breathing hassles have gone away! Our Sherpas are doing great job and the yak drivers have been very reliable with all our loads. We are all fine and enjoying the last days of our trek. I would like to thank Eunice, Hannah and Cara for updating the blog with our Sat phone reports, well done and thanks, you have done an excellent job!

The above photo shows Ed, Lakpa, Kusam and Pasang( our climbing Sherpas) on the summit of Ama dablam, we arrived there at 0830am on the 2nd November and then got back down to Camp 1 by 5.30 pm the same day and the other photo shows Ed on the Mushroom Ridge!

Monday, 5 November 2007

Leaving Base Camp

Received a call from base camp today, where it was 8am and everyone was finished cleaning up and ready to leave to head back to Namche Bazaar. The group had a rest day yesterday at base camp and everyone is well although there are a still a couple of colds going about.
Once back at Namche, Sandy and Kathy will be able to update the blog themselves if all goes to plan. They are then flying from Lukla to Kathmandu on the 8th November and back to the UK a couple of days later.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Happy at Base Camp!

Relaxed phone message received at 2.21pm UK time today (Sat 3rd Nov.) A beautiful night at base camp with clear starry skies (so Sandy is in poetic , euphoric mood!). Ed, Sandy and the three sherpas had left Camp 3 at 3.30am yesterday and summitted Ama Dablam at 8.30am. They went down the mountain quickly and got back to Camp 1 (bet they slept well!). They had an early start today, cleared Camp 1 and arrived back at base camp at 5.30pm tonight. Everyone there is "fine", Ewans sinus cold had developed and he is taking antibiotics, John also has a cold. Shame they didn't get a go at the summit, though it seems they still have had a good mountain experience. Kathy has been enjoying herself taking walks and doing watercolours.

So, the plan! Tomorrow will be a rest and sort out day. Yaks will arrive in the evening. After clearing/cleaning up base camp they will take 3 days to walk to Namche Bazaar and the flight out of Lukla is on the 8th November, with flights back to the UK on the 9th (or 10th).

Congratulations everyone! From here in Dunblane, this journey sounds like a fascinating one which will hopefully develop into many more encounters, some perhaps in the mountains of the world and others in some cosy armchair in the company of friends. Well done and good luck!

Friday, 2 November 2007

Summit of Ama Dablam

Just got a short but sweet phonecall from Sandy from the summit of Ama Dablam. Now I dont know the exact time differences but its 11pm in New York, so about 3am UK time.
He was with Ed and said it was a beautiful morning but very cold, which really isn't hard to imagine at 6856m.
So, Congratulations to them and hope they get down safely!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Camp 3, High on Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 8

Call received from Sandy 10.30a.m. (UK Time). All is well. Ed and Sandy have successfully reached Camp 3 (they made good time having arrived at 1.30am local time). They have pitched their tent and are still in the company of their three Sherpas who are in another tent about 20 m below. The weather remains good and they hope to rise early and make a summit attempt tomorrow. The plan would then be to get down the mountain as quickly as possible, hopefully to Camp 2 (and perhaps Camp 1) on the same day (lower altitude, better air and presumably extra food supplies). Sandy has spoken to Kathy at base camp and everyone there is well. Conditions remain good so lets wish them well.

PS I don't understand the time of posting shown on this blog..maybe its a US website..suffice to say its just passed 11.30am here in the UK. This was an answering machine message. Great to hear the voices. Ed in background reminding him of the day! Can tell the air is thin by the throaty voice and deep breaths!

PPS Yes, there are now three Sherpas...the magic of Halloween???!!!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Camp 2, Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 7

Call received around 8.10am (13.45, Ama Dalam time), 31st October. Ed, Sandy and two Sherpas have reached Camp 2 at 6060m and hope to climb too Camp 3 tomorrow. Ewan and John were suffering from very bad sinus colds and have therefore gone back down the mountain. At this point the phone line went down.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Camp 1, Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 6

Call received today, 30th October. Ewan, John, Edward and three Sherpas have arrived safely at Camp 1 with Sandy. They are now at 5800 m. Conditions on the mountain are good. The plan is to aim for Camp 2 tomorrow and stay there for a day. Kambi, having reached base camp decided that it was time to say goodbye and left for home a couple of days ago. Kathy in the meantime remains at base camp. So, all remains well.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Island Peak and Ama Dablam

Satphone Report 5

I have received a long-ish phone call from Sandy a few minutes ago (13.10 h, 25th October). All is well!

Ewan, Ed, John, Sandy and Kathy all summitted Island Peak (6189 m) at 8.15a.m. on 23rd October. Kamby, who had still got a cold, did really well and reached 6000m. So, congratulations and well done to all!!!

They left Island Peak base camp on the 24th and headed to Pangboche village which is at the lower altitude of 3930 m. Last night they visited the monastery. The Head Lama, Gishe, performed a blessing (chants, silk prayer scarves)to everyone including the three Sherpas accompanying the group. He also told them that 3pm today was a good day for their "Paja". So, today they have arrived at Ama Dablam base camp and performed their "Paja". Thats probably spelt wrongly and being niaive on the culture of these parts here is an explaination as decribed by our well-known guide, Sandy, with a little amplification from me (the young sister!). Basically, after setting-up camp they erected strings of prayer flags (presumably blessed at the monastery) over the tents (these will slowly disintegrate in the wind speading their prayers across the mountain and beyond). A fire was lit and incense burned. The local lama performed a ceremony, asking the mountain for "permission" to climb and making a safe passage.

Incredible though it is, Sandy and Kathy have met some friends at base camp so I imagine the social scene is good! Conditions on the mountain are apparently good. The plan is to rest for 3-4 days. Although everyone is basically well there are a few colds lingering. Then, the climb begins...

So sounds great! Who else wishes they were there?? I will try and keep the site updated as quickly as I receive the messages. Remember, no news is good news!

Monday, 22 October 2007

On Island Peak

Satphone Report 4

Call received at midday Monday 22nd October from Sandy Allan. Everyone is well and recovered from minor ailments. The last 24 hours have been pretty exciting on Island Peak. They had arrived at high camp (approx 5,500 m) on Sunday 21st, pitched their tents and settled for a good nights sleep at this "new" high altitude. Everyone was awakened by extremely high winds and by 2 a.m. the decision was made to go down too base camp. The team left base camp again at 3pm and had just newly arrived at the high camp when the satellite phone call was made. Winds were still high and it is hoped that these will settle down so that a summit attempt can be made tomorrow (Tuesday).

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Update of Island Peak

Everyone is doing fine and all colds are getting better.

Today, the team were at Island Peak base camp at 5110m. While at base camp they've been practicing rope work and doing jumaring. For those who don't know what jumaring is, like me, its when you use a gadget on a rope to help you get up, but it doesn't slip down the rope. This helps with getting up fixed ropes on the mountain.

Later on today, after lunch, they will be moving on to Attack Camp...

Tomorrow they're having a very early morning and setting off at 2am to try and reach the summit of Island Peak then heading back to Base Camp for a well earned rest.

Good Luck Chaps.

Friday, 19 October 2007

"The First Summit"

Satphone Report 2

A phone call was received today (12.43 UK time) from Sandy. He and John were literally on the summit of a "small" peak, Chukingarie (5035m). Kathy had turned back just 50 m below the top. The sun was beginning to set with marvellous views all around. They were keen to leave before dark and planned to stay in the village of Chukum (?spelling) tonight. A happy outing!

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Dimboche Thursday 18th October

Satellite Phone Report 1

We have been at Dimboche, 4410m, for two nights. Due to some colds and travellers tummy upsets have decided to stay here at this altitude for another night to help recovery and acclimitisation.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Acclimatisation day around Namche Bazar

Last night most of us slept reasonably well at this new altitude of 3400 meters, although we are beginning to feel the altitude a bit. We all had steaming bowls of Garlic soup and well done Yak steak for dinner last night and then sleep came easy.

This Sunday morning we awoke to slightly better weather and after a light breakfast took a long acclimatising walk above Namche. We visited the sherpa cultural centre where there is a fantastic sample of the inside of a traditional sherpa house. We also visited the National Park Headquarters and then walked a nice circuit taking in the Everest View Hotel at around 3900 meters and had lunch there. Sandy met Pemba Dorjee another four times Everest summiteer and he has climbed with Sandy on Lhotse and Ama Dablam in the past. This year Pemba is working for another company and climbing Labouche Peak.However Sandy hopes to hire his seven Yaks when it comes to clearing our Ama Dabalm base camp loads after our expedition finishes.Pembas Yaks graze around Pangboche the closest village to Ama Dablam and they are wondeful pack animals and an important income stream for the sherpas.

We walked along to Khumjung and visited the Gompa ( Monestary) there where we were shown around and also saw the famous Yeti head which is kept in glass box with strong padlock and then locked in another big steel locker also suitable padlocked. We also visted the famous Khumjung bakery where they make world famous apple pie!

We returned to Namche for around 5.30 pm and after a well deserved hot chocolate, we all went our separate ways to make phone calls and e-mails to folks back home. We will meet up in an hour or so for dinner. This is our last night in Namche and we leave the internet behind. Everyone is doing fine, no sore heads from altitude which is really great, Sandy and John have colds and Kambiz a running nose but hopefully these will get better before we gain to much high altitude. Today the weather was much better and we did get some views of the high mountains, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Middle Lhotse, Shartse, and of course Ama Dablam, our main climbing objective.

Our plans for tomorrow are to load up the Yaks and head on up the valley to Tenagboche Monastery and camp overnight at Deboche ( 3820m) and then on Tuesday go on to Dingboche ( 4410m) and overnight there for two nights to acclimatise. There after we head up to Chhukhung( 4730m) and then on to Island Peak Base camp forThursday night ( 4970m). We will spend few days there attempting Island Peak (6189m). We hope to make some Sat phone reports which hopfully will be transcribed to this blog!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Eventually we got away!

We are in Namche today, the weather is still not great but yesterday we chartered a helicopter sharing the fees with another trekking group. It still took a long wait at Kathmandu but eventually we got out. It was quite a smooth ride up to Lukla although we did not get any views as all the mountains were obscured. The old Russian M19 helicopter was great though, even although it was stuffed to the gunnels with luggage and Kathy, Ed and I had to squeeze into the tiniest space as all the others took the better seats. Lakpah our sirdar sat on a bag of rice on the floor and the whole journey was unlike anything that anyone had experienced before. It took fifty minutes to fly to Lukla and we kind of hoped we would get to Nanche but at Lukla the rain had just stopped pouring down for our arrival and Namche was obscured by thick grey turbulent cloud! So we got out at Lukla, ,sorted out our loads into Yak loads and once the yak drives were ready we commenced our walk towards Namche. Our original plan was to walk to Phakting but as we were late we walked for about one and a half hours to the village of Ghat where we stayed at the "Everest Summiters Lodge" owned by friend of Sandy's. Phanden sherpa summited Everest with Sandy and his American client on the 23rd May 2001. Phandens sister and her husband mange the trekking lodge and we all had wonderful night there, eating garlic soup, and Dhal bhat with vegtables and drinking Shandy. This morning we awoke at around 6.30am and after breakfast of Porridge and cheese omelette we had the yaks loaded up and continued our trek to Namche arriving here by 3.30 pm or so. Hastily drank lemon tea and had showers at the Kwonde Lodge. Ed manging to send texts on his mobile so that's a advanced development from my lass visit two years ago. It's bit strange to see Yak herder with Mobile phones, but it great and cool really. They probably need them as much as we in the west do!

The walk in was ace but bit cool. Everyone is enjoying the fresh air after Lukla and the sherpa culture. Our plans: To spend two nights her as the altitude is around 3400 meters and we need to give our bodies a chance to acclimatise and also it gives us an opportunity to explore this sherpa capital and and check out the local villages of Khunde and Kumjung, the home villages of many famous Sherpa mountaineers. These sherap's like our own sirdar Lakpah ( who has summited Everest 3 times and Ama Dablam once) are the back bone of all our Team Ascent expeditions and if it were not for them we would never ever be able to guide these wonderful peaks. Consequently Sandy has very many freinds here and its great just to walk around the tiny streets with many market stalls selling everything from bars of dettol soap to Yak Bells and modern high altitude climbing equipment and meeting friendly smiling sherpa faces. We have internet here too so we can update the blog for a day or two yet, then it will be sat. phone reports without so many photos! For friends and family back home, everyone is doing well, zooming up the steep hill to Namche and no one is reporting any sore heads from the rarefied air!

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Second attempt at flying to Lukla

Today we went to the airport hoping to fly to the mountain airstrip of Lukla but once again the flight was cancelled due to poor visibility. We had chartered a helecopter but even that could not fly up far enough to be of any good to us. So here we are back in Kathmandu. Apparently the weather is set to improve tomorrow and we have the option of flying by fixed wing or chartering a helecopter. We have reservations for both and hope to be able to fly tomorrow.

Interesting news from Kathmandu...Maoist: There is a speciol session of interim parlement on going with the Maoist's demanding elections based on all-out proportional representation and an early republic. The local press suggest that this motion will be defeated. The UN is involved and is commited in assisting to establish durable peace in Nepal.

Boudhanath Stupa Facelift: The 43 metre high imposing spherical-shaped structure (photographed above) is to get a face lift by replacing the 100 year old gilding of the Harmika (square structure at the top of the dome painted with a pair of eyes symbolising heaven and the 13 spiral steps symbolising phases to reach Nirvana) are being re-gilded with 14 kg of gold. The project is being sponsered by the Tibetan Nyingma Medetation Centre, Calafornia and the work will be completed by the best local craftsmen from Patang.

Also the Dasain festival commences any day now and celebrates new rice harvests and is the biggest Hindi festival and many people will have new Hindi Tikka's (red spots on forehead).

The other photo shows all the team taking part in some serious training by the pool in preperation for a hearty meal this evening! As you can see everybody is dealing well with the delays and staying positive.