Three High Passes to Everest: one week to go….

This time next week I’ll be in Kathmandu (Jet Airways permitting) at the start of our Three High Passes to Everest trip … and the excitement is building, in step with the pile of kit that is accumulating on the spare bed:

Trek prep

Our final bundle of documents and kit arrived from Mountain Kingdoms on Friday, and yesterday Hazel and I did the third and last of our Saturday riverside strolls, which is what counts as preparation for the trek (add “gym visits” for Hazel).

The walks have been lovely – we’ve been blessed with amazing Indian summer days weatherwise, and the routes have all been interesting:

  • Walk 1: Barbican to Tower Bridge then Claire Tomalin’s Pepys’s Progress on to Greenwich (from the Time Out London Walks vol 2), which provided views of Canary Wharf and a route through the varied boroughs and developments on the south side of the river. A little over 2 hours (flat) door to door (of the Gipsy Moth Pub in Greenwich).
  • Walk 2: Another walk from the London Walks book, this time Simon Hogart’s Tales of the Riverbank, which led us along the Thames Path from Richmond train station to Teddington Lock where we crossed to the north side of the Thames and turned back towards Richmond, initially strolling though suburbia before returning to the river bank. We covered the flat 9 miles in 2 hours.
  • Walk 3: For our final walk we covered 11 1/2 miles of the Lea Valley walk, heading north from Limehouse to finish up at Ponders End, to catch the train back to Liverpool Street Station. En route we passed the surprising and stunning Three Mills, saw the Olympic Park through electrified security fencing, breathed in the fresh air of the great green expanses of Hackney, Walthamstow and Tottenham Marshes, tucked into a lovely light lunch at the Pistachio’s in the Park Cafe where Markfield Park runs alongside the Lee Navigation. The whole route follows the reflective waters of the Lee / Lea in its various guises – from the Limehouse Cut, to the Lee Navigation, to the River Lea. The hardest thing about doing any of the Lea Valley Walk is working out how to get onto it – last Sunday Phil and I had found ourselves strolling along the stretch from the Counter Cafe in Hackney Wick to the point where Commercial Road crosses Limehouse Cut, so I knew that the No 15 bus could get Hazel and me to the start of our day’s walk – but try working that out from the WalkLondon descriptions….

(This looks handy: I’ve just stumbled across the London Walks section of Time Out’s website, which provides some of the book’s routes in PDF.)

Kit-wise, I’ve been using the walks to test out / break in my new Salomon boots, and last Christmas’s Karrimor daypack. I snapped up a couple of bargains in the Cotswold sale: Julbo sunglasses and a reduced Icebreaker top in last season’s style. I’ve also bought a pair of Rab winter walking trousers. Otherwise, it’s a case of working out what to leave behind…. Oh, and getting to grips with my new digital camera.

After lots of reading of Digital Photography Review’s Compact Camera Group Test: Travel Zooms and Amazon user reviews, Flickr mining, plus visits to Jessops and PC World to handle the two GPS-enabled travel/compact size cameras I’d narrowed down to, I settled on the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-HX9V. Having been a faithful Canon user to date, it was the simple matter of the flash location/behaviour that put me off the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS.

I’ve also treated myself to Jamie McGuinness’s Trekking in the Everest Region – a reassuring and informative read. Continuing with the Himalayan (and walking) theme, on Friday I walked from the Barbican through Smithfield and along Holborn, along Long Acre and through Leicester Square, along Piccadilly and then through Hyde Park to reach the home of the Royal Geographical Society where I took a look at their exhibition on Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya, which:

“Depicts the work of photographer and mountaineer David Breashears, Executive Director of GlacierWorks. Since 2007, David has led eight expeditions to the region, retracing the steps of the early photographic pioneers Major E.O. Wheeler, George Mallory, and Vittorio Sella. The exhibit matches Breashears’ contemporary photographs with historical images, revealing dramatic glacial loss in the Greater Himalayan region.”

And last, but not least, I’ve been keeping an eye on the GBP:NPR exchange rate, and the weather in Kathmandu….