Day one: You know that feeling, I’m at the airport and scared, thinking about what things I’ve forgotten, haven’t taken or if I don’t have too much stuff. In BTS, when I check-in my luggage, I realise my penknife is in my pocket. I take it everywhere because, you know a bloke without a knife is like without his… you know what.
L.V. helped me with returning by checked-in luggage and fortunately I didn’t have to leave my beloved Swiss mate at home. Another mistake was that I didn’t put my sleeping bag and air mattress into my hand luggage so that I could sleep those 19 hours in DXB. Anyway, everything is secondary as I’m looking forward to seeing all those amazing views from 11 km over Europe, setting sun… How I will sleep in Dubai, only God knows.
The flight is nice, I left the cold and rain far behind and under me. I see the Romanian part of the Carpathians coming up from below the clouds. I can clearly recognise my last-year track, awesome feeling. I have flown it all, walked and hitch-hiked through it… J The Balkan Mountains (or Stara Planina, if you want) as well, at the last Transbalkan competition. Met, flown, conquered!
I would like to live until the day when I can say that I’ve been to all possible and impossible mountains this way J well, long way to go.
Day two: In Dubai – a disaster, taxi 15 Eur, hotel 33 Eur and I have to share the room with two Indians, who snore that much that no wonder that the Amazonian rain forest is getting smaller. They had probably sawn half of it! Before the departure I go the downtown by a cheap perfectly suspended train, to the heart of consumerism, to see the Khalifa. 800 meter high creature of steel and glass, pff, a tenth of the height compared to Himalayas and so much talk about it, and it’s not even nice. In the train it’s strange, well, I’m the tallest and the palest. Everyone is staring at me :D City, nothing special, just smashing cars, phones, expensive shops, no park, nothing. No wonder that all they care about is to have as expensive stuff as possible… If you want to do some sports outside or just go for a walk, that’s a thing, hot like in Japanese bunkers on Okinawa. No, thank you.
At the airport before I leave the city I just quickly do some drawings of sleeping people and I’m looking forward… I’m leaving. Through the entire flight I’m stuck to the window, staring at the weather in Iran, what cool mountains they have there and, everything… In India you can barely see the ground, air is dirty like pre-election speeches.
In KTM the first real stress comes (the shit just got real), they’ve lost my luggage…. Holy crap! 3500 Eur only the wing, harness and reserve, not to mention other equipment, electro- or outdoor. Pissed off, filling out the papers I go to the hotel. One day lost.
Day three: The morning in KTM is gloomy. I didn’t sleep well due to the jet lag. There’s so much smog that you cannot see any shadows during the day. Nothing for me…
I have to call to the airport three times just to find out that they have my luggage there, they haven’t left it in DXB. Damn it! 35 Eur in vain. Never mind, probably it should have been like that. But I don’t want to be in the city, I want to go to the Mountains!!! Look for THE moment, THE place and THE experience… so that I can say… phew, that was something!
I meet the guys from the Everest Hard Way expedition, very inspiring. Funny guys, marked by mountains in exactly the best way, here and there finger gone J When I just imagine that Slovak guys are about to make the most difficult journey to reach the summit of the highest mountain in the world, I’m thrilled. Keeping my fingers crossed, guys… I’m sure you will make it, and you will also come back safe and sound!
Tip of the day: We have the watch, the Nepalese have the time, though!
Day five: Finally I’m here, in PKH. I buy some batteries for the UV filter, litre of gasoline for cooking and let’s go to Sarangkot. Pretty overloaded I go for it; I can’t even see the lake down there. What the hell? This is why I slogged 6000km??
In conditions poorer than poor I shuffle westwards. After 15 km I descend below the ridge, and that’s it. I’m landing in a stony river bed. Annoyed, with a heavy backpack, I walk up the hill, maybe 600m of elevation. At the top I get a solid helping of Nepalese food, they’re topping up until I say stop. I’m like a shapeless ball. I take the backpack and let’s find a place to sleep. I manage to find one, just before the storm starts. However, there’s a tiny little problem here. In Nepal, there are only fields and mountains. Mountains are steep like hell and the fields are built to get as much water as possible. I build the tent and after a while I’m flooded like a mouse… terrible. So I sleep just like that, under the roof of a nearby empty house. Swearing, thinking… is this “THAT” Nepal? The weather is terrible, I haven’t seen one piece of mountains yet and it rains every day…
Day six: In the morning, some Nepalese passing by stare at me, as if I was from another world. I don’t feel like waking up after such a sleepless night. It’s almost ten o’clock until I finally get up. I find a kind of a take off. How does it look like? Two steps for a run and then a vertical, maybe 3m deep precipice, transmission lines in front of me and then… shallow. Well, awesome, especially when I imagine how overloaded and nimble I am. Anyway I plunge in the air. After 20 minutes I’m 500m lower with properly spoiled mood. 500m X 25kg = one hour twenty! As I walk towards the take off, I’m already followed by the locals. At least, they help me with the wing cause it’s stopped blowing. Fortunately, I’m quite pissed off, so I manage to climb and jump backwards, closer to the mountains. That’s something different, a stunner. In the air I change my mind and I better go back to PKH as I don’t have a cable for recharging my electronics and the camera is already dead cause it switched on in my pocket. Damn it! I’m turning left following the Skydrop, approximately 3000 on the Greenwall and full speed bar to landing with thunderstorm behind my ass. 10 minutes and it’s raining. But you won’t believe what happened. I’ve came to Nepal and everyone I meet are friends. At the take off Bogdan Bazjuk talks to me, a guy who flew 400+km in Ukraine, on a wing! Awesome!
Day seven: Yesterday’s storm was pretty weak, that’s a good condition for a nice weather. In the morning, with my breath taken away, I watch those majesties, those huge sanctuaries, which fascinated many people coming before me, and they will haunt lots of those who will come later. So astonishing, so monumental, so steep, so inaccessible and deadly. These are the Majesties of our planet, the rulers in the freezing winds, rising high proudly. Some of them are beautiful like a blooming woman, gently smoothed by the blown out snow, and yet so dangerous… others show their threatening nature by how unattainable they look like, with the bare rocks of undreamed size. This is IT! This will be THE moment, THE experience… To defeat an eight-kilometre mountain, hostile conditions and weather. All the threats… once… and then… soar down the mountain with a wing. That is the goal for this life… That’s what I’m dreaming about and this idea sends shiver down my spine.
Once my dreams are over, I have to wake up, here’s the reality, take a lift to the hill and let’s go eastwards. Around 12 I go for it. I can’t climb for a pretty long time because some curly cirrus had blown up and anyway, the Sarangkot hill doesn’t want to cooperate… and I’m 10kg over.
I jump over to Greenwal, and from there on I go my own way, not the track that has been flown at least 100 times. I just fly away, follow my nose… eastwards.
I’m quite low, can feel the leaves on my feet, but gradually I’m getting into that… after all, sky is where I belong. I fly quite a lot ahead, almost to the so called “penalty” valley, where I can’t land. And there it happens. I apparently disturbed the master of the local skies – eagle, which considers me, the unknown creature, a threat and is after me… in a 7 ms rising air I have to combat in an air battle with an eagle with an EN-D wing… I’ve experienced a bunch of things, but this was something. It’s attacking from the sun’s side, as a real fighter pilot, fortunately I have my glasses, so I see it. I do wingover and it misses me. Next time, the same thing… and then, it lets me be. But not for long. Somewhere I have to climb so he joins me in the next lift. So besides dealing with navigation in an unknown environment, possible landing spots, valley winds, clouds and piloting I have to fight with a pissed of eagle!!! Great!
Fortunately, it realises that I’m OK and lets me go. .. I make it somehow below the hill that is approx. 3000m high and there I land. I bust my ankle… why not?! As I’m enjoying the view and peeing a guy runs to me in flip-flops, North Face jacket and wants a selfie… :D with an iPhone, or what the hell he has. Welcome to Nepal!
With some troubles I manage to take off with my sprained ankle… I climb a bit in the evening lifts and glide to the point which Stan told me would be a good take off for tomorrow morning. Nice calm air. I land and straight away the whole village’s there, no one speaks English, all are completely knocked six by the fact that I’ve flown from PKH. I get some flowers and go and set my camp in the pines. In the evening I find out that the gasoline bottle is leaking so I have to set a fire and make dinner old-school. The locals have burnt my take off spot so that the grass can grow faster… :D Never mind. I feel wonderful because I flew nice 80km, saw the majestic mountains and landed where I wanted. I’m admiring the night sky and the 6000m high mountain right in front of my eyes.
Day eight: I wake up under overcast sky, take some pics of the mountains and go back to sleep. The rustling pines are wonderfully calming and make me fall asleep. The view of the mountains from my tent is pretty cool.
At around eight I go to the village, talk to a Sherpa who then takes me to a restaurant. It’s owned by a guy who worked for 10 years in Japan as a robot. But then he realised that it wasn’t a kind of life he wants, so he ended up in an out-of-the-way village in Himalayas, where he grows potatoes, onions, and chickens and enjoys the life…on the top of the world. Then he helps me with the take off and takes a kind of blanket so that I don’t stain my wing in the ashes. I don’t manage to take off but I spot a far better take off, and what’s event better, it isn’t burnt. So we move there and give it a second try. But I have a lump on the break so I land on the take off again. The third try is finally OK and I fly away, fly, really fly. It’s an awesome feeling but I don’t dare to jump straight to the first valley that early. Anyway, the slope on the other side is quite SW and I’m afraid of the valley wind. Therefore I fly a bit ahead… I want to fly about not to hunt the kilometres. After all, the next take off is only 49 kilometres far.
It’s all so great… after a while I have 50 km, switch the navigation for the next day. Eagles are everywhere, probably I fly along their migration route… every other one wants to find out what for a creature I am. I see many sanctuaries and hermits on the hills. I get to know the country from the air, just exactly as I love it.
I make it to the 90th km and there it starts to blow a bit, you know 10ms in such mountains is not really easy. What’s even harder is that I’m not familiar with the conditions and haven’t flown much recently, have a new wing and so on. But my brand new Avaxiáš keeps me informed and doesn’t let me down… When I blast it down in the lee 80kmh and 5ms down, not a single time did it collapse, anyway, during the whole flight nothing happened, I made it always. I fly, stay on one spot, it blows me down the slope… but I’m rewarded with such a strong lift that the Skybeam is silent, it means more than 7ms… and from four kilometres!!! Then I just fly, enjoying the speed and soaking up the atmosphere. Behind me a storm is looming and in front of me is infinity. More than 100 km on the tach.
On the 143rd km there’s a problem, I overestimated already poorly sunlit ridge and therefore can’t climb. It’s a long struggle… if only I could climb just one more time; 160-180 km would be mine. But I’m overloaded, it’s too late in the evening, I won’t make it. I finish after 144 km (the day after I find out that it’s a new Nepalese record – not bad for the fourth flight in Himalayas!).
I land in a village on a field and, of course, the whole village is by me in a moment. No one speaks English, but somehow we make ourselves understood. They make me “khana”, it’s a meal and the boss of the village pays it for me and accommodates me, as well. We chat in the evening, though; we do not understand each other. I give him a five-Dirham note from Dubai as a keepsake, and he’s so moved that he explains (with his arms) that he will keep it next to the picture of Buddha besides his bed. How nice. I really like this, you know, that real and genuine contact with the local culture in the remote places. I didn’t know, until the last minute, where I would land… that’s the magic.,
Day nine: View of the main ridge is once again beyond description. Sitting on a stone, freezing and… and…. Am I enjoying it? Is this joy? Or nostalgia, humbleness or am I mesmerised??
Take the backpack and let’s go up the hill. Two options are in my mind, if it’s good, I’ll fly farther towards the main road, or I will hike there. I hike up to 2600m and find out that it’s blowing pretty strong. I feast my eyes on the views, have a picnic and go hitch-hike. I waved down a bus … a real, Nepalese one. People squeezed, some of them sticking out of the windows, music roaring from the speakers, people sitting on sacks of potatoes, chickens in packs… cool. The driver drives like the devil himself whether hill or not, pothole or not… we make 100 km in 4 and half hours. During that time the breaks overheat twice, we have to replace one break and three Nepalese ladies propose to me. I must admit, this’s the genuine contact with the locals.
I stay overnight in KTM, and the day after I spend the next 7 hours on a bus to PKH to take the second round J
Day ten: The journey to Pokhara could be described as harsh. The Slovaks can’t be proud of the roads; anyway, you can drive decently here and there. But here?? The potholes are deep something like the half the diameter of our planet! The term road is something similar like “character” in our current political affairs. It’s no way close to what normal people understand under this word. The pedometer, which my bro gave to me, counted 66,000 shocks during 12 hours, that’s an average of 0.65 shake – one decent pothole a second!!! What the hell is this?! A cement mixer?!
What for vehicles of hell can drive here, when they can make it… they are TATRA MOTORS with leaf springs. But let’s stop discussing this any further. In the luxury bus to PKH I chat with two curious guys; one is Portuguese, who, like a typical tourist, is lost and takes snapshots of the very first views through the window; the other one is American, living somewhere in Thailand, I believe, driving his motorbike. He is probably 2m tall, or something like that, and with the local dimensions of whether means of transport or people, it makes him a bit of troubles. Since I’ve been in Nepal for more than a week and experienced whatever, I’m like a master and give them some tips regarding bargaining, or getting rid of various salesmen, who sell everything, warm air probably too. The 2m tall guy joins me in PKH to the LAKE SIDE, so we chuckle together on anything that we noticed while passing by.
Day eleven: In the morning, on the hill, I’m thinking about what to do next… my visa is valid until the 16 March. One considered option – to go from PKH to Bhemeshewar was completed, so how about trying it westwards to the real mountains? I let the decision to be made by the jump over the Greenwall. Messing about in a bunch of tandem guys, usually without glasses, so against the sun they can’t see pretty much anything and don’t circle narrowly. What’s more, loads of relaxing almost non-pilots and poor conditions of this shallow place. It takes time and nerves to get out of there. When I finally jump backwards, I decide to go for the East. I’ll try to make it as close as possible to KTM and go home, since the next few days don’t look very usable (some showers) and the West wind is getting pretty stronger.
Though the visibility is poor, I’m not here for the first time, so I dare to risk a bit in order to improve the average speed. Skybeam is beeping joyfully, Avaxiáš is cutting the air and Ďurifuk is enjoying, really enjoying the true flying. Circling to the clouds, staring at the vast valleys, enjoying the speed. What’s more?
Right before the penalty valley, leading underneath the Manaslu massif, I’m pushed a bit to the ground. I struggle longer but patience brings meters and it’s all pure delight here. I’m trying to get into the core; it looks like it could be enough to get to the other side. What bothers me, though, is the eagle from that day before. Now I jump low, probably I’ll have to climb in the valley wind, few meters over the trees. I can’t risk to land in the valley (fine of 500e). It’s over the budget. Well, I have to hope.
In the basin, I have only 1400, but I’m not giving up and climb it high. The eagle either hasn’t spotted me, or is not around here… What a lucky guy I am.
2800m AMSL is no big deal here, but I don’t want to hit the clouds and therefore can’t get more. I’m pretty much OK with that and it’s enough for the jump, too because my guess from times past is that Avaxiáš sores much better.
In the familiar places I circle in the lifts and go ahead. Behind a 3000m mountain, where I landed last time, there’s for me the well-known take off place, from where I’ve done the 144km. I’m thinking whether to land or go ahead… the weather will probably make that decision for me. The clouds have just disappeared so I jump over the valley only too low. I stick to the slope and search. Quite shallow slopes and decreasing altitude make me land.
I can already see people galloping towards me, kids screaming… that’ll be hell of fun when I imagine that guy seeing me landing once again. But my Skybeam beeps joyfully, though only at 30-50 m above the ground … with their heads twisted, they are following me… after climbing to the edge the thermal’s getting stronger. Well, no landing to celebrate.
The visibility is getting worse; I’m calming down my ambitions and stop hurrying. I let myself carry partly by the wind, partly by every moment of this air cruise. I have to be sure of every thermal as it’s getting quite late and the conditions are weaker. I’m circling in the calm air, enjoying the moment and soaking up the atmosphere. I can’t see the other side of the jump… fortunately, I have a brilliant photography memory so I visualise everything I need (my GPS has switched off the screen, battery saving mode).
I’m circling farther with some ravens… thinking this is the last one, however, it would be worth trying, so I’m aiming farther. A West slope like hell with a pagoda on the ridge gives me the necessary 10-20m to jump over to the lee. I say to myself, here I’ll land for sure. I’m blasting it down 3-5 ms, sun is almost setting, but the thermals haven’t been switched off yet. Flimsy farts either from cows or fires carried by the West wind help me to drift over few more kilometres to the main road that leads to Tibet.
Now, how to land? That’s the question. I have to bear in mind that the wing is overloaded, EN-D, therefore quite fast and those fields here, well… not the best ones in the world. Quite a steep hill and loads of trees with transmission lines among them. I pick out a place almost nothing wide and two times that long, ending with a precipice. The first try has failed, obviously, so I fly over and almost run over the head of a guy walking up the slope. Damn it! And what now?! OK, there’s another field… on the way the vario beeps. Hm… 17:45, the sun is almost behind the horizon and me; let’s try another climb in the valley. Why not? I try and make it… get necessary 20m and try for the second time. I make it, with my heart beating, bystanders screaming and a stalled wing. I breathe out a sigh of relief. At once, all the people are by me. This is one of those things I quite don’t like… every flight is kind of mental exercise for me, fighting with the physical laws, finding out whether I can dominate them or whether they will surprise and play with me. Therefore, when I land, I like just to sit for a longer time, think about the flight, what went wrong, what could have been better or which trick was good. With the rustling wind in the background, I usually enjoy the freshly felt emotions, views and acquired experience. Telling everyone where I’m from, where do I fly from and why; what’s this and what’s that… it’s a bit tiresome. But everything has its pros and cons. People are willing and glad to help me with loads of things, so I like to be friendly.TRACKLOG
We chat a bit, I pack my stuff, go for a dinner and sleep.
I spend the whole night on the toilet; apparently, “mama” from the restaurant next door has prepared some kind of reminder for me. Damn it! The same story goes on also the last two days in KTM. My powerless condition is enlightened by the meeting with the guys from GO FOR NEPAL, who look after me, as Ľubica told them (I know her only from FB). Next trip I will ask them for help, because it is very good and for my mind close group of moutain lovers. I really recommend Go for Nepal as great agency of your adventure in Himalayas!
My return home is closer and closer every minute. But every minute is more and more painful. I’m suffering. I can hardly eat, even drinking water is a fight. When I finally arrive to my motherland, I’m as thin as a rake (as if I haven’t been already), after four days of starving I’m hungry as a bear but can’t eat anything. “What a training!”
Eventually, it’s over… I made it, to 80% and have another notch on my belt of VENI VIDI VOLANTIS (I came, I saw, I flew… just a kind of paraphrase’s come to my mind). I can sleep in a fluffy bed, don’t have to squat on the toilet, if I just could eat properly that would be heaven on earth… it will be, though.
Now I go to see the doctor with that bug … :D