Saturday, May 12, 2007

More Gear.

I've become such a gearhead. Sigh.

Before I did any reading about going to Tibet, I had thought that I would travel there in summertime - around July. This would allow me to enjoy the heights of Everest without having to endure really cold weather. To be certain of the weather conditions, I checked the World Meteorological Organization's weather map and suprisingly enough, the high and low temperatures in Tibet (using Lhasa as the gauge) in October hover around 60+F during the day and 30+F at night which I find to be surprisingly comfortable temperatures. So I now plan to go around October - this will also make for more comfortable travel in both India and Nepal though New Delhi, India will still be in the 90+F degree range and humid to boot. Ugh. Kathmandu, Nepal will be in the 80'sF and I'm hoping somewhere between New Delhi and Lhasa in humidity level....I hope.

On my list of places to visit in Tibet is Everest Base Camp - about 17,000 feet in elevation. The plan is to overnight either there or at Rongphu Monestary. Either way, I will be using a sleeping bag and either way, sleeping in a tent or a room with no heat and 30+F degree night temperatures or lower. The only bag that I had was a summer bag rated for 55+F and so I added a winter sleeping bag and a sleep sheet to my shopping list of items to buy.

Then, there's the water situation. From some of the travel blogs I've read, I think I can buy bottled water pretty much everywhere in all the places that I'll be travelling to.....but I don't want to take any chances. I learned my lesson travelling through Cusco, Peru where at elevations about 11,000 feet, I often found myself consuming 2-4 litres of water per day. I have a feeling the high altitudes of Tibet will do the same for me and there will be plenty of long drives with stops in local villages. In the event that I need to purify water "picked up" in a local village, I'll be bringing along my Potable Aqua tablets and I also decided to splurge on a purifier.

With my list in my head, I decided to once again call on my friend Bob to help me gear up. I drove out to Bob's house this morning.....in time to go to lunch with him and his wife Linda. After we ate, Bob and I headed off to REI while Linda decided to return home.

It's obvious that Bob's been to REI......A LOT. He knows the exact layout of the store and once we entered, he made a beeline for the water purfiers. A few minutes of reading their guide sheet on water purifiers and I had a Katadyn Exstream XR in hand - rated to kill 99.9% of all known parasites, bacteria and viruses. I hope it works for whatever lives in India, Nepal and Tibet!

Then, it was off to find a sleeping sheet. Pretty easy. Find a silk sheet that can roll up into the size of a half used roll of toilet paper and you have what I bought. It's amazing that I can get this twin size sheet rolled up so small but I can barely cram more than 3 or 4 of the same size cotton bedsheets into my washer! Go figure.

....and then, it was time to get the sleeping bag. Of course, I picked to go to REI on a weekend that they were having a sale on sleeping bags :-) Within a few seconds of nearing the bags, which were hanging from the ceiling, Bob (who has a radar about this stuff) picked up the perfect bag for me. Filled with down, and sized specifically for women, it's rated for 15+F. I figure that should do the trick for keeping me warm at Base Camp plus it stuffs into a sack, which after you cinch it up is barely bigger than a roll of paper towels that weights all of 1.1 lbs!

I have a couple more items to pick up....top of the list is a pair of good, high altitude trekking sunglasses. I've been reading about the UV and light conditions at the higher elevations and am convinced that good eye protection is definitely in order and street sunglasses do not block out enough of the light to fit the bill. Okay, that might just be an excuse to get a really cool pair (or two??) of sports shades :-)