October 19th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
Kangtega Mtn from Everest Trek
Alexis Mead and her close friend and travel buddy, Lesley Wall, are currently in Namche Bazaar on their way to Mt. Everest Base Camp. Red Lantern Journeys has provided them with a TrekTraka satellite tracking device which allows you to follow their progress on the two week trek through the land of the Sherpas amongst the highest mountains in the world.
Click this link to view their progress: Map of Alexis and Lesley on the way to Everest Base Camp.
After the trek, Alexis and Lesley will join Christine Schutz, Director of the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children, in Kathmandu to visit the children and projects that support them.
July 11th, 2012 by Ambrose Bittner
The Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children and Red Lantern Journeys team up every year to raise money for children’s causes in Nepal by climbing 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier in Washington State. Beginning on July 19th this year, participants will take 3 days to scale the mountain…if weather conditions permit! Last year, high winds and poor visibility forced both teams to turn around at about 12,000 feet.
Please consider sponsoring one of our climbers with a tax-deductible donation. Your support, no matter how small, goes a long way to provide food, clothing, a home, and education to children in Nepal who need it to become productive members of their community.
Please visit the Mitrata web site to learn more about the great work that they do.
May 27th, 2011 by Ambrose Bittner
This year’s benefit climb of Mt. Rainier in Washington State is scheduled for July 14th to 16th.
The Climb for Himalaya Children raises money to support the Mitrata Orphanage and the Centre for Child Studies and Development in Kathmandu, Nepal.
The participants will climb the 14,411-foot-high Mt. Rainier, one of the highest and most glaciated mountains in the lower United States, to help ensure that the children of Mitrata have access to food, shelter, clothing, and education in a country where orphans are constantly subjected to the dangers of malnutrition, child labor, and prostitution.
This year, Red Lantern Journeys and their trekking agency partner in Nepal, Himalayan Holidays, will award of an all-inclusive trek to Mt. Everest Basecamp in Nepal to the biggest fundraiser!
Please consider supporting one of the climbers or teams by making a donation and helping them achieve their fundraising goals on this web site.
August 13th, 2010 by Ambrose Bittner
Tiger's Nest Monastery
I had posted earlier that Bhutan was planning a rate increase for 2011. However, they’ve delayed the increase until 2012 because of the relatively slow economy. The new base rate will be $250 per person for groups of 3 or more. That’s a $50 increase over the old base rate of $200. Surcharges for groups of 2 are still $30 per person, and $70 for individual travelers ($40 surcharge plus $30 single supplement for hotel room). Our experience has been that rates for longer treks are even more expensive than the standard rates. In addition, there will no longer be low season rates.
Bhutan is an expensive country and will be getting signicantly more expensive. So, plan your trip soon.
I was at the Adventure Travel and Responsible Tourism Conference in Kathmandu last February and delegates were talking about how Bhutan had hired McKinsey consultants to analyze their tourism industry and we’re told that they should increase their rates and let 10 times more people in the country than they currently do. We think that would be a travesty, but realistically it would take many, many years iof infrastructure development to handle a 10-fold increase in the numbers of tourists.
August 8th, 2010 by Ambrose Bittner
Starting out from Paradise
During the last year, 18 people took on a dual challenge to help orphaned and needy children in Nepal. They challenged themselves to get in shape to climb Mt. Rainier in Washington State and to raise a minimum of $1000 for the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children. Those 18 participants and 4 climb leaders ended up raising over $30,000.
Of the 22 participants and climb leaders, 18 of them started out from their high camps on two different routes at just after midnight on the 17th of July. They climbed through the night roped together, with crampons on their boots for traction in the frozen snow, and with headlamps on their helmets lighting their way. They successfully negotiated the crevasses and steep slopes and all of them summited the 14,411-foot Mt. Rainier in cold, but beautiful weather and light winds between 6:30 and 8:30 am–and more importantly, descended safely after the long and grueling day.
Mt. Adams from the Summit of Mt. Rainier
The Mt. Rainier Climb for Himalaya Children is organized annually by Seattle-based Red Lantern Journeys to raise money for the Mitrata-Nepal Foundation for Children, a St. Louis-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports the Mitrata Orphanage and children’s education in Kathmandu.
Please join us next year for the climb. Visit the Red Lantern Journeys web site for more information about the climb, signing up, and important dates.
May 4th, 2010 by Ambrose Bittner
I’m seeing a frustrating trend of political parties and other organizations to use demonstrations and organized civil unrest to unseat goverments and get their way. For the last several days the Maoists in Kathmandu have been striking and demonstrating. They’ve been forcing all shops and business owners to close and nearly all vehicles off the road.
Evidently, clearly marked tourist vehicles are allowed on the roads so that people can still be picked up at the airport and transferred to their hotels and taken on tours. That’s one of the advantages of being on a pre-arranged tour or trek like Red Lantern Journeys offers.
Here’s a good article in the New York Times describing the situation there.
The director of the Mitrata Nepal Foundation for Children, Dr. Christine Schutz, is currently in Nepal and reported to the Mitrata board members (of which I’m one) on the situation. Here are excerpts from her report:
Greetings again from Kathmandu! This is the 4th day of the bandh [strike] and there are demonstrations every day. In the mornings, the demonstrators come through and you can hear them all around the city from far away. It is strangely otherwise so much quieter and less polluted than usual. The air is clearer and it has rained several times. So the blessing of the bandh is better air and no noise pollution either! No cars and no traffic. Lots of riot police with big shields and army around though. I think this is actually reassuring to everyone at this point. The police were gearing up for this days before as we saw a lot of them as we came back into KTM form Bathali. Otherwise, during the day, in Thamel people walk around aimlessly. No shopping for the tourists! But it is easy to walk around now.
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Everyone walks everywhere now or they stay home. The Maoists have banned the use of any vehicles except emergency ones and water trucks. We see lots more bicycles out. No shops are open as everyone closes since the Maoists go around and extort money or threaten shop owners if they stay open. All schools have been closed for days and the children are bored too. The Maoists allow 2 times per day of opening 6-8 in morning and at night only. At those times, everyone scrambles to buy food and other needed items. The restaurants are not even staying open. The only place to get food is in a hotel except during those short times of opening. Our food is mediocre at best so we are sampling some others.
All my friends are frustrated as they cannot do business. Tourists and other business people are glad to leave KTM since they can’t get out of the city to travel or do business normally. No transportation at all. There are some rickshaws around Thamel only. It is also hard to have meetings with the folks that we are supposed to be having. Anjoo lives in Baneshwor and this is a major area Maoists congregation and far away to walk. So she has not come in to work for days now. My meditation practice is coming in handy as patience and flexibility are needed. I never know what we are going to be doing each day. No planning is possible.
This morning at 4 am there was a loud crashing noise and the electricity went out completely. It sounds like a transformer and not just the usual loss of power. So as I sit in early morning darkness and the strange silence of a city, I admit that I have considered trying to get an early flight out. The prime minister is not resigning and the Maoists are not quitting, so I am not sure what will give here. I have heard that the UN envoy is coming in later this week, so maybe that will help. The Maoists are also going to run out of food and supplies soon. They have usurped schools and other buildings to house their massive numbers of people that they brought in from outside the capital for the demonstrations. But with the water shortage and power outages, they will run out of supplies soon. Some I hear are walking back to their villages. Many of them did not understand why they were here in the first place!. Crazy!
So I will keep you informed on our situation. It is a political stalemate at present. For now, I think there is nothing to do as I don’t think we could get a flight out anyway (there are only a couple each week to Hongkong) and we are safe here. The biggest challenge may be getting to the airport on Saturday as there are no taxis running. I have heard the Maoists are letting through some tourist buses clearly marked for the airport and we may be able to get on one of those. I think it may be a bit of a walk with luggage to that point though. I may be leaving a couple of those extra suitcases behind!.
So I am going up on the roof to see the city and morning light as it is now 5 am. Peace and love to all of you,
March 24th, 2010 by Ambrose Bittner
We’ve received word from the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) that the government is going to increase rates starting next year. They were planning to do this in 2010, but the recession caused them to delay the implementation. The new base rate will be $250 per person for groups of 3 or more. That’s a $50 increase over the old base rate of $200. Surcharges for groups of 2 are still $30 per person, and $70 for individual travelers ($40 surcharge plus $30 single supplement for hotel room). Our experience has been that rates for longer treks are even more expensive than the standard rates. In addition, there will no longer be low season rates.
Of course, these rates are for staying in standard hotels, which are generally in the 2 to 3 star category. To upgrade hotels to the Ziwaling, Uma Paro, and Taj Tashi, it can be several hundred dollars more per night.
Rates are the same whether you’re trekking and camping or staying in the standard hotels, although longer treks like the Snowman can have higher rates due to the extra logistical support required.
January 4th, 2010 by Ambrose Bittner
We’re ready to go with next year”s Climb for Himalaya Children of Mt. Rainier. The climb will take place from July 15th to 17 in 2010. Please visit the Red Lantern Journeys web site for complete details about participating and how to register for the climb. As of January 1st, we have 10 people registered. That means only 10 more spots are available, so if you’re interested, sign up soon!
If you’re looking for a little motivation, check out this short video of last year’s climb:
Click to Watch!
August 6th, 2009 by Ambrose Bittner
On Sunday, July 19, 2009 two groups of participants in the Red Lantern Journeys Climb for Himalaya Children
struggled their way through thin air and high winds to reach the summit of the 14,410-foot-high Mt. Rainier. They planted Tibetan prayer flags on the summit in honor of the children of the Mitrata Orphanage in Kathmandu. Prior to the climb, the 21 participants and 5 climb leaders raised over $30,000 from generous people who sponsored their climb. The mountain was climbed by two different routes: one group via the Camp Muir-Dissappointment Cleaver route; and one group via the Camp Schurman-Emmons Glacier route.
CHC 2009 Participants on Mt. Rainier Summit
I’d personally like to thank REI for providing our tents, and free rental gear for the participants. I’d also like to thank Richmoore Foods for providing freeze-dried meals for participants. And, a special thanks to Dan Ansbaugh, who worked diligently to find our sponsors and promote the climb.
February 24th, 2009 by Ambrose Bittner
Although China hasn’t made an official announcement, probably because they want to avoid publicity, Red Lantern Journeys’ Tibet, Nepal, and China partners have been letting us know that Tibet permits are not being granted for travel in March. From what we can tell, this affects entry to Tibet from both China and Nepal.
The reason? March is the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lamai leaving Tibet to escape the Chinese invasion. It’s also the 1 year anniversary of the Tibet riots prior to the Olympics last year. China seems to be taking preemptive action in anticipation of needing to crackdown on any new protests. They don’t want tourist using their digital cameras and camera phones to take photos and video of anything that could look bad.
I hope the closure of Tibet will be brief. From what we can tell, it’s only March that is planned for now. However if protests and uprisings occur, expect China to close Tibet for as long as they deem necessary.