A Nepal two-generational expedition: Blair Schoene with his Dad
Left: One of the many spectacular views the hikers will witness of the Annapurna Sanctuary in the Himalayas. Top: Blair Schoene, Assistant Professor, Geosciences. Bottom: Robert 'Brownie' Schoene ’68
From May 5 to May 22, geochronologist Prof. Blair Schoene will be spending some time with his dad. What makes this an unusual bonding session is that Schoene will be sharing his father’s expertise with a small group of eager hikers on a trek across the Himalayas, including a highlighted visit to the Annapurna Sanctuary and Kathmandu. This is the 1st trip the Schoenes have collaborated with the Outdoor Action Program (OAP) and the Alumni Association to bring a challenging geological exploration of the majestic Himalayas to Princeton alumni. Having his doctor-dad along also gives alumni a chance to experience first-hand medical exploratory tactics, earn a medical certificate in high-altitude medicine, and to build confidence for future mountain expeditions. The trip is endearingly titled “Rocks and Docs in the Annapurna Sanctuary.”
Robert 'Brownie' Schoene graduated from Princeton in 1968 and is a world-renowned expert in high altitude physiology and medicine. His son's research involves how to measure the timescales of events through Earth History with the integration of geochronology, field geology, and geochemistry in the Geosciences department. Schoene also runs the department’s new Geochronology Laboratory that opened this past semester. Also on the trip will be Rick Curtis '79, the director of the Outdoor Action Program, who is an experienced backpacker, backcountry skier, and kayaker. Rick also wrote “The Backpacker’s Field Manual” which is an indication of his level of expertise.
Keep in mind hiking in Nepal is not for novices or intermediate hikers considering how high the Himalayas really are. The hikers will know that going into the trip. The itinerary tells all. The group will start in lowland villages through thick forests of bamboo, rhododendron, and oak. Leading up to higher elevations of 13,550 feet, they will be witnessing some of the world’s most spectacular views. They will be expected to travel 4‐6 hours of a day, while luckily carrying a 10-15 pound backpack. The trails themselves are moderate but at these altitudes hiking will feel more strenuous. One criterion is that you be in good physical shape to sign up.
There is an opportunity to spend some time in Kathmandu; however, this is not a trip for lingering like a tourist. The next day’s schedule entails a flight to Pokhara where the hikers will begin their exploratory trip. The team is expected to travel through lush subtropical forests where they will encounter local farming villages, then continue up more rugged terrain towards base camp. Their Annapurna South Base Camps rests around 13,550 feet, and faces the near‐vertical south face of Annapurna towering more than 10,000 feet above. The views will be the spectacular vistas of Mt. Dhalagiri, Annapurna II, and the Himchuli Himalsas. The hikers also will have an opportunity to test their social skills by intermingling with the Gurung people of Nepal. They plan to be on the mountain till May 21st, then returning to Pokhara for flights back to Kathmandu and homeward. There is an optional post-trek extension offered to Chitwan National Park in the tropical region of southern Nepal known for its elephant safaris, bird watching, and jungle walks (5/21-25).
The highlighted features will be that Blair will provide overviews of mountain formation, giving trekkers a perspective on the amazing geology that surrounds them and Brownie will conduct daily medical seminars on the physiology of high altitude in wilderness medicine, covering topics such as adaptation, high altitude illnesses, extreme altitude, high altitude natives, exercise and training, hypothermia, and expedition medicine. He also covers the best travel medicines to bring, how to prevent travel illnesses, and what is the best way to avoid gastro-intestinal illnesses on the optional portion of the trip. Continuing Medical Education units (CMEs) will be on-hand through the Wilderness Medical Society to discuss professional information for physicians and healthcare professionals attending the trip.
Registration is now closed for this year’s trip.
Saturday, May 5 - Depart the U.S. on flights to Kathmandu, Nepal.
Monday, May 7 - Arrival at Kathmandu airport and transfer to the group's hotel
Tuesday, May 8 - Day trip to Kathmandu
Wednesday, May 9 – Saturday, May 19 – Hiking the trails
Sunday, May 20 - Last morning on the trail, fly back to farewell dinner at hotel
Monday, May 21 – Land travel via auto to connect to flights homeward
Tuesday, May 22 – Arrival back in the U.S.
Optional Post‐Trek Extension: Chitwan National Park
Monday, May 21 - Arrive at Chitwan National Park
Tuesday, May 22 - Options for activities including an elephant safari, a jungle walk, and a visit to an observation tower, a bird watching expedition, or a boat ride with a naturalist Wednesday, May 23 – Fly back to Kathmandu, late afternoon
Thursday, May 24 - Fly out of Kathmandu homeward