November '23 Himalayan Blue Sheep story

adamkolesar

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
Mar 9, 2019
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Adirondacks
Given I learned about this hunt through obsessive reading of Rokslide's sheep forum, it seems only right to post a re-cap of my Himalayan adventure in Nepal in pursuit of the Blue sheep.
Firstly I'd like to thank fellow RS'ers Dukxdog and Cactus Kid for their insight into this unique experience.
Secondly, I'll hit the highlights as I had an hour and a half conversation w/ Mark at EXO Mountain Gear for their Podcast that's due out in a couple of weeks.
I was fortunate, make that lucky, when I reached out to Neal & Brownlee last May just to ask some questions about Blue sheep and was informed that a couple of guys decided on hunting Tajikistan this season, postponing their Nepal hunt 'till next year.
Not believing my luck, I plunked down a deposit. I really wanted to have a special hunt for '23 as I turned 60 this year.
I keep myself in decent shape year round but knew this hunt would require some very specific preparation given the extreme terrain and the altitude I would be hunting, 15,000 -16,500 ft.
Even still I was apprehensive about my response to altitude given I live at sea level.
I was going to be traveling with an old mountain biking buddy if mine who would accompany me as an "observer".
He dug in and found a company called Hypoxico. They rent sleeping tents that simulate sleeping at altitude. You sleep in this rig for a month prior to departure.
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Needless to say I led a "monastic" life for that month prior to leaving for Nepal as my wife was not willing to join the mile high club...
Next was dialing in the workout. Research indicated that "below aerobic" threshold was the order of the day. To that end, as a member of CrossFit, I began a 2-3x weekly "Chad" workout named after Navy Seal Chad Wilkinson. He committed suicide in 2018 as a result of suffering from PTSD. His family created the Step Up foundation in support of Vets.
The workout is 1000 step ups in under 45 minutes. The workout is traditionally completed on Veterans Day in tribute. I made it back from Nepal in time to complete the workout on November 11th given Chad was on my mind throughout the hunt (a big part of a successful outcome).
Finally altitude meds.
Diamox was a critical component of the hunt. There was a bit of debate as to dosage at altitude. I found a NIH study supporting a higher dose regimen (consult you physician) for the prevention of altitude sickness.
These three measures allowed us to hunt at 16,500 and sleep through the night without one minute of discomfort.
To be continued...
 
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adamkolesar

adamkolesar

Lil-Rokslider
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Location
Adirondacks
Logistics.
As you can imagine, coordinating a hunt halfway around the world requires substantial organization and advance work. Neal & Brownlee and their travel agency PWP travel did an amazing job domestically. Himalayan Safaris in Nepal were equally adept at what turned out to be a seamless experience to and from Nepal.
Both the Nepalese firearm and hunting permit require a stack of documentation in "quadruplicate".
Advice here on RS was helpful in that I maintained a folder of all documents w/ me at all times.
A firearm in Tribhuvan International Airport is a big deal. Allow at least a day to process the firearm and validate the sheep permit.
The firearm permit covers all hunters registered for the Fall hunt (there's also a Spring hunt) with a total of 19 permits issued in 2023.
It was interesting seeing what other hunters were using. I chose my trusty Remington 700 in .270 Winchester (the same make and caliber as RS legend ROAL REAPER). There was a Russian fellow who registered a .338 Lapua!!
That poor sheep!
I think Dukxdog did an excellent job covering the cultural aspects of this experience and I followed many of his suggestions while in Kathmandu. I'm a city dweller and when I say Kathmandu is a wild place, I mean it! Four million people occupy the valley. It's really something and a fascinating place especially the antiquity of the Hindu and Buddhist temples.

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Our Nepalese outfitter set us up with a great local guide to see the sights while we were in Kathmandu (a day or two at each end of the hunt).
We headed the advice to eat and drink only at our hotel, the Yak & Yeti, sticking to bottled water and avoiding raw vegetables and fruit. A cameraman for a hunting crew acquired Giardia last season by sampling the local cuisine...
Once the paperwork is in order, a chartered helo takes you to a ridge 3 days hike to Dhorpatan hunting preserve. It's there that you're met by "The boys" as the Sherpas and porters are referred to. This is where you see where the money is spent. 30 guys and 6 horses and donkeys support this hunt! It's quite a reception. The outfitter asked our permission to allow a couple of sick villagers a ride back to Kathmandu for medical attention in the empty helo. This exchange saves these folks 6 days of overland travel.
To say the scale of the Himalayas is overwhelming doesn't do the landscape justice!
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Believe it or not, this is me trying to be concise and not replicate the information I talked about on the podcast! We'll get into the actual hunt in the next installment(s). Thanks for reading.
 
Joined
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That's awesome. I'm looking forward to the podcast.

It looks like they even greeted you with some tea on arrival.
 
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JohnB

WKR
Joined
Aug 28, 2019
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375
Very cool. I'm certain I won't do it to hunt but I'd really like to check out the Nepal area some day.
 

eamyrick

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Apr 24, 2018
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Central Texas
Awesome. Bucket list for my also. Want to go in retirement when I have 15-20 days to really slow down and enjoy the experience.
 
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adamkolesar

adamkolesar

Lil-Rokslider
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On with the hunt...
Now that we're "in country" the outfitter, Himalayan Safaris has a robust 3 day program to acclimatize flatlanders to altitude. This involved graduated hikes each day with sheep camp being the ultimate destination at 13,500 ft. They followed the time tested tradition of "climbing high and sleeping low".
Day 1 was a leisurely hour and a half hike with 1500 ft. gain to 11,500 ft. This would be base camp one situated outside a small village of maybe 30 subsistence farmers. We settled in and zeroed my rifle. In a nod to local custom, shooting was done overhead of the village, (the farmers were warned of course). There were a couple of anxious moments on the part of the outfitter and guides as I struggled with parallax error on a less than stellar rifle rest. The natural wood target with sharpie drawn cross hairs on the brown grass background across the valley made target acquisition "challenging" at range. Everything got sorted and we were prepared for the next day.
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Camp was set up and we prepared for day 2 which would be an "out and back" 6 hour hike to 12,750. Much of the hiking these first three days was on ancient trails used by farmers for livestock grazing and trekkers enjoying the Dhorpatan area during the summer.
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Day three was the push to sheep camp @ 13,500. This was where the whole crew including the horses pick up the entire camp and make the 8 mile journey into Dhorpatan hunting preserve.
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Likely my favorite image of the trip as it really communicates the scale of the terrain and the environment as a whole.
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More to come.
 

Dirtbag

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Colorado
excited to see the next installment. definitely curious to see if you felt the Hypoxico made a difference as well.
 
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Amazing pictures and looking forward to the podcast… also my wife had a good laugh when I showed her the “monastic” hypoxico sleep training system and suggested we could try it out before our next mountain trip!
 
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adamkolesar

adamkolesar

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Amazing pictures and looking forward to the podcast… also my wife had a good laugh when I showed her the “monastic” hypoxico sleep training system and suggested we could try it out before our next mountain trip!
My wife was really thrilled as I was supposed to set the Hypoxico up in the guest room bed. Couldn't do it because it's a sleep number bed with all sorts of hardware that won't allow fitting of the "chamber". The Hypoxico lived in her newly renovated master bed room! (You'll note the abundance of fancy pillows)
 
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My wife was really thrilled as I was supposed to set the Hypoxico up in the guest room bed. Couldn't do it because it's a sleep number bed with all sorts of hardware that won't allow fitting of the "chamber". The Hypoxico lived in her newly renovated master bed room! (You'll note the abundance of fancy pillows)
Haha I bet she was! My wife somehow agreed to go on a 5 day, 70 mile hike through the Alps for our honeymoon this fall. This would have been a great set up to prepare coming from sea level but definitely not the most romantic haha. (PS a few days down in the Italian countryside after definitely helped but I don’t think she’s signing up to join me on future mountain hunts!).

Congrats and thanks again for sharing this awesome adventure and looking forward to hearing more on the podcast.
 
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adamkolesar

adamkolesar

Lil-Rokslider
Joined
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Messages
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The story continues...
We reached sheep camp by mid afternoon. We would be hunting "block 5" of the preserve. There are six blocks in all. Mahesh and his crew were most familiar with blocks 4 and 5. Each permitted hunter has an individual block to themselves for two weeks during the season.
While camp was being set up there was excitement from the guides as a large band of sheep was feeding at the top of the mountain that we would be climbing the next day. I set up my Swaro spotter and looked over the group just for practice. The bands of blue sheep we encountered throughout the hunt were usually comprised of kids through possibly mature rams.
There was at least one shooter in the group, as identified in part by a black patch on the chest and throat. The quickly setting sun dictated the day.
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The food was basic, but good. I was told I would lose weight during this trip and it was true. My buddy who was a more "selective" eater lost a good deal of weight. I was mindful to consciously eat a good portion at each meal as just the work of being at altitude can be a metabolic challenge. We were never nauseous thanks in part to the Diamox, but appetite can be diminished.
It was lights out at 6pm with wake up at 4am with a hearty "Good Morning sir" delivered by the camp manager.
Temps were in the teens overnight. Given that Diamox is a diuretic, there were 2-3 occasions to leave the tent each evening. The full moon throughout our hunt was welcome when stepping out for relief.

Apologies for the short installments. Just chipping away at this when I have the time.
 
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