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Hummel Meets the Mountain

The Story of
the First (and Only)
All-American, All-Cat
Himalayan Expedition

Part 2

Chapter 3: The Preparations Begin

When Winston arrived Hummel called all his cat friends together. He discussed everything that had happened and told them what he wanted to do. He told them about the TV program; he described Macchupachere; he told them about his research about Nepal.

"I am going to organize an all cat expedition to climb Macchupachere. Lots of work will be necessary to make this expedition work. I would like you all to help with this work and to go with me to Nepal if you wish to try the climb."

Well what a bombshell that was!! The cats had all known that Hummel was up to something. After all, he had not gone bird hunting for weeks. But they had no idea that it would be this big. What an idea; an all cat expedition.

The discussion that followed was quite spirited. Some of the cats were quite perplexed. "Why would a cat like Hummel want to climb, of all things, a mountain?" Some of the cats had never even heard of a mountain, let alone thought about climbing one.

But when the meows had stopped they all supported Hummel as he knew they would. All agreed to help in the preparations but only a few were actually interested in going along. Aunt Tabby immediately volunteered as the expedition cook. How else would she be sure her nephews and nieces were getting balanced meals?

"Before we go any further we have to have an official expedition leader," said Hummel's brother Raison. "I nominate Hummel as the official Expedition Leader for the 'All American All Cat Himalayan Expedition'." A loud cheer went up and Hummel was thus named Expedition Leader by acclaim.

The next day he and the bald guy sat down to map out their plans. The first important thing, they decided, was to get permission to climb the mountain. In Nepal, because of the dangers involved, it is necessary to make application to the government and receive a permit to climb any of the big mountains. And since Macchupachere was off limits it would be especially important that they apply early.

So off they went to the embassy. There they sat and talked with the diplomats and told them of the cats plans. Hummel impressed the ambassador with his charm and determination. After the forms were all filled out the ambassador told Hummel that he would send them in with his personal recommendation that permission be granted. But they would not know the answer for two months.

"Now all we can do is wait," said the bald guy.

"No, there is lots of work to be done in the meantime. We must be ready when the permits arrive," Hummel replied optimistically. "And I want you to be our Human Liaison Officer to help us in these preparations." The bald guy was, of course, very proud of his cat friend and pleased that Hummel wanted his help. "We're in this together Hummel. You know you can count on me."

They went home and Hummel intensified his efforts. The cats were quietly optimistic. They thought that even if they didn't get a permit for Macchupachere they would get one for another mountain. After all the ambassador did like Hummel. Hummel himself refused to even listen to such talk. For him it had become a dream ... to climb the fishtail.

Work began in earnest. Several of the better trained cats had important jobs. B.C., a young friend of Hummels, became the communications officer. Her first job was to send letters all over the country to famous cat climbers and cat clubs announcing the expedition and requesting applications from interested cats. She also wrote to mountaineering suppliers seeking donations of equipment & food for the expedition.

Even old Aunt Tabby took her job seriously. She read about nutrition and decided on the types of foods that would be appropriate for their expedition. It was much harder to plan food for a cat expedition since they had no prior experience to go by. But she was thorough in her studies.

Hummel, of course, read continuously. He read all the mountaineering books he could find. He wanted to be ready for anything. He knew that being Expedition Leader was a great responsibility; that the fate of all the expeditioneers would rest on his decisions. He wanted to be a conscientious leader; to leave nothing to chance.

He also read more about Maccupachere and soon felt on intimate terms with the mountain. The maps he had were poor but he studied them carefully. But he knew that everything depended on proper conditions and that even the best of maps would be useless if the weather did not cooperate.

Winston became Hummels right paw cat. He knew, from his own experience, that conditioning was very important in the mountains. He was certain that, unless each and every cat was physically prepared, there was little chance of success. So he developed a training program and soon had all the cats, even Hummel, exercising, lifting weights and running. They also had to start watching their diets in order to get trim and fit. The mountains were no place for excess fat. This meant NO MORE ICE CREAM, a difficult sacrifice indeed.

They began practicing their rope work in the trees. Some thought it silly to climb trees with ropes, but Winston stood fast. He knew what was important. He knew that most Himalayan expeditions used lots and lots of rope.

The cats had quickly learned an important lesson on their own. An expedition is a team effort. One cat cannot carry the team, even a cat like Hummel. It was like a puzzle, they decided. There was a place for each piece and the whole puzzle would not be complete until each piece was in its place.

Chapter 3: Permission Granted!

One day B.C. found a letter in the mailbox.

"Hummel, Hummel," she cried, "its come ... our permit for the mountain."

All the cats gathered around, even old Aunt Tabby.

"Yes," Hmmel nodded approvingly, "its all in order. We will leave in six weeks to go to Nepal."

Well you would not believe the excitement at 1409. It seemed as if all the cats in town knew about the expedition. Every few minutes another cat dropped by to offer encouragement. But the expeditioners were all too busy for socializing; there was so much to do before they could leave.

Just think of it all!

They had to plan for all the food, buy it and sort it out; they had to order some equipment and design and make the rest themselves. You see, humans used climbing equipment that wasn't quite right for cats.

All this meant money and the cats didn't have much money. Some organizations had already contributed food and equipment but not nearly enough for a two month expedition for one dozen cat climbers. And who was to pay for all the transportation expenses, the costs of hiring porters and what not.

Mystery Dance, being the most artistically minded of the cats, had an idea. She pulled the long haired girl to the side one morning and they got out all their art supplies. By mid afternoon they were ready. Mystery Dance proudly unveiled a beautiful design. It was a picture of Expedition Leader Hummel with his ice axe. And it said: All American All Cat Himalayan Expedition.

"The idea was all mine," said Mystery Dance, "but since my paws are not suited to art work I asked the long haired girl to draw it for me. We will make T-shirts with this design just like the humans do for their expeditions. Then we will sell them to cats all over the world to raise money."

In a few days the shirts were all ready and the cats wore them all over town. Soon the orders were pouring in and money problems, at least for the early stages, were put aside.

Hummel and Winston had spent hours pouring over the many applications from talented cats wishing to join the climb. Decisions were difficult to make; they knew how important it was to have a team that complemented each other. The cats personalities had to mesh and they had to be willing, even want, to make sacrifices to aid in the achievement of the common goal. But the decisions were made, invitations sent out and the team was finalized.

Famous cat climbers from all over the country began arriving at 1409. There was Marley from Oregon, Herman from Arizona, Ernestine from Alabama, Monster from Maryland, Cuthbert from Michigan and even Alphonse the tree climber from California. These cats, together with Hummel's brother Raison, his sister Athena, B.C., Winston, and old Aunt Tabby, made the team.

Once the team had assembled, it was time to discuss assignments. Hummel, as any good expedition leader would, already had things worked out. Marley would be in charge of mountaineering equipment. Alphonse would be in charge of tools, especially files to keep their claws sharp. Athena was Cultural Officer. It would be her job to handle all interactions with the local people in Nepal. She would also teach the cats what to expect when they arrived and the proper etiquette under different conditions. Raison was in charge of packing everything into labelled boxes for the plane. I think you can get an idea of all that had to be done.

If you enjoyed this part of the Hummel Mountaineering story please Let Us Know. We will be putting the rest of the book on the Web with some great photos of the peaks and images of the expeditioneers. Check back to keep in touch with Hummel.

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