September this year Andy Millar, Bill Niblock and myself joined an organised
trek to the Everest region of Nepal. We were away from the UK for
a total of 23 days of which 17 were on trek 4 in Kathmandu and 2 travelling
to and from Nepal.
After a seven and a half hour flight from London to Abu Dhabi and a four
and a half hour connecting flight we finally arrived in Kathmandu in the
early hours of Saturday 27th September.
We had two days to explore Kathmandu before
joining the trek at the starting point in Lukla. Culture shock
would be a good description of our time in Kathmandu, sights, sounds (and
smells) assailed the senses. The poverty and living conditions
was mind blowing, although everywhere was
a hive of activity, with people trying to eek out a living by whatever
means they can.
A busy day in Kathmandu.
On the Monday morning we took a flight
from Kathmandu to join the trek at Lukla, which lies at the heart of the
Everest trekking area.
After an interesting 40 minute internal flight on a small, twin-engine
plane, we flew through the mountains, (ever seen the film Alive)! and
landed at Lukla. It's here that Nepali - porters and travellers - stop
to look at the airplanes flying in.
During the busy season in autumn, you might see several airplanes an hour
as they swoop down the mountain valley and make an attempt to land at
the Lukla flying strip perched on the side of the mountain.
You get the feeling the Nepalis half expect a plane crash. And when you
get a look at where the planes land, you might get that feeling, too,
especially while you are on the plane!
Here our group (there was
12 of us from the UK and 2 Americans) met up with the trekking crew who
loaded our trek bags on to yaks for the short walk to our first (of seventeen)
overnight camps under canvas.
For the next seventeen days we travelled
through the Khumbu region where we visited many places including Thame
Monastery - Tenzing Norgay was born nearby - we ascended to Thyangboche,
for superb vistas of Ama Dablam (6856m), Lhotse (8501m), and Everest (8848m).
We continued up to higher altitude, where we made our ascent of Kala Pattar
(5545m) overlooking Base Camp, for close-up views of Everest, (Everest
has its summit in cloud)
We retraced our steps and followed the Dudh Kosi (milk river) valley to
the Gokyo lakes where we climbed Gokyo Ri (5483m) for what I thought was
even better views of the Everest massif and surrounding peaks.
Four days later we had descended back down the valley to Lukla where we
said our goodbyes to our Sherpa crew.
The Sherpa people (and children) we met on trek, although impoverished
by our standards, were some of the happiest and friendly people I have
One of the highlights of the trek for me was meeting a Sherpa climber
called Apa Sherpa, this small unassuming man has summited Everest thirteen
times and will try again this year!
Apa Sherpa (above left) Andy and I sporting designer stubble (above right)
On returning to Kathmandu the first stop was the shower/bath, as after
seventeen days on trek (sharing a tent with Andy) with very limited washing
and shaving facilities, we were not too fresh! (I wondered why the pilot
had the window open).
We had two days to relax in Kathmandu and
did some more sightseeing shopping (and laundry).
We returned to the UK again via Abu Dhabi
arriving on Sunday 19th of October after what was an experience of a lifetime.