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INTO THIN AIR ... Trekking to Mt Everest base camp and Kala Patthar, Nepal

NEPAL | Thursday, 16 May 2013 | Views [2646]

So after 6 weeks in India it was time to head north into Nepal for 3 weeks! After a hellish 24 hour journey on 2 local buses we arrived in Thamel, Kathmandu and checked into our hostel, Alobar1000. We found the hostel to be a great place to meet other travellers and within an hour or two we were showered and out in a group from our hostel eating Tibetan food. The food was delicious! We all tried a tradional Tibetan 'hot' beer. A cup is served half full with fermented millet seeds then a flask is provided with hot water to add. The hot water and seeds mix to give an interesting mulled wine kind of taste. It definately released alcohol but hot beer just didnt feel right!

The following morning we arranged the final details for the highlight of our trip through Asia ... the 13 day return trek to Everest base camp! We added a new addtion to our group with a german guy from our hostel called Dirk, so 2 became 3 and we also had a quick chat with our guide. We spent the rest of the day sorting out trekking equipment and buying supplies for the trek. Just before going to bed the manager from the trekking company phoned saying the plans had changed and to be ready at 5.30 a.m as we would now fly to Lukla by helicopter!! This bit of news made just set the excitement gage off the scales!

Days 1 - 3

Our helicopter to Lukla was fantastic. It was the first time on a helicopter for all of us so it was a great experience and got the trip off to an exciting start! We arrived in Lukla after around 30 minutes or so, the airport is said to be the most dangerous airport in the world, as it is only a small landing strip planted in the Himalaya! The runway is unreal, no room for error! Lukla is 2840m above sea level and I felt the thin air straight away. We had a small breakfast then began our trek. We got great views of different peaks including Mt kongde (6035m), Mt. Kusum khangkaru (6367m), also walked alongside and crossed the dudh koshi river and saw the first jupkya (half cow half yak). We left Phakding the next morning and had great weather, we caught our first glimpse of Mt Everest (8848m) after passing Larja dobhan (2830m). Also saw Mt Lhotse (8414m). We arrived in Namche (3440m) after a long 6 hour trek. Namche was fascinating, hundreds of lodges, bakery's, cafe's and bars all in a little village high up in the mountains. We checked into Himalayan Sherpa Lodge and could see Mt kangtega (6685m) from our room. I began to suffer a bit of altitude sickness with a headache so decided to stay in whilst our pete and Dirk went out for a beer. The next day I felt better and we spent a whole day in Namche to acclimatize. In the morning we took a 20 minute hike up visit the museum, which had loads of great info on the area, and also had another view to Mt Everest, Mt Ama Dablam (6856m) and Mt Tabuche peak (6367m). Later on we visited the market then went for a game of pool. In the evening we played cards at the lodge. It took a while but we finally started to remember our guide's name ... Lakpa. He was only 23 and his english wasnt great but his honest and friendly personality won us over! Me, Pete, Dirk and Lapka ... the wolfpack!

Days 4 - 7

We left Namche and had a fairly easy hike to our lunch place in Phunke Tenga (3250m). We noticed that as we gradually got higher the prices got higher also. After lunch it took us a couple of hours to reach Deboche (3820m) where we spent the night. The nights began to get really cold but our North Face sleeping bags that we rented were amazing! The next morning was a 5 hour hike to Periche. Again, we were treated to great views of all the main mountain peaks. Mt Ama Dablam was right outside our lodge and looked amazing! We had our 2nd acclimatisation day in Pheriche, in the morning we had a small trek up to around 4500m. The weather was great so we had great views of all the main peaks including Mt Island peak (6189m) and Mt Makalu (8481m). The rest of the day was pretty boring and just evolved around us waiting to eat our next meal! Day 7 was a hard day because of the amount of altitude we gained. We started early as always and ascended around 700m from 4240m to Lobuche which is 4910m! We saw several memorial's at Thokla pass for those who had lost their lives on Mt Everest. By now the intense sun and ice cold wind were starting to take their toll on our noses and lips which were peeling and cracked!

Days 8 - 9

So we began day 8 knowing we would reach Mt Everest base camp! We left Lobuche in the morning and began our trek to Gorakshep (5140m), this would be the highest place we'd spend the night. We arrived early and had lunch then set off to Mt Everest base camp around 10:40 am. After a 2 hour hike we were there ... 5364m above sea level! Woo hoo! The place was full of tents, massive ice pools, good fortune flags and monuments. The day began with great weather but clouded later with a little snow and hail. We had an amazing view of the massive Khumbu ice fall to the khumbu glacier, to the base camp, to Mt Lho La (6026m). It was a great experience but hard because of the altitude. We were all suffering headaches and was eager to get back to our lodge to rest. In the evening my head was BANGING! Loads of water and a few paracetamol seemed to do the trick. The next morning we were up at 4.30 a.m for our trek to the summit of Kala Patthar (5550m). The conditions were freezing but we had a nice blue sky. It was a tough hike to the summit and took almost 2 hours to the top. But we all made it! We were treated with breathtaking views of all the mountains but especially Mt Everest! Watching the sunrise from behind Mt Everest ... what an experience!! We left Gorakshep after breakfast and began our way back to Luckla, stopping at Periche for the night. Exhausted!!

Days 10 - 13

We all slept very well in Periche and we needed it as it was a massive trek back down to Namche. It took just under 8 hours stopping off 30 minutes for lunch. My feet were killing and full of blisters! There was only one cure ... beer! We decided to have a good drinking session to celebrate our efforts and it was a great night. Me and pete got on the pool table in a bar and remained undefeated at doubles for the whole night. Every one was against us as we kept winning. At one point there was a group of 16 Chilleans cheering their team on and it was silent when we won. Then there were the russians who were playing dirty and making the rules up as they went but they were still no match! Only down side was we heard on the grape vine that David Moyes is replacing Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford next season. But we didnt let that dampen our spirits too much! By the end of the night we'd all had plenty and our Pete was left hugging the bin. Standard! Our last 2 days were relatively small hikes although one was made very difficult due to a killer hangover! Dirk got attacked by a yak on one of our last hikes as he never got out of the way quick enough!! We spent our last night in Lukla then took an early morning flight back to Kathmandu. We were all relieved that we returned safe and sound, especially after flying from that airport in Lukla ... Jeeze!

 

Tags: altitude! himalaya, mt everest, trekking, yaks

 

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