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Nepal 2014

Day 19. Everest Base Camp Trek. Lukla to Kathmandu

NEPAL | Saturday, 31 May 2014 | Views [736]

The roar of aero engines early in the morning was a welcome wakeup call: conditions were good for flying. We mustered at the airport terminal and Gopal worked his usual magic and checked our heavy luggage without penalty onto Tara Flight 5, in the second wave of the morning. The waiting area was filled with nervous trekkers aware the airport could shut at a moment's notice.

When we finally launched down the ski ramp runway and the formidable cliffs fell away, we had a chance to review some of the route we had so painfully traversed nearly 3 weeks prior. I was struck by realising I had no idea of the scale of the landscape we passed through: the immensity of the valleys, the towering, jagged peaks, the densely terraced and settled slopes and the intricate spider's web network of rough tracks connecting everything, all built by manual labour.

Approaching Kathmandu it was a surprise to see the little LEGO-like multi-storey buildings instead of cut stone bungalows, and to realise that we hadn't seen a wheeled vehicle in nearly 3 weeks. No carts, barrows, bicycles, motorcycles or autos could function on the tracks we used. The main commercial routes into the Khumbu hinterland are the exclusive domain of porters, drovers and their pack animals. 

The next couple of days in Kathmandu were characterised by eat-sleep-eat-sleep, exhaustion in the extreme. A few flights of stairs left us breathless; there weren't enough hours in the day to satisfy our need for sleep. I'm told extreme athletes suffer a physical collapse following a major event. Shivalaya - Lukla - Base Camp - Lukla will forever be our ultimate marathon.


I would like to record my thanks, appreciation and love to my fellow trekkers: my brother Geoff, my sons Nick and Gerard and old friend David. Without your cajoling and encouragement I would have given up at the first hill.

I'd also like to record my gratitude and respect for the true heroes of this venture, our guide Gopal Thapa, and our two stalwart porters Ram and Nima. You'd think that to have made this trip dozens of time before with flabby Westerners would be enough for anyone, but you cared for and guided us as though we were your first charges. That is nothing short of admirable.

Tags: everest base camp trek, lukla flight


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