Everest View Trek
Days 53-61: Jess is a Wanderer arrived in Kathmandu and arranged to fly to Lukla in search of some Mount Everest Views. A 60km round-trip and a highest point of 3880m it was quite the adventure! For the video click here.
The first day was spent in the hotel making arrangements and making sure we had all the required clothes - hats, gloves, waterproof coats etc. We met with our guide and went through the route. There was one 'difficult' stretch which we'd encounter on day two, between Jorsalle and Namche Bazar. Three whole hours of steep uphill incline and no villages or guest houses in between. There was only one option... keep going!
Anyway, I'll get to that. First, we had to take a flight to Lukla. Off to the airport we go. Seven hours later, our departure time has come and gone and we've been issued a boarding pass for a chartered flight. 3 o'clock came with the announcement that our flight was ready to go. Excitement galore, we were up like a shot and getting on the 19-seater vessel. Twenty minutes later, we were in the air and turning back around due to bad weather. We'd have to try again tomorrow!
On our second attempt, we did make it to Lukla and our three hour trek to Phakding began as soon as we'd hit the tarmac. Reunited with our bags (as we'd been separated overnight but that's another story) we hit the ground running as darkness was falling. What an adventure we were having. Arriving at our first 'tea-house' (as the guesthouses in the mountains are known) we were shown to a simple bedroom with two single beds, no decorations or furnishings and access to a shared toilet (that didn't flush) with a sink located outside in the garden. I've never been so cold whilst brushing my teeth!!! I made the mistake of wearing my shorts and t-shirt pyjamas that first night - it was the one and only time I did!
Day two of trekking saw us on the hellish route to Namche Bazar. After stopping for lunch in Jorsalle, we began the steep incline. Slowly but surely, one foot in front of the other, we arrived at 3440m in the town of Namche. Sweating, exhausted and certainly questioning our life choices we headed off to hire sleeping bags as the temperature was due to drop to -7c and below from here on in! At $2 a day, we settled on some lovely down-feathered bags. As for Namche Bazar... What a fascinating little place. Complete with ATMs, an Irish Bar and actual cobbled market streets, it's easy to forget this is a mountain town deep in the Himalayan range. We stocked up on water and toilet paper as our noses were running. Only us pair of idiots could pick up a cold in 38c India!
After a rowdy night in Namche (people heading back down often get wasted here to celebrate their achievements of whatever it is they've conquered along the Everest Trail) we had another steep incline ahead of us. Just getting out of Namche was enough to kill me! Today's plan was to climb 400m up to Tengboche at 3880m. And this is where it all went wrong. For me at least! It had been a tough, but exciting, day trekking up and down and getting to see our first glimpse of Mount Everest. The last two-three hours was an immensely steep ascent to the famous monastery town of Tengboche.
Unfortunately, I'd run out of water and fallen considerably behind Wolvo and Suman, our guide, as I was taking pics - as usual. I tried to call out as I caught sight of them up ahead as Suman was carrying my extra water. That's when I realised I couldn't really talk. That's when I realised I was absolutely freezing cold. I stopped to put my fleece on and felt like that was all my energy spent. I literally couldn't take another step. Within seconds, the world started spinning and I was seeing spots. It took everything in me not to pass out there and then. All of a sudden I had the most splitting headache and genuinely thought I was going to throw up and fall down in a pool of my own vomit. I wasn't in a good way. At this point, some people had noticed this monstrosity unfolding and altered Suman who was on his way back to me. I sipped at the water and felt relieved as he told me we were only seven minutes from our accommodation. Within twenty, I was wrapped up in bed having my oxygen levels tested with the possibility of being dragged back down to lower altitude! Fortunately, I was fine just cold and needed to warm up. A big sleep fixed me and I woke up with nothing more than a killer headache and a fresh determination to conquer today's uphill stretch with more positivity and less drama than the day before!
Day four saw us waking early to catch a glimpse of sunrise over Everest. It was absolutely worth waking up at 5:30 for, despite the headache! We had a fairly easy downhill stretch ahead before a slightly steep ascent to the next mountain village: Khumjung. This village was flattened in 2015's earthquake and is famous for having an Edmund Hillary school. We visited the monastery and saw how the locals lived - most making their living from growing and selling potatoes. This was not the most exciting thing about Khumjung, however. Late in the afternoon it started to snow! There was more than 5cm by the time we'd finished dinner. It was so exciting. Would we get stuck here? We were supposed to be heading back down towards the airport tomorrow. What an adventure. Trapped in the Himalayas!
Day five was by far the most picturesque. We had several views of Everest (hidden in this pic behind the cloud) and it was amazing. I literally stood staring for a good ten minutes. Who was I to be 4000m up staring at our planet's greatest mountain. What an opportunity! This is definitely the sort of thing I quit my job for. How many people get to experience this! Wow!
The rest of the day was spent admiring the beautiful surroundings. Despite last night's snowfall, everything looked magical covered in a fresh dusting of snow. The day also brought the most clear blue skies and the helicopters were flying around aplenty. All the conditions were perfect and we couldn't have asked for a more spectacular day.
Day six saw us trekking the last 10km back to Lukla to catch our flight. Fortunately the sky was clear and the weather was fine. We took off around 11am, on another chartered flight, as is common as very few people are actually able to take their scheduled flights. Arriving back into Kathmandu the weather was noticeably warmer and we were excited to get back on the wifi!!
The tea-houses in the mountains do offer wifi but this often ranges from 200RS-600RS (£2-5) for a certain amount to unlimited mb of data. We just didn't see the cost being worth it so opted to go off the grid for the week - because it never does any harm to put the phone down for a while! Also, the amount of money we were spending on overpriced tissues for our streaming noses didn't leave a lot of expendable pennies!!
Click below to see our video of the experience:
Day 61 was spent recuperating in Kathmandu. We enjoyed over-indulging in a couple of scrummy restaurants and wandering the streets aimlessly. It was especially refreshing to wear flip-flops instead of hiking boots! We did some laundry, caught up on all social media and, rather excitingly, booked a trip to Chitwan to go in search of some rhinos and elephants for the next few days. Yippee!