Mount Everest Base Camp, 3 Passes and Beyond.
The Journey Begins
I arrived at the airport within a hour of my flight. Standard domestic procedure; for Nepal. The airport was buzzing with people. Many flights from Kathmandu to Lukla were cancelled in the past few days because of what I was told was poor visibility. The airlines looked to be trying to get onto additional flights in the air to make up for lost time. My flight was delayed from 9:30am until 11:30am.
I was excited to board the plane and get my Mount Everest Base camp expedition going. Despite the advice of local travel agencies, I decided that I would hike it with no guide, no porter and no formal group. I spoke with numerous people who have done the trek alone. Many backpackers do the same so I was hopeful to meet up with some for the tougher passes. The flight was a bit scary, the plane seemed to be at capacity with 14 people. Flying through the Himalayas, watching the pilot and co-pilot gracefully maneuver the plane from a few rows back I was enjoying the ride. The view is supposed to be stunning flying into Lukla but not on this day. The air quality was terrible and I couldn’t see much from the front left side of the plane. In an instant we took a sharp left hand turn, the plane was on a steep downward angle and it felt as though we were in free fall. Half a second later we were on coarse for the runway, took a bit of a rough landing but we arrived safe and sound. The airport in Lukla is built off a cliff and against a mountain, the runway is short and can be hazardous, particularly with a tailwind.
After the delays, I arrived in Lukla a round noon. The sun was shinning and the sky was more clear than the previous five days in Kathmandu. I made my way towards the start of the trek and ended up running into a Canadian named Jackie. We hiked for somewhere around nine kilometers (km), I was pretty tired and it looked like rain was coming so I stopped for the night in Phakding. Jackie continued on to push for Namche. The hike was from 2840 meters to 2610 meters altitude. The trek was a good start, some downhill parts and phenomenal views. The journey has began.
The tea house was not too full. I bartered for my night stay accommodation; I would eat my meals at the tea house. I used this strategy the rest of my time up the mountain. I made some friends and ate some dinner.
Not to judge but there was an old person choir singing songs from about 530pm until 930pm. I wasn’t the biggest fan and went to bed around 830pm. The trek brings on people from all parts of the world, even singing groups.
So I woke up this morning around 7am, eventually dragging myself out of bed. I was exhausted and had slept for over ten hours. I set a personal goal to make it to Namche by noon. It was another 8-9km hike. The altitude went from 2610 meters to 3440 meters. The portion from Monjo to Namche was the most difficult and can give anyone some challenges. I made it up in good time. The sun was shinning through again, such a beautiful day, I was hiking in a t-shirt. I passed over many high bridges and met people from all over the world on the way.
Namche is the hub to trekking in this region, essentially everyone passes through. Anything you forgot to bring you can buy here. It is used as a stopover to acclimatize to the altitude. I caught my first glimpse of Mount Everest on the trek up. I couldn’t help but noticed there were many tourists hiking this route, it is high season. Though any local person will tell you that tourism has been down this year because of last years earthquake; the region hasn’t had great luck the past few years in regards to natural disasters.
Porters carrying over 90 kilograms on there backs, some 120 kilograms, I cannot imagine doing it for a day, let alone a lifetime. It is understandable why the food and beer become more expensive the higher up the mountain you climb.
I managed to get a decent deal at the tea house for 2 nights. It was only me and another couple in the whole place. Most of the money made is on food, internet usage, hot showers, etc. It baffles me that the wifi in the Himalayan mountains was working better than wifi I had in Kathmandu. (Though it is weather dependent, if a storm comes it shuts down the wifi in the town).