After an exhausting 14 hours in the airport the day before, waiting for a flight and even making it into the air before getting turned around ~15 minutes from Lukla, we finally were able to get on a helicopter flight from Kathmandu to the start of our trek in Lukla. Our Italian pilot, Pierre Jorge, was “vacationing” in Nepal, running rescue missions to the Everest base camp and beyond.
We had to touch down on a small patch of farmland, about a mile from Lukla, until the fog cleared. There was an instant sense of peace and rejuvenation as we stepped out of the helicopter into the crisp, mountain air. After a cup of tea and a short chat, we were again off to Lukla. The differences between Kathmandu and Lukla were drastic, to say the least. It was like exiting the subways of New York City and arriving in the mountains of western Washington.
After meeting with our guide, Neema, and a quick breakfast, we were off to begin our 5 day trek to Gokyo. We journeyed under thick blankets of fog, and along milky blue rivers peppered with boulders the size of school buses. The terrain that loomed above brought to mind images I had seen of the limestone cliffs in Thailand.
After a night at the Mount Kailash Lodge in Monjo, we began making our way to Namche Bazar (~11,300 ft). We passed over high suspension bridges, beside waterfalls, and were followed by the occasional stray dog looking for a friend or, more likely, a bite to eat. The final push to Namche is a steep, sustained stretch of switchbacks crowded with trekkers and Sherpas carrying everything from roofs to propane tanks to refrigerators. I was in awe of their unbelievable strength but couldn’t help feeling sorry for them and the price their body must have to pay for these trips.
Arriving at noon, we now have the luxury to lounge around reading, checking emails, and exploring the town of Namche. At this point the team is healthy and our spirits are high. I am looking forward to the weather clearing so that I can finally catch my first glimpse of these magnificent mountains that I have been drooling over for years. Honored to be here and looking forward to getting into the upper regions filled with rock, snow, and above all, ice. That’s it for now. More updates soon to come.