After a short weekend break in Sydney we left Australia and started our long journey home. We arrived in Kathmandu on the 2nd November after a nights stop over in Singapore. Once off the plane, we had to get our Visas which took about about an hour. After waiting in the longest queue and trying to make sense of the organised chaos that was going on around us we finally had our visas and we made it out of the airport and into Kathmandu.
There were people everywhere, most offering to carry our bags and asking us if we needed a taxi or a hotel. Luckily we had organised somewhere to stay in advance, and had a airport pick-up organised. Thanks to a very good recommendation by American friends of ours (Thanks Toni and Breezy!) we were staying at the Hotel Ganesh Himal. And not being ones to waste any time we had our everest trek booked by the end of the day.
Everything then happened very quickly, we had the following day to buy whatever supplies we would need. We walked around the popular tourist area of Thamel in Kathmandu which was only a 10 minute walk from
our hotel buying a few essential items; walking sticks, hiking socks, a few warm clothes. And before we knew it it was early on the morning of the 4th and it was time to set off to the airport and to the first of our adventures. The flight to Lukla.
The airport was as hectic as it had been two days before only more so as we were flying within Nepal. Thankfully we had our sherpa with us, Tshering. If it hadn't been for him I think we would have been completley lost. Soon though we were aboard our tiny little plane bound for Lukla. The flight was only short and in no time we were up in the himalaya mountains. The landing was somewhat stressful, we flew low in between two mountains and landed on the very edge of the runway a mere two metres from the edge of the cliff. We had too as if we didn't then we wouldn't have stopped in time and there was a cliff straight ahead of us. Luckily though for us though these pilots do this journey about 8 times a day and we made it with plenty of room to
spare. Phew! Although, this didn't help my nerves and I was a quivering wreck when we landed. Ste however, loved it. Of course!
As soon as we landed we stopped briefly to pick up our porter, Beshman and then we were off trekking. By night fall having walked some 7 hours we arrived exhausted in Monju. After dinner it was to bed, and an early night for our tired weary bodies. The following morning having adjusted to the altitude at Monju of 2850m we pressed on. Day two and we had another grueling day of trekking ahead of us which would bring us up to Namche Bazaar which was nestled in the mountains at a altitude of 3420m.
It was a long haul to reach Namche bazaar, once there though we stayed two nights to allow for an altitude acclimatization rest day which as it turned out wasn't much of a rest day we did another full day of hiking to a higher altitude again and came down again to Namche Bazzar to sleep. This would help us further to adjust to the increasing altitude. Over the past three days we had passed through some of the most
beautiful incredible scenery that either of us had ever seen, we had walked through valleys, hiked up steep mountain paths, walked over crystal clear mountain rivers on some incredibly long swing bridges. The water was so pure you could just fill your bottle with clear fresh water, good enough to drink.
By the time we reached Tengboche Monastery I began to suffer some of the effects of altitude sickness. My appetite had been missing for a day or two and I wasn't eating, so we had to stay here for two nights while I took some more time to adjust. We couldn't go on as it wasn't really safe for me to and I didn't want to go back, so spending the day relaxing, resting, eating garlic soup was on the cards. The following day I felt alot stronger so we decided to keep on trekking.
Over the next few days we moved onwards and upwards. The once lush green fertile scenery gave way to a barren landscape. The vegitation slowly gave away to nothing. No Trees, bushes, even small shrubs disapperead on our last day on the climb up to Gorak Shep. The last two hours we
hiked over a glacier, the air was getting thin and each step was a huge effort. From Gorak shep we had a choice, right for Everest base camp or left for the climb up Kala Patthar. We chose Kala Patthar.
It was cold up here, everything was frozen, luckily we had managed to secure the last room in the one teahouse at Gorak Shep. After a bite to eat we had a very uncomfortable nights sleep, we were up at 4am and ready to start our final ascent to Kala Patthar. We set off at 5am and it was hard work, each step moving inches at a time was torture. It was freezing, we had doubled up on gloves, hats and socks and still we couldn't feel our feet, hands or ears. At 6.30am the sun rose and the warmth was wonderful. We solidered on and slowly but surely we made our way a little closer to our target. Ste made it right to the summit of Kala Patthar, at an altitude of 5545m with our sherpa. Up here he had the most amazing view of Mount Everest, with the sun coming over the mountains and the clouds a
long way down below him he felt like he was on top of the world.
I didn't make it to the summit, breathing had become really difficult, there was hardly any oxygen in the air up here and walking, I felt like I had chains wrapped around my ankles. I made a quick descent with Beshman our porter and we waited for Ste and Tshering to join us. Even though I didn't make it to the summit we both felt that we had really achieved something special. It had been a long hike to get up here and to know that we had walked all this way gave us both a real sense of achivement.
The rest of that day we descended back down the way we had come, back over the glaciers and down though the rocky valleys. After a night at Lobuche where it was so cold the water in the toilet froze we spent the next few days retracing our steps. The futher down the track we went the more drunk we felt on oxygen. It was the best feeling. We felt like we hadn't been breathing for days. The weather changed by the day,
on the way up we had had nothing but endless sunshine but now the weather was changing for the worse.
It didn't take very long for us to walk down to lower altitudes and as we made our way to Lukla we heard several reports of the desperate situation trekkers were finding themselves. Due to the bad weather flights had been cancelled for days on end. Hikers were unable to fly in to start trekking and People were stranded in Lukla waiting to depart. With more and more of us arriving every day to find yet more cancelled flights and less accomodation avaliable the situation had become pretty desperate. We were due to fly out on the 18th November. By a stroke of pure luck we managed to get a flight on the 20th. It wasn't to Kathmandu but anywhere other than Lukla was fine by us. We had heard so many stories, people stranded here for nearly a week, the teahouses were running out of food, we heard of some people that were paying up to 1000US dollars each for a space on one of the few helicopters that made it out each day. Some of them once
loaded were so heavy that the pilot couldn't take of, so they had to offload some people. It was Chaos. We landed in Ramchapp early on the 20th and after a tough, bumpy 10 hour bus journey we finally made it into Kathmandu. What a end to an amazing two week hike. Something that we would never forget.
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