Published: May 5th 2011May 5th 2011
Well, Nepal is amazing. Kathmandu is a crowded, noisy, colourful, random city filled with friendly, welcoming people. I started the trip in an awesome hotel with a swimming pool (which I made use of!) and spent a morning doing the touristy spots. I met Anders, a Swedish guy who was joining my "tour" for the first while and would then split up to go on to Everest Base Camp. Bikram, our guide from Hi on Life was awesome. He was also heading to the Everest region for the first time so we were meeting two experienced porter/guides in Luhkla to take us for the hike, Harry and Om. Hi on Life provided us with -40 sleeping bags, cleeping bag liners and serious down jackets (all were well used en route).
Our first trek day was spent at Kathmandu airport waiting for good weather for us to fly to Luhkla. We finally left at 4pm so decided not to trek at night, but rather to hike the following morning. The first day was easy and ended at a stunning hostel "Waterfall View" at Bangkar. It had the BEST hot shower in Nepal. Anders and I both floated wlong the first day,
so excited to be in the Himalayas and as yet untouched by stomach bugs. We were probably overconfident because the next days tough walk up to Namche Bazaar hit us both hard and I was rieved that we would have a "rest day"the next day. That, of course, did not mean what I thought it meant but only that we wouldn't sleep at a higher altitude. We did do a 400m ascent (read 2 hours uphill hike) to get our first view of Everest. It was awesome, even from 40km away and at only around 3800m (ie.e 5000m below the top of Everest). The next morning I got up at 04h30 to hike up a small hill to see the sunrise hit Everest and the other mountains near us. Awesome!!
From Namche we broke away from the crowds thead up the west path to go over the Renjo La pass. Most people head directly east to Everest Base Camp, which is the way that Anders, Om and Bikram would later go after our loop. You can also go North up the valley to the hectic Cho La pass. This is the valley we came down to complete our loop.
The West hike through Thame is awesome - we saw Rhododendrons, Himilayan Tarrs, bright pheasants and I spotted a group of musk deer over a matter of a few hours. Things turned tougher ito weather (rain, hail and snow) and COLD. We stopped at Langdon for 2 days and this was truly a miserable place because of the cold. At 2 pm I was in my clothes, in bed, with 2 duvets over the sleeping bag and I was still icy! By this stage, the altitude was definitely palpable (4800m) and my appetite was gone, sleep was intermittent, and my stomach was beginning to object. We needed the rest though because the Renjo La pass faced us. We woke up at 4 for breakfast, packed a small lunch of Tibetan breads, eggs and chocolates and headed up up up. All along the treks, there are small places to stop for tea, lunch or even to sleep so you always feel confident that you can rest anywhere, but there's nothing like that on the pass. Harry and Om said it could take us up to 11 hours to hike over so we should be prepared to start early. We were
hoping for awesome views of the Everest range from the top - 5800m ie equivalent to base camp. The hike was HARD. Uphill for 6 hours! I got into a rhythm of breathing in while stepping with the right foot, out while stepping with the left. It's one of the hikes that you think you're reaching the top only to discover it's a plateau and theres even more to climb. I polished off 2 litres of water (insane for me). I was so cold that my camera froze (sorry, no pics). It snowed on us from hour 4ish. As I was nearing te top though, I looked up to see my frined, Kitty walking down to meet me. I must say, I cried. It seemed so crazy that she'd hiked up the 500m from the Gokyo side to meet us and I was seriously touched. Kitty led the quiet, determined descent and we arrived safely in Gokyo 8 and a half hours after setting off.
The weather had completely closed in and our views were really limited so we decided to hike down to Mahcermo the next day rather than hike the small peak in Gokyo. Kitty is working
Everest is the peak on the left with Lhotse in the centre and Ama Dabla on the right edge
at the Porter Shelter and Rescue Post for the hiking season. I decided to spend my rest day with her there (lucky decision as the stomach bug hit that night and I spent the day doing nothing, chatting to the doctors at the rescue post and drinking endless cups of tea. Anders hiked on to finish his hike to EBC.
The next day we headed further down the valley to a village called Phortse. This was the fist non-tourist spot I'd seen. It was considerably warmer, filled with farms and farmers and generally a really pretty spot. Harry was happy to divert our trek so that Icould see the famous Tengboche and its monastery - well worth it. It's a gorgeous little town with a full-on bakery. I was sitting in the sun tourist-watching when an old monk come up to me to chat. It felt like one of those hippy, profound moments, but really our conversation was limited to my absent Nepalese and his basic English so no enlightened advise to help me on my way, just a sweet guy interested in hearing about my home.
Then it was a hike back to Bangkar (shower broken, sadly)
and then Luhklato hold thumbs for good weather to fly back to Kathmandu. My last 2 days in Kathmandu, I was initially a bit alarmed by all the noise and people and smells. It took me a while to gather my wits to walk to the markets in Thamel. I met up with 2 Aussies who had hiked in Annapurna and then a little near Luhla with the same company and we had a wonderful, relaxed couple of days shopping and eating.
As for Nepal, these were the wise rules: "the meat may not be fresh"; don't drink the water EVER; if in doubt, descend; don't drink alcohol while on the trek. We were really lucky to not get terribly ill with altitude issues and that the stomach and chest bugs were reasonably soft on us. We met and saw many many people turning back or being evacuated - not fun! The food was awesome, even when I had to force myself to eat because i had no appetite. I used up almost everything in my medical bag! And I learnt how to use a bucket shower - fantastic!
Highly recommended but not be taken lightly!!!
There are more photos below