Thursday, October 20, 2011

Everest Trek Out-Takes, 4

And now, the exciting conclusion of Everest Trek Out-Takes...
Over-all, the trail is really quite good, stepped in many
places; it has been used for centuries and even now is the
main route of supply for the Khumbu, tread by trekkers and
tourists, but also by villagers and hundreds of porters, yaks,
zopkios, and even a few horses; there is no wheeled travel,
however; the only wheels you see after Namche Bazaar are
prayer wheels

And much of it is lined with culture; Mingma, our Sherpa
guide, had excellent English, kept us safe and well-
informed, and answered all our many questions about
the land, its people, religions, customs, history, flora, fauna,
and much more

Back finally in Namche Bazaar, in time for its weekly market

Why you don't want to order yak or beef above Namche...

And why you don't want to fly in to Namche; the place is
a graveyard of aircraft, including this Russian helicopter,
in which a couple dozen people died

And then there is the on-going Tibetan market, goods
hauled over the Nangpa La, the route to Tibet, with a
21,000 foot pass; Chinese customs folk evidently look
the other way (or are avoided) and the prices are pretty
good (we surmised)

A trader's tent in the Tibetan market; note solar panel

So after a few days' rest in Namche, at the Hotel Norling
(a guest-house), warmth, hot showers (our first in weeks),
some better food, and even some beer, we continued on
to Lukla and the flight back to Kat

Khanza, our porter; we hope we treated him with dignity
and generosity

Vicki and Mingma at the Lukla airport, Vicki sporting her
trophy Everest pashmina

We flew out stand-by and had a few hours' opportunity to
observe landings and take-offs and bolster our confidence

Typically terraced terrain between Lukla and Kathmandu

And so there we are, back in the comfort of the Gokarna
Forest Sheraton, outside Kat, tired, hurting, but pleased
and proud of doing our Everest trek

Everest Trek Out-Takes, 3

Continuing the series...

Trail toward Thukla, memorial cairns and shrines all around

At Lobuche, the inn was full, and we ended up spending
the night in this (rented) tent, literally in the yak corral; a
cold and sleepless night, with the yak bells jingling all
night long

In the guest-house/restaurant at Lobuche we found a large
and friendly French party, enjoying pastis, cheese and
sausage--national honor to uphold--before ordering the
rather bland local fare

Speaking of which: click to enlarge and see a representative
guest-house menu (from a favorite, Mr. T's Yak Lodge in

Ditto; I ate a lot of dahl bhat during those 3 weeks, plus
eggs, toast and frites; Vicki would try the "pizza" and
"spaghetti" and such things, inevitably to be disappointed;
"pizza" =a round of flat bread, drizzled with catsup and
sprinkled with cheese flakes of uncertain origin, served
warm; lots and lots of tea, and no alcohol...but it works
and is do-able, especially after you learn the routine and
remember to use your Steri-Pen liberally

We did it! After Thukla and Lobuche comes
Gorak Shep, at 18,000 feet, and the trudge up
a ridge of Pumori to the place known as Kala
Pattar, the closest you can get to see Everest
without being on it; the mountain has been
hidden from view since Tengboche and can
not be seen from either Gorak Shep or the
base camp...

But then, as you trudge up Kala Pattar, it's
suddenly in your face, still 3 miles away and
two vertical miles up; you are just as close to
Lhotse and Nuptse and Pumori and other
giants, but this is the view you can't take
your eyes off

Closer up

Vicki plants a few prayer flags (and brought
a few back to adorn our RV and now our

But then there's the way back down, first to Gorak Shep,
where it was 32 degrees inside the guest-house when we
left for Kala Pattar at 6 AM; and then more than a week
walking back to Lukla; by this time Vicki was sick, I had
already been sick but mostly recovered; at least on the
walk down you don't have to take acclimatization days, and
it's mostly down-hill

A few days later we were back in Tengboche, having dinner
with two American climbers headed up, when there was a
commotion in the dining room, everyone grabbing his or
her camera and rushing out the door; it had been a cloudy
day--our first on the trek--but then there was a hole in the
clouds and beautiful alpineglow on Everest, an unforgettable

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Everest Trek Out-Takes, 2

The trail above Namche, with Everest in view

Basic signage; our guide, Mingma Tshirng Sherpa, knew the
way, and much more; and had a cousin in every village

Entering legendary Tengboche

With more views of the mountain and

The famous monastery

Dazzling interior

On up the trail, House of Elrond

Water-driven prayer wheel; not sure of the theological

Ancient mani stones all along the way

For several days, Ama Dablam, regarded by some as the
most beautiful of mountains, dominates the view

Closer up 

Closer up still; 22,349 feet

Another guest-house room, in Pangboche 

Yak patties drying in the sun; major source of fuel at this
altitude, now getting over 14,000 feet

Not one of the more impressive bridges

The acclimatization program requires that you stop and, um,
acclimatize, every thousand feet or so, taking a day off;
here Vicki does the week's wash; we learned the next
morning the importance of taking the clothes off the line
and indoors before night-fall...

In the restaurant/communal room of yet another guest-
house, higher-up still, at Dingboche, as I recall

Everest Trek Out-Takes, 1

While not traveling, here in Menlo Park, I am going through the 87 gazillion pix I have taken these past three years (and also the 87 gazillon 35mm slides I took prior to about 2005; digitizing them, 4 at a time), and have resolved to post some of the pix that should have been blogged in earlier segments of our travels. When we did the Everest trek three years ago, I posted very few pictures on the blog. Connections were infrequent and of inconsistent quality, and I hadn't yet figured out whether the blog was going to be more words or more pictures. So here, and in the next few posts (it was a three week undertaking), are some pix and a little commentary on our 2008 Everest trek. You can find the original Everest trek posts using the keyword search feature on this site, or by clicking on Nepal in the tag cloud at the very, very bottom of the page, or simply by going to October, 2008.
In Thamel, the touristy section of Kathmandu, Nepal, where
one goes to do the Everest trek (from Nepal, anyway);
Thamel is a riot of everything...commerce, people, food and
drink, nationalities and ethnicities, travelers and trekkers,
touts and louts; and some wonderful Nepalese

Kathmandu airport, domestic terminal; another riot; we
would never have found our plane without the assistance
of Dawa Geljien Sherpa, our handler and savior

En route to Lukla from Kathmandu aboard Yeti Airlines and
a Twin Otter aircraft; click to enlarge and read the pilot's
take-off and landing check-lists; two days after we marched
off from Lukla, one of these craft crashed on landing, killing
all but the co-pilot

Aircraft carrier Lukla; 9100 feet altitude; 12 degree gradient;
they say it is 1500 feet long, but I wouldn't give it 1000 feet;
there are some great videos on YouTube and elsewhere of
landings and take-off's; it's at the head of a hanging box
canyon, so you only get one chance...

And we're on the trail from Lukla, two days to Namche
Bazaar, approaching the first of scores of Buddhist
billboards--centuries old, carved and then painted...

In a guest-house on the trail; spartan, and sometimes
dubious sanitation; but at $2-$4 a night, not over-priced;
they make their money mostly in the restaurant, more
about which later

Touching up a prayer wheel; prayer wheels and
associated religious paraphrenalia everywhere

Welcome to Mt. Everest National Park

More billboards

One awakes many mornings on the trail to the sound of
stone masons; there is not a lot of lumber up here, but a
lot of stone, and nearly everything is made of stone; beyond
Lukla, nearly everything is carried on the backs of porters or
zopkios and yaks to the several villages above

On one of many, many bridges over the Dudh Kosi, coming
down the Khumbu

Nearly all high suspension bridges like this, bedecked with
prayer flags

Entering Namche Bazaar, stupa and walls of prayer wheels;
Namche is the last "big" town on the trail, last chance for
equipment, provisions, meat....

Namche from above, as you head on up the trail

Thamserku from Namche

First sight of Everest, on the trail above Namche (it's the
distant peak between us)