Soon we arrived at our pre-booked Mustang Hotel. The hotel was good and staffs were so welcoming and full of smiles. The location of this hotel is away from the hustle and bustle of the busy Thamel shopping area but close enough to walk to within minutes. This also helped to cut down on the noise. This hotel also had a nice and quiet restaurant with some excellent food; try the sizzling chicken or sizzling steak and you will see what I mean. Next day we spent a few hours within Kathmandu city sight-seeing. We had a pre-arranged city guide who took us to some of the Hindu and Buddhist (the Swayambhunath) temples. The Pashupatinath Hindu Temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in Kathmandu.
Day: 1 (Kathmandu – Lukla – Pakhding)
On 23rd of Oct we left our hotel very early in the morning to catch an early morning flight to Lukla. The name of the airline was ‘Agni airways’. It was a short flight for about 30 minutes although it was delayed by about an hour. The flight route was quite interesting and can be quite scary for faint hearted. On the way to Lukla one should sit on the left hand side for the best view of the mountains, (and the right hand side for the return journey). The flight never goes too high and always remains within the vicinity of the nearby mountain ranges. We were able to catch our first glimpses of the mountain range and several waterfalls and rivers. Shortly before landing the plane has to go over a mountain; I have never been in an aeroplane flying so close to a mountain top. The landing and takeoff at Lukla can be very scary. It has a very short uphill runway which helps to slow the landing aircraft down. As soon as the plane lands the combination of the uphill runway and heavy braking helps to slowdown the aircraft and brings the aircraft near the terminal building. At the end of the short uphill runway there is a huge mountain like a wall. The take off for the return flight is even scarier. The take off runway is on the same steep downhill slope which helps the aircraft to pickup speed prior to takeoff. At the end of the downhill runway there is a big cliff. Any aircraft that fails to take off will not have a second chance. Fortunately the accidents are very rare.
The 30 minutes flight landed safely at Lukla airport and we disembarked rapidly to allow Kathmandu bound passengers to get onboard. These flights have a rapid turnaround and normally takeoff within less than ten minutes of landing.
At Lukla while we were waiting and admiring the wonderful view of the airport and the surrounding area, our guide, who had travelled with us from Kathmandu arranged a porter to carry our luggage. I must admit that the young porter, whose name was Amrit, was excellent and smiled at all times, very encouraging.
After some breakfast at one of the lodges (Budda Lodge) next to the airport we setoff on our long awaited trek towards Pakhding village.
As we walk further the crowded Lukla disappeared in the distant vicinity and the glorious mountain views start to appear. After a long downhill walk we cross a Mani wall and thunderous the Dudh Koshi River which remained on our left hand side as we walk towards Pakhding village. The route continued to ascend and descend and finally we arrived at Pakhding village after about 3-4 hours for our first nights stay. To tell you the truth I was surprised to see such a nice lodge with an attached private toilet for only 200 Nepalese rupees per night. After the dinner we went straight to bed so that we could start early in the morning for our next destination – Namche Bazaar.
Please click on the link below for photos:
Lukla to Pakhding Photos!
Day: 2 ( Pakhding - Namche Bazaar )
Lukla to Pakhding Photos!
Day: 2 ( Pakhding - Namche Bazaar )
The next day we started early in the morning and very soon we were rewarded with beautiful sunshine and mountain wilderness. We went over the Dudh Koshi river bridge. We had to cross the same river several times along the way. The bridges are ropeway bridges made of steel cables and they move heavily from side to side when people walk over the bridge. I must admit, I did not enjoy walking on them as it gave me a sense of vertigo especially when in the middle of the bridge with the thunderous river right below. However others didn’t have such problems and they walked more freely.
Soon we arrived at the SagarMata National Park entrance where our guide had to submit out TIMs cards. These TIMs cards are used to keep track of those who are entering and leaving the area and also used for the purposes of searches for missing persons.
We were beginning to experience the steepness of uphill and downhill trekking route. Going uphill was slowing me down but I kept reminding myself ‘what is the rush? Keep walking and enjoy the beauty of the mountain’.
We finally arrived at the final ropeway bridge over the area where the Dudh Koshi river meets with the Bhot Koshi river. The construction of the bridge is really interesting and over a massive gorge between two mountains. Initially I was a little worried about walking over this bridge; so high up, so isolated and open. The devil in my mind kept on saying ‘what happens if you fall off the bridge?’ Our guide, porter and even my daughter had already gone over the bridge to other side except me who was pretending to be a photographer and waiting for the best shot. I had to pull together all of my courage and tell my mental demon to ‘get lost’ and let me do what I came here to do. Finally I summoned my courage and started to walk over the bridge. I even stopped in the middle of the bridge and looked down to prove myself ‘I am not a chicken’. ‘That was scary’ I told myself.
When we got to the other site of the bridge I took a good look at the deep gorge and the merging rivers. It was so amazing and spectacular.
Crossing this bridge meant the start of the long, famous Namche uphill climb which every one must conquer in order to get to Namche Bazaar.
I have read a lot about this long steep uphill trek and always wondered what it would be like. Would I really fail this; surely not. We started the Namche uphill trek slowly and with care. This part of the route is not only steep but very rugged and difficult. This is the place that will test your stamina and cardiovascular ability. Anyone with heart and cardiovascular problem should not attempt this section. I have been a runner for over 15 years and therefore I was fairly sure that my heart should be able to cope with the demand. However, the heavy demand on our bodies was not only to the heart but also on the legs and knees. Within an hour I was badly sweating and my cloths were absolutely soaking wet. I kept on telling my self ‘one step at a time will take me there’.
After about halfway we noticed that a large group of trekkers and their porters were all resting. When I eventually hauled myself there my daughter commented ‘daddy, you look knackered’. To tell you the truth, after a couple of minute’s rest I was absolutely fine and had no residual pain from the last 5 hours hard walk. In a way I think it was all in the mind; the legs and the body will respond as long as one is mentally strong. I was mentally prepared for this hard slog and in a strange way I was looking forward to this steep uphill challenge. The route was probably at a gradient of 50 or 60 degrees most of the time with large broken rocks used to make steps.
It took me over 3 hours of huffing and puffing to complete the Namche climb and we finally arrived at the security lodge at the entrance of Namche Bazaar.
We took the scenic route to enter Namche instead of entering through the busy shopping area which was our return route. The scenic route brought us near the stupa at the bottom of the Namche town.
The first view of Namche and the surrounding mountain view really took my breath away. I stood near the stupa and looked up; the white cloud was coming down on colourful houses just like a mysterious place. By then I had forgotten all the pain of the Namche climb and I was ready for more adventure and more climbing. At Namche there is no plain, flat road; it is always uphill or downhill depending on which direction you are going.
Our first priority was to find a lodge and our guide, for some reason, choose one of the lodges right at the top of Namche town. The name of the lodge was Khumbu Lodge.
The Khumbu Lodge was owned and managed by a Sherpa wife (Nima). The lodge was nice and clean and the food at the restaurant was nice too. We noticed that as we got to higher altitudes the food prices shot up accordingly. The room charge for a twin bedded room cost around 200 Rupees provided you ate at the lodge. If you ate outside then the room charge was around 1000 Rupees. In general lodges make their money at the restaurant. At Namche the Nepalese staple diet (Dal, Bhat, Torkari) cost 350 Rupees. A plate of plain fried rice cost 300 Rupees. Fried Noodles cost 300 Rupees. A can of Baked Beans cost 500 Rupees. Etc etc.
Day:3 (Rest Day at Namche)
The next morning when we opened the curtain we were amazed by the beauty of the mount Konga and Kongari with their snow capped peaks. We were not able to see these peaks the day before due to cloud cover which happens every afternoon.
We then put our shoes on and head for a 30 minutes walk to the Namche National Park for a panoramic view of all the mountains around Namche.
It was still a little dark and very cold. My legs were refusing to walk uphill and I wanted to go back to lodge and have a cup to hot tea. But I was determined not to be put off by the difficulty. When we got to the National Park we were rewarded with our first view of Mount Everest in the distance with Ama Dublam on our right. The Kusum Kanguru was dominating the sky; it was simply amazing. All my tiredness had gone and I was ready for more. From the National Park we noticed a steep climb to a mountain top with a couple of houses at the summit. Our guide informed us thatthis was the way to the Everest Hill View Hotel for panoramic view of the famous mountain. With slight trepidation I said to myself ‘my god – that’s steep’. I asked how long it would take. ‘A couple of hours’ our guide replied.
After a little while at the National Park we went back to the lodge for our well deserved cup of tea and some breakfast.
Namche town is at an altitude of 3600 meters and it is here that everyone has to acclimatise prior to going to any higher altitude. In order to acclimatise properly one has to try and do normal walking uphill to higher altitudes and then return back to the current altitude. The human body produces more red blood cells with this process to make up for the lack of oxygen in the air. By sitting around at a lodge and simply resting doesn’t help acclimatisation. Although it is called a ‘rest day’, at Namche, it is anything but rest. You push your body through uphill steep walking, and then come down again to Namche for rest. This is the correct acclimatisation process.
After our breakfast we set off for the walk to the Everest View Hotel for its panoramic view.
The steep walk we saw earlier was a lot steeper than I expected. A lot of people had already started the walk earlier; we joined the steep uphill trek. I am not sure about others, but I found it quite tough. I was talking to a group of young men of probably 35 years old. They were a bit faster than me. But I took the approach of keeping a steady pace: one step at a time, will take me there. From time to time I called up my daughter, who was always ahead of me, ‘wait for me’. It took me over an hour to haul my self at the top of the steep hill. The walk after that was slightly easier. We then come across a small soiled grassy airport runway. While we were walking towards the runway, a small aircraft landed. I have been told that this runway is normally used for guests of the Hotel who are unable or unwilling to walk the Namche steep walk. Any one travelling this way will have to spend few days carrying an oxygen cylinder in order to avoid suffering from altitude sickness due to the steep altitude gain.
We continued our gentle uphill walking towards the Hotel. It took over two hours to arrive at the Hotel which was at an altitude of 3800 meters.
The Hotel has a lovely terrace for guests to sit down and enjoy the beautiful wall to wall panoramic view of Mount Everest, Lhotse Mountain and Ama Dublam; simply an amazing view.
Please click on the link below for photos:Photos of the Rest Day At Namche!
Day: 4 (Namche – Theme (3739m) – Thamo)
The next day, 26th Oct, we left Namche town early in the morning and headed towards Thame village. This was about 5 hours of trekking. Nothing was easy at Namche but the first part of the trek was mostly gentle up and down though shady trees and beautiful scenery. The towering Kusum Kongari Mountain on the left and the Bhote Koshi River at the bottom of the gorge stayed with us all the way. After passing one or two sleepy local villages we had our first glimpse of Thamo village. The village was so colourful and picturesque; the towering white capped mountain on the left, with the partly dried Bhote Koshi River (which would otherwise be a huge torrent) and on the right the ascending hill with Thamo village. As we approach Thamo village the trekking started to become steeper and lot tougher. As we approached the village we went over a small bridge with a very strong current and we could see the source of the waterfalls from the nearby rugged mountain.
We finally arrived at the quiet Thamo village. The village has its own electricity generation centre which is in harmony with the village. The small hydro electric turbine that generates electricity was in fact a Buddhist prayer wheel (turbine) which is being turned by channelled waterfalls. It was so natural and so unobtrusive. I wouldn’t have known about this power generation unless I had read a small sign which read ‘Eco power station donated by Austria’.
As we slowly went past Thamo village we noticed another trekking route as if it was etched or painted on the side of the mountain other side of the mountain over the huge gorge where the thunderous Bhote Koshi River gorge was. It was so beautiful, like a picture post card, and I was wondering whether we would be going there!! It was like my prayers were answered; our trekking route started to go down and we arrived a huge mountain like rock and a metal bridge to cross the Bhote Koshi river. This is the place that reminded me of another place called “Bhim Pool” near Badrinath in India that we visited the year before.
After crossing the river we started the uphill trek towards Thame village. The trekking route from there was quite steep and a fast flowing stream was with us all the way to Thame village which took another half an hour. Thame stands tall at an altitude of 3800m. It is remote, and untouched by the effects of modern civilization. It has a few lodges and the whole village is surrounded by Mount Kusum Khanguru and other mountain peaks. The place was so quiet & tranquil that I understood why it was in our itinerary. We spend some time soaking in the Sun and mountain scenery.
As the time was around midday we decided to make progress and trek for another two hours back to Thamo village, which we passed earlier.
We arrived at Thamo village at about 2:30pm but unfortunately the best available lodge was already full and we had to choose one of the second best. This was the first time we had to settle for a lodge where the toilet was located outside the building. I was mentally prepared for this type of situation; therefore it wasn’t a big deal.
Please click on the link below for photos:Namche - Thame - Thamo Photos!
Day: 5 (Thamo – Mong La)
Next morning we woke up with Buddhist mantra being recited by the lodge owner “Om mani padme hum” in the dining hall. It was a daily ritual she was doing and looked very spiritual.
After breakfast we started out trek towards the Khumjung valley.
The trekking route initially tracks back towards Namche and then the route splits and starts to ascend and eventually arrives at the small airport near Namche that we visited when we were at Namche. The rocky trekking route continued to ascend and descend and eventually we noticed the beautiful valley of Khumjung which stands at 3790 meters (12507 ft). We had to stop and admire the view of the village from distance. Finally we arrived at the Khumjung valley at around 12:30pm. This is one of the larger villages with many local residents and several tourists’ lodges. It has a school built by Sir Edmond Hillary for local children. We stopped to have our lunch at a lodge called “Valley View”. From here we were able to see the towering Ama Dublam, Thamserku and Kusum Khanguru. Here we also met the same Australian young man in pink shorts who we met at Lukla on the first day. The first time we met he had told us that his plan was to complete the EBC trek and back in seven days. At that time I warned him about the risk of altitude sickness if he went too fast. At Khumjung, when we met again, he told us that he was not going any further; common sense had prevailed.
Our original plan was to stay overnight at Khumjung. But as it was only about midday, therefore we decided to continue our trekking and stay overnight at Mong-La instead.
The route from Khumjung initially went downhill through local houses but very soon the scenery changed rapidly and the path started to go up steeply with broken narrow rocky steps staircase-like path. Some sections were very narrow and we had to be very careful when walking on the narrow ledges. I could almost hear my heart beating. I resorted to breathing in a hyper ventilated manner, breathing very rapidly via mouth in order to absorb as much oxygen as possible into the bloodstream. I managed to keep walking without stopping by using this method.
As we got to higher altitudes, we noticed the changes to the scenery. The trees were disappearing fast and leaving mountains with small shrubs or bare rock. Our next stop was at Mong-La and the approach to Mong-La was a long hard walk. But I kept going, one step after another without stopping, concentrating on breathing. Eventually we arrived at the village which stands at approx 4000 meters. This was a small village with only a few lodges and we stayed at the ‘Mountain View Hotel’ Lodge. At the village there is a stupa with prayer flags and a panoramic view point nearby. After a short rest and some hot lemon tea we ventured out to look around and went to the viewing spot. The mountain cloud was slowly descending onto the village. It created a dreamy, sleepy and very cold atmosphere. At the viewing point there was another man from the UK. He explained that this lonely view point was his most favourite place in the world and he had brought his daughter on the trip as he wanted her to know where his last resting place should be.
After the Sunset it became very cold and we returned to our lodge. The lodge owner was an interesting man. He has six children from two wives. I am not sure what happened to his first wife, but his second wife and most of his children worked at the same lodge.
Please click on the link below for photos:Photos of Thamo Khumjung MongLa"
Day: 6 (Mong La – Luza)
The next morning, while we were warming ourselves with hot tea and some breakfast I was told that the view of Ama Dublam peak during Sunrise would be spectacular from the view point we had visited the previous night. I ran to the view point with my camera. I was completely out of breath when I got there; running is not recommended at this altitude. During sunrise the snow capped Ama Dublam revealed itself before us; simply beautiful.
After our breakfast we hit the trail again and this time we were heading towards Dole and perhaps up to Luza.
From Mong-La the trail was a very steep, stony downhill with large boulders and rocks throughout. As we descended we re-entered the tree line and the Mountain foresty area. Walking along such a steep downhill rocky path puts a lot of strain on the knees. I was using walking poles which helped me a lot but the progress was still quite slow. The steep downhill trail continued for a long time and I was thinking about the people who we encountered that were walking uphill and what they were going through. Our efforts were rewarded with superb views and lots of mountains, just wonderful. The downhill trek took us onto another mountain and very soon we started to walk steeply uphill through rhododendron trees. The views got better and better as the path ascended, passing several little waterfalls splashing onto the path. I noticed that several people took the opportunity to have a wash.
After several hours of wonderful but hard trekking, we reached Dole, tucked into the valley bowl. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. I wished we could spend some time there. We stopped at Dole for some rest and some hot tea. The mountain scenery around Dole was breathtaking. We sat outside a lodge to enjoy the lovely sunshine and lots of lemon tea.
After a little rest and few cups of tea we rejoined our trail. From here to Gokyo we would be gaining altitude fairly rapidly. Therefore we needed to make sure we didn’t gain over 500 meters from our last stop, Mong La, in one day. People who don’t follow this simple rule may be struck by altitude sickness. We decided to go as far as Luza and spend one night there.
With continuous huffing and puffing (believe me that it was tough!), I carried on walking over the steep rocky mountain path. I was taking two or three breaths for every step; rapid breathing with one small step at a time. I practiced the hyperventilation technique which helped me to absorb more O2 into my blood and I really felt better that way.
As we gained altitude the scenery become quite open and we were able to see a long long way. We were on the left side of the mountain heading towards Gokyo. On the right a deep mountain valley with Dudh Koshi River at the bottom of the deep gorge and a long, long way further we could see the trekking route going towards Phortse in the opposite direction.
Soon we came to a small valley with two lodges with a huge snow top mountain on the left. We had arrived at Luza which stands at 4390 meters. As we approached the first lodge we had to cross a small stream coming down the huge mountain on the left.
We checked the first lodge for facilities and decided to stay. When choosing a lodge, a couple of the facilities we always looked for was a bathroom/toilet facility within the building (as opposed to outside) and an electric light. Most good lodges have these two available and they are very popular with tourists.
It was about 3:30pm, nice and sunny but was quite cold and breezy.. There was a stand pipe with continuously pouring water with solid ice around where the water pouring. Sayani went out for a little walk down to the valley while I stood near the lodge enjoying the beautiful scenery and the sunshine. We could see the second lodge which was about another 5 minutes down the valley.
Sunset was at about 5:30pm and we immediately felt a bone chilling coldness and immediately went inside the lodge dining hall for warmth.
One of the things I noticed was that as we gained altitude I was loosing my appetite and the taste for food. However I knew I must eat to keep going and we had a long way to go. Although we did not suffer from any altitude sickness I felt some problem with my stability and had to be careful when climbing or descending stairs or steep mountain steps.
The lodge we were staying was very nice. We met an American couple from Colorado and two young girls from Austria. We really enjoyed the evening chatting with them and playing cards.
Please click on the link below for photos:Photos of MongLa - Dola - Luza
Day: 7 (Luza – Gokyo)
Waking up in the morning, it was so cold, was so difficult for me. I was always slow during the morning and asked Sayani, my daughter, not to rush me in the mornings until I had had a few cups of tea. After getting out of the sleeping bag the first thing I always did was to put my trekking shoes on and then join Sayani to brush our teeth and rinse our mouths with freezing cold water and then wiping the face with tissue.
After the breakfast and hot tea we were ready for our day. I knew today we would be gaining even more altitude and would arrive at Gokyo in the afternoon. Although it was tough for me to walk and breathe, I was still enjoying the whole journey. It was my dream to be here and face this difficult environment. I always wanted to feel what it would be like to get to a higher altitude. Luza is at 4390 meters (14403 ft) and our whole journey (Gokyo &EBC) would take us up to 5550 meters (18208 ft).
We left Luza at about 7:30am and start walking along the Luza valley, past the second lodge, and towards Machhermo and then Gokyo. This would probably take 5 to 7 hours. The path was rocky and steep but the view around us was of astounding beauty.
After a couple of hours walking we came to a valley with several houses and a huge snow capped mountain on the left hand side with a stream from the mountain going through the village; simply amazing. This was Machhermo village. Our original plan had been to stay here one night but we had changed our plan.
We started to go downhill in order to arrive at Machhermo. I was walking even slower and was trying to enjoy being there. We decided to make a stop for some rest and have tea at a lodge in this beautiful location.
After a little rest at Machhermo we hit the steep trail again. As we went up we saw the huge snow capped Cho Oyu Mountain in the horizon. Cho Oyu Mountain is the 6th highest mountain in the world at a height of 8201 meters. The view was unbelievable. The white Cho Oyu Mountain peak in the middle and the thundering Dudh Koshi at the bottom of the deep valley with high rise mountains either side. I was wondering ‘are we going to see the source of Dudh Koshi River?’ The rocky ascending path continued towards Cho Oyu Mountain. We were getting closer to the Dudh Koshi River; the paths were getting steeper with broken mountain rocks everywhere. I could feel the height gain and feel my heart beating faster and faster. Eventually we arrived at the source of the Dudh Koshi River; what an amazing view. I didn’t know that the Dudh Koshi River originates from the Gokyo lakes and the seepage from the Ngozumpa Glacier.
We crossed a metal bridge where the first Gokyo Lake fed into the Dudh Koshi River.
The first lake was quite small but the lakes were inter-connected by underground seepage. By now we were walking through a slowly ascending beautiful valley path with towering mountains all around. We came to a sacred valley where many, many people had stacked stones for good luck. Very soon we went past the second lake and were still ascending. We could see the Gokyo-Ri Mountain (5357m, 17 575ft above sea level) and the path that leads to the top. We continued our walk with the lakes on our left and Gokyo-Ri in front. Eventually we came to see the amazing landscape of the Gokyo village with Cho Oyu Mountain in the background and Gokyo-Ri and the third lake on our left. The scenery was breathtaking. The Gokyo village is located next to the triangular shaped third lake with Ngozumpa Glacier at the back and Cho Oyu Mountain dominating the horizon.
After a little rest and some lunch we decided to explore Ngozumpa Glacier. At Gokyo which stands at 4,790 meters (15,720 ft) every bit of steep walking felt like major climbing. We walked over a steep rocky glacier wall which enabled us to see the Ngozumpa Glacier closely. It looked amazing. I had never seen a glacier like this before. This glacier originated from the lower parts of Cho Oyu Mountain and it is one of the largest glaciers in Nepal. The glacier looked very rocky and big ice crevasses may be seen.
Please click on the link below for photos:Photos of Luza - Machhermo - Gokyo!
Day: 8 (Gokyo)
The next day after breakfast we set off to climb Gokyo-Ri which stands at 5357m. This was the first time we would go over the 5000 meter mark. I was uncertain how we would cope. As we headed towards the base of the mountain our trek was interrupted by a rescue helicopter rescuing a man with severe altitude sickness. This reminded us about the dangers we were facing. We eventually got going again and started to make progress. I noticed many people went a lot faster but they had to stop and rest every 10 minutes. I decided to go slowly, breathing rapidly to allow more oxygen into blood. I must admit it was really hard but I kept going with determination. After 2hrs and 20 minutes of huffing and puffing and sheer exhaustion I arrived at the top. What a joy; all my tiredness disappeared when I saw the panoramic view of all the mountains including Cho Oyu, Mount Everest and Lhotse peak. It was lovely and sunny and everyone was enjoying the beautiful view. The Gokyo Lakes looked so beautiful with Gokyo village and Ngozumpa Glacier in the background; simply amazing.
Please click on the link below for photos:Gokyo Photos!
Day: 9 (Gokyo – Nah-Na)
According to our plan; today we were to visit the Fourth and Fifth Gokyo lakes and then make a start on our departure from Gokyo heading towards the Cho-La pass.
The weather was nice and pleasant and the sun was shining, so we decided not to carry our backpacks with our down jackets or waterproofs in order to avoid carrying extra weight. We started the steep walk towards the Cho-Oyu Mountain. After nearly two hours we arrived at the 4th Lake. The fifth lake was another 1hr away. By then the weather started to change; became cloudy and cold wind was blowing. We could see snow starting on remote mountains. When we arrived at the fifth Lake, the mountain weather had changed completely. It was bitterly cold and snowing. After visiting the fifth lake we started on our way back to the village. But it was difficult to rush in a high altitude terrain. As we progressed slowly towards the Gokyo village the snowfall was getting much heavier. Finally we arrived at the Gokyo lodge covered with snow.
We went straight to the dining area for hot drinks and lunch and to review our plan.
As the snowfall was so heavy we were worried that the high Cho-La pass (5420m) might be impassable. Normally the Cho-La pass is difficult to cross and we were expected to take 8 to 10 hrs to complete this journey.
Considering the heavy snow weather condition we agreed not to take the Cho-La pass and decided to retrace back our journey and spend a night at Nah-Na village and then take the route to Phortse and then Pangboche.
After lunch we left Gokyo; we were so happy because we had enjoyed so much in the last two days but also sad as we couldn’t take the Cho-La pass. We continued our journey in heavy snow. The route looked so different and surreal and couldn’t see any of those mountain peaks any longer. As we walk downhill it was a little easier until we came to the metal bridge where the Dudh Koshi River starts. The steep downhill rocky snowy path was very treacherous and any fall would have serious consequences. For safety, we both stayed along the mountain side. It was a long, slow, treacherous journey but I must admit that the snowy terrain looked absolutely beautiful. After several hours we arrived at Phangla village where we needed to take our turn towards Nah-Na.
Initially our guide and the porter went to inspect the route. But the route had been covered with heavy snow and there was no sign of any path. We were standing on the side of the steep gorge and we could hear the thundering Dudh Koshi somewhere at the bottom of the gorge. It was a complete whiteout and couldn’t see more than a couple meters ahead of me. Our guide suggested we needed to walk down the steep gorge and cross the river at the bottom. I was very worried and was not convinced that it was a good idea to walk down the steep gorge. There was a lodge nearby and the lodge owner was very helpful. He convinced me that if we carefully walk down the steep gorge we would find a wooded bridge at the bottom. I asked our guide to help my daughter to go down the slope and I followed behind. It was a long nerve-racking journey but we finally arrived at the bottom of the steep snowy gorge safely and we were able to see the wooden bridge across the raging Dudh Koshi River. Sayani had already crossed the bridge with the help of the guide. Our porter came to my rescue and helped me cross the river.
It was a relief when we finally arrived at the Nah-Na village.
Please click on the link below for photos:Last day at Gokyo
Day: 10 (Nah-Na - Phortse – Pangboche)
The next morning the whole area looked absolutely beautiful. The snow covered mountains, the deep Dudh Koshi gorge and whole area looked heavenly. The sun was shining with a few clouds hovering above us. The snow had been really heavy and the trekking paths are no longer visible. Where could we go if we could not see the route? Our guide looked around in vain and finally decided to go down the steep valley and walk in parallel with the Dudh Koshi River. We had never done any cross country trekking through snow covered mountain valley and we were very scared. We walked through a lot of snow and across waterfalls and eventually we were able to see the snow covered trekking route a long way up on the side of the mountain. Eventually we joined the snow covered mountain path that looked like the actual route.
We then started to trek through the most difficult terrain I have ever encountered. The route was very rocky and steep up or down and was covered with snow or ice. We felt very insecure as one slip on the ice may take us down the deep gorge on our right. We continued our slow but steady pace through snow and ice and eventually we arrived at Phortse after 7 hours; I thanked the lord for our safe arrival at Phortse. After a short rest and some lunch we decided to keep going and make our overnight stop at Pangboche which was another 2 – 3 hours away. I am not sure actually how long it took, but the sun went down and it became very dark and we were still walking on steep rocky steps with sharp dangerous cliffs on our right. Fortunately we were carrying torch lights which helped significantly. While we were walking in the dark we could see one or two twinkles of lights. We were longing for Pangboche to arrive; it was a very long day indeed. I was afraid of asking if the lights were from Pangboche in-case they were not! As we kept on walking the lights were becoming steadier. Yes, it was the first lodge at the entrance of Pangboche village (4000 meters). The lodge was really poor and basic. But we were so tired and cold that we didn’t want to check any other lodges in the village. We decided to spend the night there and rest. It was about 6 pm and we had walked for about 10 hrs that day. It was very tiring but it was an adventure of our lifetime.
Please click on the link below for photos:Snowy day at Nah-Na!
Day: 11 (Pangboche - Dhugla)
I slept like a log but Sayani (my daughter) didn’t. She complained that I snored a lot last night.
The morning was really beautiful and the sun was shining, we were feeling fresh and we were ready to leave after our breakfast at about 8:00 am. The view of the huge Kongre Ri (Kusum Kongari) peak looked fantastic. We walked through the lovely Pangboche village which is one of the most populated villages in this region. We noticed so many nice lodges in the village and came to realize that we spent last night in one of the worse lodges. While walking through the village we got our first view of Lhotse peak (8516m) and the huge Ama Dublam and Thamsercu peaks were also straight in front of us.
The trekking route was steady upward and not too steep. As we progressed we could see Pumori Mountain peak in the horizon.
Just before Pheriche the trail forks and the northern valley leads to Pheriche where the eastern valley leads to Dingboche. We took a left hand route en-route to Pheriche. The approach to Pheriche village looked really beautiful. One has to walk down the valley to cross the Khumbu River Bridge and then enter the village. Three hours after leaving Pangboche we stopped at a lodge in Pheriche for our lunch.
After a lunch break of about 1 hour we continued on through Pheriche village through the valley with amazing view of Cholatse and surrounding mountain peaks. The trail leads up the valley quite gradually and only gets steep close to Dughla, which is located near the huge terminal moraines of the Khumbu Glacier flowing off Everest.
When approaching Dhugla one has to go over the thundering Khumbu River Bridge that originated from the Khumbu Glacier.
Approach to Dhugla was very steep and tough and we finally arrived at Dhugla at about 2:30pm. The location of Dhugla was really beautiful with the mighty Cholaste Mountain in the background. From here we were able to see the steep, daunting Dhugla pass which everyone must climb in-order to go further. From the lodge I was able to see some people on top of Dhugla pass and still climbing. Looking at the Dhugla pass I said to myself ‘good lord; that’s going to be tough. While I was resting in the sunshine, Sayani was already out exploring the Dhugla pass. That’s the good thing about the endless energy of the young.
Please click on the link below for photos:Phortse To Dhukla Photos
Day: 12 (Dhugla – Gorak Shep)
The next morning we left Dhugla at about 8 am and started to climb the Dhugla pass. It was a solid and steep climb on a rocky trail to the top of the Khumbu moraines.
On the crest of the ridge, we passed a line of memorial cairns, built in memory of the Sherpa and climbers who had died on various Everest expeditions over the last fifty or so years. I found this pass really hard. However I had found a simple way to keep going; one step at a time; slow but steady progress. After a long, lung-busting uphill trek we arrived at the top of the Dhugla pass.
The view from the top of the Dhugla pass was amazing, Pumori (7145m), Lingtren (6697m), Khumbutse (6623m), and across the border in Tibet, Changtse (7550m) can be seen at the head of the valley, whilst Everest is hidden behind the towering walls of Nuptse and Lhotse. From here we were also able to see a close-up view of Tawachee (6542m) and Cholatse (6440m), above the Khumbu River. After the Dhugla pass the route was rocky with the Khumbu glacier wall (ridge) on the right. We finally arrived at Lobuche village at about 10:30am. After a rest and a pot of tea we headed towards Gorak Shep, our last stop for Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar.
From Lobuche we could see the huge Nuptse (7855m) Mountain peak. As we approached Gorak Shep we were able to see the Khumbu glacier for the first time. I have read so much about this glacier that I stood there and felt very emotional. We were almost there, after so many days and so much hard work. Our progress became slower due to my photography.
The final approach to Gorak Shep was really tough, steep and very rocky. The falling rocks were a really big danger but I wasn’t aware of that. While I was doing my step by step uphill walking, I noticed a medium size rock falling down and straight towards me. I was standing on a steep uphill rocky slope and I froze, not sure what to do. Fortunately it stopped in the middle. After that incident I was more alert and advised Sayani accordingly. Finally we arrived at Gorak Shep at 2:30pm.
Gorak Shep village is in a beautiful location. The colourful lodges surrounded by all those big mountains reminded me of a full bloom lotus in a huge glacial lake.
From there people walk to Everest Base Camp, which is in the lap of the Khumbu Glacier. The Khumbu glacier originates from the Icefall in between the Nuptse and Lohla mountain peaks. The Icefall is the most dangerous place and all climbers must cross this Icefall in-order to climb Mount Everest. From here people also climb Kala Patthar (5545m) mountain for a good look at Mount Everest and other mountains.
After settling down at the lodge we decided to explore the area. The lodge owner was a very good man and he suggested we go half way up Kala Patthar which would provide a beautiful view of Mount Everest and the other mountains. Kala Patthar is very similar to Gokyo-Ri Mountain and every step up the hill means more hard work. However, I was up for it and we went about half way and had a beautiful view of Mount Everest in between Lohla and Nuptse mountain peaks. We could also the famous Icefall and the Khumbu glacier; simply amazing view. After we came down the owner of the lodge took us to the back of the lodge for a panoramic view of all the mountains; snow capped mountains all round. At sunset he also called us to view the glowing peak of Nuptse and Lohla; it looked like someone had poured molten gold on the snowy peaks.
Please click on the link below for photos:Dhukla to GorakShep Photos!
Day: 13 (Gorak Shep)
In the afternoon we would be climbing to the top of Kala Patthar. We chose to do this in the afternoon so that we are able to take good pictures when we faced Mount Everest with the sun behind us and not in front of the camera, which is what you will get early in the morning.
We had some spare time during the morning and we decided to take a walk towards the Everest Base Camp for a taste of what we would be experiencing the next morning. To tell you the truth I couldn’t wait to go near the Khumbu Icefall which I have studied for so long in order to say to myself ‘I have done it’.
We started our Kala Patthar hike at about 12:30pm knowing it would take about 3hrs to get to the top. It was very tough considering the altitude and 50% less oxygen. I kept on walking slowly and steadily. The peak of Kala Patthar is not visible from the bottom of the mountain. After about an hour we thought we were almost there but soon realized that it wasn’t the peak, we were only half way and once we reached the half way mark we could see the Kala Patthar peak still long way up.
We kept on walking. The terrain was getting harder and rockier. The last half an hour was really difficult and we had to scramble up through large rocks and boulders. My knee joints were really hurting and I summoned all my energy to push ahead for the last few meters to the top. It took 2hrs and 30 minutes to get to the top and I am glad to say that I wasn’t the slowest and we had seen people straggling behind.
The view from the top was astounding. We were able to see Mount Everest clearly with Nuptse and Lohla at the side. The famous Khumbu Icefall and the glacier looked absolutely beautiful. The Pumori was right behind us and we were able to see the Pumori Lake which you cannot see until you climb Kala Patthar. When we got to the top it was bitterly cold and strong wind was blowing. Although we had our gloves on this wasn’t good enough and our hands and fingers were extremely cold. We had been planning to stay at the top for about an hour, but we had start our way down after about 15 minutes due to bitterly cold wind. It took about an hour and half to come down from the top.
Please click on the link below for photos:GorakShep-EBC-KalaPatthar!
Day: 14 (Gorak Shep – Everest Base Camp - Lobuche)
I was so happy that this day we would be going to the Everest Base Camp and standing on the famous Khumbu glacier in front of the Icefall and ice Seracs.
The sun was shining and we hit the Base camp trail at about 7:30am. The route was really rocky with ascending/descending terrain. It was tough but the scenery was stupendous and we were getting closer to Khumbu Glacier and those towering mountains. We kept on walking and eventually we came to a section where falling rocks were a real danger. Big boulders and rocks were hanging above (almost by a thread) and we kept on looking above for any danger of falling rocks. Very soon we were walking on glacier moraine with the Khumbu glacier on our right. We were able to see the crevasses clearly on the glacier. Eventually we arrived on top of the Khumbu glacier and we were standing on Mt Everest Base camp. YES; I have DONE it.
It was so amazing to be able to stand on Khumbu Glacier and see the Icefall and huge ice seracs. The Base Camp sits in the lap of Khumbu Glacier and it looks like a very large uneven rocky football ground with views all around was absolutely wonderful.
From here we could see the Lohla peak on the left and Nuptse on the right and the Everest Icefall in the middle. The signs of earlier avalanches from Lohla and Nuptse peaks are too evident. The 360 degree panorama was amazing. The Climbing season finishes during May June and therefore it was very quite at the base camp and we didn’t see any tent or any climber around. The base camp starts to become busier from about February till end of May or June.
As we started fairly early in the morning there were only few other people at the Base Camp. We decided to go as close as possible to the Icefall and the Ice Pinnacle (seracs). I was very tempted to go even closer and touch the Ice Pinnacles, but didn’t due to safety reason. The Ice Pinnacles (seracs) are very large cone shaped block of ice sitting on the glacier.
We walked around the base camp for about 30-40 minutes and then finally decided head back towards Gorak Shep which takes about 2hrs from the base camp.
On the way back I kept on looking back at the amazing view - thinking ‘I really want to stay here longer’.
After our lunch we said good bye to Gorak Shep and the surrounding mountains and start our way back towards Lobuche. After leaving Gorak Shep one has to walk a fairly steep ridge before starting to go downhill. From top of the ridge I was able to see the entire Gorak Shep region; the Kala Patthar, the Everest Base Camp, the Khumbu glacier, the icefall. They are part of my sole; how can I leave them behind? I could hear Sayani calling me ‘daddy lets go; say bye-bye to Mt Everest’.
With a lump in my throat and moist eyes I started to walk down the ridge and head towards Lobuche.
Please click on the link below for photos:Photos of Everest Base Camp!
Day: 15 (Lobuche – Deboche)
My heart was still very heavy in the morning due to the fact that we were on our return journey. But the scenery surrounding the trek route was so good that I was looking forward to next few days trekking. As we approached Dhugla I remembered the Dhugla pass and how tough it was on the way up. At the top of the Dhugla pass I had a final look at the amazing view that you can only see from there. Going down the Dhugla pass was equally challenging for the knees and as I still had a long way to go I was careful not to twist my ankle or get hurt by carelessness.
We finally arrived at the bottom of the Dhugla pass and then walked over the glacial moraine and went over the Khumbu River. After a steep walk the route divides; downhill for Pheriche and uphill for Dingboche. On the way to Everest base camp we went through Pheriche, so we decided to take a slightly different route and go via Dingboche. From there to Dingboche the route was surprisingly easy; almost flat and grassy. While walking the panoramic view on the right was simply amazing. We were able to see the turquoise blue Cholatse Lake in the distance surrounded by mountains. In front of us the huge snow capped Ama Dublam peak and down in the valley the Khumbu River flowing through Pheriche village.
After a long walk we arrived near a ridge and a Buddhist stupa. From here we could see the ‘wall to wall’ wonderful view of huge Lhotse peak (8516m) on the left with Mount Everest (8848m) tucked behind, Island peak (6189m) in the middle. Down in the valley the beautiful colourful Dingboche village. We slowly walked down the ridge into the village and then headed towards Pangboche.
After a long walk we finally arrived at Deboche at about 3:30pm.
Please click on the link below for photos:Lobuche To Deboche Photos!
Day: 16 (Deboche – Namche)
On our way to Namche we would be travelling through Tengboche village and we were planning to spend some time visiting the famous Buddhist monastery there.
The route from Debouche to Tengboche was surprisingly very steep. From Debouche we were able to see Tengboche village up on the mountain but didn’t realise it will be so steep. It took me over 30 minutes of huffing and puffing but finally we arrived at the picturesque Tengboche village. The entrance to the village looked like a big open area and from here we could see the Thamsercu peak almost hanging over our shoulders and the monastery entrance on the right. When we turned around towards the way we had just come we could see Everest peak behind the Lhotse mountains.
We entered through the monastery gate which was beautifully decorated. It was very cold and due to our laziness (refusing to take our shoes off) we didn’t enter the monastery.
The route from there to Namche was very steep downhill. We were travelling from one mountain to another and therefore our journey was steeply ascending and descending most of the time. From time to time we were faced with yak trains and one must give way. These animals are not dangerous but they are quite big especially when they are carrying a load and we had to keep out of their way in order to prevent falling off the mountain. These animals have a very strange sense of balance; they always walk on the verge of the cliff without falling off.
Please click on the link below for photos:Deborche To Namche Photos
This was one of the longest trek days we had to tackle and descend the steep Namche hill section. We were mentally prepared for at least 7 hours trek and we were hoping to arrive at Lukla by 2pm.
After our breakfast we started our long trek at 7am. It was very cold in the morning.
We went through Namche town; the market stalls are still shut.
I was a bit anxious as to how my knees will cope; but surprisingly I was managing ok. Some of my friends commented ‘downhill? Easy’. Believe me IT wasn’t. It was really really tough on knees and the route was almost never ending. I could feel a blister on my left big toe but couldn’t do anything about it. We kept going.
It took me nearly three hours to reach the Dudh Koshi Bridge that marks the end of Namche hill; it was very hard going but enjoyable nevertheless.
It took another 5 hours (total 8 hrs) to arrive at Lukla airport.
The final section approaching Lukla was never ending. The route was a gentle uphill but went on forever. I noticed that our porter was also taking frequent rests along this final section; it was a long and tiring day.
Sayani and I kept on looking behind at the wonderful scenery we were leaving behind. We were feeling a bit sad when we arrived at Lukla airport.
Please click on the link below for photos:Namche To Lukla Photos!
Day: 18 (Lukla - Kathmandu)
This day we would be taking an early morning flight back to Kathmandu. We stood near Lukla airport runway and watched the first arrival from Kathmandu. As we were due to take the second flight we had to rush towards the airport to complete the formalities.
Our second flight arrived and we got on board the aircraft and sat on the right hand side for a good view of the mountain range. I remembered the way these aircrafts take off from Lukla airport. I was worried about the end of the runway and the huge cliff; I mumbled to myself ‘it will be ok….
Very soon our Agni Airways aircraft roared both engines and started the run-up.
I was holding my breath; will it take off? YES- YES we had taken off.
Please click on the link below for photos:Departure from Lukla!