Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Everest Trail

Visiting Mt Everest must be every mointaineer's dream of a lifetime. It was that to us, so after our trip to Island Peak, we rejoined the Everest Base Camp trail from Dingboche. We'd already walked along the trail from Lukla via the famous Namche Bazar village and Tengboche monastery.

The airstrip at Lukla is world famous, most recently for the plane crash in October this year that killed 18 people. We'd read about the airstrip in mountaineering books, so getting to fly there was very exciting. The experience totally lived up to expectations, and the landing was pretty spectacular. It looks like you're heading straight for the mountainside, but then out of nowhere, this tiny airstrip appears. I'd glad our pilot was so good at aiming for the 20-meter wide strip!

As we were already acclimitised to a sleeping height of about 4.2km from our trek in the Annapurna region, we were able to walk as fast as we wanted on the Everest Base Camp trail. We spent the first night in Monjo at an altitude of 2.8km. The next day we climbed the steep uphill to reach Namche Bazar at 3.5km.

We stopped there for lunch and then continued to Tengboche for the night.
Tengboche village is famous for its monastery, the highest in the world. We took time to visit the beautiful building in the morning while the lama and monks were performing a ceremony. They were getting ready for the annual spectacle of Mani Rimdu (masked dance) that we missed as it took place on the day we were attempting Island Peak.

As the Sherpa people who live in the Everest region are Buddhist, the Base Camp trail is full of Buddhist monuments such as Stupas and mani walls. You also see prayers carved into stones.
For our third and fourth night, we walked to Dingboche which is a farming village with lots of fields and animals.

This is where our Island Peak trip started from so we left the Everest trail for Chukhung. After our Island Peak attempt, we rejoined the Everest Base Camp trail from Dingboche. We walked along the high path to Lobuche that we used as a base for two nights. This allowed us to climb Kala Pattar as a day trip.
On the way down, we stopped for lunch in Periche. The music in the very European style logde was Western and reminded us of home 15 years ago. Andy commented that we could've been anywhere in the Western world. But just then, a yak stomped across the path - very definitely Nepal and not Europe!!

Our last stop on the return trek to Lukla was Namche Bazar. Our new friend Lhakpa has a lodge there, so we stayed the night. Lhakpa was unwell with the cold, but we managed to have a quick chat with him and also to meet his lovely wife Kanchi. In the morning, we took a tour of the Sherpa cultural museum and The Mount Everest Documentation Centre. They both have fascinating photographs of local life and Everest expeditions! We particularly liked the portraits of Sherpas who have worked for expeditions over the years.

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