Leaving from Lukla

OH MY GAWD!!! The wheels have lifted off the runway – and that’s its end, that’s where the runway runs out (bloody hell!!) and the slope just continues downhill steeply. And there’s the trail we walked, and there’s a mule train. Following the landscape, it takes just 10 minutes to overfly what took us 6 days to walk. The plane never going higher than a few 100 metres above the land, skimming over the Lamjura La (Pass) before heading back to Kathmandu.

After an extra day in Namche Bazaar (sick – yuck!!), we headed up the valley towards Everest. However it stayed stubbornly behind cloud. Heading up the Gokyo valley we encountered snow and cold. Then three awesome days with clear blue skies and sunshine, stupendous views and mind-boggling scenery. And hard physical and mental effort to walk up Gokyo Ri (Peak). Starting at 5.00am with millions of stars overhead, up and up though snow and up and up and up and even as the sun rises it is still up and up and up. Step, step and step, then stop to breathe and breathe. Then on again and again. No trees or shrubs to hide that this climb just keeps on going up and up.

700 metres of tough effort until the top – then views of Everest, Lutse, Nupste, Cho Oyo and mountain peaks and snow and sharp black ridges – and the glacier and lakes below us. We stay until we are too cold and start the slow descent trudging, through the snow.

The surroundings in the Goyko valley were so mind-blowing, I just couldn’t take them in. We sat and looked and looked and looked, and still it is breath-taking. The only sounds (once I stilled and stopped the Gortex rustle) are the wind gusts and the thumps and cracks from the Ngozumpa Glacier (longest in Nepal).

Leaving there, we trekked down 1100m in one day, most of the walk really enjoyable, the last steep section tough on my knees. Next day we have lunch at the highest hotel in the world, taking in clear views to Everest. So surreal. Leaving just as the clouds came up from the valley and obscured the views.

Hiking down to Namche, the locals trekking up carried their purchases from the Saturday markets. It was like watching the supermarket go past, each load carried on some one’s back – 25kg bag of rice, 2kg bag of butter (from Tibet), cartons of cigarettes, cured sides of goat meat, slabs of beer, boxes of instant noodles, drinks, lollies. Reckon I can NEVER complain about my shopping foray to Coles again.

Our high altitude training paid off, once we descended to lower altitudes (less than 3000m), walking was easy. Uphill sections presented less challenge. Arriving at our final village, Lukla, I felt amazed and proud and humbled by all we had done, achieved and seen.

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