Trek to Everest Base Camp, October / November 2006.
27th / 28th October 2006.
Finally after all the months planning / saving etc, the day has now come along for our trek to Mount Everest Base camp.
Our group from Northampton consisted of Myself, Mick Finch, My Wife, Sue Finch, Max and Di Lang, special thanks to these two for organising the whole trip, Tammy Seaman, Ted Collins and Mike Lawrence.
As a group we had known each other for several years, everybody meeting during one of our annual National 3-peak challenges.
Friday evening around 4pm, Leave Northampton for the trip to Heathrow Airport for our late evening flight to Kathmandu, via Qater, (we were actually flying with Qater Airlines).
We arrived in Kathmandu around mid afternoon / early evening, straight from airport to our Hotel, Which was located in the THAMEL area, quick wash / brush up, and then down to the foyer for our pre trek meeting.
It was our pre trek meeting that we met the rest of the group who were to join with our group for the whole of the trek to Base camp.
So a big Hello to Kiri, (New Zealand), Lee (Bournemouth).Richard (Stourbridge) plus of course the 2 Aussies, Shane and Andrew.
The age difference for the group ranged from 18 up to 66, quite a variance.
Full day tour to Monkey Temple, ( Swayambhunath), Durbar Square, Pashupatinah and Bodhnath etc, for the whole group.
Today was an early start for our bus ride to Kathmandu airport, for our Spectacular flight to Lukla Airport.
After the fog eventually cleared from Kathmandu airport, we were able to board our plane, a twin prop , twin Otter, with only room for 17 people on this particular plane, we found the space very confined to say the least when we discovered that there would be 16 passengers, 2 pilots, 1male and 1 female, plus the stewardess, yep we even had a stewardess, quite amusing as we taxing ready for takeoff, our stewardess complete with airline uniform, wandered down the centre aisle, sorry squeezed down the aisle with boiled sweets and ear plugs, the twin otters are very noisy beasts, when I say earplugs, the tray she was carrying was actually filled with boiled sweets and COTTON WOOL, yep the ear plugs were just small rolls of cotton wool.
Our take off went very well, bumpy but OK.
The flight lasted for approx half an hour, out of the left side windows the mountains of the Himalayas gradually came into view, lots of photo’s.
Now for the Landing, as we were all admiring the views from the side windows, someone mentioned that the airstrip must be close by, with this remark everybody strained to look through the cockpit window, whoa all we saw was a tarmac strip that appeared to be rising at about 90 degrees in front of us, all of a sudden the pilot pulled up the front of the plane, before we had a chance to draw breath we felt the judder of the wheels on the tarmac.
With the runway being only 1472 feet in length, we knew that the landing and braking had to be spot on, also
There is about a 700-metre (2,000 ft.) angled drop at the end of the runway to the valley far below.
No room for mistakes then.
At the end of the 1472 foot runway the pilot must make a sharp right turn into the disembarkation area, obvisously after hopefully slowing down in time, if this manouvre is not made then there is just a small mountain of rock to aim for.
Thankfully we slowed enough for this turn.
As we were leaving the plane, we noticed quite a crowd waiting at the wire fence, apparentlly the locals treat these landings has quality family time, perhaps waiting for the inevitable.
The airport at Lukla is situated around 2850 metres ( 9350ft), so quite a substantial height to land at.
Following Tea at the hotel, and given time to sort out porters etc, we started the 1st leg of our trek, at 12 noon.
The 1st leg of our Himalyan trek takes us from Lukla at 2850 metres, to Phakding at 2640metres, so our 1st days trekking saw us actually lose height.
Arriving in Phakding at 3.30pm, we were shown to our rooms, mains electricity was available for lighting.
The Tea houses on the Himalyan trek arte basically wooden constructed buildings, with 10mm plywood walls, although quite comfortable, not very private, but eh, we could have been camping, as you will see later in the “log”, the tea houses did really make the difference to our trek.
Following our evening meal we al retired to bed quite early.
An early morning call for breakfast, around 6.30am, time to pack bags etc, then on the road for 8am..
Today, unbeknown to us, was to be quite a difficult day, walking from Phakding at 2640 metres to Namche at 3450metres, a rise of 800metres, approx 2800ft.
We also had our 1st treat of the suspension bridges, quite interesting wooden slated suspension bridges.
Actually broken in places, but we were assured that all 6 were very safe.
Whilst on the last leg of the journey to Namche , we can across a very unfortunate Sherpa walking in the opposite direction, with what appeared to be a very severe case of frostbite on his toes.
We stopped off at a small tearoom at JORSALE for our lunch stop, following our crossing of the final suspension bridge, we then had a very steep trek up to our finish for the day at Namche.
We arrived at Namche around 3pm, and booked into our teahouse, which we would be staying in for 2 nights for acclimatisation.
Today was to be an acclimatisation walking day, after breakfast we all trekked to the EVEREST VIEW hotel, although a bit cloudy we did see some fantastic views.
Following tea at the hotel, we then carried on with our acclimatisation trek to KHUMJUNG, at 3790m (12434ft), this was our highest point of the whole trek so far.
Whilst in KHUMJUNG we had lunch at 1 of the many tea houses in the village.
Whilst visiting the local monastry we came across a Yeti skull locked in a glass case, quite a surreal moment.
After our return to Namche, we were taken to the local Everest museum and given a guided tour, inside the museum were Everest stories, past climbs, obituaries etc.
Today we left Namche for full day trek to TENGBOCHE, not too long after leaving Namche we got our 1st glimpse of AMA DABLAM to some this is one of the worlds most beautiful mountains, due mainly to it’s shape, I must admit the mountain does appear quite breathtaking when this close up.
TO BE CONTINUED.