Welcome to our Trek in Nepal

Sharing the Culture and Beauty of this Mystic Land - May 2007

s with our previous exotic adventures, this trip began with a thought, an urge to explore and experience. Combine that with our love of high places and our thoughts naturally turn to Nepal, the highest place on earth.

I spent many lunch times hunched over my keyboard at work searching the internet for information about trekking and climbing in Nepal. There were dozens, hundreds of outfitters listed on the web. Many of the outfitters were from places other than Nepal with a wide range of services and prices. It was simple enough to cull the information.

We wanted a local Nepali company, one that would work with us on our chosen route and our schedule, not a prepackaged tour. The company we chose had to have experienced guides and staff, and must pay the porters well. Peak Paldor met all those qualifications.

From our research and from all the correspondence we had with Gelu Sherpa, owner of Peak Paldor, we learned that June through September is monsoon season. April through May, the temperatures are mild, the rhododendron forest is in bloom, but the weather can be changeable. October through December is “high season” for trekkers and tourists in the Himalayas. The lodges are likely to be overfilled, the temperatures are cooler, but the weather is likely to be clear and dry.

Since K had climbed over 19,000 feet on Kilimanjaro without any altitude related problems, she was cautiously optimistic about attempting a 6,000 m peak in the Himalayas. She is strong and fit, and I have every confidence in her abilities.

In the months preceding our departure I studied the Nepali language and culture, as I hoped to be able to communicate with the locals and not be to much of an offensive and arrogant “westerner”. I found the studies weren't necessary. Most people in Kathmandu spoke English. The Sherpas living in the remote mountain villages often spoke their own dialect (not Nepali) and most could understand English, even if they couldn't speak it well.

There are strict weight limits for the luggage and gear. We planned for every item that was to be packed. Fortunately, Peak Paldor provided the camping gear, the climbing ropes, and the ice axes, saving us much in critical weight.

The Peaks in Nepal are categorized as “Expedition Peaks” and “Trekking Peaks”. The Expedition Peaks include the 8,000 m giants such as Lhotse, Nuptse, and Everest, with the government charging thousands of dollars in permit fees for the opportunity to even attempt a climb on those peaks. Whereas the Trekking Peaks are in the 6,000 m range and permit fees for those mountains are much more affordable. Imja Tse (Island Peak) at 6,160 m is in that category along with Tent Peak, Mera Peak, Lobuche Peak and others.

We chose the trek to Gokyo and the climb of Island Peak. Our goal was to experience the Sherpa culture that resides in the Himalayas and we believed that the technical requirement for the climb of Island Peak was within our abilities.

Our route took us through three beautiful Himalayan valleys - Gokyo, Khumbu, and Chhukung - thus reaching three high points - Gokyo Ri (5,480 m), Cho La Pass (5,090 m), and Island Peak (6,159 m). The trip combines a visit to the glacial lakes of the Gokyo area and an ascent of Island Peak. Island Peak is the name given to the mountain in 1952 by Eric Shipton's party, who thought it resembled an island in a sea of ice. The ascent of Island Peak was challenging, presenting us with a few quite intimidating crevasses.

Crossing the Imja Tse Glacier is a gentle affair, but climbing the headwall will leave one gasping for air that isn't there. The summit ridge is a classic of its kind, and from the summit, fabulous views can be enjoyed of many Himalayan giants, including the immense south face of Lhotse and the dramatic horn shape of Ama Dablam. There is also an opportunity for one to gain a small amount of enlightenment by visiting the Buddhist Temples at Tengboche, the Monkey Temple, and the Boudinatha Complex in Kathmandu.

We left Sea-Tac on May 7th, sacrificing two days to the travel gods, arriving in Kathmandu on May 9th. There would be 20 days and 21 nights of trekking and climbing. The adventure begins...

Bob and Kolleen - The Trailpair