Welcome to our Trek in Nepal

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

- Click Here For Larger Image -Chomolunga (Everest) From View Point Above Namche Bazaar - May 13

This was an acclimatization day. Kike took us up to a view point above Namche. The trail to the view point is paved with granite blocks and steps. It isn't steep but at 11,000+, we measured our strides to a slow and steady pace.

Approaching the view point, we were first struck by the impressive appearance of Ama Dablam. Then we noted the military fortifications. Razor wire and a moat stretched around the hilltop. Stone blocks and sand bags were stacked around gun placements. Large signs stated emphatically “NO PHOTOGRAPHS”.

Kike said the fortifications were here due to past Maoist Rebel threats in the area. Only a few soldiers now manned the checkpoint leading inside to the viewpoint and the Cultural Center. Once inside the perimeter fencing, we were able to enjoy magnificent views. Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama dablam and Chomolunga (Everest) are lined up like immense guardians of the Khumbu.

A visit to the Cultural Center was enlightening. It was an opportunity to learn more about the traditions and history of the Sherpas.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Everest - May 13

A close up view of Everest shows the immensity of the grand mountain.

After leaving the view point, Kike led us up a steep, little used trail to the Everest View Hotel. By the time we reached the hotel, clouds had rolled in And blocked all views of the mountain. Sunshine still warmed the outside deck as we enjoyed tea.

The Everest View Hotel was built as a Japanese project to accommodate wealthy trekkers. Those able to afford a helicopter ride from Lukla to the nearby heliport. I've heard that the service of the hotel include oxygen rooms for those that get altitude sickness resulting from the quick change of elevation from Lukla to Namche Bazaar

After tea at the Everest View Hotel, Kike took us down a different route that cut through a granite quarry. We saw workers knocking off chunks of rock using heavy sledge hammers and chisels. Others loaded the rock chunks onto wooden framed dokos and hauled the rocks down the hill to a shack where the rocks are to be formed into blocks.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Chomolunga (Everest) Nuptse and Lhotse - May 14

Our departure from Namche was right on time. Tea was at 6:00, breakfast at 7:00, departure at 8:00, with one short stop at a shop adjacent to our lodge, where we exchanged some dollars for rupyiaas.

We plodded up the granite cobbled and stepped trail leading out of Namche. At a junction with the main trail we turned right. The word for today is “bistaari jaane” (go slowly). We rounded a bend in the trail, and came face-to-face with th is breathtaking view of Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Chorten on the Trail from Namche to Phortse - May 14

The trail has a series of ups and downs. Climbing up a long series of stone steps, we were greeted by an awesome view of the 8,000 M giants of the Khumbu. At the top of one of these high points sits this elaborate Chorten with prayer flags fluttering in the gentle breeze.

Kaji kept us at a slow but steady pace. The ups and downs of the trail continued. Sometimes steep, sometimes more steeply. At Mongla, (elev. 12,920 ft.) we stopped for the usual two hour lunch break. K wanted to keep moving. I suspect that Kike purposely takes the long breaks to help us acclimate to the altitude.

From our long lunch break at Mongla, it is a one hour hike down a steep trail with tight switchbacks until we are nearly back down to the level of the Dhud Khosi. We turned off the main trail and into the courtyard of the River Resort at Porchetenga (elev. 11,780 ft.). Kike suggested we stop here to give the porters a break, rather than pushing on for another three hours to Dole.

Here we were able to get hot showers. For 160 rupiyaas the proprietor heated the water and carried it outside to the corrugated metal facility. He climbed the ladder and dumped the steamy liquid into a bucket on the roof. Inside the shower, a single valve controlled the water flow. Turn on the water flow to get wet all over then turn it off. Get soaped up the turn it on again to rinse and enjoy the warmth until the water is gone. Ah, shower time in the Himalayas.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -K with Mount Thamersku Beyond - May 15

Our morning ritual had become routine. Wake up at 5:30. Lhakpa delivers tea at 6:00, followed by washing water. Breakfast at 7:00. The porters take our duffels and load them in their dokos and are on their way. We depart by 8:00. Even the weather has been on a schedule. The mornings had been clear. By 11:00 the clouds begin to build. By afternoon the clouds cloak the peaks and views diminish.

The trail to Gokyo starts immediately after leaving the courtyard of the River Resort. It starts up steeply through rhododendron forest. Most of the flowers had already faded, but a few bright pink blossoms remained adding splashes of bright color to the dark forest.

In 15 minutes we had climbed 200 feet and out of the shade and into bright sunshine. At an abandonded house K ducked inside to change into shorts. I zipped the legs off my convertible pants. Continuing on we plodded uphill. A few minutes later we reached the main trail. We came to a meadow area.

Lhakpa had set his doko down and was lying on the grass in some distress. We found he was having some gastric problems (even Sherpas get sick). I fished in my pack and gave him some antidiareal pills. He said he would be along soon so, we continued. 30 minutes later we arrived at the Mountain View Hilltop Lodge and Sherpa Restaurant at Dole (elev. 13,800 ft.)

Clouds were beginning to build as we headed toward Machharma.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Dole - May 15

Dole is very picturesque. Just a few stone buildings with green metal roofs and some stone fenced farm plots. We stopped at the Yeti Lodge for lunch. It was the usual two hour affair.

From Dole, it is a short climb up, then a long contouring walk. The Dhud Khosi rushes far below. The trail undulates gently until we reach a 500 - 600 foot climb that took us to a broad ridge. The only vegetation here were some small scrubby junipers and short cropped grasses.

Our progress was slow as we passed 14,000 feet in elevation, topping out at about 14,700 feet. There we looked down onto the village of Machharma. We hiked down 300 feet to the village where Kike directed us to the Snowland Lodge and Restaurant.

We were settling into our room when we heard a rap on our door. Liz, a volunteer doctor from New Zealand working at the Red Cross High Altitude Clinic in Machharma, invited us to an afternoon lecture on mountain sickness, HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) and HACE (high altitude cerebral edema). This is good information to know, so we went ot the lecture at the clinic along with a dozen or so other trekkers.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Dzopchiaks on Trail to Gokyo - May 16

We were awakened by the gentle chimes of yak bells shortly after 5:00. We had an opportunity to lounge for a few minutes before we started the usual morning routine. We left the lodge at 7:30 in a cold mist. Fortunately, I had taken a few photos before the fog rolled up from the valley below.

From Machharma, the trail starts up steeply. It took us 20 to 30 minutes at a snails pace before we got a rhythm with walking and breathing. Then the pace became steady.

About an hour after leaving Machharma the fog began to burn off. Views of immense peaks began to appear, a little at first, then more and more.

We came to a long climb up steep stone steps. Kaji sprinted ahead so he could fill his water battle from a spring that gushed from the mountainside. We were about to catch up with Kaji when a Sherpa, with his fully loaded dzopchiaks (yak-cow hybrids), were coming down the steps. We stepped aside to allow them to pass. There was very little room to step aside, and it was a precipitous drop to the Dhud Khosi far below.

The dzopchiaks passed and we continued step by slow step, up and up. At the top of the stone steps, we stood at about elevation 15,000 feet. We were immersed in the scenery with high snow peaks (himal) dappled with a few puffy clouds. A sheer rock face on our left rose hundreds of feet straight up. A sparkling blue glacial stream flowed serenely past at the base of the rock precipice. There was a view of the magnificent peak of ChoOyu, and the long ridge of Gozumba Peak, with the 7,600 m ChoLa Peak farther to our right.

It was very rocky here but the trail is mostly level. Walking and breathing was easy. We cruised along the trail, passing a cluster of fanciful cairns. Soon we came to the first of the famous glacial Gokyo Lakes. Another 20 minutes and we were at the second of the lakes. A gentle rise and around a bend brought us to an ancient looking chorten with tattered prayer flags. The village of Gokyo, a veritable Himalayan resort, was just beyond. Five more minutes and we approached the Namaste Lodge and Resort, our destination for the day. A yak was lounging in the courtyard oblivious to us as we passed. After checking into our room, we had time to rest and acclimate to the 15,600 foot elevation.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Ngozuumpa Glacier, Gokyo Lakes, Gokyo Village - May 17

This was to be an acclimatization day. Even so, it was full and fun. We had a 4:30 wake up call. The last of the stars were fading and the sky was crystal clear. There was a quick breakfast, we grabbed our packs and met Kike for a day hike.

Leaving the village behind, we boulder hopped across the shallow river that feeds the Gokyo Lakes. We followed a well used trail leads up the shoulder of Gokyo Ri. The higher we got the more the views expanded. The Village looked tiny far below.

The Ngozuumpa Glacier filled the valley beyond. The giants of the Khumbu scraped the sky like enormous sharks teeth. Strands of prayer flags extend the length of the summit ridge, fluttering in the light breeze. Several other trekkers were on the summit of Gokyo Ri. There was even a guy from Redmond, Washington.

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- Click Here For Larger Image -Summit of Gokyo Ri Elevation 17,410 feet - May 17

We walked the length of the summit ridge mesmerized by the views in all directions. The Giants of the Khumbu stood out boldly in the deep blue sky. Kike had brought a thermos of hot tea (chiya) and cookie wafers (biskoot). We enjoyed the tea and cookies.

Reluctantly we descended the mountain. However, we were looking forward to the shower that awaited us at the lodge. This is the finest shower in the Khumbu. It is entered through a sun room and when the sun shown, it was luxuriously warm and cozy. I even shaved!

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- Click Here For Larger Image -ChoOyu - May 18

The sky was deep blue and crystal clear as we hiked north from Gokyo toward Fourth Lake. ChoOyu was directly in front of us, glistening in the morning light. This is not one of the tallest of the grand Himalayan peaks, but in my opinion, it is one of the prettiest with the fluted ice ridges running down its flanks and rounded dome summit.

We were minutes from reaching Fourth Lake when a cold misty fog rushed up the valley and engulfed us. All views were lost. A cold wind (howa) swirled the fog. We ducked behind a large boulder to escape the wind where we waited to see if the fog would lift.

At times, it would lift a little giving a tantalizing glimpse of the emerald tinted lake, only to have the fog settle in again. As the sky lightened a little, we walked up to where cairns marked the view point for Fourth Lake. This was also an excellent vantage point to view the ChoOyu Glacier. Most of the Glacier is covered by gravel, rocks and boulders with only bits of blue ice showing through.

It was time to return to Gokyo. The gentle downhill hike went quickly. As we approached Third Lake, I spotted a colorful Emperor Duck resting on the gravel bank. I attempted to sneak up on it to get a close-up photo. But, it was leary of my presence and waddled into the water. I changed lenses on the camera to a 55-200 zoom, and was able to capture one good image of this rare bird. A few minutes later we were back at the lodge. Pirim had prepared an excellent pizza for us. After lunch, we prepared to depart.

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