Trekking Update :
Day 01: Kathmandu to Ghat
was frustrating. Got to airport to catch flight to Lukla. Only 8 flights out of 24 made it to Lukla and the airport shut down. No chance of getting an early flight the next day, so after 6 hours of waiting in a crowded airport lounge, we decided to take a helicopter for $500 each. Three more hours of waiting and we finally took off. After 40 minute ride, we landed at Lukla airport about 4:40 pm. Since we had no lunch in airport (no restaurant), and had to dump all our water to reduce weight for the helicopter, we were hungry, thirsty and tired. Stopped to have some hot soup and refill water bottles and then started hiking in the dark for 4.7 miles, 3 hours before we arrived in our Teahouse lodge. I ate Nepali Bif Momo for dinner which upset my stomach for the night and next day.
Day 02: Trek to Namche Bazaar
I had a decent sleep in my new -20 C down sleeping bag that I bought in Kathmandu for $160. The bag says North Face and looks like North Face, but it is actually a Nepali copy. Still great price considering to buy a real North Face bag like it would cost $300+.
We hiked 7.1 miles to Namche Bazaar over very steep, rocky trail with lots of rock steps. Net elevation gain was only 1463', but total gain with ups and downs was 4100'. But we arrived after 7 hours of hiking. We have a nice Teahouse lodge for two days. Tomorrow is an acclimatization day which means we'll be hiking higher, but coming back to Namche Bazaar to sleep. So far the weather has been overcast and cool, but with all the hiking uphill, we're glad the sun hasn't been beating down on us.
Day 3: Went to bed early last night 8:30 because tired and stomach ache. Imodium wasn't handling the diarrhea, so I switched to Cipro at midnight. By morning, I was hungry. Today was an acclimatization day which means we climbed the very steep trail 900' in 0.6 miles. Weather started out very foggy. The trail eventually leveled out at the top of the hill. As we climbed, we got teasing glimpses of the high peaks.
We got to a small Lodge at the top and walked around it to an amazing viewpoint. Everest was peaking above the clouds, Lhotse, Tabuche, and amazing views of Ama Dablam. We stopped for tea at the Everest View Hotel, and then hiked back down to Namche stopping at the Sherpa and Hillary museum. Hike lasted about 6 hours with 1400' vertical gain. Maximum elevation 12738'. I'm feeling much better today.
Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche, 5 hrs 50 minutes including a light lunch break, 5.5 miles travel distance, 2938' elevation gain--which includes a lot of down and then back up. We left Namche a 7:40 am, climbed a 700' hill to reach our trail to Tengboche.
The trail for the next few miles was relatively flat at 12000' with small ups and downs an we side hilled about a 1000' above the river. The peaks we saw on Day 3 were again visible. The trail then descended to cross a suspension bridge across the river at 10,800'. We stopped about 10:45 am to rest at a restaurant and have some warm soup.After a hour rest, we started our 1850' steep climb to Tengboche at 12650'. We arrived about 1:30 pm.
Tengboche is the largest Buddhist Monestary in the Kumbu area. It sits in a mountain saddle and we could see Everest above the Lhotse ridge from our bedroom window when we arrived, before the fog and clouds set in.
Hiking along the trail requires layering of clothes. At times I was hiking just with a T-shirt, much of the time with a long sleeve fleece shirt over it, and at times with gloves, warm hat, down sweater, over everything else. Air temperature is cool in the 50s but when sun gets obscured by clouds or fog it can be quite chilly.
Later today we'll visit the Monestary. Tomorrow we'll hike up to Dengboche at over 14,000' and spend two nights there acclimatizing before heading up higher to EBC.
Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche. Hike of 6.7 miles, 2651' elevation gain, 1448' elevation loss, 6.5 hours of hiking including a long lunch break. Our Lodge at Dingboche is at 14,200'.
The weather was crystal clear in the morning with frost on the ground. The sunrise on Lhotse, Nuptse, and Everest was glorious. God was showing off his glory. The trail descended about 500' to the river and then began climbing on the other side to our lunch spot. Generally the trail was good and not as rocky or steep as trail to Namche. I tried the Sherpa stew for lunch which was mostly like potato soup. Best not to eat too much for lunch because climbing with a full stomach is tough. We arrived at Dingboche about 2:30 pm.
Kent and I feel good despite the elevation. We both live at close to 9000' and hike the 13ers and 14ers of Colorado. We are taking Diamox which is a drug used to both prevent and treat altitude sickness. No headache or stomach ache. So all things considered, the trek is going very well. Thanks for your prayers.
Yesterday our guide Narayan Parajuli, who is also the owner of the Mt Fishtail Adventure trekking company, had to deal with a medical emergency and helicopter evacuation of a client on another EBC trek that had already made it to Base Camp. An Austrian lady started having severe headaches, vomiting, and was too weak to hike down. So the helicopter picked her up and flew her to the hospital in Kathmandu. We heard this morning that she is doing fine and would be released today. So serious business. I appreciate all you prayers for our health, safety, and success.
Tomorrow is an acclimatization day and rest day. We'll hike and gain some elevation but come back to Dingboche before our final push.
Day 6: Acclimatization hike from Dengboche (14,200') to Chukhung (15,550') and back, 7 miles round trip, 2166' elevation gain and loss.
For second day, we woke up to frost on the ground. Even though the room is not heated, it never got cold enough for us to see our breathe or freeze water. The fake North Face sleeping bags we bought in Kathmandu have turned out to be a good purchase and have kept us warm.
The rooms are fairly basic with two single beds as the only furniture. The room in Dengboche is larger than other rooms we have had and also had several corner shelves and another shelf by the window. The mattress is comfortable and we also get a warm comforter for the bed.We also have some carpet on the floor and a dim (solar charged battery?) light bulb. The toilet down the hall has a regular western toilet and a swatty-potty. No flushing, just a bucket of water with a cup. Likewise the sink has a water jug with a spigot. Toilet paper goes into a trash bucket.
WiFi is available for a fee. It costs $5 to fully charge a cell phone or $3 for one hour of charging. Today we had our second hot shower since the start of the trek, also $5 and worth it. The water is heated by propane just before it comes out.
The hike today was fairly easy, which is what we needed to rest up before the next 3 days which will be harder and higher elevation. Tomorrow we hike to Lobuche at 16,200'. Sunday to Everest Base Camp at 17,500', and Monday we climb Kala Patthar at 18,200'. So far no headaches or any other problems. Oximeter has been 90-95 for me, with only one measurement at 88. Praise the Lord!!!
The weather since leaving Namche Bazaar has been clear in the mornings, cold at first but warming up quickly. In early afternoon, clouds form at elevations below us and start creeping up the valley, gradually obscuring the view and dropping the temperature as well as adding wind chill. We're prepared with various layers, hats, gloves, etc.
I'm praying the weather stays good. I'm very aware that one turned ankle, one fall on a rock could end the whole trip. Kent gave me a scare when he tripped on a rock and fell face forward to the ground. Fortunately it was just dirt. Thanks for all you prayers and encouraging responses to these updates. They all help immensely!!!
Day 7: from Dengboche (14,200') to Lobuche (16,200'). Trip was 5.6 miles, 2611' elevation gain including ups and downs, 5.5 hours.
The trail started with a fairly steep climb of 30 minutes and the leveled off to a gentle sidehill climb. It was definitely colder than other days as the wind began to pick up. Of course we have been hiking above treeline for the past 2.5 days so there is nothing to block the wind. The trail which had been trending ENE now turned north up a different valley to offer us views we had not seen before.
After hiking for about 3 hours, we arrived at a restaurant/rest stop called Thukla at about 15,143'. Even though this was supposed to be our lunch spot, we chose to eat some trail snack and have a hot drink, instead of eating a big lunch. Right after our break, we did a steep climb to Thukla Pass at about 15900'. There were great views and a bunch of memorials set up, including one to Scott Fisher, the American climber and guide who climbed Everest 8 times but died in 1996 along with about 14 other climbers in one of the worse tragedies on Everest. You can read the story in Jan Krakauer's book, "Into Thin Air". After hiking for less than an hour from the pass, we rounded a corner and got an amazing sight of the valley ahead (see separate posting) for Day 7 pictures). Pumori, Nuptse and other peaks that form the Nepal-Tibet border. Of course, Everest itself remained hidden by other peaks. But it was amazing.
Everyone is still doing amazingly well. Ramkaji developed a headache so Narayan gave him some Diamox and I gave him some Advil along with a short lecture on symptoms and dangers of HACE and HAPE. If we see those symptoms, then we must descend immediately to lower elevations.
Thanks for all who are following our trek, posting encouraging notes, and praying for us. You have no idea how much it means to me!
Tomorrow we continue hiking up the valley to Everest Base Camp at 17,594'. It will be a long tiring day. We don't move very fast at these elevations. Tomorrow night we'll be at Gorak Shep, our highest tea house at 16,961'.
Blessings to all.
Day 8: it snowed alittle last night. So after we arrived in Lobuche, it got very cloudy. Everything is charged by solar panel. So I couldn't charge my InReach tracker. Arrived in Gorak Shep about 10:30 am and leaving my InReach to charge during the day. Meanwhile we will continue hiking 3 more hrs to EBC and then back to Gorak Shep. Hopefully my InReach will charge up for the rest of the trip.
Everything is going well considering we are hiking above 17,000'. We made it to EBC about 1:35 pm. It was sunny, but windy and cold. And very rocky. We didn't see any climbing parties. The Kumbu glacier looked like it had shrunk in recent times judging by the size of the lateral moraines that we we're hiking on. The towering ice seracs that the climber have to navigate to cross the glacier and climb the icefall looked dangerous.
We made it back to Gorak Shep about 3:45 pm about 30 minutes after the sun went behind the clouds and temperature dropped.
Tonight we go to bed even earlier than our usual 8 pm. Tomorrow we get up at 4 am to climb Kala Patthar for view of the summit of Everest. Then back to Gorak Shep for breakfast and begin long trek back to Lukla.
Day 9: Gorak Shep (16,900') to Kala Patthar (18,578'), back to Gorak Shep and passing through Lobuche to Thukla (15,100'). Total distance was 8.3 miles, 2500' elevation gain, and 4400' elevation loss. We hiked for
We got up at 4 am and started hiking Kala Patthar at 4:30 am. Kala Patthar means "black rock". Close up the rock was actually a light colored igneous rock, but it was coated with black lichen. It took us 4 hours to climb to the top and return to Gorak Shep. I was very warmly dressed in a down parka and ski pants, glove liners and ski mittens. Still my hands and feet were cold. My water bottle partially froze.
It was so cold on top that I just took some pictures with my camera and phone, and then started down. I was only carrying a water bottle and camera, no back pack.
The sun came up as we were hiking providing ever changing displays. Back at our tea house, we ate breakfast and packed up our duffels.
We made it to Lobuche by 1 pm. I was feeling exhausted from not sleeping well and from two long hikes at high elevation. We ate some lunch and rested and then continued hiking for another hour and a half to Thukla. We were still two hours away from our planned stop for the evening in Periche. But weather was getting colder and windier so we stopped in Thukla for the night.
I'm hoping for a good night sleep. The last few nights at high elevation have been a struggle for me to sleep. Something about seeing your breathe in the room and bundling under a down bag and then putting on a heavy comforter, wearing warm clothes in the sleeping bag. I'm so looking forward to my own house, a hot shower, my own bed...
Tomorrow we continue to descend in elevation heading back to Lukla at a quicker pace than the trek to base camp.
Day 10: Thukla (15,100') to Periche (14,000') to Sumare for lunch, to Tengboche (12,800') to Phunki Thenga (10,900') by the river for the night. Hiking for 9 hours and 20 minutes for 10.5 miles. We gained 1773' and list 5600'. It was a long day but thankfully most of it was downhill.
I did sleep better last night but seemed to have developed a cold. Stuffy runny nose means breathing through my mouth which makes my throat dry and sore. Lots of people here have some variation on cough or running nose. It is very difficult to maintain any semblance of sanitation when there is no running water, no sink, and primitive toilets. The ladies in my life would not like it!
As we get closer to Namche Bazaar, conditions improve. We are one day from Namche and 3 days from the end of the trek. This update will be delayed since no internet in our tea house tonight.
Day 11 update: Phunki Thanga to Namche Bazaar to Monjo. Distance was 8.1 miles with 2200' elevation gain and 3570' elevation loss. Trip time was 7.5 hours.
If you are not a long distance backpacker, which Kent and I are not, it's really difficult to imagine getting up and hiking through rugged mountainous terrain with high altitude for 13 days, and not having a day to rest up. We did have two acclimatization days, but they were not REST days. We we're hiking higher on those days but coming back to the same camp and same elevation. Sometimes Kent and I look at each other and say: "What were we thinking?"
Kent is a great hiking partner. He's 75 years old, but strong and fit from hiking four days a week in Colorado. He's very experienced, having taught Outward Bound adventures when he was younger, working ski patrol for Arapahoe Basin ski area where his dad was on the board. We actually met a couple of Swedish men who are 70 and 68 years old that did the same trek as we did. We also met a 78 year old man who was hiking to Tengboche Monestary. Other than a few exceptions, most trekkers are much younger, probably in their 20s to 40s. We do see the occasional overweight or out of shape persons, and we wonder if they will make it.
It does take perseverance, and the trekkers on the trail seem to have lots of that! We have heard so many different languages an met people from so many countries. It's a great cultural experience.
We ate lunch in Namche Bazaar and Kent and I both had a chicken burger with fries and soft drinks. It was such a pleasant change from noodles, rice, and ramen soup. This afternoon we had our first "hot" shower (solar) since Dengboche 5 days ago. It felt really good.
Even though we were backtracking the same route we came in on, weather was better and we could see more mountains that we're obscured by clouds and fog on the way in
Tomorrow we have a 5 hour hike to Lukla, followed by an early morning flight back to Kathmandu. We're looking forward to our return to civilization!
Day 12: Our final day of trekking from Monjo to Lukla. Trekking distance of 7.7 miles, 5.5 hours, 2710' elevation gain, and 2137' elevation loss. We left Monjo about 8 am and arrived in Lukla by 1:30 pm without stopping for lunch. We were hoping to catch an afternoon flight since the weather was clear, but planes were full. We are scheduled to fly out early tomorrow if the weather is clear.
The Lukla airport was built in the mid 1960s. Edmund Hillary purchased land from locals for the airport. The runway is only 527 meters long with a 11.7% pitch. The planes actually land uphill. There is a steep mountainside at the end of the air strip so there is no room for error. This airport was only paved for the first time in 2001. The Lukla airport has been rated the most dangerous airport in the world for the past 20 years owing to it mountainside perch and other characteristics mentioned above.
We had time to watch several planes land and takeoff. There is only room for about 4 planes to park plus about 3 helicopters. Takeoff and landing are based on Visual Flight Rules. The problem is that at 9350' elevation, it is frequently cloudy or foggy causing all flights to be cancelled. That's why we had to take a helicopter to get here from Kathmandu.
We're hoping for clear weather in the morning. Kent and I want to experience taking off going downhill and off the edge of a cliff. Quite a thrill ride!!
After 12 days of trekking, we're ready for some rest days, doing some laundry at Ramkaji's house. The plan is to go to Lamosangu for a couple of days before Kent leaves so he can see the villages, Ruth's parent's house, and see how Nepalis live outside the cities. I'm looking forward to seeing Bha and Ama, Ruth's parents.
Day 13: End of trekking and return flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. We got to the airport at 7 am. The weather was clear. There were supposed to be 3 planes flying back and forth for our airline (Sita), but one was grounded for technical reasons. Ugh! So we waited and waited. Finally after 2 hours we got a boarding pass and after another hour we finally boarded.
The airport, when it is open, is very busy. Some planes land, deplane passengers, board new passengers without shutting off the engines, and take off 5 minutes later.
The takeoff was exillarating. We were actually airborne before reaching the end of the short runway. The mountain simply falls away for several thousand feet at the end of the runway. The ride was a bit bumpy but the views were great.
It felt good to be back in civilization. Ramkaji took us out to Kathmandu Coffee House where I had a delicious salad, french fries, and a chocolate Oreo milkshake. Yum. After a shave, hot shower, and doing a load of laundry, we felt human again.
By Larry Karasevich