Thought I'd better write up my experiences of Everest while I have a min!!
As most of ya know...I should of been on the plane that crashed, but thankfully the German tour company kicked us off! I still feel a bit odd when I think it could of been me!
Anyhow...the departure for Lukla (the airport) becaem a bit like gorundhog day after the crash. Airlines were understandibly a little more cautious about flying in bad weatehr, so we woudl meet at 4am and head to the airport and wait for the weatehr to clear. we almost made it on the second day, our bags were loaded and we were just about to board, when the pilot said the airport had closed again. It was third time lucky with our flight and what an adrenaline rush it was, what with the crash and the whiole landing on the side of a cliff part of it as well!!! The plane fitted 14 of us in it...1 on each side. ***Just search LUKLA AIRPORT in YOUTUBE to get my meaning! (I'm gonna post my own pics and vids when I get a min as well!!!) They call it one of the worlds most dangerous airports...I can understand why!***
The landing was a rush...we all calpped when we landed... the actual descent is pretty scary as well, as they seem to just swing to the side and nose dive the runway!
After we landed, we sorted out our porters and sherpas and headed off into lush green valleys, as this stage of the trek it was pretty easy. After another day we got to Namche Bazarr, a major junction village for all those aroudn it, we acclimatised here for a day and did some local treks. We caught our first view of Everest here...down a valley in the distance.
Porters are truly superhuman, they carry 100kg bags up the hills..there are no roads in the mountains so its either brought by person or yak (or helicopter if you have that kinda money!) when those aroudn are gore texxed to the hilt, these guys (and some girls) just wear sandals and fly up hills past the struggling trekkers! I had only packed a 45litre with a day sack, so felt a bit better for not burdening them with laods! I think TV should do a 'Porter for a day' reality TV show...put westereners in their shoes and see how they cope!
Yaks..aka mountian cows are a mainstay of the moutains. They vary from the lowland ones to the very hairy mountian ones (My Yak scarf from Leh is from one of them)They have a really low centre of gravity and can carry big loads. They must be the most versatile animals on earth... you can use them to carry things, use their poo to keep ya warm in the winter ( saw many cow pats drying in the sun in villages), you can use their hair to amkes shawls and scarfs, you can use their milk to make butter and cheese and last of all you can eat them...but I've heard they don't taste that great!! haha
Our climb through the valleys was steady so we would acclimatise better, we went through many villages and one with a Monastery (Tengboche at 3600m). You really start to see the change in lanscape and altitude when you get around the 4000m mark, the trees disappear and the hills/mountains become vastt mountains with snowcappped peaks. Teh altitude really tells as well... I got small heacaches from here, not too bad to stop...some in my group (mix of Aussies and Brits) started to feel the effects round here. Walking from Dengboche (4400m) to Lobuche (4900m) you truly start to feel like your walking in the lap of the gods, surrounded on all sides by some of the highest mountians on earth...absolutley amazing! had to pinch myself a few times to realise I was there...
By this time I was well used to our 5-5.30am starts and bed by 7pm...you get up at first light for the best trekking. The food is mainly carbs..so a lot of fried rice with veg and noodles etc....hardly any protein! I took nuts to xcompensate but didn't help a lot. I even bought soem dried/salted buffaloe meat at one stage...kinda like american jerky...but that just went right through me!! :)
Lobuche really is an mountain putpost...kinda like The THing with Kurt Russel (the film refs keep coming hahahaha) It very sparce and cold. We wnded up in a dump of a lodge, 3 of us crammed into a box room with no light and next to one of the worst toilets I've ever seen! ( I filmed it!!!). I didn't get any sleep at this place, partly headaches, stoimach cramps and just plain smelly...so we were not best prepared for the big push to Kala Pattar (5500m or 18200feet!!!. It was a slog to get up there...partly due to the low levels of oxygen at that height. You have to keep stopping to catch your breath. FACT of th day....smokers have an eaier time at atlitude becasue their lungs are used to operating on lower levels of oxygen!!
On our way up, we saw an avalanche (filmed it :)) and a glacier. Becasue we lost a couple of days of ther trek we didn't make it to base camp (only a couple more hours trekking), but you don't actually see Everest from there anyway,....the best view is from Kala Patthar, the one you alwys see on th posters. The summit when we got there was pretty special...the 360 panormamic was amzing (filmed it again!) It was really windy and cold up there tho, so you don't hang around for long!It was amazing to see Everest so close...you've gotta be crazy to climb it...I was happy to just get that close. Never forget it.
Our retrun from there to Lukla was pretty swift, parlty due to putting in long trekking hours and going downhill for most of it. NB Trekking in Nepal is not that straightforard....to go up you have to go down valleys...very demanding on the legs...so even on our return we had soem pretty tiring climbs as well!
Quote from Gavinder (one of our Sherpa's):
"Downhill is easy, uphill is hard" Wise man....
Our return to Lukla airport took us half the time than going ...and we were up early to catch the flight back to Kathmandu. We were booked on yeti airlines which worried me a little cos they were the ones who crashed... The airport has gotta be one of the busiest in the worl, they take 50fligths a day in the busy season...they literlayy land, unload and load in the space of 10minutes. We got on orus and I was ready for our pilot to take the customary place at the top of the downhill slope (liek the other airlines), but he just floored it as we turned onto the runway and bombed it down the runway...I've gotta admit to feeling a little sick at this point, cos the end of the runway is just a drop off the moutnian, so you HAVE to make the take off. The runway is small enuf, so the other airlines make the most of it, Yeti don't seem to worry about it (something I think which affected the crash...the pilots seem tooo cocky for me!)
We got back safe to Kathmandu....and then I had to run around making arrangements to egt to Pokhara, where I am now...teaching 32 tibetan orphans. I live with them as well, which makes it all that more interesting (and tiring!!)
Pokhara is a beautiful place...next to a huge lake and surrounded by snow capped mountains. Will update my experiences in the next week....
Hey guys tried to put loads of pcis and vids on but the computers are crap here..managed to get three photos on...enjoy.