Welcome to ten adventure-filled days in the Khumbu Region of Nepal, the highest place on earth…
The primary goal of my journey was to see
Mount Everest with my own eyes, but as you will soon discover, that was but a small part of this unique and privileged experience. From the first “Namaste!” you will fall in love with this enchanting place defined by big nature and warm, beautiful, courageous people.
Day 1 of 10…
Kathmandu (5000 feet, ??? meters) to Lukla (9000 feet, ???? meters), then trek Lukla to Phakding (8400 feet).
The weather was looking ominous, but the pilots and ground crews did not seem concerned at all.
Yikes! Not what you want to see before flying to Lukla!
Cozy and unpressurized!
Looking North, first glimpse of the high Himalayas!
Upon arrival, each planeload of trekkers and cargo is met with throngs of porters looking for work.
Lukla is the gateway to treks in the Everest Region.
Altitude sickness perhaps?
History Channel’s “most dangerous airport in the world”… Takeoff 240 degrees heading, 12 degrees downhill, and only 1600 feet long… Yikes!
Stupa above the clouds.
Everest Region Map (Lukla bottom, Phakding top)
The official start of our trek.. the memorial gate just North of Lukla. (The gate really is that crooked)
Footbridge destroyed by recent earthquake (the detour was a bushwack on some slippery and steep terrain)
Dealing with the vertical terrain is a fact of life here.
One of several river crossings.
There are no roads or vehicles here. The only way that building materials and supplies get into the high country is on the backs of human beings or beasts of burden.
There are no roads here. Nothing gets into the region unless a human or beast of burden can carry it.
Monster prayer whee
Day 2 of 10…
Phakding (8,400 feet/2,610 meters) to Namche (11,000 feet/3,440 meters)…
Everest Region Map (Phakding bottom, Namche top)
Everest Region Trekking Permit
Just another day at the office!
Porter wannabe… Carrying a portion of our kitchen for a few steps.
The scary high and long bridge before the steep ascent to Namche
Crossing the high bridge.
This nice young man lost his pack and had no food or water (He walked all the way from Lukla to Namche that day!)
Privileged encounter with a Himalayan Mountain Goat!
Waiting to play the winner… When I said hello asked if I could play, they immediately brought out the chair and insisted that I have a seat. By the way, these guys really know how to play! As you can see it was pretty cold. The rain moved in shortly after this, so we seamlessly moved the game into the bank across the street. The bank is a counter with an adding machine and the street is two yak butts wide. There I was received with the genuine smiles and hot tea served in the most exquisite tea set..
About to play the champion of Namche.
The weather here can change dramatically and in a heartbeat. This cloud bank rolled in like a tsunami in a matter of minutes…
Namche farming terraces
Our hard working and friendly lead jopke (kind of like yaks) driver
Day 3 of 10…
Namche (3440 m) to Syangboche (3780 m) and Everest View Hotel.
Formula for acclimatization: climb high, sleep low.
From Namche, just after sunrise.
Namche Bazaar lives up to its name as a major trading crossroads.
Namche from above.
Syangboche Airstrip (not to be confused with an airport)
The Alpine meadows are home to grazing livestock….
…and the most delicate vegetation.
Midday, looking Northeast from the Everest View Hotel (The distinctive profile of Ama Dablam is on the right). Alas, we were disappointed that we did not see Mount Everest, shrouded in the mass of clouds on the left. Maybe tomorrow?!
Day 4 of 10…
Namche (3440 m) to Tengboche (3860 m).
Chillin’ in the shadow of Ama Dablam!
Always go clock-wise around the Mani stones! (Om Mani Padme Hum)
Namche is built almost exclusively of hand-wrought stone.
I was allowed one picture, no more, of these Nepalese soldiers.
Our lead guide Nima, whose grandfather made it to the highest camp during the first ascent of Everest by Tensing Norgay and Edmund Hillary in 1953.
Elaborate service at Tengboche Monastery.
Day 5 of 10…
Tengboche (3860 m) to Khumjung (3780 m).
Everest Region Map (Tengboche right, Khumjung center)
My very first view of Mount Everest from Tengboche. Everest is the pyramid on the left. By the way, the Nepali name for the highest mountain in the world is Sagarmatha and the Tibetan/Sherpa name is Chomolungma.
Yaks, some colorful, hard-working characters.
Unfortunately, this outhouse drains right into the river.
Just one of many reminders of how dangerous these mountains can be.
The Hillary School in Khumjung.
Lovism–symbol for a “non-religion” called Heavenly Path. How can anyone argue against LOVE-ism as something self-evident and worth embracing in the most general sense?
Rainbow upon arrival in Khumjung.
Delightful Sherpa girl artwork.
Getting hugged by a huge Mani Stone.
Carrie scores some Pringles! (Courtesy of all those porters and beasts doing the heavy lifting)
An absolutely insane load!!!
Women Sherpas, too, brave the high peaks and have lost their lives here.
Day 6 of 10…
Khumjung (3780 m) to Thame (3820 m).
Everest Regin Map (Khumjung center, Thame left)
The word of the day: RAIN!
Our Sherpa guides were awesome, courageously braving the elements to ensure everyone’s safety!
Exquisitely detailed and vibrant rock art!
Lunch! Spam, flat bread, potatoes, yak cheese, carrots, beans, and dal bhat. Dal bhat (rice with lentil soup) is such a staple that the joke is that you have dal bhat for lunch and bhat dal for supper!)
Yak dung boot drier.
Yak dung hand warmer.
Artifacts from the successful Hillary-Tensing expedition.
Day 7 of 10…
Thame to Namche.
Everest Region Map (Thame far left, Namche Bazaar bottom center)
Meeting a friendly monk happy to pose for me.
Frank J. Peter reflected in Bal Kamar’s sunglasses.
Saddling up for our return to Namche.
Bal Kamar (Val Kilmer) was one of our guides… skilled, hardy, good-natured, courageous, and humble.
Namche feels like a dear old friend.
Day 8 of 10…
Namche to Phakding…
Everest Region Map (Namche top, Phakding bottom)
A garden of mani stones!
Almost everywhere you look, vibrant prayer flags are fluttering in the wind!
These porters are absolute bad asses!
The trails in the Himalayas are “patrolled” by stray dogs–all mutts, the most beautiful, sweet, gentle mutts. This guy followed me for five miles… stopping when I stopped… and going when I went… like a furry guardian angel… and I didn’t feed him a thing!
These porters are heroes!
Day 9 of 10…
Phakding (2610 m) to Lukla (2840 m), then party with the whole crew.
Everest Region Map (Namche top, Lukla bottom)
Porter rest area (like a modern day truck stop)
How cute and curious can you get?
Playing for Rupees at 9,000 feet! I swear the table was six inches too long and six inches too narrow!
“Starbucks” and “Irish pubs” are EVERYWHERE!
High altitude straight razor shave (after ten days without)
Frank and Doug… Smooth as two baby’s bottoms!
Celebrating a safe and successful trek with our hard-working and courageous guides, porters, and cooks…
We all donated gifts and gear…
and our crew drew playing cards to see who won what!
About to make a toast with the local hooch!
Presentation of tips to show our appreciation…
Day 10 of 10…
Lukla to Kathmandu
Paying my respects at plane crash memorial in Lukla.
Lukla to Kathmandu by air
Flying west, looking North.
The approach to Kathmandu, bringing us to back to “civilization”.