Epilogue:Trekking in the Nepali Himalaya.
Published 18th April 2002. By
Matt Ward and Adrian Snell.
ride had officially finished and it was time to rest,
sleep and rest some more in the beautiful city of Kathmandu.
It did sink in, but only after a couple of days - we've
made it! The time had now come to do some cold weather
equipment shopping for our planned 'CharityTrek(!)'
in the Everest Region, North East of Kathmandu.
Our trekking began at Jiri (1935m altitude), an exhausting
10 hour bus journey crawling up and down the Himalayan
foothills on a tiny track from Kathmandu. From Jiri
it was a further 9 days of walking to the entrance of
Sagarmatha National Park and the most important settlement
in the area: Namche Bazaar (3450m). It's a pleasant,
undulating and slightly strenuous walk that most people
don't bother with, opting to fly directly from Kathmandu
airport to a small airfield at Lukla (about 1 days walk
South of Namche). But for us, it was a perfect 'introduction'
walk. Our legs had not done much walking over the past
few months and some muscles needed reawakening. As a
result we past through many villages and witnessed local
porters carrying up to 100kg (!) each of food and supplies
for communities and tourists. We also saw a few Maoists
dressed in military uniforms and armed with old rifles
and pistols. Luckily for us, their war is only with
the Nepalese army and police - not with tourists.
was the main reason why, and lucky for us, there were
very few tourists in the region for the first couple
of weeks. Over the past few months the Maoists (a peoples'
uprising who wish the country to become communist) have
become more active and Nepal has been in a state of
emergency for the last 7 months because of it. These
guys are gradually becoming more and more organised
and kindly attacked the airport at Lukla shortly before
we set-off from Kathmandu! Nothing happened fortunately
while we were in the area.
a welcomed rest in Namche Bazaar, the trails go up,
up, up making the trekking more difficult and strenuous.
The effects of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) became
more noticeable due to the lower levels of oxygen at
the higher altitude. At 4000m (slightly higher than
Namche) there is about 40% less oxygen than at sea level.
This makes any physical effort more of a challenge and
our bodies took a while to acclimatise.
Namche we slowly headed up and East towards the settlement
of Chukung, where we made a side excursion to Island
Peak Base Camp (5150m). This was our first real 'Himalayan'
experience as we ascended into an area with outstanding
mountain views and good weather.
next stage was a 3 day trek back West and North into
an adjacent valley and up to Gorak Shep (5170m), possibly
the highest place in the world with a lodge and restaurant!
Again the outstanding natural beauty just surrounds
you, and it is quite difficult to take it all in. Later
that evening we started climbing Higher Kala Pattar,
a 5635m peak which is the most popular viewing point
in the whole region and the highest point for us on
the trip. We froze our extremities off waiting for sunset
up there, but the wait was well worth the discomfort
because the surrounding mountains and sky lit up red
and orange just before the sun finally set. The pyramid
shaped summit of Everest (pictured) suddenly started
to glow a deep red and we were reduced to speechless
wrecks! Quite an unforgettable experience that none
of us will quite forget.
Shep is also just a couple hours walk from Everest Base
Camp. This is a large rocky area within the Khumbu Glacier
where expeditions commence their mammoth climb to Everest
summit. Surrounding the site is the large Khumbu Ice
Fall, which is the first and most dangerous stage of
climbing to the highest point on earth.
was in the Gorak Shep area that our down jackets and
sleeping bag liners really proved their worth. It was
freezing cold, especially at night. The temperature
went down to around -15'C and getting up in the morning
was not pleasant at all!
We continued over into the next adjacent valley to
visit the Gokyo Lakes and the largest Glacier in Nepal.
To do this we to descended down to Phortse and then
back up to Gokyo village. By this stage of the trek
we were all getting tired, but the extra work was well
worth it because Gokyo is so beautiful. We all went
up Gokyo Ri (5340m, a steep sided mountain 2hrs climb
from the settlement), with better views of Everest than
Kala Pattar and witnessed another beautiful sunset.
As the sun went down a layer of cloud covered the valley
below and the peaks lit up red again. Absolutely stunning.
following day Adrian and Andy decided to head further
up the Gokyo valley to the other frozen Gokyo lakes
and what is regarded as the most spectacular viewpoint
in the whole region - an isolated mountain known as
Knobby View. On any normal day this takes around 2.5
- 3hrs to the summit from our lodge. With that in mind
we left very early, just after sunset, but we soon discovered
the going very tough with hip deep snow in some
places. We were warned the night before that no one
had ventured North for weeks because of the deep snow.
We found following the trail impossibly slow and so
decided to follow the edge of the Ngozumba Glacier on
its moraine - very steep with 45 degree slopes in places!
An Exhausting 5hrs later we had made it to Scoundrels
View, still about an hour to the start of Knobby View
at our pace! At that point we gave up, cooked lunch
and just enjoyed the best view of Everest we had on
the whole trip while trying to forget what was needed
to get back!
after a month in the hills, it was time to return to
Kathmandu. From Gokyo it only took 3 days to return
to Lukla airstrip, where we caught a 45 minute flight
back to Kathmandu. The flight itself was a lot of fun,
in a small propellor driven plane taking off from a
steep downhill airstrip. The noise, vibration and turbulence
made it a flight not to forget! We returned to a warm
bed, warm weather and good food. We all have unforgettable
memories and some photos that need to be seen to be
believed. What an utterly amazing month and a perfect
ending to our trip......