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On return to Kathmandu

Sadly the 9.9.9 date turned out to be inauspicious: we waited 6 hours at the airport that day before it became 100% clear that no planes were leaving for Lukla. Fortunately the next day we got away, so our trek began only one day late. Mine ended only yesterday when I arrived back at Hotel Thamel after a strenuous fortnight.

The first thing I did (after checking emails, of course) was to enjoy my first shower for 15 days. If you’ve never trekked, it’s hard to imagine how much you will relish the luxury of an inside flush toilet, running water and freely recharging batteries. (The last place I checked prices on trek cost R300 (nearly GBP3) per hour for charging, so I was glad of my two spare Lumix G1 batteries.)

Between 10 and 19 September the group trekked from Lukla to Lobuje via Namche Bazaar. We left Lobuje on 19.9 at 3 am for an early breakfast in Gorak Shep, then all climbed Kala Pattar (5545m/18,190ft) which gives splendid views over Everest, Nupstse and the Khumbu Glacier: the photo shows Base Camp at lower left, beneath Changtse, with Everest's summit a dark triangle at upper right:

Everest.jpg

Next day, I diverged to trek “alone” (in fact, with guide Phurba and porter Govinder) for a further six days. While the group returned to Kathmandu, I trekked past the Chola Glacier and its lake, toward Dzonghla:

Cholatse.jpg

Next day I crossed the Cho La pass (5370m/17,620ft), a stiff climb followed by an even tougher rock-hopping, knee-wrenching descent. Later I crossed the Ngozumpa Glacier (Nepal’s longest) to the lakeside “resort” of Gokyo, and climbed Gokyo Ri (5360m/17,585ft) the following afternoon. We waited in thick cloud at the summit about "sunset", hoping for the clouds to lift, but sadly we caught only glimpses of Everest, Makalu and Cho Oyu. Our descent finished in darkness, on challenging terrain. Here's a shot of the lovely turquoise lake that Gokyo overlooks:

GokyoLake.jpg

The next two days demanded over 42 km/26 mi of “descent” (in fact, on undulating terrain) to Lukla – including 300m of vertical ascent to the Mong La (pass) before the descent to Namche. So that was another two early starts and two long days before the final bid to catch the 0730 Lukla flight. It’s now about 5 weeks since I have slept later than 0530, and although I didn't need to get up this morning, my internal alarm went off regardless. So I’ve started the huge project of weeding and captioning over 1000 photos, some of which should end up in the guidebook that eventually will result. For a break, I walked to Durbar Square (which was heaving with people because of the Hindu festival of Dashain). Now I’m really looking forward to starting the long journey home tomorrow. I can’t wait to catch up with husband, family, friends and Bramble.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 26, 2009 11:15 AM.

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