Today I dont know where to begin. There is so much I want to blurt out straight away but I guess its always better in order!
18 days ago we were loaded up with rupees and ready to walk! 'The three passes' was the trip we headed out on!
The flight was awesome. We flew so close to the mountains that I felt like a bird. Landing was an adventure. We could see out the pilot's front window and seeing the runway made me a wee bit nervous. The Lukla airport has been rated the most dangerous airport in the world (and I've flown into Wellington on a windy day!). The runway is 527m long on an 11.7% gradient. Which means there is a 62m height difference between the top and bottom!!! Crazy stuff. There is no room for error with cliff up and down both sides! (The photo doesnt do it justice!)
We walked from Lukla (2840m) to Phakding (2610m). This was a lovely downhill wander through a stunning valley. We spent alot of time waiting for the local couriers to pass us (yaks and donkeys). Tim had fun "I touched the ass' ass!!" Very mature Tim!
Day two was a bit more challenging. We ascended 830m - all at the end! Nothing gradual about entering Namche Bazar (3440m). We met a guy coming down here on crutches as he had only one leg! He had been to base camp! Unbeliveable. I thought about this man alot throughout our trip when I though things were getting tough and reminded myself that I had two legs and no reason to complain.
Namche was a stunning wee town which we enjoyed exploring.
We aclimatized here with a hill climb which gave us our first glimpse of the Mother of the Mountains! We had the most amazing clear day with unbelievable 360° views! Well worth the hill!
We spent the morning of day four heading towards Thame (3800m). Stopped at a beautiful monastery which housed nuns.
Thame - the town in which Tenzing Norgay grew up - was our first experience of a true smalltown sherpa village. Set amongst the mountains the lifestyle was slowly paced and self sustainable. Here we met a Swiss mountaineer who was aclimatizing in preparation for Everest herself! His sherpa had summited 12 times already! I thought that was pretty cool... until I truely realized just how high it is... then I thought they were slightly crazy! But was neat to chat to them!
Day five saw us reach 4380m in Lungdhen. We slowed down a bit this day which we though was due to tiredness.. but on refelection we think we were probably beginning to feel the effects of walking at altitude. Lungdhen was freezing. Just after lunch it began to snow. And it didn't stop before we went to bed! It took ages for them to light the fire! I was huddling in my sleeping bag! At least im not a yak!
With all the new snow on top of what was already about a metre of snow we decided not to attempt the Renjo La Pass. We hauled our way back down through the snow to Namche Bazar and made a new plan. Freezing feet aside, it was quite fun walking in the snow!
I think this poor guy had had enough of being outside! The sign says 'open'!
Day seven (boy the days were flying) saw us walk to Tengboche (3860m). We decided to head towards Base Camp and hope that we could do the Kongma La Pass or the Cho La pass (or both if we were lucky). Tim made
friends with a horse.
Although this friendship ended when the horse sneezed on Tim!
We walked to Dingboche (4410m) in more snow! At first it was fun. But after an hour and a half, I was ready be be rugged up next to a fire!
They feed the fires dried yak dung up there! I wasn't sure how to feel when I saw the lady break it up with her bare hands then moments later she arrived with my meal!
We aclimatized again here. Day nine saw us walking up towards Nangkar Tshang Peak (5616m). This was my first battle with altitude and taught us alot. After normal speed up about 100m, I couldnt catch my breath and began to feel dizzy. I wasn't completely out of breath but it was a real struggle to regain control of breathing. We realised from here we were going to have to take it much slower and not let ourselves lose breath at all. We felt like sloths as we continued and didnt make it to the top (I wasn't feeling great and we decided not to push it!) We estimated we had probably reached 5000m! Woo!
This night I woke up to scratching and we discovered a bloody mouse eating our snickers bar that we were saving for Base Camp! Unbelievable!!!! In all the commotion that followed this discovery (im not great with mice on a good day - but when they are eating my chocolate its a whole new story!) I smashed my nose with Tim's head torch and had to deal with blood as well! Crickey what a night!
Day ten took us to Lobuche (4910m) as the Kongma La Pass was still closed. This was a left, right, left, right kind of a day for me! We took it slow and stopped for plenty of "sightseeing" opportunities. The scenery was beautiful but it hadnt changed much since 20m before! Haha.
Day eleven and we were on our way to Base Camp! We dropped our stuff at Gorak Shep (5140m) and continued on to Mt Everest Base Camp (5364m). This was a looong slog. About 500m away from Base Camp and I though I may not make it. I was absolutely exhausted and couldnt make my legs go. Luckily we had packed lunch to eat there - so we stopped and mowed that which certainly made my energy levels rise! And we were there!
What a feeling! I was so relieved that we had made it and I was feeling pretty good! We chilled here for a bit then wandered back. There was a HUGE amount of yaks heading towards Base Camp with gear for all the summit expeditions! It is a big operation!
Up here we really appreciated our house in New Zealand. Insulation is certainly a luxury! The walls were made of ply (no pink batts here) and temperatures reached at nights! Freeking cold! Also the toilet situation left a lot to be desired!!
On Good Friday we were walking at a bitter 5am. Heading to watch the sunrise over Mt Everest from Kala Patthar. It was absolutely freezing and very slow going! The cold air was sharp on my face and in my lungs and it hurt to breath. We made it about 3/4 of the way when Tim found the 'perfect' spot for photos. With the sun feeling like it was actually going backwards and my hands and feet nearly at freezing point, I decided I would let Tim take the photos and I would head back for a hot cuppa. I think this was a great decision as Tim was up there for another hour after me. Thanks Tim - great pics!!
After warming up we headed down to Dzonglha (4830m). Where it began to snow again! We crossed our fingers it wouldn't be much and we could attempt the Cho La Pass the following day! Surely we wouldn't be unlucky enough to miss out on all three passes!!
4.45am on day thirteen and we were sludging through snow by torchlight.
As the sun rose we watched the light touch the looming mountians and felt like we were the only people in the world. The silence of the mountains in dawn light was peaceful and somehow made me feel so small. It was magical. The untouched scenery was spectacular and the path was challenging.
We were cold and slow as we climbed to the top of the pass (5368m). The energy required to walk through knee high snow, uphill at 5000m is huge. Sometimes my leg would slip in further which nearly made me cry as it took everything I had to carry on and get out of the hole. By 8am we had reached the top and felt like we had conquered the world! We celebrated Mark and Jenny's wedding with a Kit kat and a hot lemon drink!
We made it all the way to Gokyo (4790m) in what was probably the most mentally and phyically draining day of my life. The most amazing discovery was that our hotel was also a bakery. I had the most decadent piece of walnut chocolate cake.
Easter Sunday and I found myself thinking of mum's abundance of easter eggs and this being my first easter without any!
Anyway we began our decent which gave me more enery than any amount of easter eggs! Coming downhill and losing altitude was like having someone reboost my body. Suddenly I had energy. I could jump and wander up small inclines with no trouble! I felt amazing! We made it to Phortse Thanga (3680m).
After the wonderful feeling of coming downhill all day from Gokyo, we were hit with an instant 300m straight up climb out of Phortse Thanga. Even all the oxygen in the world couldnt help my tired body go any faster up here! So we put our heads down and soon we were heading down again! Phew. We went and had a look around Khumjung where the Khumjung Hillary School is located.
It was holidays so could have a wander around then we popped over the hill and back to Namche Bazar. Here I enjoyed some luxuries. I had my hair washed and dried (after 2 weeks of it being far too cold for wet hair -gross), I had a delicious hot chocolate and a rich piece of chocolate cake. It was awesome!
Day sixteen and we were heading back to Phakding. This day it rained and hailed and we came into the guesthouse looking and feeling like drowned rats! Typically it stopped raining as we stepped inside the door!
Our last day was a 2 hour cruise up to Lukla And we were done!!!!!
We chilled in the sun, wandered around the airport watching planes and helicopters come in and out. We even went to a pub!
This trip has been one of the greatest and most demading experiences of my life. I have absolutely loved it. I must say though after 18 days with only 3 proper showers and wearing the same clothes day in and out I am ready to reaise my hygiene standards again!
Travis buddy, we didn't See any polar bears... But we did see yaks, donkeys, eagles, crows, deer, goats, birds, dogs, cats, roosters and even the footprints of a snow leopard!!