Mt Everest Trek
AG’s fearless leader, editor Ian Connellan, has abandoned his post to explore the expansive scenery around awesome Mt Everest. Tune in daily as he blogs home about his encounters, with images and anecdotes for the adventure addict. Welcome to the first instalment, outlining days one and two of the trek.
Read more about the AG Society supported Ama Dablam Everest Trek in Nepal, run by World Expeditions. See a gallery of great images from previous Ama Dablam expeditions here.
DAY ONE: Darkness on our first day in Kathmandu comes with crows wheeling over the city and the temperature dropping from a humid afternoon. Nothing can describe the first view of the Himalaya range out of a plane window, or the journey through Kathmandu’s hectic streets, dusty, chaotic and lined with stalls.
At 4pm we meet on level 5 of the Radisson Hotel for a pre-trip briefing from host Lincoln Hall and World Expeditions’ Nepal trek leader, Manoj Sitling. Most of the trekkers in the group are Nepal first-timers and there’s a good deal of nervous anticipation. One exception is Melbourne anaesthetist Alistair Walpole, who’s on his fifth trip to Nepal. He’s been designated my tent-mate and I decide immediately to model his calm.
DAY TWO: It’s a 4.30am start for us in Kathmandu and most of the trekking group is still dreaming of warm beds when we’re aboard our flight to Lukla. Throughout the short flight, Lincoln Hall keeps up a steady chatter, describing valleys and pointing out peaks. My first view of Everest is impossible to describe, but it borders on the spiritual: a lofty, distant pyramid, oddly familiar and suddenly within sight for real.
Walking towards it will be a lifetime’s desire fulfilled, and I’m slightly teary at the thought. After landing in Lukla we explore the narrow streets for an hour or so before setting out. Porters tread past with stupendous loads, women and children sit in sunny doorways. The range and number of small enterprises is astonishing – there are trekking lodges and restaurants, teashops, and food, gear and handicraft stalls. We set off about the time that local children are off to Chauikharka school, which starts at 10am on Sundays, and we share the trail with them and smile and say ‘namaste‘. We descend slowly, passing to the left of Mani shrines and dodging other trekkers and their porters. The valley rises almost vertically around us. The track is well formed and very hard underfoot – it’s paved with mountain granite.
From Thado Khoshi Gaon we have views up the valley to beautiful 6367 m peak Kusum Kanguru. Shortly after comes our first decent rise, which leaves most of us happy but panting. As we approach our first night’s camp at Ghat, the sound of melted water in the Dudh Koshi, fed by glaciers higher up, starts to resonate. We walk under pendulous strings of prayer flags and pass brightly painted trekking lodges and teahouses, then turn in to the stonewalled field where the trekking crew have already set up our tents. It’s a short day, and we enjoy a long lunch before setting off for walks to explore Ghat.
It’s been a warm day but I feel the promise of a cool night as I sit writing in the mess tent. Like every Nepal first-timer, I’m completely overwhelmed at the scale of the landscape. It’s the Alps times four or five – and that still can’t adequately convey the grandeur of the Himalayas or the friendliness of the Nepali people. Tomorrow we’ll walk alongside the Dudh Koshi to Monjo, slowly ascending.
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