11 July 2009

Everest Region December 2003 - Day 1

Fly to Lukla, walk to Phakding

You can see a slideshow of my best pics from Everest on flickr.
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Lukla Airstrip
Flying in progressively smaller planes, we touched down in Lukla about 55 hours after leaving Canberra (and about 60 hours after Glen's end-of-Year 10 party). Lukla (2840m) is about seven day's walk from the nearest road, and relies heavily on its tiny airstrip for its economy, being the most convenient airstrip for folks going into the Everest region who need to acclimatise. We had hoped to actually land at Phaplu, three to four days south-west, but we couldn't get the right synchronisation of flights. Having suddenly realised our porter-guide - Nabin - and porter - Bikas - were going to carry our own packs, Helen and I quickly bought a day-pack in Lukla to shuffle some of the weight amongst us and not look so useless.

Glen and Joseph doing their Asterix and Obelix im-pressions with their new Sherpa hats in Lukla. Helen is repacking the very conspicuous toilet paper, though no one was even sick yet. Time on the trek: ten minutes.

Asterix and Obelix visit Lukla

The confluence of everything that is "Everest region" in Chheplung: some mountain, a lodge (hidden in trees on the left), the trekkers (Nabin, Helen, Glen, Joseph, Bikas), the stupa (or chorten, the white object in the middle back-ground, with its adjacent flagpole and prayer flags) the mani stone (covered in Tibetan Buddhist mantras) and the ghompa (Tibetan Buddhist monastery) on the right.

Having arrived in Phakding in time for lunch, Helen and I then spent the rest of the afternoon hunting down places to stretch our legs. The ghompa at Phakding is just up the hill on the western side of the Dudh Koshi river, letting us also stretch our lungs. It is pretty small, and was empty at the time of our visit, as they had all gone off to see the Dalai Lama in Dharamasala (Himachal Pradesh, north western India). A local lad let us in, showing us this stunning library wall, stuffed with scrolls of texts that they study and recite.

At this altitude, around 2500m, there is still a lot of market-garden farming going on, even in winter. Anything that is not grown needs to be carried in - either by cattle, yak (above Namche), or porter - or flown in. It wasn't until our arrival back in this valley two weeks later that we realised how green it isn't further up, especially in winter.

Whilst the ridges look on a weird angle in the background, I'm pretty sure I was standing upright. I think it is a trick of slopes going away from us and all that sort of stuff.

Whilst we were off visiting absent monks, Glen was merrily throwing up back in the lodge, having finally had his party-induced flight-expanded sleep-deprived altitude-enhanced weariness catch up on him.

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As seen on Andrew Purdam's Bushwalking Treasure Box blog.

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