We flew from Katmandu to Lukla, a tiny mountain village very high in the Himalaya. So high that the run way is on the side of a mountain and points uphill. We flew in on “Yeti Airlines” in a tiny plane. When you see the runway it is a nail biter. Once off the plane our gear is assembled and sorted and the trek begins. The countryside is spectacular. Tiny hamlets all in stone. No roads only a foot path that winds all over the mountains from village to village. This is the main and only infrastructure and all forms of commerce pass by. Yaks, native people with baskets on their heads, kids and many trekkers heading to various places in the Himalaya. We stopped at many a tea house for a break and socializing with the proprietors. Everything is neat and tidy and amazingly built and maintained. Remember all this is still accomplished as it was hundreds of years ago. There is no running water or electricity only an occasional generator. These are the true Sherpa who left Tibet and now live in the Khumbu valley. This “highway” connects their villages but they are not connected to the outside world except for the climbers.
Today was a six hour climb to Namche Bizaar. This is considered the big city! They even have an Internet cafe! About an hour before arriving I had my very first glimpse of Everest…..amazing and absolutely enormous. The wind was high on the top but I was able to see the south col and Lhotse and Nupste on either side although considerably lower. It is magnificent and she took my breath away. Brooke and I just looked at her then at each other then back at her.
The conditions in Namche are not as inviting as they were our first night on the trail. Here everything is a hike and a steep on at that. It will take me most of a half hour to return to our tent as it is uphill from here. The village is truly built on the very steep side of the mountain. All along our travels commencing in Lukla we have been greeted by the Buddhist prayer flags. Along the way huge boulders are inscribed with Buddhist prayers hand carved in the rocks centuries ago. We must always pass to the left. Anytime there is a monument or a pray flag or bells, which we ring as we pass for those are the sound of our prayers going up to the heavens, we must pass to the left. I love that part of the climb.
This will be all for today. There is a good deal of political tension and satellite phones and communications are being confiscated. We have heard that at Everest Base camp no satellite phones or computers are being allowed. They are critical for the climbers and safety for high altitude rescues. The Sherpa are also not being permitted on the mountain. They are the ones who put in and maintain all the fixed ropes and routes so this too will make climbing just now very dangerous if not impossible. Word is that the Chinese are now putting pressure on Nepal until after the torch goes up the mountain sometime in May. Glad we are not making an attempt to climb this year although we have already had to change our schedule.
More to follow.