Flight to Lukla and on to Namche Bazar

Blog post from Lottie <click Read More to see the whole message>

We finally got out of Kathmandu yesterday morning we were up at 5am and the weather was pretty awful and it was looking a bit doubtful we would go. Spent some time at Kathmandu domestic airport which was interesting! Having spent many years skydiving, weather holds are something I'm used to, but was mighty relieved when our flight to Lukla was called! We boarded a Dornier along with about 10 other people to make the short flight to Lukla, which has the dubious notoriety of being the world's number one most dangerous airport! The flight was stunning - we flew along a gorge at about 12,000ft with mountains either side - that is very disconcerting! The approach to Lukla has absolutely no margin for error. The runway is uphill and about 400 meters long and at the end is a cliff face - apparently the normal "bounce" you might get on landing can't happen so the landing has to be pretty heavy. Obviously as I'm sitting writing this, our landing was textbook and we were happy to arrive at Tenzing Hillary airport!

After about an hour of walking, the rain started so it was on with the gortex jackets, despite the rain the scenery was absolutely spectacular - forests and gorges with rapids coming straight off the Kumbu glacier which we crossed by high suspension bridges. All the way along we would hear jangling bells which meant we should move out of the way for the pack animals who all share the path!

What I hadn't realised is that after Lukla there is no motorised way of getting things into the mountain region so everything is either carried by porters or by pack animal (mules or cows called Dzokyo) - it is a bit disconcerting to be passed by a little Nepalese man with 15 sheets of plyboard carried by his head!! Honestly it is absolutely extraordinary to see what they carry. During the day we have a rucksack weighing about 10kilos with just what we need for that day - waterproofs, warm kit, water etc. Our main bags with all our kit probably weighing about 25kilos are being carried by porters. Now there are five of us on the expedition plus our two wonderful Sherpas - and we have three porters carrying ALL our kit suspended from their heads and they smile all the time!

Now to try and explain something of the terrain - nice easy trekking this isn't! The paths are generally made up of large stones fashioned to keep the ground stable and to make basic steps as we climb up and down the hills - it is really tough going and walking poles are a must. Some of the climbs are really steep, and we're going up and down really steep hills. Sometimes the paths are quite narrow with sheer drops on one side or the other so watching your step is vital! Yesterday the rain was causing torrents of water to flow along the trails and we were padding around in mud and yak poo - which wasn't that pleasant!

We stopped after about three hours for a very welcome lunch, and was introduced to the wonderful sherpa stew - good and wholesome and warming. That seemed to give us a second wind as we set off strongly despite the rain which didn't stop all afternoon! It's okay we're from England we're used to it!! And at least it wasn't cold - despite being at about 9,000ft by this time.

After about another three hours we arrived at our lodge for the night in Monjo - it's starting to get basic now! We had a room fashioned from the plyboard that we watched the porters carry. However we had a sit down (shared) toilet (yay!), an electric light and it was clean. The evening was spent congregated in a central room with a stove trying to dry off our soaking kit and stay warm. The only room that is heated is the central room where food is served, so the bedrooms are pretty chilly!

We met at 7am for breakfast - and it was glorious blue skies outside - thank goodness! We set off before 8am and it was already getting warm - we walked in t-shirts and Ade in his rather short shorts :-) it was absolutely spectacular walking today and so much better in the sunshine and warmth. We have started to see some of the bigger (over 6000 meter peaks) they are mahooosive! We walked along the side of the river for a while and then walked through a gorge across a number of suspension bridges which were HIGH above the river below them. Some of the climbing was pretty hard work, and we're starting to feel the effects of altitude now, we had to climb the infamous Namche hill which was exhausting! Towards the end, we stopped at a rest stop and our Sherpa pointed out that we could see our first glimpse of Everest far away in the distance - it was partly obscured by cloud, but was very exciting - it's such an iconic mountain and so HUGE! It was then the final push to Namche Bazar where we're spending a couple of nights. The climb was really steep and relentless, and by this time we were pretty exhausted and it was very slow going - we reached Namche but were told our hotel is right at the top of the town, so another bit of climbing and when we got to the hotel our room was three flights upstairs! Again an unheated room but we have our own bathroom which is quite exciting.

We're now at about 11,500ft, and we're here for a couple of days. We will go on a short acclimatisation climb tomorrow - apart from making exertion quite hard work, we're all coping okay with the altitude.

Lots of love Lottie and Ade xxx

Typical trail steps Ade following porters carrying plywood - typical trail terrain

Ade in his short shorts!

Ade crossing a suspension bridge - with prayer flags flying

Beautiful mountains - we will be climbing as high as these ones!!

Make way for furry cows - a yak relative (Dzokyo)

Crossing a ravine on a suspension bridge - note our Sherpa Gyalzey with an umbrella!

Harold and Hilda in their buffalo shirts!

Behind this cloud is Mount Everest!! I promise - iPhone doesn't really do it justice!

Porter carrying plywood up the mountain - we are not worthy!!