Friday, October 28, 2011

Back home.

On Tuesday morning I started my long track back to NZ. First stop Kathmandu airport and while check-in when smooth enough the immigration queue didn't move along at all. So I wandered up to the front of the line and fair enough there was no one actually there to stamp the passports, apparently he had gone for a cup of tea. Ten minutes later a duly refreshed immigration officer showed up and started stamping passports. I decided I could do with a drink myself and headed for the coffee shop. These guys actually have proper equipment and extract a nice cup.
As a last wave to the chaos in Kathmandu the plane left an hour late which gave me all of twenty minutes to run from one side of Bangkok airport to the other to make my connection but I got there, and when I arrived in Auckland to my even greater supprise my luggage had made it to. My backpack was the first piece of luggage on the belt.
I was less amused when I had to wait five hours for my connecting flight North but thems the breaks.
Great to see my parents again at the end of a long journey.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fake Starbucks

A few months ago I put up some pictures of a fake Apple store in Kunming but when I came through Lukla the other day I got reminded that they actually have their own claim to fake fame, a fake Starbucks. The signs and logo are there, it has wicker chairs inside and the coffee and cakes are nice.
I reckon they should start a franchise.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Everest Trek - Day 29 Lukla to Kathmandu

The chaos was as per normal with tour guides and aggressive trekkers (me) fighting at the check in counter then having a good laugh about it afterwards. The planes came in on time and after a hectic thirty minutes of planes landing and taking off everybody was on their way to Kathmandu. The flight itself was uneventful with good views over all the hills that I had spend weeks walking over and at nine o'clock I was back in the Kathmandu Garden House.
Good to be back.

Everest Trek - Day 28 Phakding to Lukla

What i thought was going to be an easy couple of hours walk turned into a bit of an adventure. The earthquake a few weeks ago has caused a number landslides on this section of the trail and has taken out someones house as well as badly damaged one of the main suspension bridges. To get across the ravine that the bridge spanned, caused by a previous landslide, you have to climb up steeply on one side then cross at the top of the slide on a path no wider then your boots while holding some tree roots and not trying to think of the two hundred meter drop below you.
All in all rather eventful.

Landslide in Phakding, most of the buildings on the photos are lodges rather then private dwellings.

A plea for help.

The main bridge to Lukla, or what's left of it.

Everest Trek - Day 27 Namche Bazaar to Phakding

I took a leisurely stroll down Namche hill, cursing the yak trains under my breath. Then had lunch in Jorsale before walking down to Phakding. Not exactly a strenuous day.

A glimpse of Mount Everest from halfway up Namche hill.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Everest Trek - Day 26 Rest day in Namche Bazaar

As the title says a rest day and I did sweet nothing all day long.

Everest Trek - Day 25 Phortse Thenga to Namche Bazaar

I thought that I had gained a bit of fitness but the climb from Phortse Thenga up to Mong still takes a fair bit of effort. Never mind I get there and the walk back down goes quickly enough. Again there are a large number of trekking groups to contend with. In Namche I check back into the Khumbu lodge and arrange a ticket from Lukla to Kathmandu for 4 days from now.

Everest trek - Day 24 Machermo to Phortse Thenga

I walked non stop from Machermo to Phortse Thenga without stopping for so much as a cup of tea. The fact that it's all down hill obviously helped. There is still plenty to see with nice mountain views and beautiful waterfalls, which are really hard to photograph because they are so high. What also is obvious is that the high season has started with lots of people on the trail and several large trekking groups making their way slowly uphill. Shortly after I arrive at my lodge a group from World Expeditions arrive they are tired but talkative and we have a pleasant afternoon together.

Another intermission

I finally got a good night's sleep last night. After watching the Australia vs Wales match I went for a wander up the street and found a dusty hole in the wall drug seller that had Diazepam (Valium) for sale. I got a strip of ten 10 milligram tablets for a dollar and took one last night. Result, great night's sleep!
Tomorrow I will try to post some further updates on my Everest hike but today I am looking for souvenirs as I will be flying back home next Tuesday.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Everest Trek - Day 23 Gokyo to Machermo

A glorious day of snow and sun.

Gokyo looking like a picture postcard alpine village.

Reflections in the second lake.

From the second lake looking towards Machermo.
After taking copious amounts of photos I decided to get out while the going is good, there is more snow forecast for the next week, and started breaking trail back towards Machermo. It's tough going and it actually takes me longer going down the mountain then it took me to get up.

Everest Trek - Day 22 Gokyo

It was snowing this morning when I got up, snowing when I had breakfast, snowing when I had lunch and still snowing when I had dinner. At least thirty centimeters has fallen so far and the lodge staff have been busy most of the day clearing it away from the roof to avoid collapse. And while snow is hardly uncommon out here it is unusual for it to fall this heavy and at this time of the year.

Unhappy Yak in the snow.

Snow clearing Nepalese style.

Everest Trek - Day 21 Gokyo

Slept a great deal better then last night and didn't get up till 7:30. That's downright late when you are hiking but as I will be staying for a few days in Gokyo that's OK.
Helen one of the doctors at the Machermo health post came in today she is doing the rounds of the lodges to spread the word on what's new for the season at the clinic and to hand out information packs that trekkers can read on the dangers of altitude sickness. You would have thought that after all these years of publication in guide books and general awareness amongst trekkers this wouldn't be necessary anymore but there isn't a single day that the rescue helicopter doesn't have to fly to pick up someone dying from going up to fast.
For exercise I walked up to the fourth lake but the weather has changed yet again and continuing rain and sleet eventually drove me back to the lodge. The outside temperature is just above freezing and that's around midday.

Gokyo as seen from the glacial moraine.

The Ngozumba glacier.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Everest Trek - Day 20 Gokyo

I slept badly, most likely because of the altitude and got up at 6:00 am. The sky is clear and there is a light dusting of snow that I decide to climb up Gokyo Ri. At almost 5500 meters this is one of the highest peaks in the area that you can walk up without having to resort to climbing equipment. As expected the views are stunning but even while I slog my way to the top the clouds are moving in and by 9:00 am it's hard to even see the valley below me.

Everest Trek - Day 19 Machermo to Gokyo

Another day, another change in the weather.
We all get up early and Michael, Werner and I are walking before seven in the morning. There are glorious views everywhere and I stop every few minutes to take photos.
It takes about three hours to walk up to Gokyo and we find rooms in the Gokyo Resort, the first lodge that was built here and probably the best of the bunch.

Yours truly at the first lake.

Some yaks parked up and ready to be unloaded. The shiny mirrors in the background are solar cookers.

Everest Trek - Day 18 Acclimatisation day in Machermo

Didn't do a great deal, other then reading and eating, but did manage to climb the ridge behind the village to a string of prayer flags.


OK I admit I have been rather slack in updating the blog or doing much else for that matter!
After returning to Kathmandu I have spend most of my time hanging around the Kathmandu Garden House, eating curry, and drinking beer. Any weight I lost during my walking has probably been regained by now. Never mind I promise to do better from now on, or at least for today. So expect me to post the missing Everest Trek blog entries over the next few days and generally be a little more active.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Everest Trek - Day 17 Dole to Machermo

What a difference a day makes. The weather has cleared and we got our first glimpses of the mountains. The walking was pleasant and we reached Machermo in under three hours including a stop for tea and plenty of stops for photos.
In the afternoon we all went over to get the altitude and AMS lecture and have our SATo2 measured, while far from definitive this gives a measure of how well you are acclimatised. I outscored everybody with 91%! Not that I was really surprised by this I have always done well at altitude but nice to know anyway.

Everest Trek - Day 16 Phortse Thenga to Dole

I was greeted by a dull and grey morning but it was dry and around eight thirty I started my walk to Dole. After a few minutes I ran into the medical team that is going to Machermo to open up the Aid post there for the trekking season. One of them I had met last year and another one was a Dutchwoman living in New Zealand. Small world.
The trek itself was short, only two hours, and with the low clouds not much reason to stop and look at the scenery. So now I am in a lodge again chatting with all and sundry and entertaining the owners young son who is busy playing with the paper airplane I folded for him.

Everest Trek - Day 15 Namche Bazaar to Phortse Thenga

I had only just gone to my room last night and was looking at some photos when everything started to shake. I've been in a few earthquakes before and this was obviously a big one so I jumped out of bed and braced myself under the doorway to the bathroom, The shaking seemed to go on for a long time but it was probably no more then a minute. In the aftermath everybody streamed outside not really a safe place either as all the buildings in Namche are two or three stories high, really close together, and made out of locally mined slate. We milled around a bit and even the elderly owner of the lodge said she had never experienced something like this before. The building was Ok although the kitchen and dining area were a mess and some of the water pipes had come apart. The only casualty of the quake that I could locate was an Englishman who had twisted his knee when he tried to run down the stairs. I gave him some of my Nurofen tablets which I carry around in bulk to treat my own knee problems. As there were no aftershocks we all went back inside after an hour or so but I did sleep fully clothed in case another tremor would hit.
In the morning after a not so good night's sleep I set out for Phortse Thenga and as everywhere in Nepal you start with climbing up. First to the top of Namche then to a small pass at Monjo just under 4000 meters in altitude. It was midday when I finally got there and had my usual lunch of vegetable noodle soup and a pot of tea. While I was having lunch the Danes came by, turned out they were suffering from knee problems as well and had decided to turn around from Dole and go back down probably all the way back to Kathmandu. They also wanted to get back to Namche to ring home and let their family know they were OK.
I dropped down the pass after lunch and an hour later was at my destination. Walking days are getting shorter now because of the altitude and tomorrow I expect to walk no more then three hours.