Apologies for the radio silence. It has been a very busy few days but now we’ve made it to Namche and we have a rest day so Kait and I should be able to upload lots of pictures!
We’re both writing our own bits so there may be some double ups but it’s all good stuff and hopefully you’ll find it interesting.
I’ll begin with a synopsis of what’s happened on the trek so far. On Thursday at 5 am we rolled out of bed and and headed to the airport. I think the anxiety meter kicked up a few notches in a few people when we were presented with our aeroplane. Curiously most of them were Canadians and we were flying in a twin otter (also Canadian) – oh ye of little faith 🙂 Multiple planes headed out at once, making the most of the break in the weather at Lukla. This made the sky was quite busy as we flew up through the valley. Once we climbed up above the Kathmandu mist the view was spectacular – the sun was coming up and the impressive peaks of the Himalayas finally revealed themselves. The decent into Lukla was abrupt: the pilot (who was incredibly accommodating by the way, allowing us to scramble into the cockpit to get some better shots as we flew) fined up the pitch on the props, delivering that (delicious to some, terrifying to others) whine, dropped the right wing, and made the short final down to the field. It was a wonderful ride. Once we’d taxied across to the terminal, we were hurriedly marshalled off, past a queue of other travellers who were pushed on to our plane. It then immediately hurtled off down the runway back to Kathmandu, leaving us on the tarmac with our eyes on stalks.
With all our scientific equipment and most of us not abiding by the 15 kilogram per person weight limit, we were more than 300 kilogram overweight as a group. We saunted over to a little cafe to sip hot tang and waited for the next round of flights and the rest of our bags to arrive. Unfortunately one pelican case still hasn’t caught up with us (it may get flown in tomorrow with luck) so some retched porter is going to hot-foot it up to us in Tengboche: a climb that, while taking us four days, he can knock off in a matter of hours.
Lukla to Monjo was a wonderful walk. Quite long – about six and a half hours – but fairly easy going. Kait and I were snapping off a tonne of shots so were very quickly left behind by the group. One of the guides chaperoned us all the way to make sure we didn’t get lost. The valley is monstrous. I need to figure out a better way to faithfully replicate the sense of scale because photos don’t do it justice. Maybe this VR malarkey will catch on? That might do it. The hills shoot out of the valley almost vertically and take off into the clouds. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The route is peppered with lots of little hamlets full of cute granite houses with roofs and window frames painted in vivid primary colours. There is also an almost constant stream of ponies, mules, hinnies and “dzo” (hybrids of yaks and domestic cows, which fair better at these relatively low altitudes) ferrying all sorts of stuff up and down the hill. Our team’s gear were carried on half a dozen or so of these dzo. They’re pretty cool. Completely autonomous, they trudge up the hill in a line until they are told to stop at their destination by their handler. It’s quite remarkable. And they do this day in, day out. Our head guide, Nema Sherpa, says the yaks are much cooler though, and we’ll be using his dad’s herd(?) when we get up higher, so super stoked to see those things at work.
We arrived in Monjo pretty late and by the time we had dinner and had done a backup of the day’s footage, it was time for bed. There was an early start too because we had to catch the national monk convention (not its real title) in the morning up at Namche…