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Namaste Nepal – To the top of the world and back

Posted by on June 23, 2013

Lumbini
Departing India was not quite as comfortable as our Spice Jet arrival. It involved a fair few gut wrenching bus rides, a cycle rickshaw (each) across the border at Sunauli, a slightly adventurous jeep ‘ride’ (if you can call it a ride), before another very sweaty overly populated bus took us to our destination for the night, Lumbini, Nepal.

Forget us fondly dreaming the night before of the clean mountainous air of Nepal, cool breezes, jumpers and woolley socks – this place was hot! It was identical if not slightly worse than Varanasi, just replace the dead dogs, naked Baba’s and bendy yoga enthusiasts with Buddhas and blood thirsty mozzies.

Lumbini sits on the southern border of Nepal and is the actual birthplace of the Buddha, obviously popular with Buddhists and tourists alike, it was a convenient stop over before continuing onto Kathmandu.

Crossing the border like Royalty
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Welcome to Nepal
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The Jeep Ride……….literallyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Smiling through with a white knuckle grip – and a random Nepalese manOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So we got there, slightly confused about the exchange rate and magical 15 minute time difference and set out to see what Lumbini had to offer. Walking down the eerily quiet dust strewn street, we made a left turn hoping to find some kind of town. Having not found it as it simply didn’t exist, we stepped over various stray dogs sleeping off the midday heat and, quickly headed for a cycle rickshaw with an inviting sun canopy and comfortable seat sheltering under the cooling trees.

Bargaining for rupees (which we still couldn’t convert back to the pound), we settled on a price hopeful that this strong fella looked fit enough to take us around the sprawling 26km of sites and not die on us in the ridiculous heat. After exchanging the rupees, he promptly introduced us to his ‘pubescent side kick’ and trusty old battered rickshaw which was safely parked around the back. Our leisurely afternoon being chauffeur driven around sat upon our comfortable seat, shielded by our large sun canopy faded as quickly as the mountainous cool breezes did as soon as we stepped off the bus.

Ten minutes along the track, the familiar sound of a puncture left us both stranded with only monkeys for company until the panting ‘pubescent side kick’ returned at double speed armed with an identical looking shite cycle but with all four wheels inflated.

Under the Buddha treeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dickie ‘Buddha’ BirdOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Baldy locks and the three Buddhas
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World Peace PagodaNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 034

After a day full of various travel escapades, we were both well and truly in need of a long winters kip. Unfortunately, our room now resembled a scene from a ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ task and with mozzies zooming about like apachi helicopters –  we were in for an unforgettable night. To cut a long story short, not only did we have more animals in our room than Chester Zoo, the scheduled electricity cut kicked in at midnight and our savior ceiling fan was gone.

Despite being chewed to bits, tired and a little miserable, we bordered the 7am air conditioned bus to Kathmandu with a satisfied sense of achievement. Due to our very uncomfortable stay, Claire had managed to negotiate a mind blowing discount from our guest house. Unfortunately, once armed with our calculator on the bus, it became apparent that a whole 35p didn’t warrant almost missing the dam thing.

Kathmandu
8 hours later, we hopped, skipped, jumped and sang to the nearest boozer serving up good beer and fine steak – pleasantly we weren’t disappointed. Kathmandu is the capital city of Nepal and thankfully not representative of the rest of it. Love it or loathe it (we loved it), it serves a purpose of catering to all the beer and meat deficient travelers arriving from India and also is the place to get your trek sorted whilst stocking up on the best North face fake gear we’ve ever seen. The next few days were a whirlwind of meat, pizzas, booze, burgers, shopping and more booze – all excellent training for our 20 day trek across the world’s highest peaks.

Day One- Everest Three Passes Trek – Well, almost…..
The previous few days of overindulgence certainly took its toll on Danny and the eve before our 7am flight to Lukla he was yet again confined to the pot bent over double. Not wanting to delay things any further, Danny filled up on Imodium for breakfast and we headed to the airport rigged out in our spanking new North Face togs with 20 snickers a piece rattling around in our rucksacks.

Kathmandu Domestic airport makes Gibraltar look like Heathrow International. The handful of check in stands resemble bamboo built candyfloss stalls at the fair but, very cleverly they conceal a secret step to ensure that the slightly height lacking Nepali staff can exercise their authority over the towering tourists. You’ll also be pleased to know, that the departure lounge still holds the familiar overpriced confectionery stores as seen in Heathrow – albeit just the one (and that’s one shelf not one whole shop). We checked in by basically handing over our tickets and dumping our bags next to a group of ground staff and excitedly waited for our super small plane bound for the Himalaya’s. We got on the shuttle bus, waited at the side of our matchbox looking plane for 10 minutes before being shuttled right back to the terminal where we had the pleasure of waiting until 2pm on the finest Nepali quality backbreaking metal chairs, where we were finally told all flights were cancelled due to wind.  Back to Kathmandu then?

Bunged up at Kathmandu domestic airportNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 043

Enjoying those metal chairsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The plane we ‘almost’ caughtNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 048

Day One- Everest Three Passes Trek – But not the way we expected to travel……….
Lukla (2,840m) – Phakding (2,610m)
Walking Time: 3 Hours
We could just copy and paste the same paragraph above but will save ourselves the trouble. Deja vous at the airport but, today the number of passengers had doubled. We managed to secure the 8.30am flight to Lukla but apparently a squiggle on a piece of paper doesn’t warrant a confirmation so we were on the 9.30 one instead. Waving goodbye to our airport friends who managed to take off on the 8.30 flight, we were hopeful we would be next. Well, we weren’t so we had a little decision to make – do it all again tomorrow along with three times the amount of people waiting or, pay 60 USD extra and get on a helicopter for a 45 minute scenic flight to the mountains? We touched down within 43 minutes at Lukla landing strip which is almost as long as a footy pitch.

The Helicopter ride was wicked and Claire the co pilot did a fine job at directing us. Lukla is the start and finish point for most visitors to the mountains. A small interbred village with little else more than really fat fluffy dogs, guest houses and an Irish bar selling Guinness out of a can for £6.20 a go. We met our trekking guide, sorted our bags, had a quick brew then set off in the rain and mist passing through tiny little hamlets and over the most dangerous suspension bridges we ever saw before safely arriving in Phakding 3 hours later.

Clara the co-pilot
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Our trekking buddies – Ruth and Jessie, also enjoying the flight!
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The Runway……. full length of itOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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A little bit ‘nippy’ in the mountains
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Sherpa training starts young
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And Claire thought the helicopter was scary…….OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Despite the weather happy to have finally made it
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Schools out for the Sherpas………..only a 5 hour walk back homeNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 101

Day Two – Everest Three Passes Trek – Our first glimpse of the big un
Phakding (2,610m) – Namche Bazaar (3,420m)  
Walking Time: 6.25 Hours
Sleepily waking at 5.15am (and that was a lie in!) we scrapped the ice off our frozen up window to reveal the most beautiful landscape of snow capped mountains, not hills but proper proper mountains! Excitedly, we rushed to clean our pegs and splash our faces ready for our first full days walk. We can honestly say that we have never ever felt tap water as cold in our LIVES! With icicles protruding from Danny’s stubble off we went.

The first 4.5 hours were similar to the first day, slight hills but nothing to pant at. Filling up on crappy over priced noodles for lunch, we psyched ourselves up for the nasty 1.45 hour ascent to Namche Bazaar. Its amazing how quickly you regret that fifth pint, 2 for 1 cocktail deal and the late night fat ladened burger as soon as you start going up hill. It was pretty embarrassing being overtaken by ninety year old porters humping two crates of San Miguel, a few gas bottles and some pringles up there without even breaking into a sweat.

Slogging it out to the top of the hill, it finally hit us that this ‘walk in the park’ was not actually going to be that easy. Maybe some kind of training would have been wise or, as Claire put it another way, maybe we could hire a pair of Donkeys and just keep quiet? Although tempted, we couldn’t find any donkeys in Namche willing to carry our 20 snickers a piece so instead, Claire tried sweet talking a Yak.

Tea stop before the stormNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 128

Buddhist Stupa along the wayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before Claire knew there was a hill coming upOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our fourlegged SherpaNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 131

Village life – goodness knows how it manages up thereNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 133

Permit checkpointNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 134

Awwwwwwwwwww
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Welcome to Everest National Park, now show us some dollarOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Claire with ‘Noodle Sherpa and Jackie Chan’ – our mates for the first two days of our trekOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Looking back along the valley towards PhakdingOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Danny SherpaNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 146

Woah woah woah…….. What have we here?!!? THE BIG UNOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Post photo identification revealed that this was a fluffy cow in need of a haircut and not a Yak – Claire was well excited an all

Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 171

Day Three – Everest Three Passes Trek – Our first taste of a ‘rest day’
Namche Bazaar (3,420m) – Everest View Hotel (3,880m) – Khumjung (3,780m) – Namche Bazaar (3,420m)
Walking Time: 5.5 Hours
After only one and a half days walking, we were already looking forward to our rest day. What could be better than ligging out in the sun, woolly hats pulled firmly on, supping a nice steaming hot chocolate whilst enjoying the stunning view of the best mountain range in the world? Try walking five and a half hours up to and around the worlds highest hotel………………

This was the first 360 degree view we’d experienced of a mountain range and to be fair, not resting was well worth it. We were surrounded by some of the highest mountains on earth, sat outside on a table at the highest hotel on earth, sipping the most expensive pot of tea on earth – thankfully we didn’t get charged corkage for our snickers.

Looking down onto Namche BazaarNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 181

Just having a chat in front of Kongde Ri 6,187mNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 195

Resting on rest dayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snow capped mountains left to right: Everest 8,848m, Lhotse 8,516m, Ama Dablam 6,812m
Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 225

Nice place for a spot of GolfOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Highest hotel, highest priced teaNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 243

360 degree shotOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Left to Right: Everest 8,848m, Lhotse 8,516m
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Making the tea last so bloody long it went cold, we set back off downhill towards Namche Bazaar. Khumjung is a sprawling potato farming village home to a ‘purported’ Yeti scalp which proudly sits padlocked away in Khumjung monastery. Why a yeti scalp needs protecting by the Buddhas is a mystery in itself but, not wanting to miss a glimpse of this mythical creature we handed over our crumpled ten pence to an eagerly waiting toothless monk who then slowly unearthed the grimly remains of this abominable beast. Gasping in shock that it was simply a small see through box with a cows head in, we carried on walking.

Although hugely enjoyable, the day turned out to be an unanticipated expensive one. We’d had the priciest tea on the planet, wasted ten pence looking at a cow skull, spent seven quid each on spag bol for our teas (without the bol bit) but, worst of all, the four bog rolls we brought with us had run out. Playing rock, paper scissors for this embarrassing task, sore loser Claire sloped off to the shop to buy the next one returning with a face as white as a sheet two minutes later – THREE QUID for ONE bog roll! With Claire’s runny nose and Danny’s runny ass we heavily contemplated pre booking our flights back to the UK.

Wonder if Darcie could manage this?Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 306

Abominably not worth 10pOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Prayer books in the monastery – these were free to look atNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 317

Stupa and Stupid at KhumjungOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Four – Everest Three Passes Trek – Making our way up to the monks
Namche Bazaar (3,420m) – Tengboche (3,860m)
Walking Time: 5 Hours
Blessed with another crystal clear morning, we set off immediately uphill towards Tengboche. Whether it was the lack of fitness or the altitude kicking in, it seemed like a pretty tough start and being overtaken by a bird training for the Everest marathon really put the icing on the cake. Yet again (and you will probably tire of us saying this), the views were just spectacular, no photos could possibly do this place justice. Spurned on by our grumbling bellies and freezing toes, we finally made it to the delightful monastery village of Tengboche.

‘Blown away’ by the viewsNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 330

This fellas job is upkeeping the path – no it wasn’t his day offNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 332

A handy place to prayNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 334

Passing through the Rhododendrons which were in full bloomOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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A room with a viewNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 347

Yipee !! Our first Yak train
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Mountain GoatNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 378

Yep, Claire got carried away with the Yak photosNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 385

Great balls of fire – Yak dung drying out for fire fuel later
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Danny and Pasang Sherpa (our guide) outside the Monastery
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A little closer to god up the mountainsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Keeping warm Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 422

Tengboche Monastery Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 428

Our lodge for the nightNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 430

Day Five – Everest Three Passes Trek – Feeling the effects
Tengboche (3,860m) – Dingboche (4,400m)
Walking Time: 5 Hours
Yep, another clear blue sky and another day of trekking. After a nice late start (7.45am) the path steadily took us up and down through covered evergreen forests, rhododendrons in bloom, past various yak trains and glacial blue streams. This route veers off from the usual and direct Everest Base Camp trek so is a little bit more quiet. Although not steep, each step seemed harder than the next so there were more tea breaks than usual, thankfully though, alot cheaper than the last. Arriving at our lodge it was pretty chilly so we couldn’t wait to get in front of the Yak dung fire and dip into our Fig Rolls from Kathmandu. Most of the lodges only charge 100/200 rupees (£0.65 – £1.30) per night with the guarantee you will eat in them, thankfully at £2.60 for a snickers they didn’t have cameras in the bedrooms. Absolutely shattered, we wrapped ourselves up in our minus 20 sleeping bags, tucked into our snickers and watched the snow come down.

Leaving Tengboche villageNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 432

Off he goesNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 445

Only another 4 hours Claire
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One of the only still butterfly’s (no it wasn’t dead)Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 499

Glad we were on the insideNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 506

Chasing the neighboursNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 512

Out for the count – Resting her legs and sun burnt nose
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Day Six – Everest Three Passes Trek – Washing Day!
Dingboche (4,400m) – Chhukung (4,730m)
Walking Time: 2.5 Hours
Today was like Christmas morning without the presents. The sky was clear and everything was completely covered in snow. Luckily we only had a short trek to Chhukung so as soon as we stepped out the lodge it was snowball time. Chhukung sits in a valley with Ama Dablam on one side and the Kongma La pass on the other. It ‘s the starting point for all the climbers venturing to Island Peak so there’s plenty of hardcore crampon wearers about. Arriving early and only walking for such a short time, it was great to spend the afternoon resting and taking in the views.

Christmas Day!
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Heidi in the HimalayasOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Claire aiming for the back of Dannys headNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 534

Thats why there so fluffy!Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 538

Ama Dablam 6,812mNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 550

Trying to follow the footprintsNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 560

Walking towards this wasn’t too badOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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And…….. some more YaksNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 578

Loving itOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Please use one sheet at a time!!Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 587

Having a brew at the lodgeNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 588

Literally ‘chilling’ out at the lodge
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Soaking it all in – honestly it doesn’t look real in ‘real’ life eitherOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Infront of our lodgeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Joking around infront of Ama DablanNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 601

Panoramic ClaireOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Posing with the hills
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Resting in the Lodge
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Day Six – Everest Three Passes Trek – Another so called rest day to the highest place we will ever go!
Chhukung (4,730m) – Chhukung Ri (5,546m) – Chhukung (4,730m)
Walking Time: 4.5 Hours
Altitude has strange effects. Headaches/nausea is the norm and probably the most publicized, power pees in the night are solemnly discussed and we can honestly say, much much worse than the headaches. Sharing a squatter with clumsy crampon wearers and blasé Sherpas is one thing, having to sprint down a pitch black stone floored corridor in minus 15 degrees three times a night is another. Having had our first kind of sleepless night, we awoke to a thick band of cloud and were seriously not looking forward to climbing the bloody big mountain we spent the previous day admiring.

The path up was steep, very steep. Made ever so worse by the fact that we couldn’t even see the top at that point. There seemed to be no end in sight. Almost at the top the path turned into complete shale and slate meaning knee pads would have come in very handy. Clambering up and up like a couple of snails, the winds picked up, the sky gradually cleared and the struggle to the summit was rewarded by some of the best views we had seen. Regrettably, it was so god dam cold that we didn’t stick around very long to soak it all up. This is actually the highest altitude we went on the walk be it only by 1 metre! Claire vowed to never climb a mountain again – tough luck.

Cream cracker-ed

Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 621

The view towards Island Peak – almost clear
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Because I’m worth it
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Despite the view, Claire wasn’t happy
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Danny and ‘Ninja’ at the summitOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Happy its all over!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank F@@k for thatNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 647

WowNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 612

Back at the bottom reminding ourselves of our pledge not to shower for 20 full days, we finally succumbed to the searing mountain heat and bought a ‘mountain shower’. With no electric, the only heat being powered by Yak dung,and the Granny flannel wash being out of the question, we weren’t sure what we would get. 400 rupees later (£3.20), Danny was stood on a wall, bucket of hot water in hand monitoring until exactly half was used up. A quick change over and a much better smelling Claire was yelling out to Danny to start rinsing.

A mountain showerOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Eight – Everest Three Passes Trek – Up and over our first of three high passes
Chhukung (4,730m) – Kongma La Pass (5,535m) – Lobouche 4,930m)
Walking Time: 8 Hours
With a much cleaner spring in our step (although all we effectively did was get washed and put the same stinky clothes back on), it was time to face the inevitable – our first of three high passes. Basically, a pass is a route not through the middle but up and over a mountain to get to the other side, a little bit like what a chicken does when it crosses a road. We were a tad nervous having spent the previous eight days chatting to folks who told us woeful tales of how difficult and steep this pass was, apparently the hardest day of all. Geared up and thinking it couldn’t possibly be worse than our apparent ‘rest day’ up Chhukung Ri yesterday, we set off nice and early, zigzagging along a slight incline before finally getting to the foot of what we realised we had to climb. My god, it looked steep, infact, the summit looked completely unreachable from where we were standing. The only way we could possibly get up there was in the same helicopter we caught from Kathmandu. Slowly but surely we edged onwards and upwards fighting for breath and pausing after every 5 or so footsteps. At 10.30am after spending over half an hour climbing on all fours near the summit we made it! Claire was so relieved she almost cried, Danny was relieved it was picnic time.

The crystal clear views up there were just extraordinary. The mountains we had marveled at that exact same morning were now almost eye level and we can honestly say our picnic of soggy cheese sarnies and boiled eggs is probably the best picnic in the world…. ever.

Before this pass we always thought that once up, getting down is by far the easy part. Getting up took us 4 hours, getting down took us just as long, so long infact, that Dannys picnic firmly settled and dictated an impromptu toilet stop at 4,500m – his highest yet. In the distance, beyond the Khumbu Glacier sat Lobuche, our resting point for the night. We finally fell through the lodge door eight hours after setting off absolutely freezing, exhausted, thirsty and hungry.

Bricking itOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View en routeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Still smiling – he can almost smell his picnicOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yeti footprintsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Half wayOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Halfway photo stopOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just keep going Claire
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Don’t look downOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The end is in sight!Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 659

Picnic TimeNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 662

Claire feet up enjoying her boiled eggsNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 670

Going down the other side
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Day Nine – Everest Three Passes Trek – Celebrating with a beer at base camp!
Lobuche (4,930m) – Gorak Shep (5,160m) – Everest Base Camp (5,340m) – Gorak Shep (5,160m)
Walking Time: 5 Hours
Back on the classic Everest Base camp path, it was nice to finally speak to other human beings and actually enjoy some steady walking to one of the most eagerly anticipated places of our trip. Arriving at Gorak Shep pretty early, we dumped our bags, grabbed a sarnie and trotted alongside the Khumbu icefall to Everest Base Camp. Danny tried desperately en-route to slow down his digestion and ‘hold it in’ until base camp. Rather unwillingly, nature took its course and his timings were cut short – he was gutted he can’t tell that one down the Kings Head.

Base camp sits at the foot of an icefall which looks pretty scary to say the least, arriving in May it was the main month that summit attempts are made so base camp was buzzing with activity. So far this year no one had made the summit although, the first push would be made in the next few days. Making it to base camp was brill. Whilst we looked up at the top of the world, it made it all seem worthwhile and felt like a celebration was in order despite being strongly advised to completely avoid alcohol at high altitude. We had strictly adhered to this for the past nine days but celebrating with an Everest beer at Everest base camp seemed like an opportunity too good to be missed. Half a can later, we were both stumbling around like drunks at a New Years Eve party kissing and congratulating any poor stranger that crossed our path. We avoided the booze after that.

This fella ran rings round usNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 681

Holding it in en routeNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 704

Epic failNepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 707

We made it!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoying the ale – (we think but cant quite remember)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Joining the masses but the pen wasn’t waterproofOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Base camp – check out all the little yellow tentsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is what happens if you touch the yak dung fire, thankfully Claire had her gloves on
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Day Ten – Everest Three Passes Trek – Half way point at Kala Pattar
Gorak Shep (5,160m) – Kala Pattar (5,545m) – Lobuche (4,930m)
Walking Time: 6 Hours
Today saw the earliest start yet. Not giving in and rolling back over to sleep, we were up at 3.30am donning every conceivable item of clothing we had and popping on the trusty head torches. Outside was completely pitch black, the air so cold it hurt to breathe and that was on the flat part. Slowly we began, trying not to imagine what lie ahead of us and also trying to forget that we had limited time to get to the summit before the sun rise. I don’t think we have ever been as cold in our lives, Claire said her ass was even colder than when Danny dragged her to the boxing day match at Burnley a few years back. Everything was numb, even our teeth hurt. Despite this, slowly we continued. Danny threatened to turn back twice had it not been for Claire encouraging him to carry on (he really wont thank me for telling you all that). We were lucky though, half way up the sun came over the back of Everest and we started to thaw out. Feeling the sun on his back, Danny got second wind and clambered to the top, Claire on the other hand, was ‘apparently’ walking so slow as Danny put it, she may as well turn around. Claire later told Danny had she had the energy after his non positive encouragement, she would have launched her walking pole like a javelin and aimed between his eyes – another non publicized side effect of high altitude is aggression. Luckily that day, Claire didn’t have the energy.

You will see in the photos that follow, and I guess therefore don’t need us to tell you again, the views were amazing! Looking out above the clouds over to the peak of Everest was unforgettable, the notes however in Claire’s travel journal that day are as follows ”God, it was so hard this walk, it will go down so far as the worst in History”, and yep owing to the ridiculous temperature, it certainly will.

Looking down on the rest of the world
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We made it! Our second highest point by 1 metreOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Top Snow Cock – this bird certainly had the highest nest
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THE highest peak in the world – Mount Everest Summit 8,848m from the top of Kala PattarNepal Trek EBC - Lukla 039

Celebrating being in Nepal – Everest in the background
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360 degree view above the clouds
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Maybe as near to heaven as the javelin thrower will get
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Never been so happy to see the sunOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Going down
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Day Eleven – Everest Three Passes Trek – Gorilla in the mist
Lobuche (4,930m) – Dzonglha (4,830m)
Walking Time: 3 Hours
Thankfully a very short walk today and given the terrible foggy weather, just as well. We had been blessed every single morning with clear skies and snow capped peaks, today though, we saw sweet bugger all. Walking for any length of time in fog is just the pits. Poor Claire was feeling the effects of all the walking and the ‘bug from India’ started to raise its pesky little head again. Trudging along, not even having the energy to speak for three hours – she must of been ill.

Once at the lodge and meeting up with our mates Jesse and Ruth, Claire quickly came around and we thoroughly enjoyed a lazy afternoon tucked up infront of the fire, drinking whiskey tea and playing cards with our pals.

Hating the placeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Pasang in the firing line

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Day Twelve – Everest Three Passes Trek – Joining the Snow Leopards on our second high pass
Dzonglha (4,830m) – Cho la Pass (5,420m) – Gokyo (4,750m)
Walking Time: 7 Hours
Dreading peering out of the window this morning, we needn’t of worried. The skies were sparklingly clear and we were all set for our tough trek over the Cho La pass. Walking upwards towards Cho La summit, we didn’t seem to get any closer – if anything, the mountain seemed to edge further and further away. This pass is by far the most dangerous, which we were about to find out. The first part of the tough summit attempt is pure boulders, big snow and ice boulders which requires arms and legs at full stretch just to clamber up. Add into this, the fact that once the morning sun has melted snow at the top it causes rocks to tumble down the mountain side. Ignoring the tumbling rock part (as we were just struggling to clamber ourselves up) all of a sudden our guide shrieked for us to get out of the way. At this point we were absolutely shattered, unable to breathe and sliding around like two whales beached on the shore – maybe it was adrenaline who knows, but we have never shifted as fast in our lives to shelter from the rocks falling from a huge height above us. It was close, very close and we were instructed to get up as fast as we could. Oh my god, we were exhausted when we got to the glacier which was almost at the top.

Once at the glacier, we needed to tip toe across, following footprints so we didn’t end up landing where the falling rocks had done  so an hour earlier. Relieved we were still alive, we soaked up the view and celebrated that we just had one more pass to go.

On the way up Cho LaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Calm before the rock fallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Snow Leopard prints!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the GlacierOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tiptoeing across
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Glad to be alive at the top
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Relieved Claire was coming down
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Unsteady rocksOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Thirteen – Everest Three Passes Trek – Unlucky for some, thank goodness for rest days
Gokyo (4,750m)
Walking Time: 2 Hours
Having spent the whole evening running too and from the loo, Claire was ill, pretty god dam ill to be fair. Not ever wanting to stay in bed and miss anything, Claire crawled out of bed ready for a walk along the various lakes. After half an hour and moving little further from the guest house door she was back in bed and didn’t move all day. Gokyo is an amazing place, the mountain view reflecting onto the glacier lakes just looks like a tropical island paradise. Unfortunately, the water isn’t quite as warm as a tropical island paradise. With Claire tucked up in bed, Danny went for a stroll to the Yak burger restaurant and back. On another note, today was the last day for our guide Pasang who unfortunately had been handed his P45 due to some disagreement with the trekking agency. It was official, we were stuck 4,750m with nobody to guide us back down!

At least Claire had a nice view out of the windowOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cleaning his pegs al frescoNepal Trek EBC - Lukla 075

Pretty much as far as she gotOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View towards our guest house and Gokyo LakeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Yak BurgerOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Fourteen – Everest Three Passes Trek – Going Solo
Gokyo (4,750m)- Gokyo Ri (5,360m) – Gokyo (4,750m)
Walking Time: 3.5 Hours
With Claire still tucked up in bed/the bog, Danny decided to go solo up to Gokyo Ri. Again, not wanting to miss out on any action, Claire was up in bed watching Danny struggle to the top through her binoculars. After 1.45 hours he made it to the top and looking at the photos once he was down, it was apparent that Danny was more concerned over a photo of him at the summit rather than the view. In the afternoon, Claire was feeling a little better and managed to eat a slice of toast – her only meal within 48 hours, great fuel for our last and final pass the following day.

Looking down on Claire half way up
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Pausing for breath over Gokyo LakeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View from the summit towards Gokyo and Renjo LaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Just one of the numerous shots of Danny at the summitOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View from the top towards Everest
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Day Fifteen – Everest Three Passes Trek – Our last and final pass!!
Gokyo (4,750m) – Renjo La (5,345m) – Lungden (4,350m)
Walking Time: 11 Hours
Setting off and waving goodbye to a beautiful place was a little bit tougher knowing we had a pass to cross. Claire, although not 100% was fueled on by her whole slice of toast the previous day and was exceptionally looking forward to to the walk. 5.30am we were up and off, snaking around the edge of the lake and climbing up towards the summit. With no guide for help it was just Danny, Claire and a compass that kept sticking on north. Stopping for numerous ‘al fresco’ toilet stops on route, Claire seemed to have a spring in her step knowing that after today it was downhill all the way home. Until we were about an hour from the summit we were engulfed in thick unpenetrable cloud, walking along surfaces which resembled the moon, our eyes were constantly scanning for cairns or clues of some sort. Near the summit the cloud shifted and we were yet again surrounded by the highest peaks known to man.

Stopping at the top we celebrated finally walking all three passes! It was a great feeling and a great accomplishment for both of us. We’d say, given the effects that altitude has on your body, this was one of the hardest but best things we have ever done in our lives.

Getting down at the other side was also a tough one, looking for cairns and completely ignoring the arrows burnt into the ground, we managed (thanks to Claire), to add an extra 2 hours onto an already long day- still, the San Miguel and Cheesy Pringles were worth waiting for.

Setting off at 5.30am looking absolutely knackeredOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Walking on the moonOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ten minutes from the top – you can do it!
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Yipeeeeeeeeeee we made all three!!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Her first meal in 48 hoursOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Up above the ice caps
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Looking down on where we’d come from – if only it was a straight line!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Yipeeeeeeee for all three!!!!!!
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Coming down the other side, looks like MordorOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Save 2 hours and follow me please……..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A well deserved beer and over priced Pringles in LungdenOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Sixteen- Everest Three Passes Trek – All the way down to the pub
Lungden (4,350m) – Thame (3,950m) – Namche Bazaar (3,420m)
Walking Time: 9 Hours
Knowing that the next few days of walking was all downhill, we woke up happy to be setting off. The sun was shining and given the lower altitude, it was mega hot. The woolly hats and thick socks finally got an opportunity to ferment in our bags a few days before getting exterminated in Kathmandu.

Taking things at a very leisurely pace, we slowly descended along the river to the village of Thame for lunch. Thame is a village renowned for its hardcore mountain Sherpas, it was the home of Tenzing Norgay, one of the first men who made it to the top of the world. These Sherpas are the toughest of the tough, the hard working lads risk their lives each year laying ladders across the Everest icefall and carrying filthy rich tourists to the summit. Stopping at a little old ladies tea house for lunch, we couldn’t help but notice all the certificates and memorabilia hanging from the walls. Whilst we sat pondering over the pictures and munching on our hash browns, there was some really really loud snoring coming from behind the garden wall, laughing with the lady, she then told us it was her husband who had just come home from another successful summit attempt that morning – it was his thirteenth time on top! His brother, Apa Sherpa holds the world record at twenty one summits on Everest. We took our hats off to this fella and felt very honored to have met him, even though he hadn’t had time to wash his face.

Arriving in Namche Bazaar at about 6pm, we spent the next hour enjoying a hot shower before sitting down to Yak steak and chips then propping the bar up all night. As a gesture of our bar spend, the lady told us the biggest secret ever to reach Namche Bazaar………….. Tom Cruise was arriving within the next two days as part of an Everest Base Camp trek. Although Claire doesn’t even like Tom Cruise, she was like a kid in a candy shop.

Setting off that morning from LungdenNepal Trek EBC - Lukla 102

The cute kid at the lodge doing as he is toldNepal Trek EBC - Lukla 103

Hello lovely green trees, we have missed you up there
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Passing by Thamel StupaOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Danny and our hero!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This is how to carry a big log
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Day Eighteen – Everest Three Passes Trek – Celebrating in the pub- This is what a real rest day is like
Namche Bazaar (3,420m)
Walking  Drinking Time: 12 Hours
With little else to do but meet up with our mates and keep an eye out for Tom cruise, we spent most of the day swanning around between one pub, the restaurant and the next pub. Finally back at a decent altitude, we didn’t think drinking would have such an effect. Danny, not knowing just how the booze would effect him, downed almost a full bottle of rum.

Back in NamacheNepal Trek EBC - Lukla 136

Tom Cruise spies
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About as far as we gotNepal Trek EBC - Lukla 154

Day Nineteen – Everest Three Passes Trek – A sorry state all the way down
Namche Bazaar (3,420m) – Lukla (2,840m)
Walking Time: 9 Hours
Getting woken up by our mates as we had slept in, Danny opened his eyes and wished he had never been born. The Rum he downed without having any tea the previous night was laying heavily on his guts and his head. No time for excuses, we had to get going.  We had to be in Lukla for 3.45pm to confirm our flights the following day, if we weren’t, our slot would be allocated to one of the tourists who had been stuck waiting in the airport for the last five days. Toppling over, gipping and sweating like a trooper Danny, very, very slowly managed to get to our brunch stop. His breakfast of coke, a snickers and a mars bar not doing him any favors.

After probably one of Dannys most difficult days, we made it to Lukla at 3.30pm confirmed our flights and nodded off watching cartoons on the telly.

Even more satisfying than seeing the Oakwell sign that day
Nepal Lumbini, Trek Lukla - EBC 109

DyingOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally down to river levelOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

His sweat stunk of  RumOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Twenty – Everest Three Passes Trek – Back down to Kathmandu
Lukla (2,840m) – Kathmandu
Walking Time: 0 Hour
So today was the day we left Lukla. After arriving to a closed airport at 5.30am, the cloud soon cleared and we were on our way by 10.30am. So relieved not to be stuck in Lukla with the hairy dogs and overpriced beer, we were happy to be going back to Kathmandu. Twenty days of overpriced shite meals, unchocolately hot chocolate and cold nights took its toll, we could not wait to get some descent snap and hit the happy hours.

Looking back at all the photos and writing this blog almost a month after our trek, we are still pretty sad it is all over. The trek was just the best thing we have ever done and we are not sure we will ever see a landscape as magnificent as that one. Despite being tough, we had a great amount of fun and met some super people. As for trekking, are we planning any more in Nepal? Well, we’ll probably do a short five day one.

Dead excited and relieved we got our tickets
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Here it comes! Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
Nepal Trek EBC - Lukla 174

Hahah not enjoying the take offOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our route on this post:


Destination Arrival
1 Belahiya, Nepal May 1, 2013
2 Bhairhawa, Nepal May 1, 2013
3 Lumbini, Nepal May 1, 2013
4 Kathmandu, Nepal May 2, 2013
5 Lukla, Nepal May 7, 2013
6 Phakding, Nepal May 7, 2013
7 Namche Bazaar, Nepal May 8, 2013
8 Tengboche, Nepal May 10, 2013
9 Dingboche, Nepal May 11, 2013
10 Chhukung, Nepal May 12, 2013
11 Lobuche, Nepal May 14, 2013
12 Gorak Shep, Nepal May 15, 2013
13 Everest Base Camp, Nepal May 15, 2013
14 Gorak Shep, Nepal May 15, 2013
15 Lobuche, Nepal May 16, 2013
16 Dzonglha, Nepal May 17, 2013
17 Gokyo, Nepal May 18, 2013
18 Lungden, Nepal May 21, 2013
19 Thame, Nepal May 22, 2013
20 Namche Bazaar, Nepal May 22, 2013
21 Lukla, Nepal May 24, 2013
22 Kathmandu, Nepal May 25, 2013

5 Responses to Namaste Nepal – To the top of the world and back

  1. Sandra and Dylan

    Wow! We are truly impressed by the beauty of Nepal and your physical effort .
    Hope Claire is feeling better now : )

    Looking forward to the next stage. Take care

    X

  2. Gaynor Marais

    Of course my favourite post so far! Incredible what you guys achieved. You can be very proud.

  3. Em

    Absolutely amazing, I agree with Cinders all the way :) Love yews xxx

  4. Booithy

    Wow!

  5. Mum

    I am so proud of you both .That was amazing and I am writing this with tears pouring down my face.The photos are spectacular well done both of you .love you lots xmumxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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