I can’t believe it’s nearly ten years since I trekked the famous route from Lukla to Everest Base Camp. It was February 2007 I joined around eighteen other trekkers at Heathrow Airport for a flight via Doha to Katmandu. It was a departure lounge of excited, somewhat nervous people all there for their own reasons. Amazingly, some hadn’t done much walking it was just a bucket list trip and something to tell thier mates in the pub. One thing was guaranteed the outdoor clothing companies had done very well as every brand was represented either in new jackets, rucksack or boots.
Either way, I was sat there waiting to walk in the footsteps of famous mountaineers from history to my heroes of recent times. I’d read the books, seen pictures and listened to lectures at film festivals – now it was real. Base Camp was the point we were aiming for and our summit was to be Kala Patthar at 5550m, how ever even at sea level the talk was about altitude sickness and would we make it. I took some reading material, one of my choices was ‘Into Thin Air’. I don’t need to go any further, it is a well documented year on the mountain. I had read it before, but I chose to read it along the trail and immerse my self in the story in the region it all transpired. It proved to be quite emotional as we passed certain points along the way to base camp.
Before we arrived at Lukla we spent a few days in Katmandu, a chance to get to know each other and take in the culture of the city. First we were in for a treat, a mornings flight around an hour in total to see the Himalayas for the first time and Mount Everest herself.
Once sat on the Jetstream we had clearance from the control tower. The mountains came quickly into view and as we neared the 8000m peaks of Makalu, Lhotse, Nuptse and Everest we took it in turns to go to the cockpit and get a view of these majestic mountains.
View from the Cockpit
This would be our last view of these peaks for a few weeks, we would have to trek to Namche Bazaar to view Everest again. Back in Katmandu we took a taxi in to the Thamel district and Bhaktapur and visit Durbar Square. This area was devastated in the earthquake recently. Just before we arrived the government was in dispute with workers and refuse was not being collected, the streets were steadily filling up the already crowded streets.
Taxi rides in Katmandu are an experience, you never really get going due to the volume of traffic. However, everyone honks their car horns and push in to ques of car, rickshaws and occasionally elephants.
Bhaktapur Durbar Square is an area in front of the Royal Palace of the old kingdom about 10 miles east of Katmandu. It is made up of four squares (Durbar, Taumadi, Dattatreya and pottery). One of the most visited sites is the Palace of 55 windows built-in 1427 AD. The balcony of 55 windows is a masterpiece of wood carving.
The market area was bustling with trade, making pottery, selling food and children playing.
After a few days relaxing and exploring the sights we packed our duffel bags, our day packs and boarded a flight to Lukla.