So now that I’ve finished the whole sequence I figured I’d post the whole listing here on one page in order, it will make it easier for people finding it for the first time to access, enjoy:
Posts Tagged ‘namche’
Tags: breschears, cho oyu, everest, everest base camp, gokyo, gompa, gorak shep, kathmandu, khumjung, life, lukla, mong la, namche, nepal, renjo la, sherpa, thamel, trek, trekking, yeti
Tags: everest, gomap, gorak shep, life, lukla, namche, nepal, steve, trek, trekking
It’s funny in writing something like this, trying to remember everything, even with journal notes, things come to you later, you realize you didn’t get in pictures that you like. You can never catch the feeling or the depth of the friendships that can be created so quickly. One person whose image hasn’t appeared is our friend Steve. Steve of course is not her given name, being born a woman in Hungary and all, but she is Steve, first a picture of my friend Steve:
And now a video to show you what the whole Steve thing is about:
Steve is a truly amazing woman, this was her second trek and she was a zen-like trekker, calm quiet, Steve took everything in her own time. Not to mention that she was fascinating to talk to and was being tracked and protected by the Hungarian Secret Service, at least that was the joke. We kid her a lot that they had her on satellite imagery at all times, and then one day while we were resting under the eaves of a lodge on the trail to Na, a black helicopter came flying up the valley. It really seemed like since she was off satellite coverage they had sent in the choppers. I miss Steve.
You have seen some of the other characters we were with, Stretch, Mark, Philippe and a couple of pictures and a mention of Tom being sick. However, I believe I could write a 16 part series about my friend Tom, it was his second trek as well and he is one of the funniest humans I’ve ever encountered. He routinely kept me laughing and when I couldn’t go above a snail’s pace he spent the day walking with me. With Tom things were up and down, although he kept my spirits up, it was because of him that I ended up at war with Australia.
Our guides were magnificent and truly I wouldn’t trek with anyone else, Kim and Lhakpa are the best. Kim’s company can be found at
and Lhakpa is branching out on his own and has a new company he has started and can be found at:
If you go to see them bring Kim Jolly Ranchers and Lhakpa beef jerky and of course ziplocks and duct tape, they’ll appreciate it.
There are times in the mountains when life can’t get any better, and times when you can’t believe you’re going to finish the days walk. You can build life-long friendships climbing a single hill and totally forget where you are and what you are doing. One of my favorite moments among many was coming up over the ridge to Gorak Shep and looking at the mountains in front of me. Seeing these peaks rising 10,000 feet in the sky I stood there admiring them and then started to laugh. Yes, I was looking at peaks nearly 10,000 feet above me, but I was already 17,000 feet up, such is the power of the biggest mountains in the world.
I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to the Himalayas but I’m glad I went, the peace I gained in the rare air lasted me almost 10 months after I got back to “civilization.” The other thing that is hard to find space for are just pictures, so to wrap up this little odyssey just a set of pretty shots from the Himalayas, enjoy!
A picture holding a package of mountain gold.
And finally the shot I use as the header for my other blog, The Ministry of Happiness.
Tags: everest, himalaya, life, lukla, namche, trek, trekking
Had a great night sleep in Namche, woke up and took my morning constitutional on an honest to goodness sit down toilet, ah the joys in life we take for granted on a daily basis. Fantastic breakfast and with my back still a bit sore and finally tired of walking I decided not to go up to Thame to meet the group and instead spent the day in Namche. I walked around the town for the day, did a little shopping and looked at some amazing Thankas (religious paintings), did some internet, sat in the sun and ate apple pie at the Everest Bakery, damn good apple pie.
The rest of our group came in that night and it was a raucous and emotional reunion, we ate a lot, we drank a lot, and general relaxed. It was also starting to set in that we would be leaving each other soon, people were tired and emotions frayed, so like any good family party people were on edge. Over the last three weeks we had become a family in some sense of the word, we’d bonded over hard work and high altitude and had gotten very close. Like every family however, you had your obnoxious loud cousin, the weird family members, the quiet ones, the mom – I can see all of my former companions reading this and trying to figure out who I thought was who. We’d been living together for three weeks and that brings with it all of the positives and all of the negatives. However what I will say is that in doing these sorts of adventures, I’ve noticed that the people who show up to these things are typically a little easier to get along with than the general population. I do not like to be part of groups as a general rule but anybody willing to pay to walk up mountains and used squat toilets for a couple of weeks has an adventurous nature and those folks are always easier to get along with, our group was no exception. In our group, after we picked up a couple of stragglers, including scientists, teachers, computer programmers, business people and a doctor. The countries represented included the United States, France, Hungary and Slovenia a pretty diverse group. The age range and I’m guessing a little bit here, ranged from late 20’s to the early 60’s and every shape and size, this diversity provided for great conversation and a full rewriting of the Slovenian National Anthem.
The morning after our Namche reunion we walked down to Phakding, on the website for Project Himalaya it says this walk we came up two weeks before will seem remarkably easy and quick and it was true. It really is amazing after two weeks in the high country how much easier it was to walk at 10,000 feet and lower. We spent the night at a lodge in Phakding eating popcorn and watching Bollywood music videos. The next morning we were off to Lukla.
The next morning uncharacteristically I was one of the first people to be ready and I set off down the trail toward Lukla. I was the second person out and was wondering down the trail looking at some of the amazing Mani Walls in the areas:
Some of the beautiful homes and gardens:
I was even stopped for awhile so that a train of mules essentially could go through, and at times stopped to let some of the unbelievable porters to come through:
The porters are absolutely amazing, small men by American standards, thin, wearing sneakers and sometimes even sandals and they are carrying crazy loads from 9000 to sometimes 15, 16, or 17,000 feet. I saw porters who were carrying five foot high stacks of can goods, with ten sheets of plywood (the picture above) and the most amazing, a five foot man carrying eight, seven-foot long pieces of rebar. The rebar was so long that he had to go backwards downhill, the same downhills I was carefully picking my way down with trekking poles. Effectively the porters and Sherpas of the Khumbu are supermen.
Now one of the questions I often get was aren’t you afraid you’ll get lost and I always said no, the trails are fairly obvious and they were. Particularly on the way to Lukla, it’s a trail, mostly stone covered that thousands of people walk daily. Of course, this was the day I got lost. It was a short detour, I missed a turn around a little school and instead went off along the river. The trail kept getting narrower and I stopped seeing people come the other way so I realized pretty quickly I’d gone the wrong way. It was a nice little diversion down a quiet part of the valley and I was happy for the mistake.
I backtracked to the trail and ended up coming up behind the group and freaking people out as they were all sure I was up ahead of them. We walked leisurely that day, stopped for tea on a highpoint and enjoyed the sun. There was one last hill to climb and then we entered Lukla a full circle in the Himalayas
We dropped down through the village and stayed at the lodge next to the airport and settled in for lunch, it was Thanksgiving Day back in the states but there was no turkey on the menu in Lukla. I was hungry and so I decided to order the sizzling Yak platter and when it came out steaming and sizzling I was the envy of the lunch crowd. We spent the day in Lukla picking up souvenirs, catching up with the world on the internet and then me, Mark and Tom decided to have a beer at the Everest Rock Bar. It was a fabulous little place, just us and the bartender who I’m sure thought we were nuts, we drank, we laughed and listened to the same loop of music over and over and it was wonderful. The girl who hiked in a skirt and her boyfriend even stuck their head into the bar in a nice little coincidence and said hi. It was a good afternoon.
That night was Thanksgiving Dinner, our last night party, we bought a box of wine and we all ordered the sizzling Yak, within minutes of our dinners coming out the steam had fogged up the entire lodge and they were opening windows. The other groups in the lodge, Italians and Japanese couldn’t stop watching our table. We were happy and rowdy and then it happened, perhaps the funniest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life. One of the add-ons to our group, Chris had gone to an international nursery school as a small child and had learned a Japanese Nursery Rhyme. Suddenly, with no warning Chris leaped up and burst out in full Japanese song mode and started dancing and singing the rhyme. Some of the older Japanese ladies jumped up out of their chairs and joined right in, it was madness as the other Japanese trekkers went for their phones to video the whole affair. Every once-in-awhile I search YouTube hoping someone has posted it, the search continues. A late night and lots of drinking would be followed by an early flight to Kathmandu. As I was nodding off Philippe came into the room and proceeded to spontaneously launch into a flying Tatanka massage. Nothing like being half-awake, buzzed and having a 250 pound flying Frenchman land on you full force to give you a full body Tatanka massage. After my screaming stopped I heard lots of laughter from the other rooms of my mates. I would sleep with one eye open for the rest of the night.
Tags: dhole, everest, life, mong la, moonlight lodge, namche, tathanka, trek, trekking
Cold morning in Dhole and no fire in the common room so we ate as fast as possible and made for Phortse Tenga at a pretty fast clip. Then we made what was an hour and fourteen minute climb up to Mong La, with the extra weight in the packs it was a challenging climb. However, back at lower elevation and over two weeks in the Himalayas it wasn’t so bad. We stopped at Mong La for a quick cup of tea, a short rest and to take in the view which from there is truly spectacular.
The picture is of my friend Nives at Mong La the first time we came through. Mong La improbably sits on the top of a peak like a Himalayan rest area. Reaching the top there are several little lodges and our two stops there were magical.
Our tea stop was brief and we were on the march again, our goal was back to the Moonlight Lodge in Namche and back to internet connections, hot showers, sit on toilets and great apple pie in the bakeries. However my back was starting to bothering with the extra weight, we came down off of the hill from Mong La and stopped at a lodge and our guide Lhakpa really wanted to move on through and get to Namche but Philippe and I were tired and as tempting as Namche and all it held was, a grumbling stomach won out. So we stopped to sit in the sun and have a snack and it is time to truly introduce you to my friend Phillipe, or as he became to known as, Tatanka. Philippe is from France and speaks excellent English although he doesn’t believe that so much, he’s a big and powerful man and happened to have a Tatonka bag. I don’t know what that means in German but it quickly got co-opted to the Lakota Sioux word for Bison. The following two pictures show exactly how well my friend took to his new name:
Philippe Is a very social man who speaks several languages, when we sat down another Frenchman joined us at the table and the French began to fly. Then several Germans sat at the next table and the German began to fly. It was fabulous sitting there in the middle of several conversations going on at once in English, French and German staring out across the Khumbu Valley with the high peaks in the distance. It was one of few truly cosmopolitan and amazing moments of my life, and then the Frenchman’s meal came, fried eggs on top of French Fries. At that moment it seemed to be the greatest culinary invention in the history of mankind and we order it immediately, much to the dismay of Lhakpa who now realized he’d lost the battle to keep us moving. Fried eggs, French Fries and a coke, it was delicious and different and in that moment has to have been one of the best meals I’d ever eaten. One of those meals that eaten anywhere else, at any other time, would barely be palatable was a veritable feast in the Himalayas.
Eventually Lhakpa did get us moving and when he finally did he demonstrated his desire to get us quickly Namche with a blistering pace. It was a downhill run but my back began to hurt again, but it was time to tough it out, I did and the payoff was spotting two blood pheasants on the way into Namche, awesome. Finally we were back at what seemed like home, Namche, The Moonlight Lodge and a reunion with our friend Tom who had gone down early because he was ill and the cold beer that the reunion promised.
Tags: ama dablam, everest, himalaya, life, namche, nepal, pangboche, peak, phortse, sherpa, trek, trekking
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu
We headed out of Namche on what passes for flat in the Himalayas, this then led to a climb, a very long climb up to Mong La on the top of a mountain for lunch (12,795 ft) this was the highest elevation I’d ever achieved and it felt great. I needed the rest at that point and we had a leisurely lunch. Then it was down, down, down to the river and then up a really magnificent hill to Phortse at 12,400 ft and a really great lodge. My favorite part of the lodge was the owner’s grandson who was a bit of an urchin and who was utterly fascinated by my beard which he proceeded to try and pull off of my face.
Also had my first experience with an Asian squat toilet, they’re hell on the legs, must be one of the reasons the locals have such strong legs.
The next morning I made the mistake of running up the stairs and suddenly felt lightheaded, so I grabbed my pack and went outside to try and get my breath back and feel a bit better. About 10 minutes later one of our guides, Lhakpa, comes jogging around the back of the lodge to get me, the group was already well up the mountain ahead of us. The adrenaline burst took my mind off how I felt and I slowly climbed my way back to the group.
We spent the rest of the day on exposed trails heading to Pangboche, a really difficult day hiking for me as I started out feeling off and running late. Plus exposed trails really wear me out mentally, not to mention that we ended the day at Pangboche (13,040 ft), and during the day on the hike we hit (13,500 ft) my new highest point, a recurring theme for the next couple of weeks.
We’ve been passing a peak from different angles over the last couple of days and it is quickly becoming my favorite, it’s called, Khan Tiega and it is pictured below:
Took a very cold shower in Pangboche and then walked out to take some shots of some truly magnificent vistas behind the lodge, an example below.
We would be doing an acclimatization day in Pangboche and the optional hike was to go to base camp for Ama Dablam, the mountain shown below. The peak of Ama Dablam is over 22,000 ft and features a huge ice climb.
Upper base camp at Ama Dablam which we visited is at 14,800 ft, which is higher than any mountain in the continental United States, so I decided to go and here I was only a few days into my Himalayan experience standing at a point higher than anything in the continental US. It was an accomplishment that hit me at the time, one I was proud of and also hit me because I was feeling the effects of the altitude and was happy to drop back down the 1500 ft back to Pangboche.
My actual notes for the day:
“It was cool to see base camp at Ama Dablam today with all of the tents set up. Walking through the valleys it was amazing clouds, snow and 6-8000 meter peaks (20-26,000 ft) and so quiet, except for the sound of the occasional far off avalanche.”
Tags: ama dablam, everest, himalaya, khumjung, lhotse, life, namche, nepal, sherpa, trekking, yeti
Today we start to go uphill, after doing some walking and crossing several suspension bridges we really started to climb, and at the two and a half hour mark we stopped at what I started calling a Himalaya Rest Stop, where several local women were selling fruit to the trekkers. I was excited to make friends with one of the ladies and buy the “last banana” at least the last one until we were up the trail I’m sure. The stop had a much bigger significance however, it was the first spot where we had a view of Mt. Everest.
As the day closed we arrived at Namche Bazaar (11,315 ft) essentially a giant swap meet in the middle of the mountains. Namche is the place where Tibetans who have walked over the mountains, often in sneakers, come to sell their wares. The village also has internet shops, bakeries and most importantly hot showers and the last sit down toilets on the trail.
Getting to Namche was great and I was thankful for an acclimatization day the next day as I wasn’t feeling great, but then again, 11,000 feet, a tough day walking and a bit of sunburn will do that to you.
The next morning has me very excited, I’m a big believer in Bigfoot and its Himalayan cousin the Yeti, to the point that my brother and I produce a website related to this and related topics, www.dystopiantimes.com. I’m excited because today we will visit a Gompa in Khumjung where they monks have a purported Yeti Skull.
Acclimatization day does not mean rest day, in fact the goal is to go up a thousand feet or so and then come back down to sleep lower than you climbed. We climbed up above Namche with amazing views in the clear November skies including Ama Dablam, Everest and Lhotse. The crazy thing is way up here on the mountain at 12,000 feet we came across a dirt airstrip and actually got to see a plane take off, it was wild.
We walked to Khunde for lunch and visited one of the mountain health clinics and then the big attraction for the day, the Khumjung Gompa and the Yeti Skull. Arriving at the Gompa we had to make a donation to get the caretaker to open the case with the skull in it, but once he did we got to get up close to the small glass container that contained the skull. Unfortunately the glass and the lack of light made getting a good shot almost impossible so here’s my best one below:
I’m a big fan of cryptids like the Yeti, but I’m also a scientist and the fact is the Khumjung skull is not a Yeti skull, it has been previously investigated and it turned out to not be the real deal, the link below can give you more information.
The history of the skull:
A link to a picture of Sir Edmund Hillary with the scalp and it’s debunking:
All in all it was still a thrill to be in the land of the Yeti and be talking to people who truly believe in its existence. Here’s a piece on another Yeti expedition to the Himalayas and some really interesting results:
On the way back to Namche we stopped and took some photos including my favorite one of me in the Himalayas and here it is.