Tea and trekking – first 96 hours
Writing this on Day Four of hiking. We’re currently in Tengboche at 3,864 meters. Today has been a light day, though we were up at 5.45AM for breakfast (porridge) and hiking by 6.30 we ended at our destination around 11.30, the reason for starting so early was to see this festival that’s occurring in the town, in particular in the monastery. It was quite spectacular with lots of dancing and masks though a little repetitive. The early start does mean we have had most of the afternoon free, giving time to update the blog. However the WiFi isn’t working here so will have to post this update later – edit now it’s working in between power cuts.
Skipping back a little to give a short update on the days so far:
Our first early start, we had to catch an 8am flight from Katmandu to Lukla from where all hiking begins. The flight was a rather exciting 30 minutes, with the plane holding about 25 people including pilots and stewardess. It was a very turbulent flight and incredible scenery.
Upon disembarking we took a tea stop in our first tea house, of which there have been many and very varied. After the tea stop we descended to acclimatise at a lower height – everyone was feeling a little rough at Lukla – being much higher than Katmandu.
This is a good point to give an overview of our crew. We have our guide – Nick who has done this trip about 4 times and founded the company – Fitways, superb mountaineer. Our second guide is a local Sherpa and all round legend, Pemba. The man is in his early 30s, has summited Everest 3-4 times and done many of the routes we are taking literally 1000s of times. He has been the local organiser – helping plan the route and book the accommodation. Then we have two yaks (technically not a true Yak as they are crossed with cows), who we have named Norman and George. A yak herder and a porter. Between the two yaks and the porter they carry our main bags – appox 10kgs per person (there are 9 of us).
This was a big day, we hiked to Namche Bazar, which is a largish town built on a hill. We gained a lot of height on this day, 800M, going higher than Lukla. It was a good 8 hours of hiking, through some stunning mountain and river scenery. We also got our first peek of Everest, recognisable from the dust cloud surrounding the peak – a consequence of Everest being in the middle of a jet stream – one of the reasons it is so difficult to climb (though not as much as another mountain in the region we learnt, which for every successful summit also has one fatality). In the evening we got to experience some local singing and dancing in the tea house / lodge. As with what we experienced in the monastery today, a great cultural experience but one which could have done with being shorter!
We gained 400m on this day, our destination was Pemba’s hometown where his parents and sister live along with his niece and nephew. Since we were going to visit the local school (I believe they taught around ages 8-14), we bought some pens and pencils to give out. I was feeling quite rough by the end of the days hike – a consequence I think of a poor night sleep and the altitude. So although it was really good to see the school I think I might have enjoyed it more another day. We also visited a local monastery which like much of the village was being rebuilt after the earthquake last year.
We had probably the best food of the trip (excluding Katmandu), with garlic soup for starter then pastry base pizza, potato wedges and veg followed by a chocolate rice pudding.
-All in all really good trip so far, hard work but the scenery is stunning and it’s amazing to experience some of the local culture.Continue reading