Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lukla to Phortse

Ann and I finally made the flight to Lukla from Kathmandu after going to the airport 8 days in a row.  The plane is a small twin turbo prop Donier that holds about 20 passengers.  The flight was spectacular with good views of the mountains including Mt Everest.  It is an exciting landing - you fly over a pass in the ridge that is visable in the background in the photo below just above the cloud layer.  The plane then drops down to the airstip on the side of the hill.  The reason the flight was cancelled for so many days was becase there were clouds in this pass.
Airport at Lukla
After we landed at Lukla which is at about 9,000 feet in elevation, we hiked for about 5 hours to the town of Monjo where we spent the night.  Monjo is at or below the elevation of Lukla because we dropped about 1000 feet from Lukla to the Dudh Kosi River before we started climbing again.  Along the way we came across many simple but beautiful Buddhist stupas (see post on Kathmandu) and piles of Mani stones.  Mani stones are rocks inscribes with Buddhist prayers.

Buddhist Stupa and Mani Stones along the trail
Along the trek between Lukla and Namche Bazar we crossed six cable footbridges.  Not that many years ago these bridges were made of vines and sticks and the new bridges make it possible to safely move people and cargo up the valley.  This plus the popularity of the trek to Mt Everest has made the Khumbu a relatively prosperous region in Nepal.

Ann on one of the cable footbridges over the Dudh Kosi River
On the second day of our trek we had to climb up about 2500 feet from Monjo to the village of Namche Bazar which is just under 12,000 feet.  We climbed above the tree line and began to get spectacular views of the mountains including the Kwangde peaks, Kusum Kanguru, Tamserku, Lhotse, Nuptse, and Mt Everest.  The view reminded me of the new route that Alex Lowe and I climbed on Kwangde Nup in 1989.  The upper part of the route is up the black rock wall visible on the peak furthest to the right in the photo below.
Namche Bazar and the Kwangde Peaks behind

We spent the night in Namche Bazar and on third day of our trek Ann and I headed to different places.  Ann went to the village of Kumjung with Liesl Clark and her children Finn (8), and Cleo (5) where they will be working at one of the Magic Yeti libraries.  Liesl and her husband Pete Athans have established several village libraries in this region of Nepal to help promote literacy.  I headed for the village of Phortse with Dave Weber, Kit Redhead, Pete Athans, Dave Burger, Dawa, and Chongba.  Phortse is the location of the Khumbu Climbing School and I will be able to get in a couple of days of teaching and a day of testing.  This is all that is left of this session of the KCS given that we are six days late getting here.  We had great weather on the hike to Phortse with views of the top of Mount Everest.

The top of Mt Everest behind the Lhotse-Nuptse wall on the left with Ama Dablam on the right

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