Monday, 29 October 2012

Gorak Shep to Namche Bazar

So I'm in Namche resting up after an epic couple of weeks trekking in the Everest region. This will be my final update for this part of the trip as I only have one small 6 hour walk back to Lukla to get my flight back to Kathmandu.

22/10/2012 Gorak Shep to Dzongla (via Kala Patthar)

My alarm started to bleep, it's early, very early. 4:15 to be precise, I couldn't ignore it as was the start of a very long day!

Pre breakfast we were to climb Kala Patthar, the "hill" behind Gorak Shep. It only rises 400m above the village, so at sea level this would be nothing. However, I'm starting at 5140m and its cold and dark.

I quickly got dressed and headed out into the blackness at 4:30. There was already a stream of head torches dotted up the hill. The initial bit was a bit steep, but soon the gradient eased out and the going got slightly easier. I guess that I was up around 5300m and could see the silhouette of the summit another 200m above me. By now the sun was coming over the horizon (5:30) and we are able to switch off our head torches but I still concentrated on the 3m in front of me, I'm in my own world of pain. Struggling to breathe and put one foot in front of the other.

The defined trail came to an end and became a jumble of blocks. My fingers and toes were getting cold and a bit numb, I was only 50m from the top, at this point I was literally crawling on my hands and knees to the top, nothing was going to stop me. At 6:00 I was on the summit at 5550m, this is the highest I've ever been on foot!

Around me other peaks tower above me, from where I stand Everest is still over 3km higher. It's taken a mammoth 2.5 hours to get here, I take some photos and then it's time to descend, my index fingers by now have gone totally numb.

Our descent is rapid and as we get lower and the sun gets warmer, I get painful hot aches in my fingers, a good sign as this means they are going to be ok. After 1 hour we are back in the tea house in Gorak Shep, time for some breakfast.

After an hour break we leave Gorak Shep and head back over the moraine we crossed the previous day to Lobuche. Again we make light work of the journey and take 1.5 hours. My original schedule says we will be stopping here for the night. Unfortunately, it is really busy in the Everest region and there are no rooms, we must do a double day and head on to Dzongla. We take a break before continuing.

The path from Lobuche to Dzongla is not hard going as it contours around the hillside. However, I should point out it is very narrow, less thank 50cm in places with big drops to my lefthand side. Soon I see Dzongla in the distance, the good news is that it's at the same height as the path I'm on, the bad news is that there are 2 valleys to descend and reascend before I get there. At 12:30 we reach Dzongla I have been walking 7.5 hours, Epic!

I spend the rest of the day trying to let my body recover, my muscles and joints ache, I just want to go to sleep.

23/10/2012 Dzongla to Thangnak (via Cho La)

If the previous day wasn't big enough, I have to do a similar trek again today.

Another early start up at 6:15 and on the trail by 6:45. It was nice that the sun was already warming up the valley. After a short climb u p from the tea house I was faced with a wide flat valley, at the end of which I could see the days main challenge, the Cho La pass some 500m above me at 5330m. We made good progress until we crossed a small river then it was up, up, up along the old moraine. Finally reaching the head wall of the valley, from here the path became more like a scramble (a mix between walking and easy rock climbing). At the top there is a small glacier that needs to be crossed, not difficult as the ice was firm and crunchy and as long as to stay to the left side well away from the crevasses.

At the end of the glacier we made a short rock climb to the pass and my first view into the next valley. I could see the path winding its way into the distance. We had only taken 2.5 hours to get to this point but there was still quite a bit of work to do.

On leaving the pass I was faced with a very steep downhill section, which was rocky and had loose scree. The map stated that this area was prone to rockfall so we had to move fast. After 50 mins we reached the bottom of the danger area with no issues. From here it should be all plain sailing I thought......Wrong!

Next come some energy zapping boulder hopping. This went on for ages and I jarred my left knee. Eventually, we reached the winding path that I saw from the top of the pass, but due to my knee, which was now ready to explode made it hard going, each step causing more pain, bringing tears to my eyes, I was wishing for the village to appear around every corner.

After 2.5 hours since leaving the top of the pass we entered Thangnak, it had been another hard day and I had been walking for 5 hours 45 mins with very little rest, food & water (I ran out during the boulder section).

I rested my knee and took some anti-inflammatories, I was totally wasted and its taking my body longer to recover.

24/10/2012 Thangnak to Gokyo

I woke at 6:15 with a hacking cough and sore throat, I had been coming down with something for a few days now, as many Trekkers in the tea houses were also ill. This must be the famous Khumbu cough caused by the cold, dry air.

The journey from Thangnak to Gokyo is relatively short, only 2 hours with minimal climbing. However, we had one major obstacle to deal with the Ngozumba Glacier, which we had to cross.

After an easy 30 min walk along the lateral moraine we dropped steeply onto the glacier itself. You wouldn't believe that you were on ice as it is covered in rubble, sand, big boulders and other debris being transported down the valley. Also I should point out that glaciers are NOT flat!!! We had to negotiate huge hills and valleys as well as make our way around glacial lakes. The ice creaks and every so often rocks fall into the lakes, just to remind you that the river of ice is alive and moving.

At the top of the glacier some 50km away, i can see my final 8000m peak of this trip, Cho Oyu at 8188m. On the for side of the glacier I can see the well defined trail up the steep moraine that leads to Gokyo. After a short climb, we round the hillside and I see the 3rd Gokyo lake, turquoise from all the minerals and on the bank is the small village of Gokyo.

At the opposite end of the lake to Gokyo is the Renjo La pass (5340m) which I will cross in a few days.

We arrive at the tea house at 9:45, but by 10:30 the wind picks up, the temperature plummets and the clouds roll in. Later in the afternoon it begins to snow....

I go to bed early fully dressed as I couldn't get warm, my cold had gotten worse.

25/10/2012 Gokyo (Rest Day)

Had a really poor nights sleep due to my hacking cough and had zero energy, but decided to try and climb Gokyo Ri, only a 500m climb up from the lake to 5360m.

I found the path hard going, my chest was tight and I was coughing constantly. After making it a third of the way up I called it a day and made the tough, but correct decision to descend. I was pushing myself beyond my physical limit and I didn't want to jeopardise the rest of my trek. I was a bit gutted.

It was back down to the tea house to rest up.

26/10/2012 Gokyo to Lungde (via Renjo La)

This was my final "hard" day of the trek as we would be passing over the Renjo La at 5340m, but I wasn't feeling 100%, my cough was making it hard to breathe, but on the other hand my throat wasn't too sore.

We left shortly after breakfast at 7:00 and I let Pasang lead the way. He sets a very slow but steady pace and I'm happy to follow in his footsteps. Initially the path is easy going rising gently above the lake on my left. After about an hour, the fun started as we hit the steep zigzags. Due to my cough I was finding it hard going and I spluttered my way upwards.

At the top of the zigzags the trail levelled out and I thought we had reached the top, how wrong I was.we entered a flat bowl about 1km across, after which the trail climbed steeply to the true summit which I could see about 150m above me, this depressed me a bit and it became a process of putting one foot in front of the other in order to get to the top. After a slow 3.5 hours we made the top, my lungs were sore from all the coughing.

However, I was rewarded by the best views of the Everest range of the whole trip, I snapped away, then it was time to make the long 1000m descent to Lungde.

From the top there are stone steps that drop quickly to the valley floor, then the path is easy all the way down to Lungde. We made a quick 2.5 hour descent.

We arrived at the tea house at 13:00 after a 6 hour walk that included 500m ascent and 1000m descent passing over the Renjo La at 5340m.

This would also be my final (10th) night sleeping above 4000m!

Early to bed as this had been another BIG day.

27/10/2012 Lungde to Namche Bazar

Over breakfast I spoke to Pasang about the possibility of walking all the way to Namche in a single day rather that stopping the night at out scheduled place of Thame. I got his usual answer of "We'll see"

We set out at 7:45 and walked at a steady pace only halted by a frozen river which we had to find a safe place to cross. The path was mostly downhill and easy going, except for the odd landslide!!!

After 2.5 hours we reached Thame. This is the birth place of Tenzing Norgay, the first Sherpa to summit Everest. However, there is nothing to recognise this fact. Only his old house exists. We had a short break at a tea house that was owned by Apa Sherpa. Apa holds the record for climbing Everest the most times (21). The tea house was like a museum to his achievements, Guinness world record certificates, photos, posters, etc adorn the walls, stark contrast to that of Tenzing Norgay.

We had descended 500m and the air was getting warmer which was helping my cough and we were now moving fast. I was still early so we decided to make the last push to Namche, the path was wide, relatively easy and mostly in a downhill direction. We passed through the Sherpa villages of Thamo and then Phurte, the day was getting hot, then we rounded the corner and Namche came into view, this would be "home" for the next couple of days before heading on to Lukla for out flight back to Kathmandu.

I quickly dumped my stuff in my room then headed for my first hot shower since starting the trek some 17 days prior, it was a great feeling.

28 & 29/10/2012 Namche Bazar (Rest Days)

So for the past few days we've been getting up late, eating lots and generally doing nothing, that what I call a rest day. Only one day of trekking to do to get back to Lukla and out flight back to the chaos of Kathmandu.

* I will update this post with some photos when I get back to Kathmandu when I get some faster Internet access. *

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Dingboche to Everest Base Camp

19/10/2012 Dingboche to Thukla

Another short day and awake around 6:45 and on the trail by 8:00 after breakfast. Again we climb the hill behind Dingboche to the stupa which takes 15 mins and cross into the wide valley turning out backs on Ama Dablam, heading deeper into the Khumbu.

From here the the trail is pretty easy going and heads over a relatively flat valley, after 1.5 hours we see Thukla on the other side of the river that flows from the bottom of the Khumbu Glacier.

We drop down to a small metal bridge and cross the river and make the final 5 min walk to Thukla. The whole walk has only taken 1 hour 40 mins. The place only has one tea house/restaurant. We are to stop here tonight rather than heading up higher to Lobuche as it is getting quite busy with other trekking groups going up and down to Everest Base Camp.

The rest of the day is spent resting and talking to other trekkers.

20/10/2012 Thukla to Lobuche

It was hard to get out of bed this morning for 2 reasons:

  1. It was a cold night and my sleeping bag was warm and cosy. The thought of leaving this cocoon was unthinkable.
  2. The other reason was that I had done the sleeping bag zip fully up and cinched all the draw cords tight making it difficult to find my way out. I was trapped!!!

I was finally driven out by the need to go to the loo, it was 5:30.

After breakfast we waited for the sun to creep down the hillside and hit the trail we would be walking on, we left at 7:45. It's nicer to walk in the sun.

The initial part of the trail was all uphill, Pasang said that this section normally takes an hour, so we were both surprised when we reached the top in 35 mins. At the top, there are numerous stone memorials to climbers who have lost their lives pursuing their dreams on Everest and other Himalayan mountains. Quite a humbling place. We take a 15 min rest then continue on the now flat trail to Lobuche. We arrive at 9:20, only 1 hour 35 mins after setting out. This normally takes 2 to 2.5 hours, I must be getting fitter!

We check in to the tea house and I find an Internet cafe to send birthday greetings to my long suffering and very understanding girlfriend. I cannot call home or send a text as I have no phone signal.

21/10/2012 Lobuche to Gorak Shep (inc Everest Base Camp)

Early start today and we leave Lobuche at 6:45. The trail is initially very easy as the path follows the valley that has been carved out by the Khumbu Glacier. The sun has not yet hit the path, but we can see it in the distance. When we reach the sun it warms my body making it easier to move, I can dispense with my gloves. Also at this point I cross over the 5000m mark, the air is cold, thin and dry. My lungs are screaming out for more oxygen and my thigh muscles are burning, due to the fact I only have 50% of the oxygen than I do at sea level.

One hour and 15 mins into the day the trail changes and the hard work begins with a steep climb up the moraine, the piles of rubble left behind by the glacier. We cross one hill after another which saps my energy quickly. Finally we reach Gorak Shep after 2.5 hours. This will be be only night of the trip that I will be sleeping above 5000m above sea level.

We take a 30 min rest drinking some tea and getting some snacks, we are heading up to Everest Base Camp (EBC). From Gorak Shep we head past a frozen lake then up on to the moraine that flanks the mighty Khumbu Glacier, in the distance I can see some tiny orange tents of the few expeditions that are attempting to climb Everest. The moraine seems to go on forever, undulating and rocky. Eventually the path descends sharply onto the glacier itself, after 20 mins of walking on the glacier we reach some prayer flags that signify the start of Base Camp at 5364m.

I take some photos, eat some snacks and collect some mementoes (rocks). By now the wind is starting to pick up, so after some final glances at the icefall we turn around and head for "home". The return trip to base camp from Gorak Shep has taken 3:45, which is pretty quick. It was such a privilege to be able to visit such a place it's pretty cold and bleak, but all the same it's the bottom of the the top of the world!

For the remainder of the day I rest up and call home to send birthday greetings. Great to hear a voice from home, which makes me a bit homesick.

Tomorrow is a massive day....


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Namche Bazar to Dingboche

On a rest day in Dingboche, so time for another update.

15/5/2012 Namche Bazar to Deboche

This was a day of 2 halves!

Part 1

We were on the trail just after 7:00 for the short walk up the hill out of Namche to the Everest/Sherpa museum. The museum contain photos and articles of the many Everest expeditions and the walls were plastered with pictures of the many Sherpa summiteers, including one of Kenton Cool, 10 times Everest summiteer.

We left the museum around 7:40 on the relatively easy trail, wide with only a few ups. The path skirted around the hillside until we reached Kyangjuma, where we took a quick stop. From here the path descended down to the river, it was uneven and steep in places which killed my knees as there was no way to get into any rhythm. On reaching the river we crossed a suspension bridge and entered the tiny village of Phunki Tenga, it was 10:30. Too early for lunch, but we stopped for 30 mins for snacks and a rest before the next part of the trek.

Part 2

Leaving Phunki Tenga the path was all uphill, around 600m of climbing to Tengboche. I found the path hard going, steep switchbacks made more difficult by the yak trains carrying large loads. My heart was beating so fast that I thought it was going to jump out of my chest. Nearing the top I spotted the prayer flags and stupa for the monastery. It had taken me 1.5 hours to walk this small section. Most Sherpa take only 40mins to 1 hour.

We were originally meant to stay the night here, but there are only 3 lodges which were all full. Luckily Gelu who was a day ahead of us booked us a room in Deboche, 15 mins further down the trail. We arrived at 12:30 (the walk took 5 hours with a 30 min rest), I had some lunch then went to my room for a like down to rest my weary legs.

As we head higher the air is getting drier and colder. My sleeping bag is doing a great job of keeping me warm at night.

16/10/2012 Deboche to Pangboche

Very short day today, so we got up late and had a leisurely breakfast.

We set off for the 50min walk up to Pangboche, after about 20 mins we crossed the river, where the path climbed into Pangboche, arriving around 9:30. Today was a scheduled rest day, but doing this short walk would reduce the the climb the following day to Dingboche. During the walk Pasang had received some bad news. One of his guiding friends had died in a climbing accident on Pisang Peak the previous day. We walked in silence to allow Pasang to be with his thoughts. I was glad it was a short day.

During the afternoon the wind picked up and blown the clouds in over the valley, obscuring the views of Ama Dablam. This also reduced the temperature significantly time to put on the down jacket for the first time.

In the evening, I sat around the heater in the dining room, which was burning dried yak dung and chatted to Dawa, a teacher at the school in Namche. He was on his way up to the Italian Research Pyramid to do some work.

Early bed, nice to get into my sleeping bag and keep warm.

17/10/2012 Pangboche to Dingboche

The time spent trekking each day is getting quite short each day, mainly to allow me to acclimatise properly and because we have a few days spare due to a change in itinerary. Its nice to take it at a relaxed pace and enjoy the views.

After a late breakfast we head out on the trail from Pangboche (3750m), the path winds its way around the hill above the Imja Khola River, always in an upwards direction, only steepening at Syomore (4010m). For the next 12 days I will be living above 4000m above sea level, which I find quite amazing. I'm not sure what its going to do to my body.

After Syomore, the trail flattens out into a wide valley and we make good progress. The path drops down to the river then we tackle the final uphill of the day to Dingboche which takes around 40 mins. The climb was not as steep as I thought.

Dingboche comes into view and sits in a wide valley, that is over shadowed by Ama Dablam on the right and at the head of the valley I can see the 8000m peaks of Lhotse & Lhotse Shar, as well as the popular trekking peak - Island Peak.

We arrive at 10:30 so another short day only 2.5 hours of trekking. I wandered around the village, but soon the clouds roll in and the temperature drops, so back to the tea house to warm up and some lunch.

In the evening I teach Pasang & Dawa how to play Gin and Brag (card games). After dinner I treat myself to apple pie then it's off to bed.

18/10/2012 Dingboche Rest Day

Late start, up at 7:00 then breakfast. After breakfast we walk with Dawa up the hill behind the village. He is off to Loboche.

This is also a good view point to take photos of the valley and I can add another 8000m peak to my tick list - Makalu. I have now seen 6 of the 8, 8000m peaks in Nepal. I will only see one more Cho Oyu, as Kanchenjunga is too far east in the country. Saying that I have seen Shisapangma which is in Tibet!

The valley is quite barren and dusty, at this altitude there are no trees, only small juniper bushes.

After tomorrow, I have some bigger trekking days as we head over 5000m and up to Everest Base Camp and over the high passes of Cho La to Gokyo. I'm feeling in good shape, acclimatising well and enjoying being in Nepal and the big mountains. I have some amazing memories and lots of photos that don't do the landscape justice, it's just stunning with amazing people.

Note: Sorry for the lack of pictures, but they take too long to upload on the slow and expensive internet connection. I will try and add some when I'm back in KTM.


Sunday, 14 October 2012

Kathmandu to Namche Bazar

So I've been in the Khumbu region for a few days now and have Internet access, so I thought I'd post an update.

12/10/2012 KTM to Lukla

The plan was to get the 9:20 flight from Kathmandu to Lukla and then walk to Phakding. Unfortunately, when I looked out of my hotel window it was cloudy so I was expecting some delays.

On arrival at the domestic terminal, I entered the chaos, there were fellow trekkers and locals sitting around on the floor amongst sacks of rice, garlic and onions, it was obvious that not many flights had made it out.

Pasang and I loitered around the check in desk waiting for our time to check in. When the desk opened all mayhem broke out. There was no queuing system, instead everyone thrust their booking forms in the faces of the staff. By this time the flights were already running 1.5 hours behind schedule.

We finally got checked in at 11:00 and my rucksack was whisked off, then cleared security into departures. My flight was now due out at 12:00 so only 2.5 hours late.

Midday came and went and we were told 13:00 then 14:00, eventually at 16:00 we were on the bus to the plane. We boarded the tiny twin otter and I had the seat immediately behind the co-pilot. I stuffed some cotton wool into my ears to dull the noise of the engines.

We still had to wait for permission to take off and at 16:30 we were on our way and the little plane roared down the runway and then we were airborne. Due to the weather I braced myself for a bumpy journey, but the pilot steered us skilfully around the clouds and I sat back and enjoyed the view. After about 35 mins we started to descend and after a sharp left turn, I could see the miniature runway of Lukla. The ground was approaching fast, then all of a sudden we we down on the ground. It was one of the smoothest flights and landings I've experienced after all the horror stories I have heard.

We later found out that this was the last flight of the day, we collected my rucksack which I hadn't seen all day then off to find a guest house as it was too late to start trekking as it would be getting dark soon.

The day was full of waiting around and no trekking, but on the positive side I was in the Khumbu and not in KTM.

13/10/2012 Lukla to Namche Bazar

I was woken at 6:30 by the hum of airplanes landing and taking off from the airport, so went downstairs to have breakfast and then were we're on the trail at 7:30.

The path was easy going mainly downhill and surprisingly quiet, I was expecting loads of trekkers. After 1 hour 40 minutes we walked through Phakding, Pasang was amazed as this normally takes 3 hours, we were not going fast but at a steady pace. We had a quick tea break then we crossed the Dudh Khosi River and started the steady climb up to Monjo. Arriving at 11:00.

We decided to have lunch for an hour. This was meant to be our nights stop, but Pasang thought we could make Namche Bazar in 2-3 hours. We went for it!

We entered the Sagarmatha National Park and followed the river , crossing it a few times until we reached the confluence of 2 rivers where we crossed a really high suspension bridge. From here the trail steepened significantly and I was down to a snails pace. After a gruelling 2.5 hours of uphill we entered Namche. I saw a familiar face, it was Gelu from my Annapurna trek who had come to meet us and walk us to the lodge. We arrived at 14:30, so I had been on the go for 7 hours including a 1 hour rest stop. Not bad going considering most trekking itineraries take 2 days to get this far! I think I'm turning part Sherpa. To be honest I was knackered and wanted to go to sleep.

The nights are getting chilly at this altitude (3440m) and I glad of my sleeping bag.

14/10/2012 Namche Bazar (Rest Day)

Even though its a rest day, I was up at 6:30. We were going for a short walk after breakfast up to the Everest View Hotel, some 400m above Namche. The path was steep going at first, until we reached the tiny airstrip at Syangboche (smaller than Lukla if that's possible).

Everest, Lhotse & Lhotse Shar

As we rounded the corner I was greeted with the most spectacular clear views of Everest, Lhotse, Lhotse Shar, Ama Dablam & Nuptse.

We went to the hotel for a pot of tea and to take some photos, then made our way to the villages of Khumjung and Khunde, this is where there is a small hospital that Sir Edmund Hillary helped establish.

It was lunch time and a walcome rest stop, then it was back down to Namche via some evil steps, my knees were shot, and we had been walking for 3.5 hours, some rest day eh!

Ama Dablam

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Between Treks

I thought I'd write a quick update on what I've been up to between my two treks.

6/10/2012 Pokhara to Kathmandu

First off I travelled back from Pokhara on the tourist bus this took 8 dusty hours on quite a bumpy road. This was probably the most dangerous part of this trek. The main difference between a tourist bus and a local bus is that everyone gets an allocated seat and the bus goes a little bit slower, unlike a local bus where there are 3 times more people than seats and drive at breakneck speeds, overtaking on blind corners! The flight from Pokhara to Kathmandu takes 35 minutes.....why didn't I do that?

Kathmandu is heaving as its now the main trekking season, I haven't missed the traffic, pollution and street hustlers. Can't wait to get back out on the trails.

7/10/2012 Kathmandu & Chores

Once back in KTM, I set about getting some laundry done ready for the next trek. I sent larger items to the hotel laundry and I cleaned some of the smaller ones myself in the bath, judging by the colour of the water they really needed a clean. My bathroom looked like a Chinese laundry.

Following this it was my turn to get clean and tidy again. Had a great hot shower, I must have drained the hotel of hot water, then it was onto the big one - a shave.

This was a mammoth task in itself after not shaving for 17 days, it took over an hour and 3 razor blades, but it was worth the effort to feel really clean again. Maybe after the next trek I'll find a barbers to do the job.

8/10/2012 Patan Sightseeing

Mahabouddha Temple

The following day it was off to Patan around 5km south of central Kathmandu. This is one of the 3 medieval cities in the valley. We (me and my guide) walked around the Royal palace, now a museum containing some of the finest carvings, sculptors & statues of various Hindu and Buddhist gods and their various forms (I think this will be my specialist subject in the next pub quiz). From here it was around more spectacular temples, I went to the Buddhist Golden Temple and the Mahabouddha Temple, which is also known as the Temple of a Thousand Buddhas. Patan's streets are lined with many workshops making and selling high quality brass sculptors of Buddha, bells and Hindu deities. After 3.5 hours wandering around, it was back to the hotel for a relax and some food.

9/10/2012 Bhaktapur & Nagarkot


A late start, to miss the most of the traffic. We head out of the city for a night, stopping at the hilltop village of Nagarkot, some 32km east of Kathmandu and at an elevation of 2175m. On the way we would visit the third and best preserved of the medieval cities in the Kathmandu valley of Bhaktapur. It is also the largest with 3 main squares. Like Patan and Kathmandu Durbar Squares there are some impressive Hindu temples, including the 5 tiered Nyatapola temple, the tallest in Nepal. The stairway up to the temple is lined with various guardians, at the bottom there are 2 wrestlers (Jayamel & Phattu), then elephants, next ram horned griffons and finally the 2 goddesses of Baghini & Singhini. The guardians at each level are supposed to be 10 times stronger than the level below.

From here we drove the remaining 16km up the twisty mountain road up to Nagarkot, this took an hour! The hotel I stopped in had bedrooms that all had views of the Himalaya. Unfortunately, it was cloudy when I arrived so there were no views for sunset, it started to rain so there was still hope for clear sky's in the morning for sunrise. That said its was great to be out of the city for a night and Nagarkot is a great place to relax.

10/10/2012 Nagarkot to Chengu Narayan Temple

So not having seen the sunset over the Langtang Himal, I set my alarm for 5:30 to see if the sky's would be clear. I peered out of the window and I was rewarded with sensational views. I quickly washed and dressed and made my way to be best viewing spot and snapped away at the mountains and sunrise. It was worth the early wake up call.

Chengu Narayan

After a light breakfast, we set out on a 13km hike to the Chengu Narayan Temple, a UNESCO world heritage site. The walking was easy and mostly downhill on well marked trails. We made our way through some tiny villages to reach Tharkot. From here it was a short 20 minute uphill walk to join the ridge. In the distance I could see the temple perched high on the hillside. In the background, Kathmandu sprawled into the distance.

The temple itself is in the pagoda style, dedicated to Vishnu and contains some fine carvings from the 4th to 9th centuries. After this visit it was back to the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu, to get things ready from my next trek and to do some shopping for presents.

11/10/2012 Kathmandu

The Garden of Dreams

Totally chilled day, nothing to do, so went to the Garden of Dreams just on the edge of Thamel. This is a lovely garden to spend a couple of hours away from the crowded, noisy streets to read, listen to my iPod and generally get away from it all.

As well as all the sightseeing, I've done quite a bit of eating since getting back from the Annapurna Circuit as I need the energy for my next trek in the Khumbu. Well that's my excuse anyway and I'm sticking to it!!!

If the weather is good, tomorrow I should fly into Lukla, reportedly the worlds most dangerous airport. A friend of mine said that Lukla stood for LUcKy LAnding (thanks Tim!) I'm not worried though, but I will let you know how I get on.

I'm hoping Internet access is a bit better in the Khumbu than on the Annapurna Circuit so I can keep you all updated on my progress.

Miss you all and I'll see you soon



Saturday, 6 October 2012

Annapurna Circuit - Quick Update

Just a quick update to say that I have completed the Annapurna Circuit all 280km of it. In 15 days on the trail, I have crossed the Thorung La Pass at 5416m and in the final 2 days of the trek I climbed 1600 vertical metres one day, then descended 1800m then next along with 3280 stone steps my knees were shot and I'm a bit tired.

Having said that the trek goes through the most amazing landscape and met some lovely locals. Ive had my dinner in their kitchens, along the way I got to see 3 of the worlds highest peaks over 8000m, and countless other high mountains some of which have never been climbed or named. I would recommend the Annapurna Circuit to anyone who is into multi-day hikes. But be warned it is demanding!

I'm now back in Kathmandu after an 8 hour bumpy and dusty bus journey. Time to rest up for a few days before I'm off to the Khumbu (Everest) region for 22 days of trekking.

I'll write a full trip report when I have time, but here are some photos.




Paddy Fields

Typical Nepali Kitchen


Suspension Bridge