Everest Base Camp Trek: Arriving in the Khumbu Valley

Posted by: Linden Mallory | March 16, 2012
Categories: *Expedition Dispatches *Everest BC Trek
Elevation: 8,700'

We left the hotel well before sunrise this morning, driving through the nearly deserted streets of Kathmandu to the domestic airport. We hauled all of our gear through the narrow entryway and into the terminal, found our flight to Lukla, and as the sun rose just before 7am we were already taking our seats in the plane. Yesterday afternoon’s clouds and light rain dissipated overnight and the morning sun shone through clear skies - perfect flying weather. We buckled our seat belts tight, took the cotton balls offered by the flight attendant and crammed them into our ears, and then took off from Kathmandu. True to their name, the STOL (Short Take Off Landing) airplanes we fly in get airborne in a matter of a few hundred meters and we were soon flying above the outskirts of Kathmandu and over the hills of the Terai - the middle section of Nepal and the foothills of the Himalaya. Flying east we had incredible views of the Himalayas out of the side of the plane and we spent the entire flight staring through the windows at the countryside below and the mountains hanging in the distance.

The flight was amazingly smooth, hardly a spot of turbulence - uncommon for flights around mountains of this size, and we soon banked a hard turn to the north and descended into the Khumbu Valley. The airport at Lukla is a short strip of tarmac noticeably slanted and the landings there are always…exciting. The approach takes the flight directly at the hillside until the entire mountain fills the view through the cockpit window and then in the span of several football fields the planes go from airborne to stopped. The pilots pulled off the smoothest landing I have ever had in Lukla and within minutes we were stepping off of the plane and onto the footpaths of Lukla.
Needing a little bit of time to get all of our gear from the flights we sat down in a tea-house near the airport and had breakfast, tea and coffee before hitting the trail.

Lukla sits several days walk from the nearest road head and only footpaths connect all of the villages up here - there isn’t an automobile for dozens of miles in any direction. All transportation takes place on the stone lined trails, carried by animals or on your back. It is a far cry from the chaotic traffic jams of Kathmandu and a welcome relief to hear no horns or engines. Leaving Lukla, which sits about 1500’ above the valley floor, we made a long, gradual traverse down to the Dudh Kosi river. The trail passes through fields of recently planted crops of cabbage, carrots, potatoes, wheat, and other vegetables and between the stone walls of small villages dotted along the way. Every so often the trail splits around giant boulders carved with Buddhist prayers or wraps around the stupas and prayer wheels.

For fear of falling into romanticism too easily, I’ll simply say that it is a beautiful walk with sights and sounds to be seen in every direction. Hanging above it all are the giant snow covered peaks of the Himalaya. At 15,000 - 20,000’ they are minor mountains compared to their neighbors to the north, but seen from the valley floor far below they are impressive. We walked for several hours through the fields and villages, crossing occasional suspension bridges across side rivers.

By mid-afternoon we reached the village of Phakding and settled into our tea-house. Sitting right along the edge of the Dudh Kosi River - which means Milk River due to its milky blue color from the glacial sediment it carries - our tea-house is tucked away in a quiet spot with views up and down the valley. We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sun in the grassy terraces in front of our rooms before the mountain’s shadows brought the evening chill. We sat down in the dining room around the wood burning stove and had an excellent first meal in the Khumbu, enjoying some delicious momos - the local dumplings.

Tomorrow we head further up the valley to Namche Bazaar, the cultural and economic center of the region. The team is in great spirits.

Everyone is feeling healthy and well and we are all very excited to at last be on the trail.

RMI Guide Linden Mallory

Getting off of the plane in Lukla this morning.  Photo: Linden Mallory Passing rows of mani stones on the trail today.  Photo: Linden Mallory

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Comments

Hey Jane—love the top by the way!!  I bet this is alot more fun than Avon!!??

Posted by: Bonnie Pringle on 3/18/2012 at 12:40 pm

Way to go Bowman!!!!  I am so proud of you—still cannot believe you are doing this!!!!!

Posted by: Bonnie Pringle on 3/18/2012 at 12:33 pm

Way to go Team!  We are so proud of you all!  Have fun on your adventure.  Linden, thank you for your terrific updates and good luck keeping your sanity surrounded by all of those Waki Women.

Posted by: Hugh Fain on 3/17/2012 at 6:13 am

Linden - thank you for the wonderfully descriptive blog updates!  I feel as if I’m there with everyone.  So relieved to hear that all are happy, well and HEALTHY.  Big hugs and kisses to all!  Best - Cindy xoxo

Posted by: Cindy Nolan on 3/17/2012 at 4:35 am

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