Day 01 (Thursday, 22 Sept 16 - Kathmanud-Lukla
It was the very end of the Monsoon season.
The weather has stayed rainy and cloudy since some weeks. It is the
beginning of tourist season. Many climbers, trekkers and guides were
trying to fly to Lukla.
I had an early breakfast @5:30 am, took a public bus at 6:00am from
Samakhusi, Kathmandu. It was 6:45am by the time I reached Kathmandu
airport domestic terminal. It was a crowded place; I met some people
saying that it was their third attempt to fly to Lukla.
That was the day that everyone looked
happier and rushing around with some hope to fly to Lukla. Weather
was clear on both sides (Lukla and Kathmandu), but there was a delay
due to some technical problems on the runway. I overheard that some
of the passengers were throwing blames on airport staff for their
Someone cheered, “Hey! The first
flight took off”. Then, many others followed him. Passengers
rushed to the check in counter. One of the check in counter official
spoke, “Passengers of the third flight will be called after
the second flight takes off”. I set back because my ticket was
for the third flight in Goma Air.
My flight took off at 10:28 and landed
in Lukla at 10:56, it was 28 minutes flight. I felt very lucky to
have flown in a single attempt. At times Lukla flights go very scary
with jerking movement due to cloud, wind and rain. This time the flight
went very smooth because there was no heavy cloud on the way. We could
see the valleys, rivers, villages and hills clearly but not the mountain
ranges. High Himalayan mountain ranges were hidden in the heavy cloud.
The last few minutes in flight we got
into thick cloud blinding everyone of us. Then, the plane suddenly
came out of the thick cloud showing off the Lukla airport at the front.
Every one of us looked at each other with big smiles and deep breathes.
Every one of us clapped to have happy time with smooth flight and
safe landing. “Flying to Lukla is an adventure itself”.
It was just the beginning of trekking
and climbing season in Nepal. There were many porters to sell their
services to the trekkers and adventurers. Seeing the huge backpack
a few guys came to ask me if I need a porter. I politely replied them
that I was doing by myself. I carried the backpack that was about
20 kilogram with camera and lenses. There were some chocolate bars,
energy bars, biscuits etc. Such consumable items can be reduced day
by day to make the backpack lighter.
Mountain tops stayed in the cloud for
all the time, the lower valleys stayed partially cloudy and sunny.
I moved on from Lukla enjoying the scenic natural beauty. It was lush
green everywhere; I felt it too green because I came from Dubai where
everything is bright white and brown sandy color. It was hard to believe
that how green the nature could be.
To be comfortable with sunny and cloudy
weather condition the white balance in the camera was set accordingly.
I was the slowest of all the trekkers because of heavy backpack and
many stops for photography. At times I had to wait for a long time
for a life existence and light within the frame. Afternoon became
totally cloudy that made photography impossible. I still enjoyed the
beautiful views of river and valleys. I stopped at Shangrila Guest
House in for lunch then Namaste Lodge in Monju for the night.
Day 02 (Friday, 23 September 16 –
Monju-Namche 3445 meter)
Weather got even worse. It was cloudy
and the temperature had dropped down to 13 degree Celsius. I started
to trek at 7:30am. No photo opportunity due to cloudy day. I was in
the Himalaya but did not see any of the mountains, yet.
I took slower pace while picking up with altitude above Dudhkoshi
river valley. By the time I reached Namche 3445 meter above sea level
the time was 2:00 pm. I stayed in Yak Hotel.
Day 03 (Saturday, 24 September 16 -
Namche Acclimatization day)
There was a heavy rain throughout the
night, last night. The rain settled down by the morning, but the cloud
did not clear. No chance to see any of the mountains, yet.
Namche Drinking Water Project inaugural
ceremony was to be held at about 4000 meter above the village of Khunde
(at the bottom of Khumbiila). Mr. Chime Kalden Sherpa from Yak hotel
had asked me if I was interested to join them on trip to the ceremony.
I accompanied with the members of Namche Youth Group to participate
in the inaugural ceremony. It was too difficult for me to catch up
with them. I did not think that I would make all the way with them,
but I did it.
We stopped at Khunde for a tea time.
We got in a heavy rain on the way to Khunde Monastery. Some guys had
umbrellas and others had ponchos and plastic sheets. But, I was under
the Gortex jacket, a halfway wet by the time we reached the ceremonial
site. Two Lamas from Khunde Monastery carried out the inaugural ceremony
under an umbrella held by a man. But, one of the Lamas held an umbrella
by himself. While the Lamas were chanting prayers the gate valve from
the reservoir tank was opened to release the water down to Khunde,
Syanboche and Namche. Tea and biscuits were served to the attendees
in the ceremony.
After the ceremony we came down to Khunde
for a lunch. It was the best lunch ever with plenty of fresh wild
mushroom. Some of the guys did not eat the mushroom. Most probably,
that was the one in their everyday meal at home. I love the Mushroom
better than anything else; I ate a load of it.
I stayed alone behind above Syangboche
hoping that the weather may get better by afternoon, but got even
worse. The temperature dropped down to 9 degree Celsius. I walked
down to Syangboche, stopped at Phinzo lodge near the airport for a
cup of tea. After tea I walked down to Namche in the heavy cloud and
Day 04 (Sunday, 25 September 16 –
Namche due to bad weather)
There was a heavy rain last night, still
raining in the morning. Nothing more I could do than lying on the
bed. Weather forecast showed bad weather for the following days, too.
Weather cleared a bit by 5:00pm, but
only for a few minutes. I had gone up to the Monastery, and then the
cloud came up from the valley below covering everything allowing zero
visibility around. I went back to the hotel, and then to the Sherpa
Barista Café to meet the owner Mr. Pasang T. Sherpa. I had
two cups of Americana, I felt great to have been there.
I expressed my sadness for not having
seen any of the mountains, yet. I was told that some of the trekkers
have been to Gokyo valley and Everest base camp came back without
seeing any of them.
Day 05 (Monday, 26 September 16 –
Namche to Thame 3850 meter)
Last night was the rainless night, the
morning stayed clear, cloud started coming in on and off from 8:00am.
With the thought of having better weather on following days I had
set a plan of going to Kongde ridge. Mr. Chhemi Kalden Sherpa from
Yak hotel made call to hotel Yeti Mountain Home with recommendation
about my visit to the place. We got a positive answer on that matter,
I was happy to visit to Kongde ridge and make some great photos from
I left for Thame because I must go to
Kongde via Thame. But, on my way to Thame I collected different opinion
on trail condition. It was not a good time to try going over at that
time of the year due to much of rain, more than expected. It was like
an extended Monsoon.
Nothing showed me any positive sign
on that trip. On my way to Thame I noticed that the sole of my boots
have given away. I was very sad to notice that, it was in a very bad
condition. I had no idea what was to happen next. Nothing was going
good on that trip; I was mentally disturbed with that situation. I
met Mr. Chhiri on the way, but both of us were unsure that where we
met each other before. After talking for a while we came to a conclusion
that we had walked together on the way back from Goraksep on my last
trip. He was with his Zopkeys taking supplies back from base camp.
He showed me a nice pair of boots, but it was too small for me. He
was willing to sell that in relatively reasonable price because he
was not using the pair.
I carefully walked up to Thame, stayed
in Sun Shine lodge that is run by Mingma Rita Sherpa’s family.
I explained all my plans and problems to the family. They suggested
me to fix the boots with super glue; they arranged one from a nearby
local shop. Mingma’s wife told me that the sole will fall off
if I walk on the wet territory, which meant it was not for going to
Kongde ridge where I had to cross many smaller rivers on the way.
I went to bed with unending thoughts for the coming days. I was with
an original plan of crossing over three passes, but the boots …
Day 06 (Tuesday, 27 September 16 –
Oh, No! There was a heavy rain throughout
the night. The rain made my mission to Kongde impossible, it was for
The morning was clear with the sun shine. My boots were placed at
sunny side to dry up before the super glue being applied. After breakfast
I walked around on slippers. Soon, the sun came up strong forcing
me to peel the jackets. I walked up to Thame Monastery but did not
enter there. I wanted to meet the young Lama the reincarnation of
the previous Lama. I was told that he was always busy in the classes
from early morning. My idea of meeting with the Lama was pre-planned
from Kathmandu, but did not happen. Hopefully, in the next rip.
I took a few frames from the ridge below
the Monastery. By 9:00 am cloud started coming up from the valley
below covering everything. I got back to the hotel and started fixing
my boots with super glue. The boots were well dried up, the fixing
job was done properly but not sure how long would it last for.
I confirmed that I was not going to
Kongde ridge with such boots and rainy weather. I decided to continue
on towards Renjo pass from the following day.
Light but unending rain started around
2:00pm. Thoughts brewed in my mind regarding the high passes and weather
condition. Mr. Mingma Rita Sherpa, the owner of the Sun Shine lodge
showed a pair of boots telling if they fit for me. But, it went a
bit tighter for me. He checked on my boots and said that I had done
a good job. “No doubt, you can go over the passes”, he
said. Psychologically, I became stronger with his words. He further
suggested me to carry an extra tube of Super Glue. So, I did.
Day 07 (Wednesday, 28 September 16 –
Thame to Lungden 4350 meter)
There was another night with heavy rain.
I was sleeping under the tin roof, throughout the night I enjoyed
the sound of the rain. It was a kind of meditating sound.
Having a good size of breakfast, I left
Thame at 8:00am. I looked back from the ridge; it was a perfect angle
to photograph the village, river and mountain peaks. But, the weather
did not support me to do so. Sorry! No photo.
I walked into a potato farm to have a chit-chat with farmers. There
was an old man on the trail; I had some chit-chat with him, too. Further
on, there was a very nice angle to photograph, but life did not exist
within the frame. I waited for 30 minutes, but nothing existed within
that frame. I clicked without any life, no other choice.
From a ridge I noticed a Yak caravan
at Themeteng coming towards me. I planned to shoot the caravan from
a right angle. I took a right angle and waited there until the caravan
arrives to that point. I was not happy because the weather was not
right. The man behind the Yak caravan recognized me and said, “I
met you before the day near Namche, you were coming up.” I realized
that I met the Yak caravan on my way to Thame.
Then, I decided to follow the caravan,
but I was completely collapsed after 15 minutes. I gave up the mission
to follow them. The Yaks were carrying 60kgs each on their back. They
had incredible stamina in high altitude, their feet moved nonstop
in the same pace. I sat down on a rock and let them move on. Soon,
they disappeared behind the horizon.
I reached beautiful & wide Tarange
valley on the bank of Bhotekoshi river. In the open grazing pasture
there were some Naks with calves (Male is Yak and female is Nak).
It looked a perfect frame with hanging dark cloud at the background.
I wanted to take some photographs; I moved closer to the calves. But,
the mother got angry with my move, so she came to charge on me. I
ran away to save my life.
I stopped at Marulung 4200 meter for
a lunch break. The trail from Marulung takes uphill, but not too steep.
From Marulung it takes about one and a half hour to reach Lungden
4350 meter above sea level. I reached Lungden in cloud at 5:00pm,
stayed at Kongde View Lodge. I found the family (Mr. Karsang Sherpa
& his wife) very friendly and caring of people. I was asked as
what I would prefer for dinner. I answered, “I am fine with
whatever you eat, give me the same.” Sure? He asked me. I confirmed,
“Yes, for sure.” His wife said that she would prepare
Syakpa for everyone. Syakpa is a kind of traditional Sherpa stew.
The night’s Sherpa stew was the mixture of potato, vegetables
and dried wild mushroom with some local herbs. It was a great dinner,
ever. I did not want to be treated like a guest or tourist. I went
to the kitchen to sit down with them. I ate three large bowls of Syakpa.
With humor, they asked me if I could eat more. I said, “Please,
keep for tomorrow.”
Day 08 (Thursday, 29 September 16 –
Lungden in bad weather)
As usual, it rained for the whole night.
In brief, I had seen the tips of Kongde peak, Tengkhamo Tse and Mt.
Numbur from Rolwaling range. Cloud came in, then I decided to stay
there for the day. The idea of staying there was to take better photos
on following days. I met the climbers who had to abort the expedition
on Mera peak due to bad weather. They were very fit for high altitude.
They said that they started their trip on 18th from Kathmandu, but
never saw any mountain yet.
I hiked up the ridge closer to Kyajo
Ri 6630 meter. Most of the time, I was in the cloud. The ground was
filled with varieties high altitude wild flowers. Many Yaks were grazing
on the slopes.
Day 09 (Friday, 30 September 16 - Lungden)
As usual, another night passed with
heavy rain. The day cleared and there was sun shine. I decided to
stay in Lungden for one more day and night to take photos around.
I climbed up the slope to the ridge. Though the valley below was clear
and sunny, cloud never moved away from the mountain tops. I was actually
planning to take photos with valley, Yaks and mountains composed in
one frame. But, that could not happen. The Yaks had moved further
down the valley closer to Kyajo Ri. I photographed some of the wild
flowers on the ground.
The beauty of the place cannot be limited
in words. I sat down on the floor and asked a question to myself,
“Is this the heaven on earth?” I put all my thoughts of
material life aside to concentrate on emptiness. It was so quiet,
the sound I could hear was my own breath.
There was no sign of clearing cloud
from the mountain tops. I walked down the ridge on the other side.
The ridge provided the view of long winding view of Bhotekoshi river
including the valley below down to Thameteng and valley up towards
Day 10 (Saturday, 01 October 16 –
lungden-Renjo-Gokyo, 4800 meter)
As usual, rained for the whole night.
Usually weather clears after the storm, but this year never cleared.
Since days I was expecting for a better weather after the heavy rain,
but never happened that way.
I had spent three nights at a place;
I couldn’t wait for more days there. I was not keeping up with
my original itinerary. Whatever the weather condition, I decided to
go for Renjo pass 5360 meter above sea level. I moved on in the thick
fog then the rain started in a while. Just after the village of Lungden
the trail picked up on steep terrain. I was walking in the mixture
of fog and rain. It took about an hour to tackle that steep section.
As usual I took very slow enjoying the
view and taking photographs. The last bit of climb above the lake
and below the pass was too tough for me due to steepness, snow, rocky
terrain and heavy backpack. I was counting the steps. I was stopping
for break in every 10/15 steps.
I had a plan to reach the pass in the
late afternoon. The purpose of doing that was to Photograph the mountain
ranges including Mt. Everest if the weather clears up. Instead, I
got in the heavy snow-storm and thunder when I reached the pass. My
dream of photographing the mountain ranges did not come true. Way
down from the pass I walked in the heavy snow-storm and wind. I almost
lost the track due to fresh snow on the ground. At one point, I was
looking for overhang or cave to spend the night thinking that the
following morning may be clear. I was confident to be fine at night
with my gear.
By the time I reached Gokyo, the time
was 6:30pm. I stayed at Cho O U View lodge. Luckily, I got the room
facing right on the lake, #11.
Day 11 (Sunday, 02 October 16 –
Gokyo 4th lake, 4890 meter)
It was a rainless night last night.
Early morning at 5:30am I looked through the window to find Mt. Cho
O U 8201 meter very clear. I was very tired since the previous day.
I did not care of whatever existed out there. I went into my sleeping
bag to have some good sleep. I had an easy morning with late breakfast.
After breakfast I walked up to the 4th lake 4890 meter above sea level.
Very dull weather, poor lighting I did not have any opportunity for
Weather became worse, everything got
under the fog. I turned back to the hotel, had a late lunch at 3:00pm.
I had a good rest for the rest of the day.
Day 12 (Monday, 03 October 16 –
Gokyo 5th lake, 5000 meter)
I woke up at 5:00am to find everything
in cloud. It seemed like it was going to rain/snow, soon. I did not
know what had to be done the next. Keep sleeping or move ahead, no
idea. I thought for a while, and then decided to make the way up to
the 5th lake whatever the weather situation was. I went to the kitchen
to order for a quick breakfast.
I left the hotel at 6:00am breaking
through thick fog. After a few hundred meters from Gokyo lake I found
the fog hanging on a level right above my head. It looked like the
roof ceiling. It was my first time to see such fog formation.
When I reached the 4th lake there was
a surprise for me, the weather further was clear and sunny, but not
the mountain tops, yet. I looked back towards the 3rd lake it was
raining and snowing up on Kyajo Ri. I had a better photo of the 4th
lake. While I was heading up towards the 5th lake there was a figure
seen at far away back. A single man was coming up looking confused.
I yelled at him, later he joined me all the way to the 5th lake. His
name was Mr. Dean from the UK, but lives in Australia.
The sun stayed out heating hard, my
down jacket smelt from the heat. I had to peel off the jacket due
to hot sun. There was a hole in the cloud right above the lakes and
glacier. I wanted to photograph the Mt. Everest with the lake at the
foreground. We walked around the lake that was the time cloud started
shifting into the hole in the sky. It turned to be very cold when
the cloud shifted in. Mr. Dean was very excited to find someone who
has the full knowledge of the area. I told him that I worked as a
professional trekking guide for more than a decade bringing people
up there. We took a few photographs but without any mountain. By 1pm
wind started blowing hard forcing us to find a pocket behind a boulder.
We desperately waited for the weather to be clear but there was no
My mission was to photograph the Mt.
Everest with the lake, we waited till 3:30pm, but there was no sign
of lifting the cloud. It was a long way back to the hotel at the 3rd
lake, also a long way around the lake in high altitude. We were getting
late for return trip. From the ridge between the lake and glacier
we could see the body of Mt. Everest slightly through the hole in
the cloud, for a few seconds. I asked him if he likes to wait for
some time to try for a chance to photograph the Mt. Everest if it
clears up in a few minutes. He said, “Once in a while or once
in life time. Let’s wait for some times here.” We sat
down on the edge of the glacier. It was already 5:30pm, but no sign
of lifting the cloud.
We rushed back, the darkness followed
us somewhere between the 4th and 5th lake. It was my pre-plan to stay
late in high altitude that’s why I had carried the head torch
with me. He did not have a head torch; we carefully walked with one
head torch. Imagine walking at night with one head torch in high altitude
and rocky terrain at times! We reached the hotel at the third lake
just a few minutes before 8pm. What a tiring task! We were fully exhausted.
Day 13 (Tuesday, 04 October 16 –
Gokyo to Thaknak, 4750 meter)
I gave up the idea of climbing up the
Gokyo peak 5360 meter in the cloud. I had a relaxed easy morning.
Mr. Dean climbed up, but nothing he had seen. That day was the day
we would cross the Ngazumba glacier to reach Thaknak 4750 meter above
sea level. It takes roughly three hours to cross the glacier. We moved
from Gokyo @11:00am. Right at the entry point into the glacier there
was a group of trekkers coming from Thaknak. I took some photographs,
but the lighting was a bit flat already. One of the members in the
group said, “No interviews please, only photographs. We cannot
talk in high altitude.” I replied, “Yes, that is fine,
photographs will do all the needful.”
As soon as the group passed by, it was
our turn to get into the glacier. While we were behind the moraine
there was a loud thud in the main section of the glacier. I was curious
to find that, but no sign when I reached there. It could be an underground
ice cracking sound. I spent some time watching the rock falls into
the glacial lake. There were some dangerously hanging rocks about
to fall, but my not fall for some times. The trail on the glacier
does not stay the same for all the time. Glacial surface keeps moving
restlessly, we should find the proper trail by a careful watch. Confusion
and mixed ups are normal while crossing the glaciers. Enormous energy
of the mother earth, glacier moves on restlessly. Non-stop sound of
rolling rocks and underground ice cracking are phenomena of the glacier.
We reached Thaknak at 2:30pm. I wanted
to stay in a quiet place. We stayed at different lodges in Thaknak.
We decided to meet up at 5am on the following day.
In the evening a group of some 20+ male
and female students arrived in the hotel. They also had a plan to
go over the Tso La. They were very noisy guys.
Day 14 (Wednesday, 05 October 16 –
Thaknak-Tso La-Zongla, 4750 meter)
As everyone knows that going over Tso
La requires early preparation. The group of students started preparing
since 3:30am. My sleep was disturbed; I had a plan to sleep until
4:30am. The group left for Tso La at 4:45am.
We had decided to meet at 5:00am, but Mr. Dean did not arrive. Leaving
a message at the hotel for Mr. Dean I left for Tso La at 5:15am. It
is all the way uphill; I could see the trekkers, guides and porters
lined up in that gully, a far away from me. I was a bit panicked to
have started late. I tried to catch up with them, but no way. Incomplete
sleep, heavy backpack, heavy breakfast etc put me slower.
I looked back from the way up where
I found some more trekkers were coming up from the bottom of the climb.
I felt better myself by seeing them gasping. I could feel what exactly
they were going through. I wanted to take photograph of people coming
up from below; I waited for them to arrive on the slope. I took the
photographs, they passed by then I never catch up with them. All other
trekkers were faster than me. They did not carry a heavy backpack,
they did not carry heavy camera and lenses and they did not stop for
On the high slope at around 5000 meter
above sea level cloud came in then started to snow. I took photos
and video clips of myself. It was too difficult to tackle the uphill
below the pass. It was too steep, on top of everything there was heavy
snowfall and wind. Then, the groups crossing Tso La from both sides
met up at the most difficult steep section that created a bottle neck.
No two ways please! A Chinese trekker slipped over the fresh snow,
nearly went over the edge. No way to find him back had he gone over.
I bet; no one was at the situation to assist any other on that slope.
Some of the porters could be the first timers on the pass could not
make the way down. One of them dropped the load on the snow and climbed
up to assist others. Not knowing where to go some porters had taken
the wrong direction. I called them back to put on the right track.
At every situation I keep my camera mounted on the tripod and walked
with it. At the last difficult section I could not manage my steps
to go over. I was struggling to find the proper angle to put my feet.
It took some time causing more traffic up on high place.
Tso La pass 5420 meter above sea level
was crowded with tourists, guides and porters. Snowfall stopped and
light came in, but not really the clear and sunny. I ate the pack
lunch of boiled eggs and chapatti. I had been climbing with snicker
bars and water on the steep below. I waited until everyone goes off;
I wanted to stay alone on the pass for sometimes. I walked down and
walked on the snow flat alone, enjoyed more.
Again, cloud came in, started to snow.
At times it was a bit scary, but that was what I wanted be. The last
part of the pass was even dangerous with freshly moved unstable rocks;
it was a challenge for me. Soon, the icy section was over. I had to
come down the rocky section that required huge strides at times. I
walked in the snow storm all the way down to Zongla 4800 meter and
stayed in Green Valley lodge. It was nice and cozy place.
Day 15 (Thursday, 06 October 16 –
Zongla to Lobuche 8000 Inn, 5010 meter)
There was snowfall last night. Early
in the morning, I enjoyed the scene of ice hanging and falling from
the roof. Everything was covered in cloud. Around 9am the sun light
filtered through the cloud gave some light and hope for the rest of
the day. I was too close to Tso La Tse the impressive peak but I never
saw it. Instead of clearing the day, it started to rain quite heavily.
The rain settled a bit by 11:30am, I made a move for Lobuche. After
some minutes there was a heavy rain and fog. I kept walking in the
rain till I got wet. Through the fog I saw some figures moving down
the slope, I was not sure what that was. Later I confirmed that they
were the foreign trekkers without guide and porter. In bad weather
they lost the trail and took the Yak trail that leads them to another
valley, the summer grazing pasture. I gave them a hand gesture to
come up, but they looked confused. I yelled, “You are lost,
that is not the right trail. Come up!” They looked at each other
and decided to take up. They pulled up to the right trail with slow
pace. They were very please with my assistance. Everyone thanked me
with very short breathe. I did not ask anything because they were
not in the state exchanging conversation due to high altitude.
By the time I reached the ridge somewhere
between Lobuche and Zongla the rain stopped. Cloud cleared but the
valley below, only. I could see Pheriche valley below, blue lake Tso
La Tso (the lake at the bottom of Tso La Tse) and Lobuche on the other
side, but none of the mountain peaks. If it clears I would have seen
and photographed the valley with many mountain peaks; Pumo Ri, AmaDablam,
Nuptse etc. I waited there in the cold and windy place for 3 hours,
but the weather did not clear.
I had to move on. I stopped at Lobuche for a quick lunch.
I reached 8000 Inn, Lobuche at 4:30pm, in
the cloud. Mr. Kaji the manager and researcher at the Pyramid building
for EV-K2-CNR Nepal sector arranged my stay at that place for the
night and next. EV-K2-CNR is an organization that conducts the scientific
research & conservation on high altitude fragile ecosystem in
the region. In the same building they run 800 Inn (Lodge and restaurant),
tourists and visitors are welcome.
On my way to 8000 Inn I met some porters
running down to the lower altitude with empty baskets to avoid the
extreme cold and expensive food price up there. They were playing
the folk songs in their mobile phone, I liked the way they did.
Day 16 (Friday, 07 October 16 –
Rest day, 8000 Inn)
As usual, another new day with bad weather.
Due to bad weather I did not move anywhere from the hotel.
Day 17 (Saturday, 08 October 16 –
Lobuche 8000 Inn to Goraksep, 5160 meter)
In the morning I realized that I had
insufficient drinking water yesterday. I was in bad shape that morning
due to lack of water in my body system. I was dehydrated by midnight.
My stupidity, I did not take any water to the bed with me. I walked
downstairs to the kitchen to look for some water. There was no way
of drinking cold water, I checked in thermos. There was about half
a liter of warm water that saved my life.
By early morning I was fully dehydrated
with mild headache. My lips and nose were dried up, badly. At 5:30am,
I went to the kitchen to ask for a liter of boiled water. The guys
had just come to the kitchen to start the day. I was asked to wait
for some times. After drinking a load of water with tea and sugar
my headache was gone and started feeling better. I had lost appetite,
a bit. I forced myself to eat more breakfast.
At 9:30am, I moved for Gorksep. The
rain and cold wind got me while I was crossing Changri Nup glacier.
On their way to Goraksep every trekker crosses over the Changri Nup
glacier that feeds into the Khumbu glacier. Many people do not know
such glacial system.
Mr. Kaji Bista had suggested me to look
for Mr. Chitra the manager in Himalayan Guest house in Goraksep for
a room. Finding a room was impossible due to high number of tourists
reaching the point. When I said that Mr. Kaji recommended see him;
Mr. Chitra was a bit confused. He provided me the double room No.114.
I was lucky to have a room, I saw many trekkers not finding any room.
They agreed to sleep on the floor in the dining hall.
In the afternoon, I hiked up the slope about a half way to Kalapattar.
After dinner, it was 8pm I found it was snowing. I went to bed with
the decision of going on Kalapattar whatever the weather situation
would be there in the following morning.
I spoke to Mr. Chitra regarding the
opening hour of the restaurant in the following morning. My idea was
to have a good breakfast and move to Kalapattar. The answer was; 6:00am.
Too late! I took a liter of hot water with the thermos, rapped it
with clothes and jacket then placed in the day bag. Also, I prepared
some chocolate bars and biscuits. I was ready to move anytime.
Day 18 (Sunday, 09 October 16 –
Goraksep-Kalapattar- Lobuche 8000 Inn)
My plan was to start hiking to the top
of Kalapattar at 5:00am. But, the guide of the next room trekkers
came in at 3:30am yelling them to get ready for the peak. It was too
early; I was a bit disappointed but could not help for myself. At
4:20am I hit the trail with the head torch mounted on my head. It
had snowed heavily at night; the fresh snow was all over. I looked
up and down from the way half to find about a dozen of head-torch
flashing the slope on both sides. It was looking interesting, but
could not collect any strength to photograph them.
It was too difficult taking height.
I had to apply the Yoga style breathing technique with the theory
of single step in one breath. Somewhere at about 5400 meter above
sea level, the morning light broke in. But, the cloud did not lift
up from the mountain tops.
At the top of Kalapattar I took some
photos and video clips of myself. I drank hot water with chocolate
bars and biscuits. I was the only person having something to drink
something hot from thermos.
There was no sign of clearing up the weather. I came down to Goraksep
at the hotel. The hotel was too crowded with tourists, guides and
porters. There were a few trekkers asking for room. I decided to leave
the place, and then move to Lobuche. I did not see any reason for
staying over there in bad weather. I made a move towards Lobuche,
got in the rain and wind on the way while crossing over the Changri
Day 19 (Monday, 10 October 16 –Lobuche
8000 Inn-Peak above 5600 meter) I got up at 5:30am.
It was a surprise; the weather was excellent.
Again I was confused for what was the next step to be done. My initial
plan was to go over Khongma Pass 5580 meter. Then, I could not decide
for the next step. I couldn’t go back to Goraksep and Kalapattar
Without any preparation I took up the ridge above the Pyramid. There
was great view in clear weather, but not very photogenic due to brightness
on the mountains. From high ridge at about 5500 meter I could see
the complete view of Khumbu glacier, Changri glacier, Base camp, Goraksep,
Kalapattar and Khonma Pass. Following mountains could be seen from
the single point; Tamserku, Kangtega, Amadablam, Makalu, Lhotse, Nuptse,
Mt. Everest (just the tip of it), Shangtse (the peak in Tibet), Lingtren,
Pumo Ri, Chang Ri, Tsola Tse and Lobuche peak (on my hand’s
reach). The view was a Wow! But, it was too bright for photography.
I reached a rocky band with lots of
unstable rocks. There was no way to go further up or contour around.
I had to stop climbing from that point. I realized that I had gone
up with a very little supply to survive. For the whole day in high
altitude I had about 370ml water and two Snicker bars. The limited
supplies had to be rationed, carefully. I drank a few drops at a time
with a bite of Snicker bar. Strong wind started to blow up from the
valley below. It was irresistible at times. I found a nice pocket
between the rocks that kept me safe from the cold wind. The warmth
from the sun put me asleep for about an hour.
Around 3:00pm, the lighting on the snow
clad mountains became milder. But, still a little too bright for photography.
I took a few frames, but not happy with. I was desperately waiting
for the milder lighting to take some perfect pictures. Oh! No! Cloud
came in rolling up from the end of the Khumbu glacier. Soon, cloud
covered the whole area. My dream of making perfect picture was gone
into the cloud. Very sad!
No choice other than coming down back
to the hotel. I had to step down on the rocks very carefully because
of unstable rocks everywhere. Had there been a small mistake my life
would have been in question, for sure. On the slope I found some grass
and Yak droppings that gave me a feeling of being nearby some settlement
or village. It was the sign of life.
It was one of the best view points in
entire Khumbu region. I recommend everyone to try to reach the spot
when time and fitness permits for. No other spot provides the view
of complete Khumbu glacier and that many mountain peaks.
Day 20 (Tuesday, 11 October 16 –Lobuche
–Khingma La-Chhukung, 4780 meter) Let me tell
you what had happened last night. After
coming back from my hike to the peak I was badly exhausted. I tried
hard to replenish with food and drinks, but was not enough. I had
gone to bed with a liter of drinking water that was finished by 1:00am.
I woke up at 2:30am; my body was fully dried out. There was a kind
of discomfort in the whole body system. I knew that my body needed
more water. I thought for a while for where to get water from. I knew
there was no alternative water supply system. The water supply is
from the clear blue lake about 300 meters above the hotel. The water
was naturally very clean to drink and the same water supply was connected
to the shower room, too. Fine! I went to the shower room with my travelling
mug, opened the tap and waited for a few seconds to get some warm
water. I drank more than a liter of water in one go. Then, the tap
dried out, there was no more water left in the system. After a few
minutes I went back sleep.
I got up at 5:30am; I felt better with
a very light headache. Weather was not as good as it was yesterday.
I had a thought to start to walk by 7:00am, but delayed with slow
process in breakfast due to loss of appetite and some chit-chat with
the staff and Mr. Kaji Bista.
I started to walk at 8:00am. By the
time I reach other side of Khumbu glacier it was 10:00am. It was too
late for going over the pass, but I had my own calculation on timings.
My plan was to reach the top in the afternoon to take some nice photographs
if the weather gets clear.
On the side of the Khumbu glacier there
was a summer grazing pasture. The trail took up from the pasture.
Not bad at the beginning, but later it became harder and too difficult
at the end. After 2and a half hour from the glacier the trail took
up about 80 degrees vertical climbs. At times it required bigger strides
to tackle up the hill. My camera tripod was used as the walking stick
(Camera still mounted on it) to support me in climbing up. I met up
with a group of trekkers coming down from other way (from Chhukung).
The space was enough for single way traffic. I was stuck at a difficult
point. They greeted me, “Namste!” But I was unable to
return the greetings in words. I responded the greetings with hand
gesture and smile. They had to wait until I made through that narrow
and steep section.
I stopped at some point to take the
pack lunch of two boiled eggs, Chapatti and Snicker bars. The drinking
water was still warm because that was inserted in the center of sleeping
Before the pass there is a rocky section
with lots of unstable rocks. At times, not sure which one to step
on. I found some rocks freshly fallen from up the cliff. I looked
up, it was very scary, and rocks may fall at anytime. I wanted to
speed up, but no way could I do that. There was a lake on my right
hand side, but did not pay much time to look at it. From that rocky
section I could see the pass nearby, but it took a long time to reach
Finally, I reached the pass at 1:45pm.
The view was stunning with three lakes and mountain ranges. I could
see Mt. Lhotse, Mt. Nuptse and Mt. Makalu. Mt. Amadablam was hidden
in the cloud. Mt. Nuptse was just at my hand’s reach. I dropped
the backpack on the floor to take some photos.
I walked down to the lakes and took
some more photos. I stood up on the brink of the deep blue lake then
stepped back a few steps with some unknown fear because I was alone.
Being alone at such place some imagination came up in my mind; Yetis
may be watching at me from behind the peak.
I spent quite an amount of time around
the lakes. I started walking down at 3:00pm, obviously felt well because
it was downhill all the way. Down the slope thick fog covered the
area putting me in some confusion to find the direction. I sat down
at a place for some water and a Snicker bar.
Getting closer to Chhukung, the trail
improved to flat. Mountain tops stayed cloudy, the valley below was
sunny. By the time I reached Chhukung the time was 5:30pm. I met Mr.
Lobsang Chheten Sherpa the owner of Khangri Resort at the hotel. The
hotel was full. After a cup of hot tea, he carried my backpack then
escorted me to Yak Land hotel. Ms. Yangji Sherpa, the owner of the
hotel offered me a single room. It was small, nice, quiet and clean
place to stay. I liked the place. I do not hesitate to recommend this
place for anyone. Finding this hotel is a bit difficult because it
is situated behind the big one, Chhukung Resort.
Day 21 (Wednesday, 12 October 16 –
Around Chhukung) At 6am, I looked through the window,
weather was incredibly clear. I put my warm cloths and moved out from
the hotel without any tea and breakfast. By 9:00am cloud started coming
in slowly. I got back to the hotel for a heavy breakfast. After breakfast,
I asked Ms. Yangji Sherpa to wake me up at around 3:30pm if weather
clears up. But, things never happened that way. I woke up myself at
3:00pm to find the mountains covered in cloud and more cloud was coming
up from Dingboche valley below.
With a plan of going to Imja Lake on
the following day; in the evening I went to Khangri Resort to meet
Mr. Lobsang to collect more information about Imja lake and the angles
to photograph. He suggested me to Mr. Deep Rai at the Imja Lake project,
he was the in-charge of logistic and manpower manager in the project.
He mentioned that he had spoken to him regarding my visit to Imja
Lake. He assured that he would assist me for anything required at
the Imja Lake.
Day 22 (Thursday, 13 October 16 –
Chhukung-Imja Lake 5140-Chhukung) At 6am, I made move
for Imja Lake. By the time I reached Imja Lake project camp, the time
was 8:30am. A very busy kitchen staff was available at the camp. He
told that Mr. Deep will be back by 11:00am for lunch.
Mr. Lobsang had suggested me to climb
up the ridge to get better photo of Imja Lake. Imja Lake was hidden
behind the lateral moraine. I was a bit hopeless at the beginning.
I began to see the lake as I climbed higher and higher. I climbed
the ridge all the way to just below the snow line, about 5600 meter
above sea level. The spot was just about right for taking photograph
of the lake.
Interestingly, there was a species of
rabbit like tailless mammals on the rocky area. There were falcons
to prey on them to balance the ecosystem in high altitude.
I walked back down to the project camp
where Mr. Deep Rai treated me in a VIP way. It was the best meal throughout
the entire trip. He was not supposed to do that much for me. I enjoyed
the treat. After lunch we climbed up to the lake that is situated
at 5140 meter above sea level. He showed me all the construction works
that was near completion. I could see the JCB digger sitting under
the tin shed. He said that the JCB was brought on MI17 Russian made
helicopter on 6 flights. Helicopter cannot lift much heavier items
in high altitude.
Then, we got up on a huge boulder to
take a photograph for ourselves. After taking photograph I had some
difficulties in getting down from the boulder. I planned to take some
photos of the lake from a close range, but cloud came in. At 4:00pm
I started to move back to Chhukung. It was 6;00pm by the time I arrived
23 (Friday, 14 October 16 – Dingboche 4420 meter)
I had a good sleep last night; it was
a relaxed morning with porridge and tea.
My initial plan was to make a photograph
of Chhukung in the afternoon with mountain ranges at the background.
It was made impossible due to heavy cloud in the afternoon. That morning,
before my way to Dingboche; I went up towards Khongma Pass for a while
to shoot some images of Chhukung. I was unhappy with the images because
they were shot into the Sun.
I took the day really slow. I reached
Dingboche, Peaceful Lodge for a lunch and night stay. Mr. Kusang the
owner of the Peaceful Lodge offered a great lunch of potato chips
with fried eggs on top. The lodge was houseful, no room available
for me. I told him that anywhere would do for me. He arranged an unfurnished
room for me, #14. It was fine.
In the afternoon I went to Himalayan
Café to meet the owner Mr. Ang Tsering Sherpa. I had some nice
coffee and cookies. Late afternoon turned to be very cloudy. At 7:00pm
the weather was clear with bright moon.
Day 24 (Saturday, 15 October 16 –
Photography Around Dingboche)
Weather cleared up, I walked up the slope after a cup of coffee. I
took some shots on the ridge, though not very nice ones.
I came to the lodge, had a breakfast at 9:30am. I and Mr. Kusang had
some chit-chat for some time. He said that he was not happy for not
finding a better room for me last night. He suggested me to stay for
one more night at his place; he would offer the better room for the
night. He insisted, but I decided to make a move down to Tyangboche.
I made a move at 10:30am. Getting lower
and warmer I was excited with the move. I took faster steps, feeling
I had forgotten something behind. After 45 minutes down from the hotel
I realized that the battery and charger of my Nikon D810 was on in
the plug. God! What next? I had to go back to the hotel. After reaching
the hotel I was not in the mood of going back, it was getting late.
Again, he insisted me to stay for the night there. I did so. He offered
a room upstairs with the attached bath inside. The room was spacious
with comfortable beds, and that provided a nice view through the window;
Day 25 (Sunday, 16 October 16 –
Dingboche-Tyangboche, 3850 meter) It was a cloudy
morning. I took it slower, stayed lying on the bed till 7:30am. I
had two large cups of coffee with milk and four slices of French toast
for breakfast. I expressed my gratitude for the quality of hospitality
he provided to me. He said that he would be more than happy to have
me at his place every month, not every year.
I left Dingboche for Namche at 9:30am.
Cloud lifted up, the day was sunny. All the mountain peaks were seen
clearly. I had some photos with trekkers and yaks on my way. There
were a few mountain goats below Somare village. The main trail runs
straight through the village of lower Pangboche, I took up the route
through upper Pangboche village with an idea of taking some nice photos
of Mt. Amadablam with some old Juniper trees and stupas at the foreground
from Panbcohe village. There was a sudden change in the weather making
impossible to take photographs.
I had a lunch in a tea-house, and then
walked down to the Imja river. I knew there was a nice frame of Mt.
Amadablam with the river at the foreground, but the weather turned
to be cloudy. I sat down on a rock waiting for the cloud to clear.
But, it didn’t, and then I walked on.
I reached Tyangboche in the fog. I stayed
in Tashi Delegh Lodge that is run by Tashi Sherpa.
Day 26 (Monday, 17 October 16 –
Tyangboche-Namche, 3445 meter) Weather condition got
even worse that day. Tyangboche Monastery was hardly seen through
the cloud. The valley below Tyangboche was clear, but not sunny. Though
I have been on the route for several times I still enjoy the natural
beauty as to a new place. Walking down through the pine forest with
Yak caravan was unforgettable. More to it, the sound of the Yak bells
was a meditating one. Weather never improved for the whole day. My
late lunch stop was at Kyanjuma.
I reached Namche at dusk and stayed in Yak Hotel.
Day 27 (Tuesday, 18 October 16 –
Above Namche) It was a surprise to find the clear
weather. My initial plan of going down to Lukla was aborted and took
up the slope towards Syangboche. It was a bit late to have started
the day at 7:30am.
Standing on the ridge above Syangboche I could see many mountains
including Mt. Everest from a single point. Looking on the other side
I could see the hidden villages of Khumjung and Khunde. I followed
the ridge towards the Everest View hotel then cut down to Khumjung
village. I stopped by Amadablam View lodge. The lady from the lodge
easily recognized me at the first sight. The last time I met her was
about 18 years back.
After lunch I walked through Khunde
village to go to Ghong Ri. Since a few years I was thinking of taking
a frame of Mt. Thamserku with the pine trees at the foreground, it
has to be in the afternoon. My plan was spoilt again due to heavy
cloud influx in the afternoon. I enjoyed the walk in the trees way
down to Namche. I stopped at Phinzo Lodge in Syangboche for a cup
of tea. Through the window I looked at the porters working in the
cold weather handling the loads that was off loaded from the MI17
helicopter. After a cup of tea I walked down to Namche feeling cold.
Day 28 (Wednesday, 19 October 16 –
Again, there was another bad weather
day. But, it did not matter to me because I was just walking back
There was an issue regarding my flight
ticket for Lukla to Kathmandu. I did not have the air ticket pre-purchased.
I was in need of one. Mr. Chhemi Kalden Sherpa from Yak Hotel suggested
me to meet Mr. Lhakpa Kaji at Alpine Lodge in Lukla.
At my departure Mr. Chhemi bid a farewell with a sacred scarf (Khata)
as a sign of respect. I was really touched with his steps forward
to me. I was with a kind of mixed feelings of happiness and sadness;
Happy to receive a great respect but Sad to leave Khumbu. I walked
down from Namche at 8:00am holding some tears in my eyes. My heart
was weakened from unsuccessful expedition due to bad weather all the
way. The weakened heart was touched with respect. There was the reason
to have some tears in my eyes.
I stopped at Shangri-La Guest House
in Phakding for a lunch. Also, I had to collect my camera Canon G11
and audio devices for a video record. Those things I had left back
there on my way up, I knew they would be too heavy for me in high
I realized that it would be too late
to arrange a few things by the time I reach Lukla. I called Mr. Chhemi
Sherpa in Namche and requested to give a call to Lhakpa Kaji in Lukla
for a room for tonight and an air ticket to Kathmandu for the following
day. He kindly did all necessary steps for me.
At the Alpine Lodge I was assured that
I would fly to Kathmandu on the second flight, next day.
Day 29 (Thursday, 20 October 16 –
Lukla-Kathmandu) Early morning from my bed I heard
people talking, “Weather is clear, there will be flights.”
As instructed last night I was at the airport at 7:00am. Mr. Lhakpa
Kaji’s wife assisted me for arranging the ticket. Security checks
in started around 8:00am. At 8:45 there was an announcement, “Goma
air second flight.” Yes! I was there. It was a wonderful flight
and safe landing in Kathmandu.
That was all how my expedition went
through. I hope you enjoyed reading my journal. It is a must do adventure
trip in a lifetime. What I say is, “Do it now or regret at your
old age.” Start planning …