Plan Your Nepalese Trek with a Flexible Itinerary

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Starting Out On A Trek

Trekking Poles – Don’t Leave Home Without Them

A good friend walked part of the Camino a few years ago. I remember word for word his comment about trekking poles. I must admit they do help but it does look like you have an affectation.

The Trainer (my husband) put it more succinctly. You look like a wanker. He said to me. Lots of wankers on this trail then. I replied to him and took off down the trail. With my trekking poles.

I am a big fan of trekking poles and wouldn’t leave home without them. For this trek it helped us with some very tricky parts of the trail where it was quite dangerous getting down onto the Ngozumpa Glacier. But I am getting ahead of myself.

If you watch the video you will see at a certain point I start to trip and right myself. The reason this happened was because I was trying to watch exactly where the porter guide was stepping and trying to step on the same steps he did while I was watching where I was stepping too. I learnt by watching the porter they always find the easier way to follow a path. They find the steps that have the lower rise etc. You watch a Nepalese person walk the path and see what I mean.

The Number of Days on a Trek and the Amount the Altitude Increases Each Night is Critical

The Trainer designed our trek to sleep no more than approximately 300 metres higher each night. Every 1,000 metres you should have an acclimatisation day. Climb higher on the second acclimatisation day on a day walk but sleep at the same altitude for two nights. Of course there is an anomaly with this, on the lower part of trek when you are starting out. It kicks in around Namche Bazaar.

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Confessions of a Scaredy Cat on Top of Cho La Pass

Is Crossing Cho La Pass Dangerous?

In my opinion the answer to the question is yes. You bet it is.

  • 5 October 2018
  • Cho La Height : 5368metres / 17,611 feet
On top of Chol La Pass with the Porter Guide, Nepal

That is our porter guide on the left and that’s me with the worried look on my face. We are on top of Cho La Pass. Even though I had made it to the top with a whole lot of help from our porter I was feeling anxious. Very worried. And scared. Very scared. And just wanting to get off the top and safely to our lodge in Dzongla for the night and before any weather set in. I could include a bucket load of expletives in this post but I haven’t, I’ll just let you imagine them. Lots of them.

My husband of over thirty years took the photo and managed to get a smile out of me eventually. I wasn’t feeling too charitable towards him and had told him so earlier in the morning after we walked out of Thangnak. Just before what I think was my first ever panic attack. Not bad since it wasn’t the first time he had taken me out of my comfort zone. Except this time took the cake.

Trekker and Porter Guide on top of Cho La Pass Nepal
Our Porter Guide (left) and my husband on top of Cho La Pass

Saying I worry too much is a bit of an understatement. From a young age I had a keen sense of my own mortality. As a child, being in a head on car collision and later a narrow miss with a runaway speed boat didn’t help the cause. For me it spelt out “it can happen to you too.”

It was my husband’s idea to trek in Nepal. He had trekked the apple pie circuit in the Anna Purna area in Nepal the 1980s. He loved it and had talked about taking our daughters as young children.This never happened.Then in 2013 the plan was to trek with them as adults but it improved impossible to coordinate everyone’s various work commitments to find dates when everyone was available. In the end my husband decided to go anyway and I didn’t want to get left home worrying about him, so I went even though I was really scared about it.

Just what was I scared about?

I was terrified I would die somehow. I was worried I would

  1. fly to Lukla and crash into the side of a mountain and die,
  2. get lost and freeze to death,
  3. break an ankle on the side of the mountain, be stranded and freeze to death,
  4. get robbed and killed,
  5. get knocked off the side of the mountain by a yak and die
  6. fall off the side of the mountain and die
  7. be caught in a rock fall and die

so what did happen on the way to base camp?

On our first trek in 2013 I got a rash. Yes a rash. Because I thought the rash was cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection which can kill you) we turned back at Shomare or Somare. Had we been trekking with a porter guide instead of totally independently things may have turned out differently. We decided to return in 2015 and try again and this time we made it to EBC and Kala Patthar. I wasn’t worried about any of the things on the list above. I had a different list with just two dot points. Landslides and another earthquake.

Last year in September/October 2018 my husband wanted to trek to Gokyo a destination I was happy about. But he also wanted to go over Cho La Pass which I was definitely not happy about. I tried to talk him out of the idea. This time bullet points number two and number seven were high on my worry list. Rock falls at Cho La Pass are a real possibility as is freezing to death on top if the weather comes in.

what is the climb like to the top of cho la pass?

The next photo below really puts a bit of perspective on the climb. Click on the photo and it will open up so you can see people climbing about a third of the way up. Every picture tells a story as they say.

Trekkers climbing Cho La Pass Close Up Nepal
Trekkers climbing up Cho La Pass

Climbing this area was down right dangerous. Anyone who tells you differently is in denial. Climbing Cho La Pass made going to Everest Base Camp and climbing Kala Patthar put together seem like a picnic. And the thing is you don’t have a choice. If you start out you need to keep going. You just want to get over the Pass and down on the other side which is also dangerous and make it safely to your lodge to sleep. We trekked for ten and half hours on that day. We stopped for the briefest lunch on top of the Pass as it is so cold up there.

On side of stupa Lower track EBC trail before Phakding
Decoration on the side of a newly renovated stupa on Day One of our trek in Cheplung.

A woman recently asked me whether I was really scared because I went anyway. Yes I was scared about the idea of climbing over Cho La Pass. Really scared. Why did I go? I would follow that Trainer anywhere. Well almost. And clearly, I didn’t get my She – Lion on enough before we left Australia, when I argued constantly that I did not want to climb Cho La Pass because it sounded dangerous. I should have bared my teeth a bit more.

And yes we made it all the way safely and now I’m back home in Melbourne, writing about our third trek in the Everest Base Camp region. I can tell you we won’t be climbing Cho La Pass again nor trying our luck with Renjo and definitely not Kong Ma the other two of the three passes in the region either. However our love affair with trekking in Nepal continues and a fourth trek to another region is on the cards. We are addicted to Nepal.

My next post will be Day 1 and 2 from Lukla to Namche Bazaar as we trekked with our porter guide. I will revisit this climb and the whole of Day 10 as it unfolded from Thangnak, over Cho La Pass and to Dzongla in detail in another post but in order of the days as we trekked. Hope this is taster for you to following our journey.

Does anyone know the name of the animal on the side of the stupa?

We Are Off for Trek Number 3 in Nepal

We’re off to Trek in Nepal. Again.

Above Dingboche Everest Base Camp trek

Above Dingboche Everest Base Camp trek

Yes, I am in love. In love with the Nepalese landscapes and with the simplicity of the trekking in Nepal. A colleague asked me what’s the attraction, she knows it is my third trek.

Why Go to Trek In Nepal?

If you ask The Trainer (aka my husband) he’d say he’s doing it to keep me fit! In fact, the need to keep up a general level of fitness and then to train four times a week for two or three months before we leave for Nepal, is a big side benefit. But I really liked the feeling of achievement after taking on the challenge of trekking to Everest Base Camp. And feeling so incredibly fit from the simple days, sustained walking, fresh air and fresh food walking through magnificent landscapes. It felt amazing. And I was glowing when I returned home.

Good Planning is Important for a Successful Trek

Signage in the Khumbu

Although we have to the Everest Base Camp region twice before or maybe, because we have been before, I am conscious to not become blasé about what we are about to do.

  1. We have kept up the training.
  2. We (that would be the Trainer) have researched the route and itinerary options
  3. We are reviewing what we are taking. I have bought a new Osprey day back pack.
  4. We are reviewing the packing list
  5. We reviewed the drug list – the Trainer bought out the chemist
  6. We checked in with our contact in Kathmandu that everything is on track with flights to Lukla, organising our Porter and getting our TIMS Card
  7. We have booked our hotel in Kathmandu

So, we fly to Nepal in two weeks. I am very excited to be staying at the Kathmandu Guest House when we arrive and when we leave. If it is good enough for Ricky Martin, it’s good enough for us too.

We are trekking independently again but will be taking a porter/ guide, like on our second trek.

Trekking to Gokyo Ri and the Gokyo Lakes

We are going back to the Khumbu, the Everest Base Camp region but we are trekking to Gokyo. The trek is marketed as Gokyo and the Glacial lakes. If you read the trekking tour blurbs this is what they list as the highlights.

  • Stand at the shores of a chain of six turquoise, glacial-fed lakes
  • Hike along Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest glacier in the Himalaya
  • Avoid the Everest crowds, but enjoy the selection of great views
  • Climb Gokyo Ri (5,357 m) for spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse, and Cho Oyu
  • Trek through the Sherpa town of Khumjung, home of a ‘real’ yeti skull
  • From ‘Scoundrel’s viewpoint’ near the fifth lake, peer over the vast Ngozumpa Glacier a wasteland of rock and ice

Khumjung Everest Base Camp trek September 2015

Walking into Khumjung

In fact the view from Gokyo Ri is meant to be better than the view from Kala Pattar on the Base Camp trek. Also, weather permitting, we will be crossing over Cho La Pass. We haven’t done that before. Climbed a pass. This will be a hard a long day. Easily the hardest.  But we will only go if the weather is good otherwise it can be treacherous. We have a day and a buffer day at Gokyo to help with this. We have been told that the walk to Fifth Lake is well worth while.

And in true Nervous Nelly style I am anxious about it. Again. This time I am anxious about the pass. However, the Trainer is talking me up. Cho La Lou he is calling me. Cho La Lou, Queen of the High Passes. Sort of has a nice ring to it doesn’t it ?

Everest Base Camp trek

 

Any advice on the Cho La Pass an Gokyo, comments are very welcome.

Nepal Captures Your Heart Forever

Himalayan Landscapes Are Forever in Your Heart

I have become addicted to wanting to walk in these landscapes. Forever.

Main Everest Base Camp Trail

Well at least one more time. But then I know it will be one more time. Again.

That’s me on Day 13 of our Mount Everest Base Camp trek returning to Lukla. From the top of Kala Pattar we had the closest view of Everest, two weeks before I turned 58. That was October 2015. Now, we just have to go again. Back to see, and be a part, of these massive landscapes.

Flying to Lukla

All my reservations  left me when I saw the first vista from the plane flying to Lukla.  And my eyes filled with tears. In 2013 it was the first time I had ever done anything like this – hike or trek. Me, walk all the way to my next destination? Never.

EBC Trek Day 2

On the lower part of the trek the vistas are smaller. Remember it’s all relative. The noisy river, the trees, the small villages along the trail. And the bridges which cross back and forth over the river. The blue roofs are at Benkar and our porter is a little up ahead with the orange pack.

Then there is the iconic bridge which features in in the movie Everest. After crossing the suspension bridge and the fast moving Dudh Kosi river below there is the steep big climb to Namche Bazaar.Bridges across to Nacmhe Bazaar hill

Day 4 Above Namche Bazaar heading towards TengbocheIn the photo above look closely at the bottom point of the river to see the two bridges. Looking back at different points and seeing how far you have come gives you a great sense of achievement. It’s all part of the addiction. Lodges in Nepal

There can be amazing views even from your room. The climb to Namche Bazaar is worth the view. You can even climb higher, pay more and stay at the Everest View Hotel and get a view of Everest.  Above Namche Bazaar on Acclimatisation Day

I love the view of the two rivers below. The two bridges in the photos above cross where the two rivers meet. The day before I had walked alongside the river. There was a bit of cloud and rain as it was the very end of September. But we didn’t get wet.

Namche Bazaar to Tengboche EBC Trek

When we flew to Lukla the first time there was an man sitting next my husband who was on his seventeenth trek to Nepal. I told you it was addictive. He pointed out the mountains by name. I want to be able to recognise all the mountains and name them too. The one above is Ama Dablam, she is distinctive and easy to spot.

EBC Trek Walking to Dingboche

Above the tree line and blue skies. The track levels out in places.

Day 7 EBC Trek to DingbocheLittle hamlets and big views. Part of the attraction is no crowds. I loved Dingboche and the acclimatisation day walk above it. Half way up the hill you can see the C-shaped track above the stupa and to the right. That’s about 400 metres above the town and where the flag pole below was. The views were stupendous. I loved it.

View of mountains above the small village of Dingboche on the EBC Trek

There are walks to be taken from Dingboche so I just have to go back…

EBC Trek Dingboche to Lobuche

EBC Trek Dingboche to Lobuche

The massive landscapes put things in perspective.

Above Pheriche, Everest Base Camp trek

You could look at the view forever but you have to move on to the next amazing vista.

EBC Trek near Gorak Shep

And the views feel so special because you have “worked” and walked to get there. Note the people in the bottom left hand corner.

Gorak Shep and Kala Patthar

And when you get to your final destination and climb that final brown hill and stand in front of Everest and above Everest Base Camp…

On top of Kala Patthar in October

you understand it’s not just about getting there. The whole journey and the effort to get there is special. But be warned. It’s addictive.

Everest Base Camp in the morning

A morning view from Mount Everest Base Camp.

Posted on February 1, 2018 by Louise Terranova

Beautiful One Day Breathtaking the Next

A Photo is Worth a Thousand Superlatives

Above Pheriche, EBC Trek, Nepal

From the moment you walk out of Lukla to trek to Everest Base Camp the views are beautiful. The higher you go the more amazing the views, higher again the views become breathtaking panoramas. Continue reading

Monastery or Gompa at Khumjung Nepal

Om Mane Padme Hum

Khumjung Monastery
Khumjung Monastery Khumjung Nepal
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Gompa at Khumjung
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Khumjung Monastery

The colour on the inside of the monastery was a welcome warmth from the cloud that had descended on the town for most of the day. The monastery is the red building you can see on the right.

This monastery has the famous yeti skull. I don’t think it is right for me to have a photo of it here. You will have to go and see for yourself and pay a donation for the privilege.

Photos taken 25 September 2015. The weather can be cloudy at the end of September.  Also posts on the same day

Accommodation and Food on The EBC Trek

Eat, Heat, Recharge and Sleep on the Everest Base Camp Trail

Main trail Lukla to Kala Patthar at Phakding

The Shangrilla Lodge in Phakding in 2015. We stayed here on the first night and the second last nights of Everest Base Camp trek.

Our First Lodge Experience

I remembered the lodge pictured above from our first 2013 trek. We didn’t stay there then. Our flight from Kathmandu to Lukla was delayed about four hours due to fog. We were trekking solo, without a guide or porter and had no accommodation booked.

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Earth, Dingboche Ridge-top, Nepal

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A Favourite Day on the Everest Base Camp Trek

Dingboche Ridge-top Everest Base Camp Trek

To celebrate Earth Day April 22

Read about our Acclimatisation Walk to Dingboche Ridge-top probably one of my favourite days on our trek.

Or the walk into Dingboche or the walk out to Lobuche.

Daily Post: Earth Photo Challenge

Here’s Looking at You Kid

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Just a reminder that Nepal is not all about mountains. This photo was taken at the Chitwan National Park on the fringe of the Indian plains. We rode on top of this fellow into to the forest in search of rhinos, tigers and deer. They are magnificent creatures, aren’t they?

Not part of our original travel plans in 2013 but after turning back  Continue reading

Street in Bhaktapur Nepal

Day Two: “Street” — Establishing Shot

#developingyoureye

Bhaktapur Nepal

Pots drying in the sun Bhaktapur

Bhaktapur is an UNESCO world heritage site not far from Kathmandu.The old town is closed to traffic so it is a peaceful place to walk and explore. Sadly Bhaktapur was significantly damaged in the 2015 earthquake. Continue reading

Travel Makes Us Modest

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Travel makes us modest,
you see what a tiny place
you occupy in the world.

Gustave Flaubert
Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridgetop

I could not agree more Gustave.

My Favourite Day – Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridge-Top