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Thread: A trek of a lifetime to the Amazing Mt. Everest Base Camp and scenic Gaokiao Lake.

  1. #1

    A trek of a lifetime to the Amazing Mt. Everest Base Camp and scenic Gaokiao Lake.

    Original journey, narration and photos by Mr. Kallol Sen. All images are shot on a film camera, Nikon F90x.
    Acknowledgments:
    Mrs. Kajal Chakrabartty (Documentation).
    Mrs. Sharmistha Dasgupta (English Adaptation).
    Prologue:

    Trekking in Nepal offers the ultimate opportunity for intrepid explorers who are forever in quest for adventures in the Himalayas. With captivating landscape of Nepal Himalayan range and unrivaled diversity of flora and fauna, Nepal is a trekker’s paradise. For me trekking in Nepal was indeed an inspirational treat. From the warm and lush vegetation of the lower hills to the ice slopes of the highest mountain range on earth, one can experience a truly delightful bond with the nature instilling in one an amazing spirit of adventure. Nothing can be more fulfilling than the experience of trekking in Nepal Himalayas that lets one camp in the jungles, surrender to the wilderness, bond with the nature, eat and sleep under an open sky, sing and dance around campfire and directly interact with the local people. It is truly the perfect way to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and to relax and enjoy nature at its very best.

    We were a group of nine including a few excited first timers contemplating our next trekking destination. The very mention of trekking to the Everest Base Camp and Gaokiao Lake set a trail of vivid imageries in our minds. It is a dream of every mountain lover like me to go through the ultimate trekking route and experience it’s every challenge and thrill. It was an instantaneous and unanimous decision and after that each and every moment seemed to pass like thousand years, and we just could not wait any longer. In addition to the obvious items such as hiking boots, warm clothing, UV sun block, etc, we needed some more items like soft and light shoes, lightweight knapsack, lightweight sleeping bag, fabric Band-Aids and binoculars to enhance the quality and comfort of our journey. The plan was to see the peaks of Mt. Everest, Makalu, Lotse, Nuplsa, Amadablam, Kusumkanga, Kantaga, Thamsarku, Pumaru, Chow, Chowlotsa, Taowcha, Goakiao Peak, Fish Tail, Dhabol Giri, Annapurna and many more. Finally, the time came to set off for our journey.

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    Day 1, October 8th, 2003

    It was pouring cats and dogs all over the city of Kolkata. Not a great beginning but it is believed that rain brings good luck. So, we waded our way through the waterlogged streets to the Howrah station. The train was late by two hours and finally left the station. It would take us to Raxaul.

    Day 2, October 9th, 2003

    The sky was a bit clearer and our train was running amidst the red soil of Bihar. The scenery was eye pleasing with small hills, green fields adorning white Kans grass (Kaash Phool), river tributaries and villages flying past our eyes.

    Day 3, October 10th, 2003

    Our train reached Raxaul five hours past the due time of arrival. The journey henceforth was to the Samri Airport (20 kms from Raxaul) followed by a 35 minutes fly to Katmandu, the capital of Nepal.

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    Katmandu is the urban core of the Kathmandu Valley in the Himalayas. The city stands at an elevation of approximately 1,400 metres (4,600 ft) in the bowl-shaped valley in central Nepal surrounded by four major mountains, viz. Shivapuri, Phulchowki, Nagarjun and Chandragiri. We arranged for a halt at the Thamel area. The whole day was spent taking pictures. There was a lot of rush as it was the day of the “Kojagori Laxmi Puja”. As both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world visit Kathmandu, there was a stupendous amount of crowd in both the temples of Pashupatinath and Swayambhunath.

    Day 4, October 11th, 2003

    The morning started with the continuous notes of pitter patter, and we were wondering whether our flight would take off in this weather. Our next halt was planned for Lukla, since Lukla (2860 m) is the place where most people start their Mount Everest trek. This Himalayan strip gets quite a bit of traffic, mostly to and from Kathmandu. To our surprise on reaching the airport, we found that numerous small planes were taking off one after the other, but none were for us. After much pestering and persuasions, we could finally arrange for our flight which left the airport at around 2:00 p.m. much after the scheduled time. The flight was a different experience. We sat on tin stools and the rest of the space was used to carry all the basic necessities like water tanks, food etc. Our small plane flew like a bird in the clear mountain sky, and we could see snowcapped high Himalayas, colorful flowered green hills, tiny settlements and river gorges down below. At times it seemed as if we could touch some of the peaks as we were flying very close to them. Finally, our flight attendant announced that we have reached Lukla Airport. Tenzing-Hillary Airport also known as Lukla Airport, is a small airport in the town of Lukla, in Khumbu, Solukhumbu district, Sagarmatha zone, eastern Nepal. In January 2008, the airport was renamed in honor of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first persons to reach the summit of Mount Everest and also to mark their efforts in the construction of this airport. The surrounding terrain, thin air, highly changeable weather and the airport's short, sloping runway make it one of the most challenging landings in the world. Unlike the expected normal landing at the end of 40 minutes flight, suddenly to our surprise and horror, we found our plane diving towards the Dudh Kosi River flowing alongside the mountain ranges.

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    We clenched our seats and soon with a sudden jerk, the plane pointed upwards and flung itself to the runway 06. The airport's paved asphalt runway is only accessible to helicopters and small fixed-wing short-takeoff-and-landing. The single runway is 1,500 feet (460 m) long, 65 feet (20 m) wide and has a 12% gradient. The altitude of the airport is 9,100 feet (2,800 m). Due to the terrain, there is no prospect of a successful go-around on short final. There is high terrain immediately after the northern end of the runway and a steeply angled drop of about 2,000 feet (610 m) at the southern end of the runway into the valley below. After landing successfully and safely, we found our breaths back and headed to a hotel nearby the airport to have some food and without wasting much time we started off for Phakding (2650 m) as we had already lost much of our precious daytime of trek in the previous airport. We wanted to make the most of the remaining daylight. The sun was already adorning the west sky and it would be dark soon. We quickened our way through the beautiful scenic hilly neighbourhood covered in lush greenery and wild aroma.

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    Our trail hosted several suspension bridges as there are numerous river crossings (the trail follows the river for the most part). The bridges are quite sturdy as they are made of steel wire and steel plates, but sometimes have quite low railings by North American standards.

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    They are also up to 100 m over the river valley, so it would be quite a fall. The bridges are also the route for both people and animals, so it is not uncommon to see a roadblock as a whole herd of buffalo are being driven across a bridge. We passed through some villages which were interspersed with magnificent forests of rhododendron, magnolia and giant firs. In both the early autumn and late spring, the flowers on this portion of the trek make it the kind of walk you will remember for a long, long time. When we finally reached Phakding, it was almost evening.

    Day 5, October 12th, 2003

    Our destination was Namche Bazaar (3450 m). We knew that any kind of food on our way would be costly, so we had Sattu or Chhatua and tea for our breakfast and carried on with the next leg of our trail at 8:00 a.m. in the morning. We walked past dwarf firs and rhododendrons, presenting similar scenery of the terrain as the previous day with the river flowing alongside the mountain slopes between densely-covered forests looming over us on both sides. At around 10.00 a.m. we reached Mango where we had our food. We saw many foreigners here and it was a dear little place with many beautifully decorated accommodations. At 11.00 a.m. we again started walking as our trek to Namche Bazaar would take roughly a total of 5-6 hours. On reaching a tiny village called Jorsale, we submitted Rs. 500 as the entry fee to the Sagarmatha National Park and continued with the trek. We trekked along a high traversing path where we had our first good view of the Mt. Everest.

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    We continued a little further along the river and then came to our biggest challenge. We had to climb approximately 1 km straight up the side of a mountain to get to Namche Bazaar. The climb was very steep. The next 3 hours was probably the toughest time in the entire trek. Upon reaching Namche, we were totally out of our breaths, exhausted and famished.

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    Namche is located within the Khumbu area, populating the sides of a hill. It is the main trading center for the Khumbu region. The quaint little hill town is literally formed in tiers (over 200 m high) in a U-shaped bay at the crest of a mountain. Visitors are likely to stay at least for one night, if not two for altitude acclimatization. It was dark already and the day of up and down trekking past the Dudh Koshi and Kusum Khola rivers was almost over. The weather was really chilly and the beauty of the place was truly amazing. We had reached the gateway to the high Himalaya.

    contd...
    Last edited by kallns; 26th June 2011 at 05:36 PM.

  2. #2
    what a picture........it is the mother of all teasers. This for sure is going to be a great one.

  3. #3
    Sir,
    It is good picture, Keep writing... we are waiting for more..

  4. #4
    Day 6, October 13th, 2003

    The day’s plan was to reach Tengboche. We set out at 9.30 a.m. after having our breakfast. Tengboche (or Thyangboche) is a village in Khumjung in the Khumbu region of northeastern Nepal, Tibet border located at 3,867 metres (12,687 ft). In the village is an important Buddhist monastery, Tengboche Monastery, which is the largest gompha in the Khumbu region.

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    Tengboche is located on a hill at the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Imja Khola rivers. It is inhabited by sherpas ('sherpa' literally means the easterner) who migrated from Tibet 600 years ago. It is approached by a mountain trail from Namche through a subtle set of ascents and descents following the river valley. It is a midway station on the trail to the base camp for the mountain climbers of Mount Everest. We were spellbound by the sceneries that were on our way. The views of the Ama Dablam are inexplicable. Ama Dablam is the third most popular Himalayan peak for permitted expeditions. It is in the Himalaya range of eastern Nepal. The main peak is 6,812 metres (22,349 ft), the lower western peak is 5,563 metres (18,251 ft). Ama Dablam means "Mother's necklace"; the long ridges on each side like the arms of a mother (ama) protecting her child, and the hanging glacier thought of as the dablam, the traditional double-pendant containing pictures of the gods, worn by Sherpa women. For several days, Ama Dablam dominates the eastern sky for anyone trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp. There were numerous unknown peaks dominating the skyline too and mesmerized we kept on walking. We reached Tengboche at around 3:00 p.m.

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    We were pleasantly surprised by the crowd of foreigners and found it a little difficult to find a place to stay, but finally it was managed. The hotels were good and there were a few tents set up for the foreigners. It was very foggy and as we clicked some pictures of the colorful tents our spirits were a little dampened as we could not manage to see the views of the adjoining mountain peaks.

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    The roads here were a bit tricky to walk, but out of danger. We were to stay here for a day and we hoped that we would get to see the views the following day.

    Day 7, October 14th, 2003

    We had the whole day at hand to enjoy the natural splendor of Tengboche. We checked out the Tengboche Monastery, which was very near to our stay. The Tengboche Monastery (or Thyangboche Monastery), also known as Dawa Choling Gompa, is located in the Tengboche village in Khumjung in the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal and is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Sherpa community. Situated at 3,867 metres (12,687 ft), the monastery is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region. It is located on a hill at the confluence of the Dudh Kosi and the Imja Khola rivers. Built in 1916 by Lama Gulu, Tengboche Monastery is draped with a panoramic view of the Himalayan Mountains, including the well known peaks of Tawache, Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, and Thamserku. There were colorful tents spread all over the green field adjoining the Gompa.

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    Tengboche has a 360 degree view of snow-capped mountains and it felt like Heaven. The monastery is strategically placed on the way to Everest base camp and thus attracts a large number of tourists from all parts of the world. Many visitors return from this place, but we were in for more. The day after we would be leaving this place and heading for our next stop which was Simara.
    Last edited by kallns; 26th June 2011 at 06:23 PM.

  5. #5

    Congrats.....It was always my dream to reach EBC. Excellent photographs and write-up...... please keep it up....

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