There's an expression I first heard years ago - Nepali Flat. It describes the act of walking on level ground, which of course does not exist other than in very short bursts. So the only variation in Nepali Flat is whether the undulation is a few metres or a few hundred metres. Flat ground is simply a myth, rather like the Yeti.
And so for the last three days we have been going relatively downhill from Phortse at altitude approx 3800 metres, through Namche Bazaar at approx 3400 metres to Lukla, where I am now, at approx 2800 metres. They're been relatively (there's that word again) uneventful, relative of course to the excitement of the Hillary-Tenzing 70th Anniversary celebrations or to the very special community welcome at Phortse (which I am yet to write about). But of course nothing is truly uneventful, and so I aim to catch just a few of the highlights in the photos below.
Leaving Phortse, a little after 7am on Friday 1st
Our first stop, before we actually left town, was a visit to the relativelybrand brand new Khumbu Climbing Center.
The 64-year old manager (and I guess chief instructor, but I don't know that) had climbed Everest 12 times and Ama Dablam 9 times and "a few other smaller ones", was delighted to open up the centre and show us around.
A couple of shots below of the extensively equipped tackle rooms:
We were also treated to a climbing display by Dinesh, our deputy guide and a graduate of the school. He slipped out of his shoes and up one of the climbing walls in about 10 seconds flat
From there it was was across the fields, through the town gates, and down, relatively:
An "up" segment of the down
A "down" segment of the down
A heavily reinforced "up" segment of the down
We arrived into Namche around 2:30pm, but not before a glimpse of "the" Bridge, just to set the heart racing, as if it wasn't already.
Saturday (yesterday) we left Namche around 8-ish.
The Irish Pub caters for everything, as you can see.
And then a fond farewell
Crossing the Monjo River, with two water mills to the side.
The "Namche Hill" is famous. Infamous actually. It's very hard to walk up, and just as hard to walk down. Relentless "steps" and rockhopping. Much concentration; no photos.
The bridge alongside the confluence of the Bhote Koshi and the Dudh Koshi (Koshi means "river") presented some additional challenges. I was halfway across and three porters decided that that as the moment to cross from the other direction. On the surface (on the bridge!!), no problems. Except that their loads were as wide as the whole bridge. See below
These guys are headed in the other direction, but those approaching us were exactly the same. The only choice, bearing in mind that I'm 6'2" in the old language, was to duck down onto all fours and let them pass over the top of me. All that whilst suspended a million feet in the air, swaying in the gale coming down the Dudh Koshi. Perhaps I exaggerate a tad, but you get the picture ...
The walk eases on the other side of the high bridge, and the heart recovers ...
It was a hot, dry and dusty day
A farewell view of the Dudh Koshi
It's now Sunday. My accommodation at Phakding last night was, shall we say, basic. Most of the group scored fairly comfortable rooms with ensuites and hot shower. Three of us drew the short straws and ended up in the upstairs cell block. 'Nuff said; it was only one night.
Leaving Phakding we had some more relative downhill (which was in fact down up down up until we reached Lukla at around midday. One of a number of relatively new and beautifully presented tea houses along the way.
I love these guys, and I hope that they are reasonably well treated.
Refreshing the Om Mani Padme Hums on a mani stone along the way.
Rest break puja
A high mountain coffee shop. Best coffee on the trip.
Beautiful mani wall
There's another side to the tourist boom which fuels Namche and surrounds. These guys carry loads of around 80kg. They get paid 400 rupees per kilo for a trip from Lukla to Namche. They do 2 and a bit up and down trips a week. Do the maths ...
Arriving into Namche
More beasts of burden ..
An excellent vote of thanks by Mike to Rishi and the whole support crew
And then a final exploration of Lukla
The main gate
The refurbished Hillary-Tenzin statue. Refer Mike's comments in mypost of the 25th for some background.
The last of my "mates"
No comment necessary. Have I been transported back to Dunsborough or Yallingup??
Tomorrow we leave at the crack of dawn for Kathmandu. A farewell cake ...