Today we caught one of the first flights (via small plane) out of Kathmandu to Lukla, high in the Khumbu region (9,350ft.) for the start of our trek to Everest.
All seemed pretty tame until we approached the tiny airstrip at Lukla. The surrounding mountains and the exceedingly short, uphill-slanted airstrip force the pilots to dive into a narrow valley, slam the plane onto the runway, and screech to a halt before crashing into the rock wall at the end of the strip. Somehow we and the plane survive this improbable landing. Still dazed, we are hurried out of the plane while our duffles are thrown hastily into a cart and pushed by three men to the terminal.
At Lukla our duffle bags, barrels, and other baggage are carried by animals and porters to each night's destination. Our acclimatization schedule has been suggested by our trekking agent:
First night is spent in Phakding, then two nights at Namche Bazaar, one at Thame, one at Khumjung, one at Tengboche with its beautiful and important monastery, one at Dingboche, one at Chukhung, then on to the base camp for Island Peak (16,896ft.).
Island Peak (20,252ft.) is recommended as an excellent acclimatization climb for those making an attempt on Everest or hoping to make it to Everest base camp. So we have arranged for permits to climb Island Peak together. We are hoping for good weather and moderate temperatures for that climb.
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The airstrip at Lukla redefines the meaning of "short and steep" and is heavily guarded by the Nepalese Army.
Beautiful but hair-raising flight from Kathmandu to Lukla, start of trek to Everest
This part of our trek took us past one of the most beautiful mountains in the world, Ama Dablam.
From Lukla we started our trek to Everest, crossing many of these types of cable bridges over deep gorges with raging rivers. Often these bridges are draped with silk katas for good luck. Here Nawang adds his own kata in hopes that his Everest prayers will be answered.
Our base camp manager doubles as our expedition photographer. Whenever Lincoln starts filming, people love to watch or participate, like these porters in Lukla.
Learn more about the crucial role that porters play in Nepal, and what is being done to protect them, from the Porters' Progress website.
Namche Bazaar is the prosperous center of the Khumbu region and the Sherpa community. It has a wonderful Sherpa Culture Center filled with examples of Sherpa history and their way of life.