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Old 23rd November 2017, 13:28   #1
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Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Day#1:
Felt like travelling some place offbeat and looked up the list of direct flights from Bangalore and got excited when I found a direct flight to Kathmandu:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kempeg...port#Passenger

I thought I will trek to the highest point possible with access to comfortable accommodation and found the perfect hotel to touch 4000m. Googled a bit and figured out I should leave asap as the weather is perfect in mid November. Made a rough itinerary and called the hotel who offered to take care of all arrangements for the trek.

Asked a friend to come along. He thought I lost it and suggested a milder option like Nandi Hills. We both hit 40 recently and lead a sedentary life. The last time we did anything remotely like this was a day hike in Wayanad 20 years back. He reluctantly signed up after a brief motivational speech. Purchased BLR-KTM-BLR flights on Nepal Airlines website.

Day#2:
Had a discussion with the hotel and finalised the following itinerary:
14-Tue: Reach KTM
15-Wed: Explore KTM (to be avoided in future)
16-Thu: Fly to Lukla, meet with the guide, trek to Phakding, overnight at Yeti Mountain Home
17-Fri: Trek to Namche, overnight at Yeti Mountain Home
18-Sat: Trek to Everest View Hotel, overnight at hotel
19-Sun: Day trek and return to hotel
20-Mon: Chartered helicopter to Lukla, Fly to KTM, overnight at KTM
21-Tue: Fly to BLR

Went to Decathlon on Airport Road (not the nearest but has the widest choice). I like traveling light but internet is full of advice and it was very difficult to decide what to skip. I decided to be ultra minimal and it served me well.

Shoes: Decided against the highly recommended trekking boots and opted for light and comfortable sports-ish shoes with good grip (Forclaz 500 Helium). They are great everyday shoes for Rs 3500, better than expensive Nike stuff I have been buying all these years.

Layers:
Merino wool thermals. Expensive (Rs 1999?) but they are magical. Would never ever touch other thermals. I canít praise them enough.
Quick dry warm running jacket and quick dry hiking pants.
Fleece jacket

Accessories:
Monkey cap, woollen gloves, neck warmer (light and thin ones to block the wind), woollen socks.

Extra: compact camera, phone, phone charger, toothbrush, etc.

Thatís about it. I carried the fleece jacket and shoes on me and rest of the stuff fit into my ordinary laptop backpack. Things I skipped:
Extra footwear - I am fine to use shoes all the time.
Rain proof gear - Took a chance as rain is less probable in Nov
Hiking poles - prefer my hands to be free to take photos, etc.
Towels, sleeping bags, bed sheet, down jacket - booked good hotels
Water bottle/hydration system - bought bottled water along the way.
Cap, sun glasses - sun doesnít bother me much.
DSLR and lenses, etc - wanted to travel light

Things I should not have taken:
Cotton anything. Cotton is terrible in winter (incl jeans, socks, etc.)
Fleece gloves. Too warm. Luckily I took woollen ones that served well.

Things I missed: Nothing really, it was just perfect. I was only worried about rain and luckily it didnít rain. Maybe a GoPro camera but I am too lazy to organise GBs of footage. I shoot medium resolution JPEG and delete lot of photos at the end of the day to keep a handful of good photos. I did miss wide angle lens, maybe in future.

Day#3 to Day#10: An amazing trip. I donít want to bore you with the actual travel details because there is so much material on the internet/youtube etc. Here are few useful observations that might help first timers:

Contrary to what you hear, every tom dick and harry can do this trek and can even go up to Everest Base Camp. If you can climb 50-100 steps briskly, you are fit enough to consider EBC. It is not at all about fitness, you donít need to hit the gym in preparation.

The real challenge is altitude sickness and lack of decent accommodation beyond 4000m. Nobody aborts EBC trek because they are not fit to continue. Most common causes are altitude sickness (painful) and food poisoning and this can happen to even very fit people.

I did not take medicine for altitude sickness as I thought my trek is at a slower pace only till 4000m but I had mild sickness after reaching Namche and my friend was affected a lot more than me. Next time I will start the medication 2 days before the trek. I just didnít appreciate the importance of altitude sickness, fortunately I had just one bad night.

Scary stories about Lukla airport, how dangerous it is, etc. Yes it is scary but going in November helped a great deal because of clear sky. I actually wanted to experience this flight. It is actually a very busy airport so statistically speaking it is a safe bet. Summit Air has newer planes vs Tara Air that has older planes but I doubt it matters. Itís all about pilot skill and clear weather.

Most people have the dream to do EBC on this route but I feel 4000m is also an amazing destination in itself. Pretty much the entire country of Nepal is a walkerís paradise. If you plan your treks around good hotels like I did, it can be a very relaxed and enjoyable trip. Only if you go beyond 4000m, the conditions become harsh and lack of basic infrastructure doesnít help.

The season and duration of the trek makes a lot of difference. A compressed schedule will make it a daunting trek as you are forced to gain altitude quickly which dramatically increases your chances of falling sick. Unfortunately most tour packages fall into this category. While it is a great experience going to EBC, it will be a pity not to explore this region at leisure.

One should definitely aim for 4000+m to really enjoy this region because at this altitude, vegetation is very minimal and you will get incredible views of snow capped mountains and valleys without any obstructions.

Great thing about BLR-KTM-BLR flight is that international sections are empty in BLR at these times so absolute breeze to get in/get off the plane. Return flight in KTM has long queues in the airport - reminds me of our old airports with never ending queues.

Some photos from the trip:

Window Seat A on BLR-KTM flight offers great sunset view:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-01ktmflight.jpg


The small plane to Lukla airport, everyone is excited and worried at the same time.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-02smallplanetolukla.jpg


Lulka runway. Clear weather is critical. There is a wall at the end of the runway and planes have hit that wall! This photo is not mine, picked it up from internet
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-03landinglukla.jpg


Lovely hiking trail between Lukla and Phakding:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-05luklatophakding.jpg


Good luck and blessings for the journey:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-07blessingsforsafetrip1.jpg


Prayer wheels are a common sight:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-08blessingsforsafetrip2.jpg


Fellow trekkers drinking water. That water is very cold btw. There are no vehicles (not even bikes) in this region. Just animals and people walking, just wonderful.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-09fellowtrekkers1.jpg


Reached Phakding hotel for the first overnight halt after 3 hours of trekking. We felt we could trek for another two hours but decided to stay due to prior reservation and also evenings are a bit cold to trek.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-10phakdingboard.jpg


Left Phakding after leisurely breakfast. Most people start very early due to tight schedule. In fact, some people trek for 9 hours in a day.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-11leavingphakding.jpg


Nearly the entire portion of today's trek follows this Dudh Koshi river. Lovely company to have as you move along:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-12riverforcompany.jpg


These are some of the easy sections along the route. Just need to watch your step to avoid spraining, otherwise fairly easy walk.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-13theeasiersections.jpg


Reached Monjo town after 3 hours from Phakding. This is the entrance to Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park and we need to buy tickets here.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-14monjo.jpg


An hour after Monjo you reach Jorsale village. This is the last place to grab food, water, etc. on the way to Namche. The trail gets tough from here till Namche and there is no place to stay after Jorsale till we reach Namche. You will gain 600m+ altitude from here till Namche. So the next three hours are considered tough.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-15steepclimb.jpg


Thankfully some plain sections also exist:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-16landscape1.jpg


Through out the trail, you will spot locals that breeze past you carrying incredible loads while the tourists are panting profusely. Here is a man carrying a child as if it is a walk in the park next to The North Face poster athlete.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-17localvs.jpg


Lot of everyday sights that let you soak in the local lifestyle:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-18returningfromschool.jpg


The suspension bridges are beautiful and a great relief from all the climbing. They are made of steel and built well (not the creaking wooden stuff). But you do have to share them with the gentle beasts:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-19sharingnarrowbridge.jpg


It is a great relief to see the Namche town after a long trek. I spent sometime walking around the town before heading to the hotel:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-21namchetown.jpg


Reached our Namche hotel. After an hour or so I got mild altitude sickness, was a bad night overall. Some people do Lukla to Namche in one go, I feel it is doable for people with average fitness but risky due to altitude acclimatisation.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-23namchehotel.jpg


Left the hotel after breakfast and reached this spot where EBC guys take the Tengboche route. We climbed up towards Khumjung village to get to our final stop.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-24waytoebc.jpg


After reaching 3800m or so the landscape really opens up. If you love walking, this is a paradise. This is the place that makes me want to come back again.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-26walkingscenenearevh.jpg


Our final hotel (Everest View Hotel) is an excellent stop. You can see many mountains from here including the Everest but my favourite mountain is Ama Dablam, it is just so beautiful and has a distinct shape.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-28highluxury.jpg


Of course the mandatory postcard picture
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-29everestpostcard.jpg


Next day I went for a day trek without any real destination and it was the best part of my trip. Breathtaking views.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-29walkingscenestupakj.jpg

Passed through Khumjung village..
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-30walkingscenestonepileskhumjung.jpg


I wasn't sure how this trip would turn out so pre-booked a chopper instead of trekking back to Lukla but I had such a good time so I felt very guilty to take the chopper to return. The early morning chopper flight was very Hollywood-ish and fun. I took the co-pilot seat.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-31returnchopper.jpg


If you think Lukla airport is a lonely desolate airstrip, think again. It's super crowded with lot of traffic.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-33lukladeparturegate.jpg


It was good to be in warm KTM hotel after many days in cold weather:
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-35backatktmincomfort.jpg


Finally homebound as I bid farewell to the majestic mountains (ask for window seat F):
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-36blrflight.jpg

Last edited by androdev : 24th November 2017 at 07:44.
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Old 24th November 2017, 09:15   #2
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Travelogues Section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 24th November 2017, 09:43   #3
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

I have never trekked in life, but the pictures are extremely enticing. You have made it look very easy but I am sure there is more to it. Maximum I have done is hiked for seven to eight hours, but I don't think that level of fitness will do. From your log it seems that the only way to reach Namche town is by trekking, yet that town is quite big with lots of buildings. So all the building materials were taken there on mules/yaks?
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Old 24th November 2017, 10:04   #4
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackPearl View Post
I have never trekked in life, but the pictures are extremely enticing. You have made it look very easy but I am sure there is more to it. Maximum I have done is hiked for seven to eight hours, but I don't think that level of fitness will do.
If there is one thing I want to convey in thread, that would be to say that fitness level required is extremely basic.

Lukla to Namche takes 9 hours but you can do this as per your convenience: 1 day, 2 days or even 3 days.

Quote:
From your log it seems that the only way to reach Namche town is by trekking, yet that town is quite big with lots of buildings. So all the building materials were taken there on mules/yaks?
Wood and stone are the main building materials which are locally available. The rest has to be carried by people, animals or helicopters. Btw helicopter usage is quite high for cargo.
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-plywood.jpg
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Old 24th November 2017, 16:49   #5
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Woweee.. Such a superb trip and you've made it look so easy. Really picture postcard stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by androdev View Post
If there is one thing I want to convey in thread, that would be to say that fitness level required is extremely basic.
So, most of the trek is on those rock hewn steps or some trail? Steps are generally very taxing on the legs.
Btw, are the guides necessary / mandatory or people can go on their own?
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Old 24th November 2017, 20:13   #6
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderer4x4 View Post
Woweee.. Such a superb trip and you've made it look so easy. Really picture postcard stuff.
I can't talk about EBC trek but the part I did was indeed easy. How hard can it be to climb 600m from Lukla (2860m) to Namche (3440m) in two full days over a very well worn out trail? Assuming that an average person can walk for 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the afternoon, 12hrs is ample time to cover this.

Quote:
So, most of the trek is on those rock hewn steps or some trail? Steps are generally very taxing on the legs.
My guess is 30% steps and rest is just uneven flat trail with stones. Even with steps, you can rest anytime you feel tired. It is important not to try to catch up with fast trekkers. Even for fit people, going slow is highly recommended to avoid altitude sickness. I can't stress it enough, fitness has very little role to play. It is all about enjoying the trek, taking ample breaks, getting acclimatised with altitude.

Quote:
Btw, are the guides necessary / mandatory or people can go on their own?
They are not mandatory. You don't need any 'guidance' to go to EBC, it's like a Shabarimala yatra with heavy crowds during peak seasons (Oct, Nov, Apr, May). However a guide will help you with the following (useful for first timers):
1. Can carry your light to medium weight backpack. If it is heavy, you will need a porter.
2. Can help you pace your climb by suggesting when to rest and what to expect ahead. It is not about feeling fit to keep climbing but paying attention to altitude acclimatisation.
3. If something happens to you, he will be the one coordinating help and rescue.
4. It's nice to chat with a local person as you trek and know their lives and local trivia. For instance, our guide trekked for 3 days to come to meet us at the Lukla airport.
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Old 24th November 2017, 20:29   #7
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

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Originally Posted by androdev View Post
My guess is 30% steps and rest is just uneven flat trail with stones. Even with steps, you can rest anytime you feel tired. It is important not to try to catch up with fast trekkers. Even for fit people, going slow is highly recommended to avoid altitude sickness. I can't stress it enough, fitness has very little role to play. It is all about enjoying the trek, taking ample breaks, getting acclimatised with altitude..
You have given lots of confidence to many of us "unfit" people. I've been dreaming about a trek to EBC for long, but was thinking that I'd need a heli-evac half way down there. Your trip has made me realise that may be its not that difficult to hit EBC even. Need to seriously look at this option for next year.
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Old 24th November 2017, 21:45   #8
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Quote:
Originally Posted by wanderer4x4 View Post
You have given lots of confidence to many of us "unfit" people. I've been dreaming about a trek to EBC for long, but was thinking that I'd need a heli-evac half way down there. Your trip has made me realise that may be its not that difficult to hit EBC even. Need to seriously look at this option for next year.
Someone who has actually done EBC will call my bluff but seriously it's not about fitness, though fit people tend to go on these treks. EBC is tough not because of fitness demands but can you survive in cold, low-oxygen, basic accommodation (think cold everything), lack of decent food for minimum 8+ days? I can't. I can sweat it out during the day but by night I need a cozy place. And altitude sickness is pretty random when it picks its victims. It is painful even at it's mildest, you can't sleep or eat and get a throbbing headache. But up to 4000m is a joy ride which I encourage people to take.
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Old 27th November 2017, 15:19   #9
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Excelent AND crisp travelogue with beautiful pics. Need some more of your high altitude trek on the day you wandered off without any real destination in mind. A helicopter ride through the valleys is also the perfect way to end a good trip. Once again, kudos on doing it.

Last edited by SDP : 28th November 2017 at 14:12. Reason: typos
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Old 27th November 2017, 16:40   #10
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Though we are on an automotive forum, but sometimes it is so peaceful to leave them behind and the way you have done it is just WOW.
I don't think any thing like this exists on this forum. No offense but sad that you took chopper on way back. Usually climbing down is worse than climbing up and I believe anyone who has done Mata Vaishno trek knows, what I mean.

Would appreciate some more details on hotels, pricing and of course loads of more photos. I had thought that you will post some photos showing EVEREST summit.

Regards-Sonu
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Old 27th November 2017, 19:29   #11
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Since this was my first trip, I tried to keep it comfortable and not worry much about budget. Some details on hotels and cost of the trip (for 2 pax):

KTM-Lukla-KTM airfare USD 430
Hotel Everest View to Lukla helicopter USD 700
Guide, porter, park fees, etc. USD 380

Hotel Yeti Mountain Home (YMH)
(Breakfast and dinner 1 night at Phakding, 1 night at Namche) USD 500
http://yetimountainhome.com/
Chain of small hotels. Comfortable and clean bed with electric heating pad. Hot water and attached bathroom. Luxury is relative and this chain is considered top category but it still felt like budget guesthouse like accommodation. Overall I was fine with these hotels given there are no better options.

Hotel Everest View (2 nights, All meals plan) USD 810
http://hoteleverestview.com/
I hope to go here regularly. It is one of a kind hotel in a very special location. I felt it was much more VFM than YMH. Rooms have fabulous views of the mountains. Rooms are not heated though (at least during the time I was there) so one still has to deal with cold. Food is very tasty (simple meals) with excellent service.

BLR-KTM flights and KTM hotel stay is extra.

The greatest appeal of this place to me is that you can walk for days with other fellow walkers on safe and scenic trails. It's almost like time traveling to the past before the wheel was invented, truly as unadulterated as it can get.

Unfortunately don't have many pics to share, just a couple more:

Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-suspensionbridge.jpg
Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest-cloud.jpg
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Old 27th November 2017, 20:23   #12
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Wow, what an awesome trip/trek and very nicely described. You made it sound very easy. I just returned from a wonderful seven-day trek to Gangotri last month and it was truly wonderful, although I couldn't do the last leg to Tapovan because of the steep climb, cold weather and recent land-slides. Even before we reached back to Mumbai, we were planning for our next trek and you can say that the Himalayas are really addicting!

So your travelogue has let me know where to go next - thanks !
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Old 14th October 2018, 17:42   #13
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

What was you experience of the shoes you bought from Decathlon. It seems you have not visited till gorakshep, so are the high ankled shoes are must as being said everywhere on internet?
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Old 15th October 2018, 09:18   #14
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Re: Gentle climb for a glimpse of Mount Everest

Quote:
Originally Posted by roamer View Post
What was you experience of the shoes you bought from Decathlon. It seems you have not visited till gorakshep, so are the high ankled shoes are must as being said everywhere on internet?
The shoe decision was a very difficult one for me. Internet is full of advice for buying heavy duty high ankled shoes. When I tried them in Decatholon store, I hated them. My motto is whatever I do to make my feet happy will make the trek more enjoyable. So I ended up with a pair of shoes of "trail runners" type - these are as light as running shoes but with strong sole, better grip and cushion support. They don't need any break in even if you have wide-ish feet like me. Paired with thick wool socks, they offer outstanding comfort. I like them so much they have become my everyday shoes so it's money well spent.

Of course my trail did not have snow or rain so my choice turned out to be perfect. I could be totally wrong as I have not done EBC but keep in mind that about 95% of it will be a simple trail without snow for which you don't need heavy duty trekking shoes. If I were you, I would carry two pairs and use the light trail runners all the time except when conditions demand a water proof high ankle shoes. EBC is tough not because of the trail but because of the altitude, weather and lack of amenities. Somehow everyone makes EBC look like actually summit climbing

Last edited by androdev : 15th October 2018 at 09:20.
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