Nepal - Everest Base Camp Trek Part 2 Lukla to Monjo | Gros Morne Outdoor Company

Nepal – Everest Base Camp Trek Part 2 Lukla to Monjo

Nepal – Everest Base Camp Trek Part 2 Lukla to Monjo

Everest Base Camp Map Overview

There were two ways to access Sagarmatha National Park – home of Everest – either by road, which brought you to within 300km of Lukla, which then had to be walked over several days, or, by the more popular route, flying.  The flights to Lukla were early, and for good reason, typically, as the day wore on fog and cloud would move in, limiting the pilot’s capabilities – everything was fly by sight.  Great!

April 14th, 2015

It was dark when we arrived at domestic flight terminal, which was still under construction, we literally had to walk through the bamboo scaffolding to get inside… the floor was still mostly gravel, and stray dogs lay about.  We moved through the airport quickly and had a short wait before we were on the twin otter plane; it was small, holding perhaps 14 people, and the cockpit was open.  We were all nervous, cameras out, taking photos… the stewardess handed out cotton swabs (for the ears) and a candy – interesting.  As we rose from the airport we caught a bird’s eye view of Kathmandu, and the surrounding valley, it was very reminiscent of the Fraser valley in British Columbia, with large rolling hills, greened with trees, separated by deep valleys, and from Nat’s seat, there was a majestic view of the immense mountain range we were heading towards.

What am I doing??

Small Plane!

The flight is short, no more than 45 minutes,  and before long we were flying within a few hundred meters of the sprawling peaks, and skimming above green ridges – it was all beautiful and terrifying; the turbulence with the up and down drafts in a small plane, the mountains, and all the while I was praying silently.  We started our descent to Lukla (I hoped!), because from my vantage point it looked as if we were heading toward a mountain – I could barely make out what looked like a small plateau. The Hillary Tenzig airport was built by Edmund Hillary in the 60’s in Lukla, to help aid in his building of schools, hospitals and other projects undertook in the Everest region.  It is set precariously on a plateau, runs for 1,600 feet, uphill (11.7% gradient), with the asphalt ending in a brick wall – I hadn’t know much about it before the trip, and it was definitely an interesting landing.

Heading to Lukla

Almost there

Happy to touch down

Lukla Airport

It’s hard to describe the beauty on exiting the plane – even though we were now at 2,800 meters, it was still warm out, lush with greenery and white peaks jutted out all around – these mountains were truly massive… Nepalese houses, and terraced green farmers’ fields dotted the lower sections of the valley, and we passed by numerous tea-houses, stores, and eateries on our way through Lukla, where people sold everything you could think of. We quickly moved through the small town, and finally got our first feel of what the trek would be like; the path was well worn, wide, and a mixture of dirt, and rock cobble stone in parts, with frequent people, and yaks passing… helicopters buzzed up and down the valley.

Suspension Bridge Crossing – Our first. Something we would have to get used to

Our Plan

Trekking in the Everest Region is mainly done through use of “tea houses”, which are located in numerous small villages throughout the region, usually no more than a few hours walk apart – take a look at the map above.  Teahouses supply both food and accommodation, and they range from the luxurious and relatively expensive (100+ USD/ night) to cheap and dirty, with most costing no more then 3-5$ USD a night.  We had done some planning before we arrived, hoping to go up the Gokyo Valley, a valley west of the Khumbu (Everest) Valley, and then head east over the Cho-la pass (through Dzongla), to come down in the Khumbu Valley.  It would take 21-22 days, but upon arriving in Lukla, I was already realizing we shouldn’t assume we were doing Cho-la pass, and perhaps it would be easier, just to go to Everest Base Camp, first.

After about 4 hours of walking we had made it from Lukla to our first destination, the village of Phakding.  The elevation was noticeable while walking, with Lukla sitting at 2860 meters above sea level, the height of some of the mountains I had been on previously, and paled in comparison to anything in Newfoundland… I was feeling the large backpack’s weight and happy to finish for the day.

Trail to Phakding – Nat with Mani Stones

Trail to Phakding – Constructing a new bridge

April 15th, 2015 – Day 2 Phadking to Monjo

We awoke in our small wooden square of a room, and Natalie opened the blinds to show me the view – it was amazing – we spent nearly an hour trying to capture it with the camera, but to no avail.  We took our time at breakfast, met a Scottish family of four also trekking to base camp, and then slowly made our way onto the trail.

Phadking Window Photo Attempt

Phadking bedroom photo #2

We finally got our first views of Everest as we climbed a narrow path cut into the west side of the valley, through an open pine forest, with blooming red rhododendrons & white magnolias; it wasn’t a perfect view, there are so many jutting peaks in the region, they often obstruct Everest, but we did see the area below the south summit, and lotus face, but the peak was obstructed by a high cloud ceiling.  We did have one interesting incident, and this involved water; we were environmentally, and economically conscious, and had decided that we would try not to buy water bottles, because of the money, and because of the waste, apparently there were problems with villages dealing with general waste, and the water bottles didn’t help.  In any event we came to a stream, walked up it 100 feet, and started to filter the water with our pump.  It all went pretty well, until we were walking away – Natalie spotted a toilet, which was obviously draining into the steam we had taken our water, and she was a little anxious about what we could catch, which led me to take issue with the emotional reaction, etc, etc….. I thought we would be ok. And we were.

Trail to Monjo

We arrived in Monjo sorted out our teahouse, and explored around the town a bit in the evening; it was home to a large school, a info center on the national park, and a beautiful monastery which overlooked the valley ahead to Namche Bazar; there was a large waterfall to our left, with the small village of Jorsaie hugging the river in the valley below, Khumbi Yul Lha (mountain) loomed over Namche Bazar, with the top of the mountain being obscured by a high cloud ceiling.  Tomorrow we would climb to 3400 meters, leaving the lower valley, and scaling up towards the higher peaks!!

Monjo Village – Looking towards Namchee Bazaar

Our original plan was to travel from Lukla to Gokyo Ri and use the Cho La Pass to reach Everest Base Camp.

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