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Trekking in the Khumbu Valley

Trekking in the Khumbu Valley
Click to Enlarge

Duration: 12 Days

Trip Grade: five star

It all started with a conversation at dinner. I had a chance to go on a trip to Everest
Base Camp (EBC) and within days I told my friends. Soon I had four other people
eager to go all the way to Base Camp, trek with friends and take in the sights and
sounds of the stunning Sagarmatha National Park in Eastern Nepal where
Mount Everest presides.

We landed with a sharp smack on the tarmac in Lukla airport with Zhangbu, our sirdar
or Sherpa head guide. On our flight he pointed Mt. Everest to me its peak hidden under
a cloud cap. We were heady with excitement because for days flights to Lukla from 

Kathmandu had been turned back because of poor visibility. In the summer, haze from
dust and smoke make for poor visibility. Nyingma, the head porter and two other porters,
Phuri and Jigme were waiting for us as we left the airport.

Lukla is at 9,383 ft. / 2,860 meters. Stepping out into tarmac I was excited to get going. The snow peaks looming over us and the cold air on my face spoke of adventure -- I could also feel the difference of the thin air I was breathing. We started out for Phakding, an easy, mostly downhill hike. By lunch time it became clear that I was going to have to work hard on the toughest trek I’d ever taken. Elle and I were going to Thyangboche. The rest were going to EBC. I was glad we only had to go to Thyangboche.

Over the next days between gasping for air and taking frequent breaks we hiked along the Dudh Kosi, the “milk” river named after its frothing icy white water. Sometimes we were close enough to see the foam, often we had climbed several hundred feet above. Always we heard it roaring, surging forward swollen with snow melt. The green, terraced fields vivid with their bounty of vegetables and crops gave way to towns. Along the way porters carrying loads as tall as they passed us. Mule caravans, dzos (a yak and cow hybrid) with their packs had the right of way as they clambered by us. Always in sight of the towering three peaks, Kantega, Thamserku and Kusum Kangguru we climbed uphill until we reached Namche Bazaar. By then their names had burned themselves into our memory

Elle and I were so far behind that the group split into two. Dee also at our pace had joined us. The men in our group went on to EBC.

If it were not for Zhangbu and his team, Nyingma, Phuri and Jigme, we would not have had as enjoyable a time as we did. Not only were we slow, we were so slow that Phuri and Jigme came down after dropping our luggage to hang out with us. Perhaps they had never gone with anyone walking at our pace. I could see them struggle forcing themselves to walk slowly.

Was it enjoyable? Yes. Even though the altitude knocked the breath out of me. At Zhangbu’s suggestion, Elle and I turned went as far as Khumjung cutting out Thyangboche but I enjoyed every moment with the company and getting to know the crew. Did we get a great view of Everest? Yes, when we arrived at the Everest View Hotel above Namche that afternoon the air was crisp and the clouds parted. We were in full view of Mount Everest with stunning clarity.

The EBC trek is mostly for the goal-oriented. The part of our group that went to Base Camp proves it. However, the EBC trek can be for the journey-oriented people—we’ve proved it. It’s probably more accurate to call ours the Everest View Trek. It is also somewhat of an oxymoron: a leisurely trek. But for the not-so fit, this is one way to enjoy the Khumbu Valley.

—Joy Ma

Disclosure: Asian Encounters/Bhrikuti is my brother, William’s company. To be honest, I was critical of some things before I went on the trek. My experience with the staff was more importantly fun which for me was the best part of the trip. The first being with friends.

 

 

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