My Journeys

Himalayan Trek, 2017

The Himalayas or Himalaya form a mountain range in Asia separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The Himalayan range has many of the Earth’s highest peaks, including the highest, Mount Everest. The Himalayas include over fifty mountains exceeding 7,200 metres (23,600 ft) in elevation, including ten of the fourteen 8,000-metre peaks. By contrast, the highest peak outside Asia (Aconcagua, in the Andes) is 6,961 metres (22,838 ft) tall.

KATHMANDU

Suburbs

Kathmandu suburbia. Bike
Once you got outside the market and hotels area you will start emerging into rough and not ‘sugarcoated’ landscape of suburbian territory.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal
Walking past the so-called residential area gives you a different perspective what luxury is.
Kathmandu streets. Nepalese labourers.
I think I was walking to the Monkey Temple and some halfway through the construction sites I saw this… Health and Safety would possibly kill the income they take home to support their families.
Kathmandu streets. Bridge.
On the other side, there was a small temple, but my attention is directed towards these local cabbies. The minivans would take tourists and I believe residents as well to nearby destinations.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
As a former electrician, I must say I am flabbergasted by the complexity you see here. This seemed to be well functioning low voltage lines, tangled up tied and well.. connected.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal
Somewhere between obscure buildings, I found a bright and glassed Shopping Mall. I liked the colors but I did not enter therefore I cannot comment on the selection of products there.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal
Again, somewhere between those rundown buildings and blocks, one can find an artistically distinctive architecture. Look at the graffiti. Real talent out there.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal
That was pretty much a mini skyscraper along other buildings nearby. What captured my attention was the scaffolding and THE equilibrist.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
When you consider it is a High school you would mind the dilapidated state but it looks to me a bit like Spanish architecture. I have seen similar in Greece and Cuba.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
No photography allowed here! It was accidental and..lucky to keep it. So there you have it. Nepalese Prison.

Outdoors Gym

Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
Kathmandu centre and again, amongst those rundown blocks of flats, I found this little oasis. Small park with garden, reservoir and outdoor gym.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
By the entrance, there were two small temples with altars and prayers.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
I found an inclined bench, hoists, railings of all sorts, brick-like dumbells, etc.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal. Gym.
Old school. Simplicity and Effectiveness.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
This small altar must have had some motivational purpose, and religious one, too.

Temple

Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
This small temple was by the main street, not too far from the market. Nepalese woman laid some gifts before the altar.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
There was a gold patterned sculpture of a deity before which you would lay gifts.

Nepalese people, I come across during my visit. It is not in any way the representative group. These are the photos I took among many others, not focusing on specific persons.

Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
Apparently, there were some cute monkeys on that brown wall. Instead, I had these lovely ladies in front of me. One didn’t look too pleased but definitely intrigued. Anyway, I was wondering what the other had in that box. Birthday cake, maybe?
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
Nepalese attire. I like the trainers, too.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
As it was taken near the airport, the presence of the police and security personnel was evident.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
Kathmandu suburbia. This mysterious gentleman seemed to be very content and I regretted not having been able to speak Nepalese. This man would tell some incredibly amazing life stories! I never forget the intense look he gave me.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
Wizard of Pashupatinath I called him. No, I don’t know his name, I wish I understood the meaning of the greeting.
Kathmandu streets. Nepal.
This is a talented artist who I met while walking the streets of Kathmandu. This is the gallery whose works when sold would support the University. These were truly works of art and I wish I had purchased more of them. Unfortunately, it was the beginning of my trip and I was concerned I may damage them in the process. Lovely guy. Sorry, don’t remember his name.

LUKLA

The airport is popular because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp. There are daily flights between Lukla and Kathmandu during daylight hours in good weather. Although the flying distance is short, rain commonly occurs in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu. High winds, cloud cover, and changing visibility often mean flights can be delayed or the airport closed. The airport is contained within a chain link fence and patrolled by the Nepali armed police or civil police around the clock.

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The airport in Kathmandu. Flying to Lukla required a strict security procedure and limited baggage allowance. I was stopped and searched as it turned out I put my Swiss knife in the handbag. I neede it in the mountains, didn’t I? All went OK in the end. It was not Heathrow…
Kathmandu Airport. Nepal.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lukla is VERY weather dependent. Our flight was not much delayed, but our airplane very much so. The small Cessna like aircraft to the left had engine failure… three times before we were allowed to take off.
Kathmandu Airport. Nepal.
Heading back to the bus after the first attempt. The twelve of us were asked to wait in this bus another hour until the ‘mechanical issue’ is fixed.
Kathmandu Airport. Nepal.
Inside the airport bus, waiting for either another airplane or ours being repaired.
Kathmandu Airport.Nepal.
Sitting inside the airport bus and freezing my socks off. Kidding, it was more the uncertainty which caused everybody ‘shivering’.
Kathmandu Airport. Nepal.
This is the airplane who eventually took us safely to Lukla. This is the airplane who had had three motor and engine related malfunctions. Still, they managed to mend it and send us in the sky.
Airport Kathmandu. Nepal.
Here we are inside the aircraft ready and excited to fly, or not. The excitement turned into disillusionment. but there was still hope. Hope dies last. The time was of the essence. The flights to Lukla get canceled on regular basis.
Airplane. Flight to Lukla. Nepal.
Airborne. The cabin crew is behind me. One young lady wearing an elegant uniform. The lady two photos above.
Flight to Lukla. Nepal.
Words cannot describe the enormous size of the Himalayas. They are gigantic! You only need to see another plane passing to compare and realise how small you are.

Lukla Airport

Lukla Airport. Nepal.
Welcome to Lukla airport. Apparently, one of the most dangerous airports in the world.
Lukla airport. Most dangerous. Nepal.
That is all you get at this tiny airport on the side of the mountain. The parking lot for taxing, the airstrip that ends with the cliff below.
Lukla airport. Nepal. Most dangerous.
Walking on a passageway and watching these planes taxing and taking off every hour.
Lukla airport. The hotels.
These are the nearby hostels and hotels for Nepalese and International hikers and trekkers.

NAMCHE BAZAAR

Namche Bazaar is popular with trekkers in the Khumbu region, especially for altitude acclimatization, and is the gateway to the high Himalaya. The town has a number of lodgings and stores catering to the needs of visitors as well as a number of internet cafés.
Most Sherpa who are in the tourism business is from the Namche area. Namche is the main trading center and hub for the Khumbu region with many Nepalese officials, a police check, post, and a bank.

Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Namche Bazaar from above. As part of the acclimatization period, you need to follow Mallory’s ‘Climb High Sleep Low’ advice. Go hiking 500m above your camp or hotel to allow your body better adjust to air with less and less oxygen.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya
I think I hike up additional 700m that day. Now I can sit and admire the bird’s view of Namche Bazaar and helicopter taking off.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal.
A close up to the previous photo. ON top they have the landing spot for rescue helicopters.
Namche Bazaar. Hiking in Nepal.
The funny story with this photo is that I never knew when it was taken until of course I scrolled through the album much later. What happened was that some hikers I met were also stopping to rest and take photos. Someone asked me to take one or two and to return the favor they offered to take a picture of me. All four were blurred, except for this one.
Namche Bazaar. Hiking in Himalayas.
The Statue of Sir Edmund Hillary, a New Zealand mountaineer, explorer, and philanthropist. On 29 May 1953, Hillary and Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers confirmed to have reached the summit of Mount Everest.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalayas.
Stones attached on top of this sculpture were brought from the Dead Sea in Israel.

Entrance to the town. If you start your hike up to the town of Namche Bazaar, you are most likely enter this gate.

Namche Bazaar. Nepal.
A few more minutes and I can sit down and rest, I mean to catch a few breaths.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Namche highly recognized landmark. Buddist stupa.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
The main road leading up to the bricked layered streets. Alongside there is a canal with running down water.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
I think there was somebody else walking by her side.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Hiking Himalaya.
The view from the top of the main path down to the laundry.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Down there is the pool, not for swimming though, it was for hand washing your clothes.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Yep. Nepalese doing their own laundry using cold water and soap.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
It was part of the national project to improve hygienic standards.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Laundry Zone, it was called.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
While acclimatising, I went for a walk to the outskirts of Namche. I would say this is suburbia.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
And then I saw and awed this senior citizen of Namche. She would walk up the stone steps with her companion, a yak carrying cargo.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal.Himalaya.
Namche’s outer residential area. Beautiful weather.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
What is distinctive here is the little lady attire. Dilapidated almost everything around and still, this girl is wearing pink seemingly high-quality winter clothing. Anyway, the toilet’s door needs fixing.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
This part of Namche is actually on the very edge of a massive cliff, cordoned off by tiny wire. Here some locals doing a trade. Selling products or bartering.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
With the number of tourists, hikers, trekkers of all sorts, no wonder the locals weren’t too enthusiastic and welcoming seeing another nosy photographer invading their space.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Nothing but admiration and applause for these women. No less sophisticated mums and daughters than those we may see on the streets of some cosmopolitan cities.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Up to the more modern shopping and hotel area. Yep a few hundred more steps.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
A common sight on the streets of Namche Bazaar.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
Nothing unusual here. As no bikes or mopes are available to carry food and other home stuff, yaks, horses, and your shoulders are used and successfully, too.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
The street where my hotel was located. Also, I could and did use a few shops selling winter clothes and mountaineering equipment.
Namche Bazaar. Nepal. Himalaya.
I have a couple of days to aclimatise. I may as well explore the local coffee and souvenirs shops.

SAGARMATHA NATIONAL PARK

Sagarmatha is an exceptional area with dramatic mountains, glaciers and deep valleys, dominated by Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world (8,848 m). Several rare species, such as the snow leopard and the lesser panda, are found in the park. The presence of the Sherpas, with their unique culture, adds further interest to this site.
Including the highest point on the Earth’s Surface, Mount Sagarmatha (Everest; 8,848 m) and an elevation range of 6,000 m Sagarmatha National Park (SNP) covers an area of 124,400 hectares in the Solu-Khumbu district of Nepal. An exceptional area with dramatic mountains, glaciers, deep valleys and seven peaks other than Mount Sagarmatha over 7,000 m the park is home to several rare species such as the snow leopard and the red panda. A well-known destination for mountain tourism SNP was gazetted in 1976 and with over 2,500 Sherpa people living within the park has combined nature and culture since its inception.

Sagarmatha National Parks’ superlative and exceptional natural beauty is embedded in the dramatic mountains, glaciers, deep valleys and majestic peaks including the Worlds’ highest, Mount Sagarmatha (Everest) (8,848 m.). The area is home to several rare species such as the snow leopard and the red panda. The area represents a major stage of the Earth’s evolutionary history and is one of the most geologically interesting regions in the world with high, geologically young mountains and glaciers creating awe inspiring landscapes and scenery dominated by the high peaks and corresponding deeply-incised valleys.

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The constantly increasing numbers of tourists visiting the property, 3,600 visitors in 1979 to over 25000 in 2010, has immensely boosted the local economy and standard of living with better health, education, and infrastructure facilities.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Before entering the Park every hiker is expected to apply some common sense and show respect to this beauty. It may seem obvious to some of us but in reality, you may be surprised by the arrogance and ignorance of a certain group of tourists. Don’t go there if you think you ‘know better’.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
One of the many gates through which you enter the village. Here you will find hostels, toilets, vendors, and more Sherpas.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
I think it was the beginning of my Himalayan Trek. One of the many suspension bridges we had to cross.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal.
Not for the faint-hearted, this bridge will give a proper rollercoaster-like experience, especially during windy weather conditions.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalayas.
Optical illusion doesn’t give this sense of height. It was actually 30m down below my feet.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
One of the stopovers. A resting place for hikers and climbers. Here were restaurants serving hot meals. Noddle type mostly, as you don’t want to go heavy on your stomach, believe me.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
‘Typical landscape’ during my trek. Gorgeous mountains at the background. Again, it may look close but the shelters were still quite far away.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya
Finally got there. Exhausted and in need to quench my thirst.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The path leading to the shelter with toilets and dining room with a nice stove, I hoped. Again, the last 500m seemed like 5km.
Sgarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Bathroom area. Here you have tables, and chairs right next to toilets and fit in sinks and mirrors.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
That’s what you get from the window while waiting for your hot meal to arrive.

Let’s get back to the Himalaya trek and see the natural beauty of the magnificent mountains.

Sagarmatha National Park.
One of the many crossings you have to make in order to reach another point. Often we had to climb down, cross the picture perfect brook, and then back to hiking up and traverse.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Nepalese pack of cigarettes with damaged lungs on it as a warning that smoking kills. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.
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What we have here, ah yes I remember I and other hikers were being silly and posed for photos. This one is me being normal. You would not want to see others, mine or theirs.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
An indigenous inhabitant of the land. Beautiful creature.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Smiling only because we got almost there. After a quite steep and strenuous hike up we reach a resting place, (it is in front of me). IT was all part of acclimatisation time.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya
Every time I saw this I regained faith and confidence that I CAN do it. I was visiting this place while this woman was just running an errand.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
You may expect a clear and fresh air to breathe in this part of the country, but no. The dust and dunk smell was sometimes too much to bear. You are advised to wear a balaclava. Even locals appreciate it.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Buddist dagobahs. Part of Nepalese culture and tradition. You see that a lot.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Look at my dusted hiking boots, and guess what? I have to go down to the valley only to hike up again on the other side.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya
IT looked like a herd of Muntjac or barking deer. Understandably, they brought much interest to photographers.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Traversing for six hours and finally, I got there. Another respite center. Cloudless sky all the way up.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
A typical path made of stone steps and makeshift railings. Always stay on the inner side. You go pass Sherpas carrying all sort of staff. It is their job.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya
Hiking path with gentle steep and amazing views on the way. What can be a big disadvantage is that you maybe be too exhausted and too focused on walking to fully appreciate the beauty in front of you.
Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. Himalaya.
Welcome to Phortse. Home to Khumbu Climbing Center. 3840m
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Amazing views from inside the diner. All the pains go away. Now waiting for my hot noddles and a cup of tea.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Typical inferior design of the mountain shelter. All wooden made. Unique.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
No matter what is going on Never Give Up Develop the heart Too much energy in your country is spent developing the mind instead of the heart… It makes sense, doesn’t it?

Climbers’ stone memorials

Hiking up we reached a hill where a number of memorials have been erected to those who lost their lives trying to climb the Everest and other surrounding mountain peaks.

 

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya
A memorial stupa for Fischer was built by the Sherpas in 1996 outside the village of Dughla in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal. In 1997, Ingrid Hunt, the doctor who had accompanied the 1996 Mountain Madness Everest Expedition to Base Camp, returned to place a bronze memorial plaque on it in his honor. The American Alpine Club established the Scott Fischer Memorial Conservation Fund in his memory which helps environmentally proactive expeditions throughout the world.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Memorial stone for deceased climbers in Himalaya mountains, Nepal
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal.
The climbing victim was identified as Trevor Eric Stokol from Dallas. According to the dates given, he died on July 22, 2005, at the age of 25. Stokol’s body was never recovered. Most likely he was killed by the avalanche that was reported in that area on the same day.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
More stone memorials commemorating the fallen. What saddens me is that some of the bodies had never been recovered and also here up in the Himalayas there is the resting place not somewhere close to their families. That is, however, the fate and risk they appeared to have been prepared to take.

Vast areas and enormous space. Trekking further up to 4000m above sea level. Did I mention vast areas?

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal.
You see those mountains? They seem close. They appear to be within walking distance, not exactly. This is seriously a vast area and you are a tiny spot. Fragile and vulnerable, insignificant in the power of nature.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
It looks like a beautiful, sunny, warm day. Why am I wearing winter clothing? I must have needed it obviously but for some reason felt like removing them for more comfort and suntan.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal.
What this photo tries to emphasise is actually not the mountainous landscape. If you look closely you will notice the black tiny circle on the right side, slightly below. You see it? Well, I circled the passing by helicopter. This tiny oval spot is an actual flying rescue helicopter.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Another shot of the flying rescue helicopter. This truly amazing visual and sound experience. You could clearly hear the motor whirling but still could not see the dammed thing. This moment you realise how gigantic the surrounding Rockies really were. You felt like crossing the valley is a matter of an hour while the reality was much harsher. The tiny, black circle you see in the centre gives you the perspective of sizes and distances. in the Himalayas. Bear that in mind when trekking alone and feeling like straying for a better picture. Some never returned.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Basic shelter to rest and catch a few winks, Nah just kidding, have a sip of water maybe a chunk of chocolate bar and off you go! Remember to keep yourself hydrated.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Korean mountaineer Um Hong-gil, the first person in the world to climb the world’s 16 highest peaks standing over 8,000 m, opened an elementary school in this remote town Penboche, located over 4,000 m above sea level. The school is the first in the Foundation’s educational support program for those in need and consists of four classrooms and a school hall. Some 50 village children are able to study in the well-equipped facility.

Now on my way back to Namche Bazaar, I stayed overnight in the shelter near this temple. What is more important here the actual reason I was there. I was not there by choice but necessity or rather a life-threatening emergency, to be honest. More you will find at the bottom.

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Here is me and my accidental companion taking pictures. This temple was not exactly free to visit. You had free access but on your way out you were kindly expected to donate which I promptly did. So did my friend.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The front yard of the temple. The fading colors indicate only that it was freezing on that day.
Sagarmatha National Park.
Over there is my refuge. A place I never forget. After the strenuous, lung-crushing descent I made it here. What so hard about descending along the well-beaten path you might ask. Well, with half the amount of oxygen in your blood you would not definitely think about taking selfies. I guarantee you that.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
What you see here? Another range of mountains? How boring after scrolling all those pictures. Well, you see the tiny peak that looks like a chimney because of the clouds above it? It is ladies and gentlemen nothing else but Mount Everest.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
National Luminary Pasang Lhamu Memorial Gate. It looks like the entrance but actually, it was the exit and end of my Himalayan trek.

Syangboshe Airstrip

‘The airstrip is the closest airstrip to Mount Everest and Everest Base Camp. Typical users of this airstrip are tourists who plan on visiting a nearby hotel and going no higher and trekkers who plan on going to Namche Bazaar. The airstrip is not licensed for commercial operations and has few facilities. There are no scheduled services and most aircraft landing and departing at Syangboche are helicopters and STOL aircraft making chartered flights from Kathmandu or Lukla. The flight from Lukla to Syangboche takes between 7 and 11 minutes by helicopter. Lukla is the farthest point served by scheduled flights on the way to Mount Everest. Helicopters do fly further, and higher, up to Everest Base Camp, but only for picking up exhausted or injured mountaineers or dropping critical supplies. Without altitude acclimatisation, Syangboche is the highest point it is advisable to reach by aircraft. It is not uncommon for people visiting Syangboche to be out of breath, due to the high altitude.’
Here you have it a small description.

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Standing at the end of the runway and wondering the size of the airplane being able to touch down safely. Well, behind me there is a chopper. All is good for some.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Now standing on the opposite side near the above-mentioned chopper.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
This is basically the whole length of the runway at Syangboshe ‘airport.’ I use the term loosely.

KHUMJUNG VILLAGE

Khumjung (Nepali: खुम्जुंग) is a village in Khumbu Pasanglhamu rural municipality of Solukhumbu District in Province No. 1 of north-eastern Nepal. It is located in the Khumbu subregion inside Sagarmatha National Park, a world heritage site. The village is at an elevation of 3,790 metres above sea level, and is situated near Mount Khumbila. A monastery in Khumjung has a purported Yeti scalp.
This village has modern communications such as the internet and mobile and landline phones.
As of 2011, it had a population of 1912 people living in 551 individual households. Khumjung school was built by Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust in 1961. The school began as two classrooms but now caters for pre-school, primary and secondary sections with over 350 students.
The village is about an hour walk from Namche – an arduous climb out of Namche, a stroll across a flat area near Shyangboche airstrip, another short climb, and then a gentle walk downhill into the village. There are no lodges on the way, so consider taking water.

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The trek to the Khumjung Village is about to take a steep slope up. A path made of rocks, pebbles, and gravel.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Massive stone steps leading to the village. Wide enough for local Sherpas and their cargo to take half the space.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
I was kind of fascinated by the combination. Basic, near spartan means of transport. Yet their attire is a mix of traditional wool jackets, trousers, and modern hats, North Face type jackets, Nike sneakers. And of course, the latest editions of iPhones.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
And here we are! The last few stairs and I am home, I mean at school. This is the village set up by Sir Hillary Edmund himself.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The main entrance to the village. This gate might look dilapidated but it is a piece of art. Interior designs were beautiful drawings and paintings.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Welcome! Front yard and one of the educational buildings.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The memorial of Sir Hillary Percival Edmund. He was the main driving force for the establishment of the Sagarmatha National Park beginning in 1972.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
The weather was sunny and the sky cloudless, yet I would rather keep my warm clothes on. Thumbs up.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Khumjung School was built in 1961 as the first major project of the Himalayan Trust. It started off as a two-classroom school but now caters for pre-school, primary and secondary sections with over 350 students.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
ONe of the classroom buildings. When I got there it was half term and the maintenance works started. I saw a few carpenters and painters going on about their job not minding much my presence.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Yep. They do have a computer classroom, too. I didn’t have a chance to check out the actual equipment.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Bathroom facilities were under construction, but from what I saw it must be warm enough to wash outside.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
What looks like a TV room was actually an interactive study room.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Another room. It looks like a dining area.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Here we have the kitchen area.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Now compare this classroom to the one in the Western world countries. Simplicity at its finest.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
I believe it was a front desk for a teacher. What you see on it is my coloring book. I found out before coming to Nepal that this school would appreciate these type s of gifts. You know something practical. I brought some puzzle and scratch books and left it there.

ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Let’s cover the altitude sickness now. As an AS survivor, I try to give some real experienced advice to those who might be at risk. Remember that AS does not favor the fittest and strongest. It does not discriminate against the weakest, fattest, slowest. During my journey, I have seen young people being sick at the beginning of the trek, vomiting, shivering, but ultimately making it to the Everest Base Camp and back, in a good shape, I have seen middle-aged chubby ladies huffing and puffing halfway, sweating their socks off only to be one of the first ones to reach the Everest Base Camp. Also, I witnessed the rescue mission where two overzealous hikers underestimated the seriousness of consequences when you ignore the first symptoms. It is truly a tough decision when you almost there, after all the effort to put in organising the trip to the Himalayas. I have 500m left to ascent but your body says NO. There are no medications, no remedies to eliminate the negative, life-threatening effects of Altitude Sickness. These two trekkers made to the Everest Base Camp eventually, yes, but they were so deprived of oxygen that they passed out and had to be airlifted down to the nearest safest point. The oxygen deprivation to your body can prove fatal after days, weeks. You could finish your trip to Nepal happy jolly, return to your safe home, and collapse on the sofa. It has happened and it will happen again. Such is human nature. The decision to descent immediately after you experience the first serious symptoms is not an easy one, but it pales in comparison to the decision mountain climbers have to make 500m before reaching the summit of let’s say Lotse, Annapurna, K2, Everest. Well, I made my decision and that save my life and enabled me to climb a few more mountains somewhere else.

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Himalaya.
Altitude Sickness is a common cause of major emergencies in the Himalayas. Awareness notice boards are displayed and shouting – Descent if you are AMSed!

What actually is Altitude Sickness? Here is some info:

Altitude sickness, also called acute mountain sickness (AMS), can become a medical emergency if ignored. Age, sex or physical fitness have no bearing on your likelihood of getting altitude sickness. Symptoms of altitude sickness usually develop between 6 and 24 hours after reaching altitudes more than 3,000m (9,842 feet) above sea level. Symptoms are similar to those of a bad hangover. They include a headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, tiredness, loss of appetite, shortness of breath. The symptoms are usually worse at night. The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to travel to altitudes above 3,000m slowly. It usually takes a few days for the body to get used to a change in altitude.

You can continue going up with care once you feel fully recovered. If you don’t feel any better after 24 hours, you should go down by at least 500m (about 1,600 feet). Don’t attempt to climb again until your symptoms have completely disappeared. After 2-3 days, your body should have adjusted to the altitude and your symptoms should disappear.

What if I ignored it?

If the symptoms of altitude sickness are ignored, they can lead to life-threatening conditions affecting the brain or lungs. High altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is the swelling of the brain caused by a lack of oxygen. A person with HACE often doesn’t realise they’re ill and may insist they’re all right and want to be left alone. HACE can develop quickly over a few hours. It can be fatal if it’s not treated immediately. Dexamethasone is a steroid medication that reduces swelling of the brain. If you can’t go down immediately, dexamethasone can help relieve symptoms until it’s safe to do so. You should go to hospital as soon as possible for follow-up treatment. High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a build-up of fluid in the lungs. The symptoms of HAPE can start to appear a few days after arrival at high altitude. It can be fatal if it’s not treated immediately.

My case.

Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Altitude Sickness.
The moment when I first experience the debilitating effects of Altitude Sickness. Nausea, dizziness, lack of coordination blurred speech. and headache, piercing headache in the back of head. This type of a headache is the clearest symptom you are developing AS. At this stage of my trek, I chose to play it down. Not for long.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Altitude Sickness.
Balance and coordination are being affected now. Slowly retreat to the shelter.

Below is the video clip of my retreat to the climbing center shortly after I began another day of hiking up. Lack of oxygen in your blood and lungs cause you to desperately grasp for air as if you are running up the mountain, not walking a gentle path. Basically, with every step, your body requires much much more air to breathe in. The pain in your lungs becomes unbearable.
What I was saying here: “It looks like an unsuccessful attempt. Altitude Sickness eventually got me. Now it is time to descent”

That night I had suffered from diarrhea, headache, dizziness, vomiting, and a massive pain to my chest with every grasp of air a desperately tried to take. It was a scary night as I knew that the only remedy in this situation was to descent. It was dead of night and the guide next door reassured me it was always worse during night hours. Let’s wait till early morning, he advised. He got me some pills. I don’t remember the name, of brown color they were.

The next morning, I felt slightly better only to be able to think straight and decide on descending to the nearest climbing center, at least 600m below. By this time, the pain in my lungs was excruciating, every breathe I took was so precious, it counted and fully appreciated. By the way, my insurance covered helicopter rescue but I opted to climb down on my own.

On a positive note, here are photos of the highest point of my trek. 5000m. I am glad I managed to retrieve these photos, as at the time of taking it I had already suffered the most serious symptoms of AS. I don’t actually remember much from what I saw and heard up there.

The highest point of my trek – 5000m above sea level.

Sagarmatha National Park. Everest Base Camp.
Apparently not far from this spot is Everest Base Camp. To the right, you can see Lhotse.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Everest Base Camp.
A bit far to the left Everest was hiding.
Sagarmatha National Park. Nepal. Everest Base Camp.
What do remember was the piercing and freezing cold temperature on top of this hill. I felt like my lungs were empty and I was standing in the vacuum space with nothing to breathe in.

 

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