Asia | Nepal – The approach
13.11.02 – 17.11.02
Slowly walking up from Luklas airstrip (no, you really couldnt call this a runway, let alone an airport: a few meters wide, and hardly any longer, the strip crawled up the mountain, ending in a rocky wall at the end of it. A reassuring thought that even if the brakes would malfunction, youd still come to a stillstand ) I was looking so much for the guesthouse where I would meet with Sonam, my Sherpa Guide, that I almost overlooked him! Apparently I stood out more in the crowd of foreigners than he did amongst all the Sherpas around
After the inevitable bowl of veg noodle soup, we went on our way. As I was mentally prepared to have to carry all my gear, I decided I would do so, even though Sonam very kindly offered to take my (as always too heavy) pack.
After our coffee break two hours later, he insisted though and I, lazily, gave in, trading my heavy one for his feather light one. And all of a sudden we made much better time!
This time I more or less knew what to expect and we soon settled into a daily routine, getting up (not so early this time), breakfast, walking (up most of the time), tea stop, walking, lunch break, walking and installing ourselves for the night. It was great walking in the mountains again, seeing the peaks come closer and closer and willing yourself not to stop quite yet, but go on a little bit further
and feeling that youre getting stronger every day. The sounds of the mountains, the little streams rushing by, cascading into the bigger rivers that throw themselves down between the rocks, the creaking of the hanging bridges sometimes very high up in the sky, the birds that hide from sight but compensate with joyful tunes carrying around the mountains
And again, plenty of time to think, ponder and be alone with your thoughts. Ive come to really savour the trekking, somehow being in the mountains makes you see things clearer, the rubble around whatever youre thinking about just disappears and it leaves you with just the essentials .
Having been on the road quite a while, it came as no surprise to me we once again had a change of plans.
H sent us a message from Ama Dablam base camp that we were to meet him earlier than planned in Pangboche. So our elaborate programm of going to Gokyo, then over the Cho La pass to Lobuche and then up again to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patar before going to Pangboche was cut short. Instead we headed directly for Pangboche
Allthough nowhere near the fitness, condition and endurance of even the weakest Sherpa around, I was doing quite well and we arrived early in the morning in Pangboche, leaving us with an easy day.
Doing my laundry, getting a last shower and wash my hair before going off the beaten track, where there would be no more teahouses. Basics it would be from then on, a bit of cold water from a stream to wash
But not before I went off to visit the small monastery in Upper Pangboche in the afternoon. Sonam, my Sherpa guide, lives in Upper Pangboche and he was busy that day with preparations for the wedding of his cousin the next day!
As I ran into him in the afternoon, they invited me over to the house of the groom to be for cha, sweet tea with milk and sugar, while everybody kept running around with last preparations: food, a make shift bench, getting your clothes together
Coming back to the guesthouse, still no word from H and as it was dark by now, I figured he would only arrive the next morning for the wedding: the groom was one of Hs main climbing Sherpas and he was to be the guest of honour.
Surprise therefore when not too much later H walked in. It was good to see each other again and we talked our way into the morning hours, kept warm by the home brewn hot chang (ricebeer) that was served to us in the kitchen