NEWSPAPER: DESTINATIONS AND DIVERSIONS(WINNIPEG,CANADA)
SATURADAY MAY 18,2019
TRAVELLERS:TASCHI KLACHKA,SCOTT MANN
FROM:WINNIPEG HIGH SCHOOL(KELVIN HIGH SCHOOL)
WINNIPEG HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT TASCHI KLASCHKA VENTURES TO THE FOOT OF EVEREST
HIGHS AND lOWS OF HIKING THROUGH NEPAL
THE Everest Base Camp Trek, 140 kilometres in 11 days is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Worth it? Absolutely.
Nepal was my first visit to a developing Nation and the differences with Canada were Apparent from the first step off the plane into the Kathmandu airport.
Customs was a Textbook model of inefficiency: one line to get your visa out of a machine(only two of the five machines were working), one line to pay for your visa and a third line to have your passport scrutinized. By lines I mean mass of people surging in different directions.
As a theft-prevention exercise, to exit the airport you have to line up again to prove every bag is yours by showing your airline baggage tag.
Stepping out of the airport, we were immediately assailed by what seemed like hundreds of people trying loudly to convince us their taxi was superior.
Chaos does not begin to describe it.
Miraculous, Dawa1 our HIMALAYAN TRAVERSE ADVENTURE guide managed to find us, welcome us to Nepal with fragnant MariGold necklaces and corral us into a van.
My friend Scott Mann and I were squishhed in the back with luggage on our laps. Larger bags were thrown on the top of the van -and tied down.
Kathmandu appears to be a city with few rules on the road. There are no traffic lights; no printed lines on the streets; and cyclist, cows, monkeys and stray dogs intermingle with traffic. Cows are so its better to hit a human than a cow. Really.
Yet out of this madness there were some of the best drivers I have ever seen, avoiding accidents by milimetres We arrived in the Thamel district, at the Manang Hotel, shaken and stirred with our luggage surprisingly intact.
The first two days, we explored Nepal's capital visiting humbling monuments in the world heritage centre of Kathmandu Valley.
The Hindu Pashupatinath Temple; the Buddhist Swayambhunath Stupa(affectionately known as monkey temple); and the Golden boudhanath Stupa, one of the largest in the world, were highlights. I was surprised to learn 81% of Nepali people were Hindus and only 10% power Buddhist.
While it could be said we took in sights, we also took in the competing sound and overwhelming smells.
Our guide the dawa1 and dorjee calmly gave us the historical background at the sites, while bodies burned in the background wet garbage crunched under-foot and hawkers pushed their souvenirs at volume.
As we actively learned Nepali, one of the best phrases dawa taught us was phonetically "Nah-kid-nee" which means "I am not buying".
A steady climb up the trail and the massive mountains peering down on us made for another fantastic day!
My favourite time in Kathmandu was just roaming the streets in awe of the sheer amount of Buddhist prayer flags. Imagine all the path of the forks,including the stage and play ground being covered in prayer flags-that does not even come close to comparing.
Prayer flags always have five colours; blue to symbolise sky , white for wind ,red for fire, green for water and yellow for earth.
We decided to wait to buy prayer flags untill our journey home through Kathmandu (elevation:1400 m) to avoid having additional luggage.
Trekking Traditionally begins to flying to lukla(2860m) the gateway to Everest base camp and other Himalayan adventures.
Although we thought we had to purchase plane ticket with specific dates to lukla as part of our trekking package it seems like luck of draw getting sit on the 40-minute flight, with different trekking firms competing for seats. Our guide dawa1 and dorje magically moved our names up to the front of the queue. There was 1 seat available on a plane just taking off, Dorjee said someone in our group would have to volunteer to travel separately. I literally crawled over the luggage weigh scales and ran through the air lines staff area onto the tarmac to jump into the tiny plane- no luggage screening required.
The rest of our group(7) managed to get the next flight out but had to wait hours for fog to clear we did find out until later that is a crapshoot getting a flight to or from lukla because the weather has to be clear to land and take off.
Flying to lukla is an experience. Turbulence is not the right word. Think roller-coaster on a never-ending loop .It was a very cloudy day so I could not see much but one moment the plane was flying through mountains and the next it was rolling of the tarmac. Yes,up the Runway is really longer than 500 metre, at a 12% incline design to incorporate gravity to help speed up or slow down taking off and landing.
In Lukla we met our guides , Dawa2, nurbu and domi(a guide in training), who easily identified us by our Himalayan Traverse matching cargo bags. The guides hired 4 porters to carry our 8 25-kilogram bags.
let me tell you,I was grateful to not have to carry anything other than water, snacks and extra layers of clothing as we set out hiking at altitude.
The views indescribable. Eight of the world's 10 tallest Mountains are in Nepal. To put it in perspective, we were trekking in places as high as the rockies-with tall peaks still surrounding us.
"How tall is that mountain?" we'd ask nurbu,who would laugh and say,"That not Mountain, that hill." The guide had a hard time understanding we live at sea level and there are not any Hills in Winnipeg they also did not believe the only Hill we had is composed of garbage.
Our baby wipes were all blown up and our liquid were exploding in our hand luggages. We figured out we were hiking at the same height that a plane would fly over winnipeg.
We got to know the sherpas we very well as we hiked along and inundated them with question. Technically Dawa2 And domi were sherpas and Nurbu was Tamang; tribes based on where they were born. Your Tribe name is always your surname.
Scott an i initially got to know dawa2 the most as we were out front with him. Interesting, Dawa2's favourite movie was Rush Hour 3. I started teaching him French.He was doing quite well until he was demoted by Norbu to the back of group for hiking too quickly and not giving us enough time to acclimatize. The guides take tourists' health quite seriously.
We stayed the first night in the quaint Phakding(2,651 m). The next day we crossed many suspension bridge that stretch High over rushing clear water. Scott and I learnt not everyone in our group likes Jumping On suspension bridge as much as we do.
After walking about a kilometre of Virtually straight up, we arrived in my favourite town of the trip: Namche Bazar(3438 m). Built on the side of a mountain in a semicircle format, namche has something for everyone in it elaborate markets. I liked the German Bakery, soccer courts and Iris pubs(note:Sherpas are very good at playing pool).
We had an acclimatization day in Namche, so we had time to explore. I'm saying"acclimatization day" as it seems more accurate than what our guide say a "rest day". Even on rest days you have to hike for at least 4 hours. Climb high, sleep low is the way to acclimatize.
For Namche, we set out to Tengboche(3870m). Nurbu assured members of our group this Hike would be "Nepali flat" and not straighten up like to Namche. Turns out Nepali flats mean "up, down, up, down ,up, down". We should have read our Himalayan Traverse guide for accuracy. "This segment of our trek includes the famous descend to the dudh Koshi river and the equally famous ascent along the Rodhodenron forest."
Here we saw our first snowfall and got into a full-on snowball fight with our guides. Sneaky domi jumped and shook tree branch covered in snow, which completely covered Scott and I.
We think the sherpas and nurbu enjoyed having teenagers in their group, as we did not think most tourist would challenge them to race up stairs and snowball fights.
En Route to Tengboche we got our first glimpse of Mount Everest, lhotse and ama dablam. It's humbling to the walking higher and higher the mountains do not seem to be getting any closer. It really seemed like we were walking through paintings, it was so stunning.
Be warned, beyond Namche there is not any Wi-Fi and prices increase along with the altitude. Our guide-in-training domi laughed at Scott and I for paying 300 rupees for gum and showed us the same gum he had bought for 50 rupees. After that we had take him shopping to get what he called a "Sherpa discount" on treats and souenirs domi told us if he ever comes Canada to visit, then we can help him to get the same special discount that canadians get. We never did end up being able to explain that Canada has set prices and you can not bargain- you don't get special price for being Canadian.
From Tengboche we trekked to dingboche (4410m). for another "rest day". It sounds trite but Virtually every step of the journey was rewarding. We visited monasteries; watched Fields being harvested; took countless yak pictures visited with other trekkers drank cup of chai, ginger and hot lemon tea.
Everyday we learnt new lessons: always walk to the left of the decorative Buddhist Mani stones, which were usually inscribed with the prayer Om Mani Padme Hum.
Even more importantly, it's imperative for your survival to keep too closest to the side of the mountain on the narrow path when yak pass by or they may push you off the mountain. I did not end with those yak herders.
Yak are used lots of heavy expedition luggage. We also saw porters carrying loads on their back that you had have to see to believe- From entire "grocery shopping aisles" to an iron wardrobe complete with pull-out drawers. The weather was was variable- from Ice inside the tea house Windows when waking up to shorts weather in the sun. We learned to ask the guide what to wear for the day; they said either one or two jacket weather."
We loved acclimatization days because you would sleep at the same house and not have to repack your luggages. I am sure our porters appreciated that our bags were getting lighter as we eat our snacks and give away clothing and Canadian selenious along the way.
Scott and I managed 30 seconds carrying the trekking bags. The porters thought it was hilarious we wanted to try to carry the bags we could hardly put one foot in front of the other. "Porters are born into the altitude" is the only come back we could think of.
Everyone handles altitude differently;you could be the fittest person on the planet but handle altitude terribly and vice versa. Scott is an Elite Track runner in winnipeg but altitude was not his friend once we got to lobuche(4940m). The guides monitored his condition closely. We knew if he was to worsen he would be going back down as the only cure for attitude sickness is to descend.
We actually met lot of groups coming back down from Everest base camp only parts of group had managed to get to the camp, with some members suffering from altitude sickness or other illnesses.
Without Technology we primarily entertained ourselves at the teahouse by playing cards. Scott and i taught Sherpas multiple games but their favourite was definitely President and they were delighted when they triumphant. Nurnu confirmed our suspicions porters cheated by strategizing in Nepali.
Our Longest Day by Far, hiking from dawn to dusk was from lobuche to Everest base camp then to gorakshep to sleep.
The day started out somewhat clear, but the sherpas had warned us it was"all jacket weather" and snow started falling lightly as we truged towards best camp. Some members of our group were a bit anxious with a narrow hiking ledge that had precarious loose rocks on either side an scott was still light-headed. Nurbu kept a close eye on him.
Reaching Everest base camp(5,400m) was somewhat surreal. Grins all around-our group had made all made it with memories to last a lifetime.
Base camp is not like i had seen in movies, with tents from different expedition condensed into a circle; the tents were spread out over a kilometre near khumbu Ice fall. We did not get near the tents. We just saw them in the distance. You also cannot see the Summit of Everest from the base camp because its too High.
A storm was Rolling In, so we did not stay very long just long enough to take a couple of group photos and one special one for the the Winnipeg Jets sending them "play off white out wishes" during in actual Whiteout!
We descended quickly through a full-on snow-storm, finishing the day in Gorakhshep(5170m),with some celebratory tea and dal Bhat our favourite rice and lentils Dish. We had become the factor vegetarians after Naamhe Bazzar because we had been warned not to eat meat higher up on the trail.
The trek back down did not really have a required "Slow" speed because we could not get altitude sickness descending. Scott got healthier and healthier as we practically ran down the trails even waited for domi, who was supposed to be supervising us.
We actually got a three-day trek to 1 and arrived in Namhe Bazar for a couple extra days to relax and work on our tans. And use the Wi-Fi, of course.
Of all teahouse along the way our stays at the Buddha lodge in Phakding were by far our favourite. The internet was fast, the food delicious, room Spotless with real duvets and amazing Hosts who introduced as to Chaang, a local rice beer. They even gave us special prayers scarves as sovenirs on our descent to lukla.
After this trip, I feel like our guides are friends and part of our extended family. It wass really tough saying goodbye.
Fortunately we created an Instagram account for Domi on his new iPhone 4. The guide says scott and I are ready to summit island Peak(6189 metre) next year now we just need to convince our parents
Taschi Klaschka missed two weeks of Grade 10 at Kelvin High School to trek to Everest base camp --- and it was worth it!!!
If you go:-
When to go: Fall and spring offers the best weather to Trek to Everest base camp, conciding with the expedition group hoping to summit.
Trekking--- solo or with company? You can just fly to Kathmandu and trek by yourself but booking with a Nepali Run trekking company is your best bet, as they organise the sight seeing in Kathmandu ,the flights, the house stays, your trekking permits, the porters to carry luggage etc. We had great success with www.himalayantraversadventure.com.
Health: Visit a travel clinic to get the necessary vaccinations and to learn about altitude sickness before you go
We first met Dorjee Sherpa in 2012 and did a trek with him to Langtang before it was devastated in the earthquake. We quickly fell in love with the himalayas, the Nepalese people, their culture, and Dorjee shepa. The Langtang trek was a beautiful trek and a great introductory to the…
May 18, 2021Matt massey, United States
Just got home from our second trek in the Himalayas with Dorjee sherpa. We treked to tengboche for the mani rimdu festival. The festival was incredible and the mountains are magnificent. Dorjee is a great guide and we really enjoyed staying at his Buddha lodge and meeting his wonderful family.
May 18, 2021Matt massey, United States
My family and friends from Maui completed a 10 day trek through Sagarmatha National Park to Tengboche to view the Mani Rimdu Festival in November . Our Guide Dorjee Sherpa and his associates arranged a fantastic trip for us. We stayed at his Buddha Lodge in Phakding and were treated very…
May 18, 2021Kevin Horan, Nepal
I spent very memorable days in the Everest region in Nepal. I used to dream to see this highest peak of the world and now I arrested it in my camera. My guide arranged everything and helped me a lot. He did not let me feel tired and boring.
May 18, 2021Austin, Netherlands Antilles