Even though I’ll be leaving home already 9th October, the expedition really starts exactly one month from now. According to the schedule, on 15th November we should leave Lukla behind and start the approach trek with the leg to Chutang.
The first leg is not so long – similarly to most of the daily legs – with only 4km to go, but we will gain a nice 600m of altitude during that.
Lukla is the hub for all the trekking and climbing in the Everest region, standing at elevation of 2860m. Most people fly in, but you could trek from Jiri which is 6-7 days of trekking away. Getting to Jiri from Kathmandu is a full day’s bus ride too, so if you are not really against flying (don’t know how you got to Kathmandu if you do, though) or scared of the notorius reputation of Lukla airport, it may not be worth it. There was a bad accident in 2008 at Lukla airport where 18 people died, and another one in 2010 where 14 died, so it is not all pie in the sky. Even though this is the gateway to the region Lukla is not that big a village, probably just because it is a gateway for the region and all the people are either coming or going or waiting for good weather for their flight.
The route from Lukla to Chutang is generally inclining and is mostly forested area. It is on both sides walled by ridges hovering at over 4000m and higher peaks looming around the corners. On the way you’ll cross a few streams, but otherwise it should be quite straightforward going. On the way there should be one (or few) teahouse/room at 3350m.
There is not much to say about Chutang. It consists of a few houses which make the tea house. I assume this goes for any tea house, but of course the facilities drop as you go more remote. This route is not on the “main road” to the Everest Basecamp, so the level of the tea houses most probably won’t be high as would be on the main route. I do not know whether we stay in these tea houses or not, but I guess we’ll find that out soon enough.
From here the route runs up the hill, all the way over the Zetra La at 4600m and then descends to Chetarwa at 4200m.
As a curiosity, I’ve heard that you can get excellent potato momos around here and especially at Lukla and I’m eager to find out if they really are as good as they say.
It has been now 19 days after I took the plunge at Kustavi. My ankle is getting better fast and I have been walking without the crutches for a few days now. It still has some swelling, but not nearly as much as a while ago. It really started to heal a week ago and if everything goes as smoothly from now on, I’ll be hopping as ever in no time. I have already done some thigh excercise which is quite crucial for the big range mountaineering and it seems pretty ok.