After the summit push, everybody always wants to get out of the mountain as fast as possible. This time will not be any exception. Just in 4 days we will pass one of the most technical trekking passes in Nepal and walk back all the way to Lukla for a fly home… or at least to Kathmandu.
After the summit push we will pack the basecamp up and head to the grand Amphu Laptsa pass at the end of Hunku Valley. At first we will only walk to the bottom of the pass and make camp there. The walk is quite level on most parts except for the 200m downhill and uphill when we cross the Hunku Valley. On they way we’ll pass the Panch Pokhari – Five Lakes – which form a religious pilgrimage site.
The Amphu Laptsa is not an average pass to go over and some gear and skill is needed. On the South side the pass is a layered glacier wall you have to climb up. On the North side the descend is rock and you’ll be abseiling it down. It won’t be just a day in a park with heavy packs on and all, but this will the last difficult thing to do on this trip.
When we are safely through the pass, there is quite a steady, gentle descend to Chukkung, the first civilization in days as you could say. Chukkung is not on the direct Everest basecamp route, but is still a hugely popular place as it is on the way to the likewise popular trekking peak Imja Tse or Island Peak. The popularity brings more facilities and it is more like a small village than a tea house. On the way there you can enjoy the excllent views of the Lhotse face, Island Peak and Ama Dablam.
From Chukkung – or actually all the way from Amphu Laptsa pass – the way is just down. The legs become longer and from Chukkung to Namche Bazaar it is over 20km to go, but luckily it is mostly gentle downhill. After Dingboche the trail joins the main trail coming down from the Everest basecamp and will then pass villages like Somare, Pangboche and Tengboche. On the way you’ll have nice views of the surrounding mountains like Taboche and Ama Dablam on opposite sides of the valley.
Namche Bazaar is the capital of the Everest region. From there you can buy gear and supplies or hire a guide for some trekking peaks or join forces with fellow travellers to tackle something on your own. Even though there are a few shops and agents to choose from, you shouldn’t count on that you can arrange or buy everything you need from here. It is better to do all the necessary arrangements and shopping in Kathmandu and leave Namche Bazaar for the things that you forgot.
The last leg to Lukla starts with a steep descend from Namche Bazaar to the valley bottom, then it is almost level all the way to Lukla and the 6000m meter peaks start to stay behind. The last leg is not as long as the one to Namche Bazaar which will be appreciated. At this point you’ll most probably be quite ready to leave for Kathmandu as quick as possible.
At Lukla it will be the end of the road and only a short flight to Kathmandu remains to be done. That is if you don’t have to stay and wait for the bad weather to pass 😀 Let’s hope that will not happen to us. We would not want to have been trekking all the way around the mountain just to be stuck at the airport. No, sir-ee.
That wraps up the whole expedition and now I only have to go and do all that myself 😀 It won’t be too many days before I get to go through all this all over again, but for real this time.
I took, btw, a small check-up walk to see how the ankle works with a heavy load on my back and, at least for the one-hour-walk with 20kg duffel tied onto my back, it was pretty ok. So, I can be even more confident now that the trip could really work out just fine. The swelling is all but gone, though the ankle movement is not what I would call perfect still, but we are not going there to do gymnastics, are we?
If I have to think about something positive to say about this whole situation, I have come up with one: slow pace. I’ve been forced to walk at quite a slow pace, for the past month that I have been off the crutches, because of both the pain and the bad movement of joints. First this might sound like a totally skewed thought, but if you think about it, I have actually been getting used to a steady slow pace, which is the key to climbing any mountain. If you go fast and you’re not a super human like Ueli Steck, it will kill you. But if you go slow enough, but steady, you’ll make progress all the time and you can even calculate quite well where this pace will lead you in this or that amount of time. So, the injury might not have been a totally bad thing afterall, though truthfully I would have been quite happy without it. Now I just have to figure out how to combine the rest step to my slow and steady pace 😉
This week I have received two packages from the postman. One is a book order to have samething to read on the road. I got a couple of mountaineering books (surprise!), but will most probably only take Into Thin Air with me and just I’ll buy some pocket books from Kathmandu in addition. The other package brought me an ankle support which I tought might be a good thing to have with me if the ankle starts to give any trouble. Let’s hope it will be useless.
Today I pulled everything out of my duffel and gathered all the items from my checklist on the living room floor. Just a few items like sunscreen are missing, but I’m buying those tomorrow. I’ll leave the actual packing for tomorrow too, like I would want to push it further on purpose, but in truth I just haven’t had the time to do it earlier.