Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Trekking - Gorak Shep back to Lukla

Highlights: A stop at one of the world's highest bakeries, two flushing Western-style toilets, and a shower!  Not to mention some pretty spectacular scenery.

Lowlights: Two sprained ankles and too much yak (nak) cheese!

Day NineGorak Shep (5,164 m/16,942 ft) to Pheriche (4,371 m/14,340 ft); 10 km/6 hours

We started walking right after breakfast, but were already pretty tired from Kala Patthar.  By lunch it felt like we had been hiking for days, and we still had several more hours to go to arrive to Pheriche.  Although it was mostly flat or downhill, we were battling a pretty strong wind, which took a lot out of us.  The good news was that it was a little easier to breathe with every step.  We had been told that we would sleep well that night, and we couldn't wait!

The group taking a break behind a big rock to get out of the wind for a few minutes

Day Ten: Pheriche (4,371 m/14,340 ft) to Kyangjuma (3,550 m/11,646 ft); 7 hours

After a relatively good night of sleep, we woke up for another long day of hiking highlighted by a stop at the bakery in Tengboche!  We gorged ourselves on sandwiches, veggie burgers (still scared of the meat), chocolate cake, and apple pie.  To us it tasted almost as good as back home, but maybe our bar was just that much lower after a week and a half in the mountains.  After lunch we had a very steep downhill to the river, a long bridge (where Sara found herself in a standoff with a team of yaks), and then a steep uphill back to a ridge.

Kyangjuma was only about 20 minutes away when Sara turned her left ankle on a rock.  It wasn't too bad, so with a little help she was able to hobble to the our teahouse where we filled her with Advil and wrapped an ACE bandage around her ankle.  Unfortunately there was no ice unless someone wanted to climb up to the glacier on Ama Dablam.  Popcorn, a movie, our best meal so far on the mountain, and a flushing Western-style toilet in our room made for a pretty really good night!
Shadows along the way to Kyangjuma
Inside the bakery at Tengboche
David and Jason found a UVA sticker at the bakery
Sara resting her ankle after arriving in Kyangjuma

Day Eleven: Kyangjuma (3,550 m/11,646 ft) to Monjo (2,835 m/9,301 ft); 7 hours

We woke up refreshed and only had a one-hour hike to Namche Bazaar, where we had a few hours to eat and do some shopping.  We bought a few souvenirs and found another bakery for lunch.  Sara's ankle seemed to be doing well after another veggie burger and a big brownie.  As we walked out of Namche the rain came down.  We had a steep downhill section to another river crossing, and the rain was making our already slow pace even slower.  We put on our rain gear and kept plodding along at our "yak pace."

About 15 minutes from Monjo, Sara sprained her right ankle.  Two ankles in two days!  This time she really hobbled into the teahouse and sat down for more Advil, more ACE bandages, more rest, and a chocolate bar to lift her spirits.  She survived the night, although the two sprained ankles made the squat toilet extremely interesting!

A Sherpa carrying a load of wood.  The trail was full of porters carrying everything from gear to food to fuel.

Day Twelve: Monjo (2,835 m/9,301 ft) to Lukla (2,840 m/9,317 ft); 10 km, 3.5 hours

We were really excited to get back to Lukla.  We knew that a nice teahouse, good food, and a bar with a pool table awaited us.  Our pace was really slow, but after an hour or so Sara's ankle started to feel better.  With some help from David, Sara made it back to Lukla without any more ankle problems.  This may have been Sara's last hike without poles!

After a big lunch and hot shower it was time for the bar.  Our whole group took full advantage of the 2-for-1 drink specials and had a fun afternoon celebrating our accomplishments!  It is hard to believe that we covered over 80 miles through some really big mountains!

Thumbs-up!  We made it back to Lukla
Sara and Kaley at the The Waves Pub in Lukla

Day Thirteen: Flight from Lukla to Kathmandu

Flights can only leave Lukla in good conditions, meaning good visibility and no heavy wind.  Overnight there was a pounding thunderstorm, and we were afraid that we might be stuck in Lukla.  Turns out that our flight was delayed by just a few hours and we were soon on another white-knuckle flight back to Kathmandu.

A flight taking off as we walked to the airport in Lukla


  1. Sara and David - Love climbing to base camp vicariously through your blog. I am very proud of your accomplishments and know there will be hours of discussions about each adventure when you get back to the US!!

    Have fun, be safe.


  2. I second your dad's comment! I love reading your blog EVERY morning before I start my day. I hope you turn the entries into a book of some sort-such great memories and stories for a lifetime!

    I've also heard about that airport...scary. Let's Skype when you return to earth!