I grew up with an ambition and determination without which I would have been a good deal happier. I thought a lot and developed the faraway look of a dreamer, for it was always the distant heights that fascinated me and drew me to them in spirit. I was not sure what could be accomplished with tenacity and little else, but the target was set high and each rebuff only saw me more determined to see at least one major dream to its fulfillment.
― Earl Denman,
It’s 11:47 p.m. and I’m pretty much packed and ready to go for an early start tomorrow. I’ll be heading to the airport for a domestic flight to Lukla…if the weather cooperates and we get a clear window for take-off at Kathmandu, but more importantly a clear window for landing at Lukla. Lukla’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport has the reputation of being the most dangerous airport in the world…you need a good weather window to get there safely.
And if I do manage to make it to Lukla tomorrow, I will commence the biggest physical challenge I have attempted to date — trekking to Everest Base Camp (5,350m). I’ve been higher (the summit of Kilimanjaro is 5,895m) and actually Kala Pattar, a stop on the EBC trek, is higher than the camp itself (5,545m), but EBC can be a very physically demanding hike from what I’ve read and heard, and acclimatization is just rough in general; you need about 12-14 days to do the return trek, to minimize your risk of serious mountain sickness.
So why Everest?
Why not? I love mountains, and this is the highest one in the world, the definitive Himalayan landmark. Everest is why I chose Nepal as the first stop of my travels — the trek just seemed like an epic adventure in itself (and I like to aim high). And while I’m no explorer or mountaineer, I can follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest in the world, which is good enough for me; I’ll be proud if can make it to Base Camp.
My stomach is in knots, but I’m hoping it’s only nerves and I haven’t already picked up a stomach bug (from Lonely Planet “even veteran travellers to South Asia seem to come down with the trots in Nepal. It’s just one of those things.”).
I’ll be doing my trek with a guide, but unlike my previous adventures, I won’t have a group, friend or my dad (my Kili trekking partner) for moral support and encouragement. It’s just me, my guide — and Mount Everest! Strong mental game required.
I don’t know if I’m ready for this…but I’m certainly going to give it my best shot!
Wish me luck!
UPDATE: As of 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 18 (and a four hour wait at the airport), all flights to Lukla were cancelled due to poor weather conditions. We’ll try again tomorrow.
UPDATE 2: After almost six hours of waiting for a clear weather window on Monday, September 19, all flights to Lukla were cancelled again. A couple of flights that did manage to take off were forced to turn around, as there was too much cloud cover to land at Lukla. Hoping for better luck tomorrow! On another note, my stomach is feeling much better. 🙂
UPDATE 3: After another six hours of waiting, no luck with flights once again. It’s 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20 and even though I took a nap, I remain emotionally exhausted and my hopes to reach EBC are waning. Tomorrow I’ll try again.
UPDATE 4: Apparently fourth time’s the charm! After hours of waiting, the skies briefly cleared and I made it into Lukla! I didn’t believe it until I walked off the plane! My EBC trek has begun, and I will be sure to post a recap and photos upon completion!