Gokyo Ri – climbing a mountain.

Gokyo Ri – climbing a mountain.

It’s almost impossible to define when a hill becomes a mountain. I’ll not go into the differing opinions (you’ve got Google for that) but in my opinion any peak that stands over 5000 metres above sea level is definitely a mountain. And when that peak is in the middle of the Himalayas I think *mountain* is the only way to describe it. So, having established that, I consider that I climbed a mountain. By that point I’d already trekked from Lukla at 2,800 metres up to Gokyo at 4,750 metres, so, in my mind at least, that adds a certain credence to my claim. Gokyo is a small village in the Solokhumbu district of Nepal, it sits quietly on the edge of a serene and sacred lake and is one of the highest settlements in the world. Rising in front of the village is Gokyo Ri and this is where my definition of a mountain comes in. When you stand on the top of this peak you’re at around 5,400 metres above sea level. So – I climbed a mountain! And I had to trudge through a load of snow to get to it. It was an early start that morning with a 5.30am wake up call, and we were on the track by 6.15am. The lower part of the climb was on gravel which, at times, made it difficult to maintain our footing but the unseasonal amount of snow that the area had been subjected to in the previous weeks meant that the top two thirds of the climb were a struggle through that snow. The view on...
The Nepal Earthquake – Mother Nature v Lady Luck

The Nepal Earthquake – Mother Nature v Lady Luck

When I woke on Saturday morning, Anzac Day 2015, my plans for the day included a wander into Thamel, one of the busiest tourist areas of Kathmandu, a bit of last minute shopping and lunch at one of my favourite spots – The Roadhouse Café. This was to be my last day in Kathmandu and I wanted to make the most of it. Even during breakfast when Pramesh, one of the waiters, asked my plans for the day, I told him I was heading into Thamel. This was my second visit to Kathmandu and I’d still not been to Durbar Square – I figured this was my last chance. Why then didn’t I follow through with those plans? For some inexplicable reason that I still can’t fathom, I changed my mind. I lingered over breakfast, popped across the road to the local jewellery shop for last minute purchases, bought a couple of t shirts for my grandsons and then settled myself in the hotel lobby with my book. I’d decided just to relax. That decision could well have saved my life. I was still reading in the lobby when the 7.9 quake struck minutes before 12.00. The power went out, not an unusual occurrence, but then the hotel tilted and shook and it took only a nano second to figure out what was happening. I tried desperately to get outside but it was like trying to walk on water, the floor and my feet would not work in unison. As I ran, I imagined the building toppling around me, it’s amazing the number of thoughts that can shoot through...
Going back – revisiting the Himalayas.

Going back – revisiting the Himalayas.

I don’t know about you but there are so many places in the world that I’ve visited that I’d love to go back to. I’ve been there once … or twice … or several times, and still there’s a pull that they exert on me to keep revisiting. The pressure to go back. I want to go back to Paris for the pastries and the sheer Frenchness of it all. I want to go back to Rome for the ancient monuments and the quirky streets, to Florence for the art and the architecture, to Crete for the laid back Mediterranean lifestyle, and I’d love to go back again to England and Scotland, for the history, the Roman ruins and the beautiful countryside – and the list goes on … Switzerland, Cairns, The Black Forest, Antibes, Broome …… In a weeks time I’ll be touching down in Kathmandu ready to head off on my trek into the Everest region – AGAIN! But my reasons for wanting to revisit this area and this type of holiday (okay – some may not call trekking at altitude a holiday) are different and a little hard to describe. The pressure of life. As I sat in a café today with my flat white and white chocolate and Raspberry muffin – because I’m going to be burning it all off over the next few weeks – I looked around me and saw so many people with so many things to do and so many places to go. They’ve made time for coffee with family or friends but they don’t seem relaxed, it’s more like an obligation in their lives, having to schedule...
Countdown to Kathmandu and my Everest Trek – 30 days to go!

Countdown to Kathmandu and my Everest Trek – 30 days to go!

The countdown is definitely on. It’s nearly two years now since I did the Everest Base Camp Trek and would you believe, it’s only 30 days now till I head back up into the Himalayas to have a go at the slightly more strenuous Everest Circuit Trek. Fingers crossed, but if my commitment to training is anything to go by this time, I WILL make it to the top of Gokyo Ri and Kala Patar. The clear, crisp air up there in the mountains is a photographers paradise and, although I don’t lay claim to being anywhere near an expert photographer, even I managed some amazing shots last time. You really can’t go wrong. So, in anticipation of my journey back to Everest and her white capped neighbours,  today I thought I’d reminisce and bring you some of my favourite shots that I took on the last trek. I know you’ve seen most of them before but I didn’t think you’d mind my little indulgence as the excitement is really starting to kick in.   Share this:FacebookTwitterEmailPrintLinkedInGooglePinterestLike this:Like...
What to pack for the Everest Base Camp Trek: Part 2 – Bottoms.

What to pack for the Everest Base Camp Trek: Part 2 – Bottoms.

Continuing on from my post on ‘What to pack for your Everest Base Camp Trek: Part 1’ in which I gave you a list of the tops that I took with me on my trek a couple of years ago, and which I’m intending to take with me when I head into the Himalayas again in a few weeks time, today I’m focusing on bottoms (not actual bottoms you’ll be pleased to hear, but the trousers you put over those bottoms). The trousers that you take with you on your Everest Base Camp trek are just as important as the tops  – having unsuitable clothes for your bottom half could definitely be an issue. As with everything that you take with you, you need the lightest you can find – weight is everything when you fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, generally the maximum allowed is 15kgs which includes your kitbag and day pack. On my treks we take porters but I know that some people just head up into the mountains without them (not a good idea and please do lots and lots of research beforehand if you’re even considering this) but, if you’re carrying everything yourself, lightweight matters even more. Trousers: My *bottoms* list includes: 2 pair lightweight trekking pants – the ones I took had an adjustable waistband and as it turns out it was a good idea – I lost around 6kgs on the trek (even though I ate everything that was put in front of me) so being able to pull the trousers in at the waist was ideal. Some people like the zip off trousers where you can remove the...
Lukla airport – rewind.

Lukla airport – rewind.

It’s 7 weeks today till I fly out to Kathmandu and 8 weeks today till I step onto a little plane that will navigate its way up through the lower slopes of the Himalayas to deposit me on a little runway in Lukla, 2,860 metres above the height that I normally spend my time in. After that – the trek begins. The last time I flew into Lukla airport I had an unexpected mode of transportation  – things didn’t quite go according to plan. So, as it gets closer to my epic adventure, I thought I’d remind you all of what happened two years ago and of how we need to be adaptable when we’re travelling. We were supposed to be catching a Twin Otter aircraft to take us up the 2,860 metres in to the mountains to land on a runway only 460 metres long and steeply angled at 12%. We’d all done our research, because, after all isn’t that what Goggle’s for? And what had we discovered? Well, that steeply angled, short runway  – actually the only runway – at one of the world’s most dangerous airports is sandwiched between a deep river valley and a mountain. The pilots, after navigating around the mountains and banking and descending through layers of cloud and mist have to throw their propellers into hard reverse when they land in order to bring the tiny plane to a stop before getting too close to the fast approaching mountainside. They have very wisely constructed a stone wall that proclaims ‘Welcome to Lukla’ between the end of the runway and the mountain, just in case a bit of a buffer is needed, I...
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