First Ascent guide Melissa Arnot returns to the Himalayan Mountains after her successful summit of Mount Everest last May. During the next 21 days, Melissa and photographer Cory Richards will attempt to summit three mountains in the Khumbu region of Nepal, each rising above 20,000 feet. The expedition requires good weather, sound health and the motivation to cover an incredible distance over technical terrain. Follow Melissa’s Himalayan expedition here on the Born Out There blog. -EB Editor
October 14, 2009
After all the planning and packing in Katmandu, we ended up with a false start. Our flights were in fact delayed by one day, so we had a little more time to enjoy Katmandu and get ready. Yesterday morning we did make our flight. The flight to Lukla is such an exciting way to start a journey, boarding a twin otter and heading to an uphill runway at 9,000 feet. Once we landed in the Khumbu, all of the beauty and amazement set in. Lukla, where the airport is, is the last stop for motorized transportation. Along with yaks and porters, we will carry everything that we need beyond this point. It is calm, beautiful and such a contrast to the hustle of Katmandu.
The walking now is leisurely, just a few hours to Phakding, our destination for the night. We settle into our first of many teahouses and enjoy some tea and dinner before heading to bed early. In the morning we set out for our first big change in altitude, arriving at the busy Sherpa capital of Namche Bazar, at around 11,000 feet. It is wonderful to be back in the Khumbu for my fifth time, and to catch up with old friends, wander around the village and look at all the shops filled with toy yaks and handmade jewelry.
Tomorrow we’ll get up early and take a walk to help with acclimatization. After our two nights in Namche, we’ll head off the beaten path toward our first major mountain pass, Renjo La, at 17,000 feet. We aren’t likely to see any other Western travelers as it’s not part of the normal trekking path. What we will see is the stunning rugged slopes of some of the mountains that we hope to climb over the next few weeks.
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