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Katmandu

Katmandu, in Nepal, has long been the starting point of many a fabled mountaneering adventure. Throughout time, brave men and brave women have challenged the limits of their resolve, stamina and equipment in a quest to conquer the highest peaks of the Himalayas. Many have succeeded in their extreme hiking goals but sadly, more than just a few have perished whilst trying.

The biggest prize for most still remains the summit of Mount Everest that at a staggering 8,848m (29,000ft) is of course the highest natural peak above sea level in the world. As of 2017, it has been summited by no fewer four thousand people which is still very much an elite club to be part of.

Considering all of the above as I transited through Nepal on my motorbike, it seemed only right that in the name of “adventure and resolve” I should also be part of a little Himalayan mountain action. I decided to make Kathmandu a major stop on my tour across Asia and gave myself some time to explore my hiking options once there.

The Guest House

The guest house I stayed at in the Thames district of the Nepalese capital had a regular procession of fit mountain enthusiasts that came in one day and left a day or two after. Casual conversation with these atheletes introduced me to names such as Annapurna, Ganesh Himal, Lang Tang, Everest Base Camp, all cool mountain hot spots rich in fine lakes, forests, crisp glaring glaciers to admire. The hikes to reach them were described like a soul elevating experience, a mix of Buddhist culture and wilderness bliss. However, scratching away at the surface and with the undeniable aid of a few beers, I also found out about weeks without a shower, altitude sickness, broken bones, lost camera equipment, poor food, lack of sleep, low temperatures and emergency helicopter evacuations. Clearly it wasn’t all good.

I made my mind up pretty quickly after some gruelling horror stories that my very own experience of the Himalayan marvels of Nepal  would have none of this later nonsense at all.

Nepalese Stuppa
Nepalese Stuppa

I woke up at four o’clock on the day I had scheduled my Mount Everest approach. I checked my gear: my warm beenie, my gloves, my jacket, my hiking shoes, thick socks, all were in place. With my Go Pro locked and loaded, spare charged battery in pocket, I was ready for my very Mount Everest experience and set off into the darkness.

Everest

The taxi was waiting for me at the guest house gate and silently drove me through the empty dusty streets of a sleepy Katmandu. The driver uttered not a word but wished me well knowingly, as he dropped me off at my destination where others had also gathered in silence.

Kathmandu international airport was just starting up for the day. Tired eyed ground staff were firing up computers and opening the check in counters for the early morning flights. Buddha Airways was also in business, and I joined the small queue for its counter.
The sun was just marketing an appearance over the horizon, I exited the bus next to the waiting ATR 72. The sky was clear, all was still, it looked like a perfect day for flying.

My chariot to the skies
My chariot to the skies
My fellow adventurers
My fellow adventurers

So, I think the images speak for themselves….

There are daily “Himalaya flights” for those who desire a more  leisurely approach to the mountain ranges of Nepal. They are pretty much a sight seeing tour  in the air that cost around $300 (US dollars) per passenger for perhaps no more than an hour’s flight time. What you get is a warm air conditioned cabin and a bird’s eye view of the marvels of the local Himalayan range in the company of like minded adventurers.

Everest view
Everest from the comfort of an airplane

From the comfort of my seat I saw glaciers, lakes, forests, peaks and ridges, just as described to me by my hiking friends at the guest house. Yes, I saw them too however, I was served warm coffee by a smiling hostess in the process and never once had to worry about t showers, twisting an ankle or being evacuated in a helicopter.

I enjoyed the flight, really i did, and would reccomend to those who have limited time or are just not into hiking at all. There’s even time to doze off for a minute or so on the return route to the airport. Everest, job done!

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