Katmandu, Nepal, has long been the starting point of many a fabled and adventures. The stuff of daring men and women who pushed the boundaries of endeavour to the highest of heights. The finest mountaineers of every recent generation have set off from the Nepalese capital to challenge the peaks, the glaciers and the ridges of the Himalayas with bravery. Many have succeeded in their climbing quests but more than just a few, unfortunately, have failed and tragically perished whilst trying. All however, in their own way proved their resilience, resolve and stamina.
The biggest prize is 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 its summit has been reached by no fewer four thousand people.
With all of the above in mind, it seemed fitting that I should also carve out a little Himalayan mountain action for myself in the name of “stamina and resolve”.
The Guest House
The guest house I lodged at in down town Katmandu had a regular procession of fit mountain enthusiasts coming in one day and setting off the next. Annapurna, Ganesh Himal, Lang Tang, Everest Base Camp etc. were names I quickly became familiar to me as were the descriptions of lakes, forests, amazing landscapes, bright glaciers and crisp sparkling snow capped peaks to be found everywhere on the Nepalese trails. A fantastic life changing experience for everyone or so it seemed. However, scratching away at the surface of the stories I heard from the hikers 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. I made my mind up pretty quick that my very own experience of the Himalayan marvels of Nepal would have none of this later nonsense at all.
I woke up at four o’clock on the day I had scheduled my Mount Everest approach. I checked my gear: my put on my beanie, my gloves, my jacket, my hiking shoes. I was wearing thick socks, and had long underwear too. With my Go Pro camera was locked and loaded, spare charged battery in pocket, I was ready for action and set off into the darkness.
The taxi was waiting for me at the guest house gate and silently drove me through the empty dusty streets of early morning Katmandu. The driver kept silent uttering only a few words to wish me well as he knowingly dropped me off at the agreed taxi destination.
Dawn was starting to break, as I exited the bus next to an ageing ATR 72. I looked up at the sky, it was clear, it looked like a perfect day for flying without a doubt.
So, the images speak for themselves….
There is a daily “Himalaya flight” that routinely takes off from Katmandu International airport and is reserved for those who desire a more leisurely option to the hiking frenzy that’s so popular in this part of the world. It’s not much more than a sight seeing tour and costs around $300 (US dollars). You get a a warm air conditioned cabin in the company of like minded adventurers.
I was in the air for just over an hour and from the comfort of my seat saw some spectacular scenery. The glaciers, lakes, forests, peaks and ridges, were all there, just as described by my hiking buddies at the guest house. I can honestly say that I saw them all too. I was served warm coffee by attractive smiling hostesses and never once had to worry about taking a shower, twisting an ankle or getting injured, helicopter evacuations or losing camera equipment.
I enjoyed it, seriously I did and would recommend to those who feel that harsh hiking in perilous environments are not the sort of thing they enjoy.