Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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An Auspicious Start

Everest 2015  •  March 28

We got up early and headed back up to the Kathmandu airport for another shot at heading to Lukla.  Weather was better, but there was still a big backlog of flights due to and from the mountains, so we opted to hire a helicopter to get us to there… so many people were eager to come down that we got our flight at half price (shared with those returning).

This guy is avoiding a pack of dogs on the street below... seems immune to high voltage.
This guy is avoiding a pack of dogs on the street below… seems immune to high voltage.
This jetliner slid off the runway a couple weeks ago... it will be in mothballs for quite some time.
This jetliner slid off the runway a couple weeks ago… it will be in mothballs for quite some time.
Waiting patiently for our chopper to arrive.
Waiting patiently for our chopper to arrive.
And here it is.  Smelled like a new car, and the pilot was great.
And here it is. Smelled like a new car, and the pilot was great.

The city of Kathmandu rapidly quickly passed below, and we flew over rice paddies terraced into the hills.  We got our first look at the Himalayas themselves… unimaginably tall, steep, austere, and beautiful.  Up and up we went, over ridges and forests that zoomed just beneath the chopper… until Lukla came into sight.  It is a village perched on a very steep mountainside, with a short runway cut at an angle (and ending in a cliff face).  In an airplane this makes for an exciting landing… in the chopper, everything was smooth and dignified.

Close quarters in the chopper, but great views.
Close quarters in the chopper, but great views.
Not sure what this one is named...
Not sure what this one is named…
...Or this one.  But, impressive!  Everest was blocked from view by this rampart of circa 6,000 meter peaks.
…Or this one. But, impressive! Everest was blocked from view by this rampart of circa 6,000 meter peaks.
It's a tough place to land... we had the good fortune of coming in by helicopter, and landed to the right of the runway on a helipad.
It’s a tough place to land… we had the good fortune of coming in by helicopter, and landed to the right of the runway on a helipad.
Awestruck by our new views from Lukla.
Awestruck by our new views from Lukla.
A busy airport this time of year.
A busy airport this time of year.

We met more team members in Lukla, including our other world-class climbing guide Phinjo, who hails from a village in the Khumbu named Phortse.

Phinjo is a very accomplished Himalayan mountain guide, and we are excited to get to climb with him.
Phinjo is a very accomplished Himalayan mountain guide, and we are excited to get to climb with him.

Our porters are incredible, and they started the process of helping us move our kit up the Khumbu Valley.  They are essential for our success, working hard to support us every step of the way.

Our view from the staging area at the tea house in Lukla.
Our view from the staging area at the tea house in Lukla.
Blake enjoys his pastries at 9,000 feet.
Blake enjoys his pastries at 9,000 feet.
The amazing porters organize gear into manageable loads.
The amazing porters organize gear into manageable loads.

I have decided that every day will have a word for the day.  Today’s word: “Auspicious.”

Today’s walk lasted 2.5 hours, and took us DOWN to the Dudh Kosi River, to a small village called Phakding.  Dusty trails… Yak trains… deep river gorges… whitewashed temples framed against blue skies… great new friends from around the world… and huge HUGE mountains.  An amazing first day on the trail!  We are now ensconced in a tea house in Phakding for the night, digesting a great meal and lots of hot tea (and hot tang). 11 hours until we start again.

Lukla caters to a busy trekking business.
Lukla caters to a busy trekking business.

Andy Polloczek is a fabulous guide, and always makes us laugh.
Andy Polloczek is a fabulous guide, and always makes us laugh.

Local colors are striking in this austere valley.
Local colors are striking in this austere valley.
Lots of construction and renovation wherever we go... tourism and trekking are big business here.
Lots of construction and renovation wherever we go… tourism and trekking are big business here.

Our tea house sits across the Dudh Kosi river in Phakding.
Our tea house sits across the Dudh Kosi river in Phakding.

Blake and I celebrate the end of the walk for today.
Blake and I celebrate the end of the walk for today.
Slow motion run up the bridge... so as not to make waves for the others.
Kim made me pose for this slow motion “Baywatch” run up the bridge… so as not to make waves for the others.
The bridges here are actually quite solid, built with reliable engineering.
The bridges here are actually quite solid, built with reliable engineering.
Comfy and cozy, with a great view.
Comfy and cozy, with a great view.
Chillin' after the walk.
Chillin’ after the walk.
We are all having a good time here.
We are all having a good time here.

Connectivity is spotty in the Khumbu… may be a while until my next post.  Thanks to all for following.

 

4 thoughts on “An Auspicious Start

  1. Wonderful reporting. It, and the photos, will make a beautiful book when you get home. What an adventure! Xox

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