I spent the night in Lukla, not anywhere, but in a small local hotel. This is because in the evening it rained again, and the woman I met there said why sleep in a tent when there are no tourists anyway. The conditions are excellent, especially considering the availability of free internet and the fact that I just dried the awning near the tent a little.
Locals claim that during the season all pre-ordered rooms are packed here, there are no vacant seats, and the village is probably 80% of guest houses. In addition, all free flat areas are also occupied by tents. If you believe the Internet, then the population of Lukla is about 300 people, and during the season, an average of 500 tourists arrive by plane alone.
When there are no tourists, this is a fairly cozy quiet place. There are many cafes of different levels and small shops with all the goods you might need on the way. People are friendly and welcoming. The nature here is beautiful, because Lukla is located at an altitude of 2850 m. The only disadvantage is the prices, it is not easy to deliver goods here, but the demand is very high.
I also did not linger here for a long time, and in the morning, with the first rays of the sun, I left the village. And it was the sunniest morning, with clear blue skies. I’ve already missed them a lot.
Not one left Lukla, on the way I met several large groups of tourists at once in companies with their guides: Canadians, Americans, Australians. There were also guys who walked on their own. It immediately felt how uncomfortable it was on the crowded path. Groups walk slowly, and you either have to crawl after them or overtake them, which is not so easy on a narrow path. It’s even hard for me to imagine how to get around in that little train of people in the season itself. Probably the same anthill.
There are a couple of checkpoints on the trail to Namche Bazar. At the first stage, they simply check your passport with a visa, there they are looking for all sorts of criminals, who apparently are attracted to Everest. On the second one they will see your permit from the tour. book, which can be purchased locally, but more expensive than, for example, if you make in Kathmandu. Here and in the low season, traffic jams are formed. For example, I had time to have something to eat.
Until Namche Bazar, it remains to fall by hand, but only to fall up, as this is an hour-long ascent along the serpentine. Nice place: a miniature town on the side of a mountain with a closed airport. Usually those who do not have enough space in Lukla are accommodated here, however, some tourists walk very slowly and stop in both villages. Why not, especially if you have a few days left. Also Namche Bazar is a kind of fork. The trail is divided into two routes here – one is more difficult, the other is more popular and shorter. I chose the first option.
This is a road through two passes, each at 5200 + m – Range Pass and Cho La. Moreover, the second one is very severe with a section of movement along the glacier and an ascent along the bulk. I don’t know what I was thinking then, but I didn’t quite imagine what was ahead.
After half an hour of starting the route, rain caught up with me, and the clouds again covered all the peaks. It was not big, but it got cooler and got darker. The place where I was heading was highlighted on the horizon, behind a bunch of turns, the clouds were coming from the direction of Lukla. The rain did not interfere in any way with going forward. The road was clear. I hardly met any locals or tourists. There were a couple of Sherpas carrying construction materials, most of the board, and I think their load was much heavier than my backpack. The guys have to work hard to earn their food here. However, this did not in any way affect their positive attitude and sociability.
The difference in elevation here was relatively small and even comfortable. You gain height gradually and imperceptibly. The trail is wide and without puddles. Beauty, go and enjoy. There were also three or four small villages on the way, if you suddenly wanted a tea or a snack. The people, however, hid at home from the rain, and so many work on their plots, on the slopes.
There was also a completely deaf place. There were also houses there, but all closed for the off-season. Here the path was a little scattered, and I strayed a little, just guessing where the right path was. For some reason, there were no pointers. They are not needed when the sun is shining and you can see what is further there, but in the dense fog it was not easy to find a path. The rain had stopped, but the fog was only deepening.
When it was already getting dark, I came across a small settlement. One peasant noticed me and was open to communication. I stayed with him. He himself is far from tourists, he has a small house with a plot, he is engaged in breeding Jacob. The house was built of stones and in some places was blown through, so that it was cool enough inside. After a lit fire for dinner, the house immediately became cozier and warmer. There was no power grid and my phone was hopelessly discharged. That evening I went to bed late, for too long we mentally chatted on all sorts of topics with a hot tea.
At night, I somehow froze. Despite the fact that I was in a sleeping bag and still under a hefty yak skin. The point is in those through holes in the stone masonry, but also in the height, according to estimates, 4200 m. On a clear morning, the snow caps on the mountains surrounding the valley were clearly visible. Having thanked the owner and having learned the further direction, he set off again. He left, however, not far. In 30 minutes walk there was a nice working cafe, where I was supplied with hot tea and nishtyaks we call “brushwood”. In the same cafe, there was the only tourist met on the route that day. This is an American of 50+ years old who walked with a guide and recalled the great old days. Since they had crossed the pass with the guide last night and were walking towards me, they told me what was waiting for me and where to go, because the cafe also did not have electricity for my phone with a map.
The climb began immediately. The pass itself is at an altitude of 5330 meters, no longer a weak altitude and another test for the miner, because you need to gain about a kilometer. I would like to note that this is one of the most beautiful places on the route, and as luck would have it I have no camera to save it. Do not be lazy and look, on the Internet there are many pictures from this beautiful place. In summer, there are many beautiful flowers and Yaks graze here. Soothing picture. It has its own mini desert and a crystal clear lake. I would have wandered there mesmerized and enjoyed the views, if it had not started heavy rain, which, in theory, should have been snow, but it was rain, and it was terrible. It was very cold, and with the wind picking up, it chilled to the bone. As soon as I put on my fleece warmer, it became insanely hot and hard to climb to the top, then the rain died down and started again. It was completely incomprehensible how to go and the real chances of chilling your body by sweating or getting wet.
By the lake I lost my path, not because there were no signs, but because they were everywhere. Hundreds of tourists lined up by tourists around the lake, and the trail was worn out and scattered. Then I got pretty nervous – it’s dangerous to stay in this place in such weather, and the road is not visible. I remember that I even swore from the bottom of my heart in the mountains, but no one answered me anyway, the harsh silence of the mountains.
In the end, I chose a path around the lake on the right side. An inconspicuous path, like a dozen of the same, led, somewhere in a dead end, into a vertical cliff. Only when I came close to the mountain, I saw the stone stairs. Camouflage level 90. Even when you see the beginning of the stairs, it is completely incomprehensible where it goes and how it is possible to climb such a steep cliff along it. In any case, it was definitely a way up, she basically could not lead anywhere else.
With a titanic effort, I climbed up to the flags and crossed to the other side, straight into the cloud. There were no problems with the trail, at first, anyway, and she ran down the slope. Then it split into a dozen identical paths, running in approximately the same direction, which was hidden in the mist of the cloud. Going down – not going up, and the process went quite fast. The main thing was to keep track of where and how you put your feet, and everything will be fine.
Very quickly I found myself at Lake Gokyo, it is difficult not to recognize it, it is not at all small. Right there on the far bank was a village of the same name. Two dozen houses and restaurants for tourists. Very deserted houses, I think the atmosphere in Pripyat is the same, just not so cold at this time of year. No locals or tourists. By typing, I found one working inexpensive cafe. It was so great to be warm again that I didn’t think about anything, I just basked.
I will not say how much time passed before three tourists dropped by at the cafe. They were two Americans from Chicago, a guy with a girl and a guy from Italy named Fabio. Each owner of the restaurant has his own rooms for visitors, and apparently the guys were just resting in them, and now they got out to order food for a poor dinner.
We got to talking with them, and I wanted to stay here longer. Firstly, this is a fun company, and secondly, it wouldn’t hurt me to dry out and relax, and thirdly, I came here in a cloud and didn’t really see anything, but next to it, by the way, there is a top that is worth visiting – Gokyo Ri 5483 meters. From it you can clearly see the entire valley, the glacier, the Renjo pass, and of Everest itself in good weather. And the weather is good only in the morning, from five to nine. And fourthly, there was where to recharge the equipment.
I was tempted to get some fried potatoes there, which provided myself with a free overnight stay in addition. The fact is that in the off-season, the owners of guest houses attract tourists by all available means, for example, a free room for those who made an order. The potatoes cost me 200 rubles and this is a normal large portion, and besides, a free number in the bargain, where you can dry up, is really cool. In a nearby restaurant, charging the phone cost 200 rubles! All dishes from 500, small snickers 200, toilet roll 200, and overnight stay in the season would cost at least 2000. Not sour math.
The Americans slowly followed the same route as me. Very slowly – they walked from Lukla for 3 days, I am alone. Fabio walked in the opposite direction. He stopped here in order to conquer the Gokyo Ri summit in the morning. We agreed with him to get up at 5 am and make this little adventure.
The easiest thing was to wake up, but getting out from under a couple of warm blankets in sub-zero temperatures in order to climb the mountain turned out to be a whole gesture of will. You quickly put on all the warm clothes and take too many of them with you. I even had to leave a bookmark at the foot of the mountain, so many of them I took. On the way back, I did not forget to pick it up.
Old Fabio probably slept. I didn’t wait for him long and started climbing. Only after 20 minutes, I saw him walking briskly towards the mountain. He also dressed warmly, but he kept walking up the hill. Well, it must have been hot for him. The ascent up the mountain is quite steep, along the trodden paths, serpentine upwards. Frozen greenery underfoot, surrounding a long path to the top, hidden behind the clouds. Despite the fact that the weather is usually clear in the morning, even in the rainy season, then there were light clouds. They could easily turn into rainy ones and spoil the whole view from the top, and just as easily they could dissolve – mountains. The weather is unpredictable here.
Fabio and I were lucky that morning and the views were gorgeous, albeit not for long. Fabio only caught up with me at the top. I had been resting there for twenty minutes, taking pictures of landscapes on my phone. Unusually without a camera, but the phone did its job. “What technology has come to!” But it is still impossible to fully convey the beauty and grandeur of the mountains either with photographs or videos. You are standing at the top, and the whole World is around you! From the top, both lakes were clearly visible, the colors of the sprite, the glacier, right behind the village of Gokio, which was to be crossed, the Renjo-Pass, passed yesterday and somewhere there, on the horizon, Everest itself rose from the opposite side.
The world was slowly covered with clouds. It was time to go down. If we had to climb a little over an hour, then the descent took about 15 minutes. Gently, but still, almost running, we went down. When we got to the lake with crystal clear water, I wanted to take the opportunity and swim a little in the icy water. When will I be able to swim at an altitude of 4 and a half thousand meters, besides, the sun was shining so tempting and brightly. There was no trace of the morning frost. The air temperature is about 20, and the inputs are about 0. There and then a glacier flows into the lake and feeds it with clean and just melted water. In this water I had enough for a minute, the sensations, of course, are fantastic. This is one of the things that will be remembered for a lifetime! I remember Fabio’s phrase “These crazy Russians!”, He did not fully believe that I would do it.
We returned to the cafe in the village. My things were already packed and ready to go. After breakfast I was going to go to Cho La pass, the most difficult one on the way. I thought to save more time to overcome it. But the plans were spoiled by the suddenly bursting telephone Internet, and the temptation to unsubscribe home and throw a couple of photos was very great. So I delayed the exit for another hour and a half. Then we had to go our own ways again: Fabio to Lukla, and me to Everest, through the Cho La pass, where the Americans left in the morning, for the life of me, I don’t remember their names.