Peaky Blinders

November 2022
Trekking in Nepal. Up to Gokyo Lakes, over Cho La Pass, and then up to Everest Base Camp! Read more
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  • 17days
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  • 368kilometers
  • 7kilometers
  • Day 1

    A Long Way Around

    November 4, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    An evening flight out of London, 4 hour early morning layover in Doha, and then a short (4 hours) hop over to Nepal arriving in Nepal early evening makes for a long day travelling.

    Fortunately I'm still clinging onto my OneWorld status so we got a bit of a snooze in the lounge, although the fire alarm test wasn't appreciated!

    Some beautiful views as we were landing, which we got to enjoy again when we aborted our landing!

    Rather bizarrely we're 5:45 hours ahead of the UK - everything revolves around this mountain, and it's got something to do with the time the sun goes over it.

    Usual faff sorting out visas on arrival, finding the driver and navigating the traffic, but we arrived in one piece out our nice hotel, albeit it a little exhausted.
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  • Day 2

    Tourists for the day

    November 5, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    After a reasonable sleep, and a fantastic breakfast wime were off on an arranged tour - a but of a novelty for us!

    First stop was a monkey sanctuary, where Jo didn't get attacked for a change!

    Then on to Patan Square, the collection of ancient traditional Palace buildings built out around interconnecting courtyards.

    The final stop was lunch at the tallest Stupur in Asia. Our Thali and MoMos were delicious, but by then we were all keen to get back to the hotel to shed yet more kilos from our bags and be ready for a 1:30 alarm call.
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  • Day 3

    Nepali Flat!

    November 6, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 8 °C

    An awful night 'sleep' due to jet lag, for me (Phil) anyway, and a 2am departure for a pretty horrendous 4+ long hours road journey up to a mountain airport, often washed away by recent (and unseasonally late) monsoons. Outside of the high season you can fly from the main airport just a few km away =(

    The airport itself was an experience - basically a shack & lots of people milling about until you were, but a lot more crazy! It made me chuckle that a cricket bat was on the banned items to take up the Himalayas.

    The little plane creaked off the runway and slowly gained height, having to turn into the neighbouring valleys as it climed as there was nowhere else to go. Then, suddenly the majestic white peaks soared on the near horizon, and the pilot cranked the plane towards them. Slightly mesmerised, I suddenly noticed the ground not far below us, then with a bump we braked hard on the UPHILL runway, before we hit the cliffs at the end. Within a couple of minutes we were out, and backpacked up.

    A short(ish - 4 hours!) hike followed, and we learned the meaning of Nepali Flat - basically if you end up at the same sort of height it's considered flat, regardless of how much up and down there is! Food isn't going to be an issue, with plenty of spots for hot food, and every variety of tea.

    We ended up at our first 'tea house' (overnight lodge). These are more glamorous than I was a expecting, although glamorous might be overdoing a bit! There is always a big communal eating room, and basic (but comfortable after a day's hike) twin rooms. A hearty veg meal (not risking the meat out here) and some delicious honey, lemon and ginger tea. We were all flagging due to jet lag and the early start so were in bed by 7pm.
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  • Day 4

    Warm (&) Up

    November 7, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Woke feeling fresh and refreshed after a wonderful 11 hours sleep! A hearty breakfast of apple pancakes. I nipped out to grab some water and made a little friend blowing some bubbles.

    We knew today was going to be a long day in the saddle as we headed up to the main jumping off point for expeditions, Namche Bazar. We had 800m of altitude to gain, but knew there were would be a fair amount of down to make it that much tougher.

    It started easy enough winding along a river valley, and over some long, wobbly suspension bridges. Then after lunch we entered the National Park and started the real climbing. It was a beautiful trail though the pine forests, with enforced rests when a procession of mules or yaks comes around the corner.

    No real impact from the altitude yet, so although it was a long walk it wasn't any tougher than a lot of things we've done before. We got into town, enjoyed some hot showers. We mooched around town, found a famous Nepali German bakery and treated ourselves. On the way back to the lodge we saw a wonderful alpenglow over an impressive peak, although we were disappointed to find out it was only a measly 6,255m!
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  • Day 5

    (A)climb(isation) Day

    November 8, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Mountain mornings always start early, but today we were allowed a lie in for a 7:30 breakfast. Then we hiked for a few hours to a couple of viewpoints for some spectacular, and slightly scarily, views of where we were heading to!

    We got up to 3,900 and then headed back to Namche Bazar at 3,600, following the climb high, sleep low mantra. Not sure I would count this as a 'rest' day though!

    Lunch back at the lodge, followed by a few hours sunbathing on the roof terrace, another trip back the bakery.

    All in all a very enjoyable day, recharging ourselves for what is to come!
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  • Day 6

    Have A Nice Your Journey

    November 9, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    From Namche we were immediately onto the brutal steps out of the town, but we were so happy when we turned on to the flat route. A couple of hours of easy cruising, then the inevitable climbing started, but at least it was gentle (by Nepali standards!).

    After a needed tea break we split off the main drag and left on a very quiet track up to the lesser travelled Gokyo Lakes. Then it was on, on, up, up but at least it wasn't steps, then a lovely lunch at a sunny saddle. We ordered spring rolls but it looked more like a cornish pasty (delicious nevertheless).

    From there down an hour on a steep rough track, before a 2 hour climb though beautiful forests with hanging Spanish Moss, before we left the treeline behind and then every 15 mins was very different scenery. It was only when you saw the frozen waterfalls you realised how cold it had become. Finally we arrived at our lodge in Dhole for the night, and I was the only one from our group to indulge in a hot shower, mainly as you get so cold getting dressed afterwards!
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  • Day 7

    Easy Peasy Lemon Powder

    November 10, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Today's blog is named after one of our lead guide's favourite phrases - always followed by his famous laugh! Ram is lead guide, and we have Kamal (54!), Dambar and Naran (who also carries 20kg like a porter so we guess he's a guide in training, but it's one of those things that might be a little sensitive to ask too much about.

    It was 4C in one of the rooms this morning, but we were stuck out on the end with 3 external walls so we reckon it was colder than that. The ice on the window certainly indicated that!

    Fortunately the main communal room was hot, actually probably too hot. A hearty breakfast at 7:30 and on the trail well before 8. As seems to be usual it was a tough climb out of the village, as it makes sense to situate them in shelter led vallies. After that it was a lovely day's hike - mostly flat (aka just a gentle incline), sunny, with most of the group together chatting.

    We got into Manche (4300) at a good time and enjoyed some sunbathing before lunch - I wasn't expecting fantastic pizzas and chips at this altitude.

    A couple of us got a little restless after lunch and hiked up the ridge, mostly to follow the climb hike, sleep low mantra that helps with altitude sickness. Jo's developing a little cough so decided not to go all the way and rest up.

    It wasnt far or high, but we were rewarded with amazing views and up/down the valley, as well as on either side. We are literally nestled in the middle of the most spectacular mountain range in the world!

    We even spotted some wild life on the way back down, and (eventually) found the bakery with amazing brownie. Another nice meal that evening, and heat from the yak dung fuelled pot bellied stove (no, it doesn't smell!)
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  • Day 8

    Lake District

    November 11, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    Breakfast (in fact most meals) are almost always the same, with a choice of porridge, pancakes, omelettes, etc. The list of hot drinks is as long as your arm, with honey lemon ginger a particular favourite (normally when chilling in the late afternoons).

    Today was a lovely hike, with no real climbing although we still managed to gain about 400m at the end. Towards the end of the day we came across the first of the sacred lakes, and then half an hour later the second, even more gorgeous. Lastly the third lake, which was the biggest, bluest, and most beautiful. The best thing about it is we could see the town of Gokyo only a short distance away.

    We got in for a late lunch, but not before we hit the bakery! Jo & I started up Gokyo Ri, the large Peak nearby, knowing we were not going to summit but just to gain some altitude to make the next few days that little bit easier. Hot showers, a tasty meal, and a long sleep were on the cards.
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  • Day 9

    The Remnants

    November 12, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C

    It's a sad morning, as we've lost some of fellow hikers.

    Firstly Taesoo, a Korean American, was has been really suffering with AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) for the last few days but ploughed on regardless. He was immediately taken to the medical centre and put on oxygen, as his oxygen levels were in the 50s. He was medevac'ed on a chopper this morning. We're pretty annoyed the guides let him continue as this was an inevitable outcome.

    Then Stuart, an older Canadian with a super quick and dry wit who has kept us all in stitches over the past week. He started really strongly but has been getting slower and slower. He decided the $800 to jump in the same heli all the way back to Kathmandu was too appealing.

    Kamal, a 54 year old experienced guide also went back in the chopper, to help coordinate/translate.

    On top of those two, Ron & Helga, who are friends of Stuart decided enough was enough. They are early 70s and their fitness has blown my mind. They've been coming in only a few minutes behind the main pack of 'youngsters', but have been wiped out in the evening. They decided the pass was going to be too much and headed back down, but not before conquering Gokyo Ri (5300m) with its stunning views of Everest and her sisters, which graces the cover of the Lonely Planet.

    All these guys were planning on the full trip to EBC. For the rest Gokyo Lakes was always their final destination. It included the 4 younger Americans, Bruce & Andrea + Alex & Shawna. Finally the older American couple, Nick & Lynne.

    The Remnants, as we are calling ourselves, are continuing on. There is John, a Canadian lawyer, with all the gadgets needed to keep his business afloat whilst he indulges his bucket list. Jane, a younger Canadian nurse who does ER along with search and rescue. Hopefully we won't be needing her skills! Finally Tai, who is Vietnamese French, but has worked in banking in London. Unlike the rest, he's on extended travels whilst he works out his life priorities.

    We all decided against the 4am start to go up Gokyo Ri, despite the amazing views it offered. It allowed us a long lie in, a lazy breakfast, and another trip to the bakery!

    We only had 3km to cover today, but it was over an amazing dusty, rocky glacier so it was 10m up, 10m down and windy, windy, windy. A slightly hairy moment just as we were coming out when a small rock fall started right next to where we were. Scrambling fast at 5,000m is easier said than done, especially on loose scree! After getting off the glacier it was only 15mins to our tea house for lunch, and a lazy afternoon in the boiling hot sun room (I was down to just a t-shirt!). An early night ready for an early start tomorrow.
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  • Day 10

    Our 'High'light - Cho La Pass

    November 13, 2022 in Nepal ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    This is the day we've been dreading - Cho La Pass!

    We are down to two guides and a porter now. Dambar is the lead, and Naran backup, although he still ports. We obviously impressed them as our set off time has been moved back from 4am to 5, which we are very happy about!

    A quick brekkie and we are on the trail, in the freezing cold and just the light from the stars. As is the norm, as the villages are in valleys, its a climb to start and today it continues for a couple of hours. We reach the ridge and look across the valley, and there looks to be absolutely no way through there but we are assured there is!

    The climb starts normal enough, heading for this wall of a hanging valley. Then we spot a small trail up the edge of the cliff face. It is brutally steep, with steel cables for a lot of it. After a couple of hours of hard slog we finally reach the top, and are rewarded with amazing views down the valley covered in snow.

    We put on our crampons and hike about 30 mins across the snow and ice, which is joyful after what came before! Its over all too soon and the crampons are off again, then we ease our way down the gentler slope down the valley. Then up again over the next, and this path seems to go for ever. We eventually stop for lunch at the first place, some 6 and a half hours later (the sign said 8 so we're obviously still on a good pace).

    We were all dead on our feet, but some hot food and drink slightly replenished us. We then have a long, long stretch of 'Nepali flat' (up, down, down, up) before we eventually rejoin the main route to EBC, and the extra traffic is noticeable. We eventually crawl exhausted into Labouche, after 10.5 long hours and at least 700m up and down again.
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