MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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April 3, 2009

Mountain Madness Everest Base Camp Trekkers arrive in Namche!

April 1

We rose above a foggy Kathmandu morning on our flight to Lukla and were suddenly confronted with a spectacular view of the Himalayas. A long, snowy and jagged line of massive peaks...the mountains were spectacular! Some peaks loomed huge in the foreground, but not even 8000m. Everyone is excited to be amongst the world's highest mountains.

We cruised up a valley, turned toward the green ridge and came in for a quick landing on Lukla's short, sloped runway. Gathering bags and staff together, we made introductions--Nepalis and Americans both struggling with foreign names. Checking out our porters, they seemed to be lacking warm clothing. First they were convinced they wouldn't need it, but after some discussion (and insistance), they agreed to go home tonight and pick up their warmer clothes. Keeping porters healthy is important both for their sake and for an effective trip.

Heading out to hike, we started passing yaks, prayer wheels, and fields. A Buddhist retreat monastery was built into a cliff high above us. Fields along the way were planted with cauliflower, cabbage, carrots, rice, and bok choy. After lunch and only 3 hours of hiking, we rolled into Phakding, a small village down along the "Milk River", where we were staying the night. Our porters, however, didn't have much in the way of warm clothing with them, so we sent them home for the night where they said they had warmer gear for the trek.

April 2

The air was crisp and clear with great views of Thamserku along the trail as we hiked by the river through much of the morning. We then crossed the Hillary suspension bridge, dizzily high above the gorge and strewn with prayer flags, before climbing, climbing, climbing into Namche Bazaar.

Long before foreign visitors made the town a mecca for apple pie, Namche was an important regional town. Sitting at the confluence of three high alpine valleys, Namche is where Tibetan caravans, local Sherpas, and lowland peoples all converged for trading.

We entered the village at its base, passing through a painted Buddhist "gate" (archway) built to cleanse travelers of evil spirits before they enter sacred valleys and villages. In the middle of town are bakeries, internet cafes, and shops selling everything from yak bells to chocolate bars. A little further towards the top of town, we are staying in a cozy lodge where dinner awaits!

--Deana Zabaldo, group leader

Mountain views from the plane

Our group clean, fresh, and ready to hike

Spinning prayer wheels along the trail

Village home

New mother

Crossing a suspension bridge

Yaks on the high Hillary suspension bridge