MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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October 14, 2010

When in Doubt, Helicopter Out!

The group taking a helicopter to Lukla

October 13

A longer than normal monsoon has delayed our flight to the village of Lukla, where our trek up to Mera Peak begins. Each day as we go out to the airport to get a flight a mass of people awaits. Today was our last day to get to Lukla before our itinerary would no longer be viable. Fortunately, Sagar, our logistics coordinator on the ground in Kathmandu, pulled some strings and off we go to Lukla on a helicopter. Phew!

A prayer wheel

A mere 45 minute ride and we are in the Himalayas! Lukla, in the 15 years since I have been here, has changed. Western pop music blares out of pubs that are complete with pool tables and CNN and ESPN. A faux-Starbucks, for better or worse, is found along the narrow cobblestone walkway that divides the village. And of course, there is internet and cell service available at the comfortable teahouses.

Dawa Sherpa and Mark G

But, as we step off the main trail to Everest, Lukla's character seems intact. Lapkha Sherpa, who will be with us during the trip, and Dawa Sherpa, MM's lead Nepali trek guide, take us on a short hike to see their houses - both grew up here. Here we see Lapkha's mom gathering cabbage in the field where corn, buckwheat, potatoes, string beans, and other crops are grown. We visit the small, local monestary which is painted in vibrant colors, adorned inside with elaborate paintings, and holds old Buddhist scrolls that lend a certain rarified air to the place. And so it seems Lukla is the same only with better amenities.

The streets of Lukla

Faux Starbucks

A Gampa, or locla monastery, in Lukla

We're happy to be here, invigorated by the fresh air and away from the chaos and frustrations of Kathmandu. As Michael says, "that's all in the rearview mirror now." Off we go into the Himalyan wilderness!

~ MM President Mark Gunlogson