MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
# #

November 2, 2010

Mera Peak: Hinku Valley's Shangri-La

Back to civilization

Forests and mountains

On our way to Khote

The village of Khote

We're back in Seattle and I will get one more post up with summit images from our climb of 21,000-ft. Mera Peak. It was now a bit more than a week ago that we started our walk out of the Hinku Valley after the climb. We arrived in the village of Khote, somewhat delusional after reaching the summit and having spent several days in the alpine zone of rock and ice. Almost 10,000 feet lower than the summit, this village took on Shangri-La-type qualities; with its thicker air, waterfalls, grass, and of course cold beers it provided us a much needed rest before the grueling 5,000-foot climb out of the Hinku Valley.

MC serving up a fresh apple pie after the climb

The Hinku Valley with Mera Peaks almost two miles above the village

Teahouses in Khote, many are new within the last few years

Our brush with Shangri-La was short-lived as the next day we began the hike out of the valley that would take us an over 15,000-foot pass before descending more than 6,000 feet to Lukla. Our exit started out as a pleasant sunny walk in the crisp fall air, many of the leaves on trees having changed color since we first passed here. But, soon all pleasantries were lost as we began the steep climb up Inca-like staricases. This trek is beautiful and a great alternative to the Khumbu, but it has its grueling elements for sure!

Through some bamboo forests on the ups and downs in the Hinku Valley

Looking up to the pass and the portal back to civilization

Lakpa checking in with some of the porters

Along the way we encounter a Sherpa brother and sister slowly working their way up the trail. I ask the brother, a mountain guide, who follows patiently behind his younger sister, a porter, why she is carrying the big load while he has only a daypack, to which he replies, "because she is stronger." A quick translation and we're all giggling, which makes the uphill challenge a bit more tolerable.

Sherpa brother and sister taking a break

Yes, those are flip-flops

As much as we will miss the peaks, any trip to Nepal becomes a trip as much about the people as the incredible mountains. From the laughs provided by Lakpa, the card games with porters, to the kids along the way eager to learn English, our trip is no exception to this and we'll always remember some of the new friends met along the way.

Its all downhill from here!

Mark S. reading with Sherpa kid

How can someone be smiling with a load like that? Nima smiled the whole trip, regardless of the conditions and load.