Views And Viewpoints

I want to apologize for dragging the post on for so long. So, let’s see if we can get this thing off the ground.

I want to start with simply a few pictures of vistas we hugged and puffed for along the trek.

This is a view from Chukkung Ri, which we did on our second acclimatization day. Chukkung Ri was also the highest point of our trek. Climbing Chukkung Ri is technically not challenging, but it is high and it was our first foray on this trek above 5000m, which means our pace to summit was significantly slower than our enthusiasm to summit suggested. What we are looking at her is part of the Nuptse-Lhotse-Mt.Everest cluster….but I must admit, I am not quite sure.

Sunrise in Chukkung, where it s beautiful during the day, but cold at night and in the morning. Chukkung is in a fairly narrow extension of the Khumbu valley and it takes some time until the sun warms the area.

The West facing shoulder of Thamserku, as seen from somewhere close to Dingboche. Thamserku has a very characteristic double peak and is a beautiful and huge mountain range.

Here we are in the Thamo valley, looking at the Thamo range. The Thamo valley is beautiful. There is not much traffic, the valley opens up in lower altitudes and people are farming. We descended into Thamo valley after we had finished our last pass – are Renjo La Pass, coming from Gokyo.

Nuptse, Mt. Everest (Chomolungma) and Lhotse seen from Mt. Everest viewpoint. We went up to the hotel and restaurant, called Mt. Everest Viewpoint on our acclimatization day. The hotel and restaurant itself is nestled into the landscape quite nicely, but then again one has to ask, why it was necessary to build a huge hotel with a heli-pad at almost 4000m altitude, just to some tourists can look at the world’s highest mountain without breaking a sweat – earn it by hiking up and it is that much more impressive and relaxing.

Namche Bazar seen from the path to the Everest Viewpoint restaurant. The mountain opposite Namche is the Kongde range. Kongde’s glaciers high on top of the mountain look like giant battle scars. The mountain looks like it had suffered through thousands of incisions with scalpels ranging from extremely sharp to just blunt. Nonetheless, I am always fascinated by this range and I love sketching it.

This was a very special moment for me. I chose this trek, primarily because of the proximity and the views it would offer of Cho Oyu – The Emerald Goddess. And this is our first view of Cho Oyu we had a pretty easy day walking from Thagnak to “the lakeside resort” of Gokyo. I can honestly say, I love this mountain and it’s range, it is so beautiful and majestic.

The view from Chukkung Ri, as the clouds moved in very quickly and obstructed the views of the mountains. This day was great, because nature played hide-and-seek with us. Normally you ascend Chukkung air for the great vistas it offers of Nuptse, Lhotse, Mt.Everest, Island Peak, Ama Dablam, the Nuptse glacier, Imjo Lake and many more, but that day, the clouds came before 9:00am and this offered us only peeks through the clouds. Nonetheless, it was very impressive and it definitely makes for more dramatic pictures.

Cho Oyu from Gokyo in the afternoon. Walking to Gokyo towards Cho Oyu basecamp, past the five lakes leads the trekker through one of the most desolate regions I have ever been. If you ever feel the need to unplug and conduct some serious soul-searching this could definitely be the place.

Another view of Cho Oyu, seen from Gokyo Ri.

Alright, this ends today’s entry.

Cheers and stay sharp

Markus \m/

Advertisements

3 Passes And 2 Summits

We were gone for a nice while. We went to Nepal to trek. Due to a series of lucky events we had time this Spring and decided to walk the Three Passes Trek in the Solo Khumbu area of the Himalayas. Yes, this is the same area where every year over two annual seasons, clients pay a lot of money to pursue their dream of standing on the highest point on earth – Mount Everest.

Here is the itinerary we followed:

Day1: arrival in Kathmandu

Day2: explore Kathmandu

Day3: fly from Kathmandu to Lukla. Then hike from Lukla to Phakding

Day4: hike from Phakding to Namche Bazar

Day5: acclimatization day in Namche. Hike to Everest View Point and enjoy the view.

Day6: trek from Namche to Tyengboche and then on to Deboche.

Day7: trek from Deboche to Dingboche

Day8: trek from Dingboche to Chukkung. Hike around the neighborhood and enjoy the views.

Day9: walk up to Chukkung Ri and REALLY enjoy the views of Nuptse, Lhotse, Mt. Everest, Island Peak, Imjo Lake, etc.

Day10: trek from Chukkung across Kongma La pass to Lobuche

Day11: enjoy the easy day as you trek from Lobuche to Dzongla

Day12: leave from Dzongla and climb your way across Chola pass to Thaknak

Day13: enjoy another easy da as you walk from Thaknak to Gokyo (the world’s highest* “Lake Side Resort”)

* and coldest

Day14: climb Gokyo Ri to enjoy the spectacular view over 4 8000m peaks as well as many other 6000 and 7000m peaks

Day15: from Gokyo trek across the last of the three passes – Renjo La – to arrive in Lungden. The views from Renjo La are the best of the whole trek.

Day 16: start the descent from Lungden to Thame through the beautiful Thamo valley.

Day 17: continue descending from Thame to Namche through the moat beautiful scenery – wonderful villages, blooming rhododendron fields and lush, green, enchanted forests.

Day18: the long way from Namche through Phakding to Lukla.

Day19: Fly from Lukla to Kathmandu

More details to come as I finish pictures.

Cheers

Markus \m/

And The Soul Breathes Fresh Air…

….and so do we.

A lot has happened since the 2015 earthquake in Nepal that impacted the Khumbu region greatly. I am not sure if all the international help that poured into the country was really used properly and appropriately. There are still many people living in wooden shacks. At the same time amazingly, a few brand-spanking new, big lodges have already been built. Funny how that works…

The area, the impressions and the people are as amazing and impressive as ever….truly walking among giants.

More soon.

Cheers from thin-air-country

Markus \m/

Unsung Heroes

This morning I fetched water – six six liter jugs. Suffering from “Peter Pan” syndrome, I figured I can carry all 36kg the 16 floors up to my apartment. I brought a backpack to carry said liquid load. After I had paid, I loaded my back pack and raised it on my back…….holy f…ing smokes, Batman, this is heavy. After about five steps, I remembered the porters w saw in the Himalaya.


Like these two guys, who carried plywood boards from Lukla to Görak-Shep. We met theem early in the morning on a breezy high valley. They carried each about 50kg of boards not to mention the sail effect in the wind. To ease the burden a little, they bent theonupper body forward so that the baords on their backs were horizontal. Needless to say, I gained perspective on the comfortable 36kg on my back in a backpack. Then I reached the staircase. I conside myself to be in pretty good shape, but after the first half storey, the prospect of 15 and a half more storeys had my utmost attention. I started to think about the loads I had sampled on our way from Dugla to Lobuche – they almost snapped my neck, I am not kidding.

The porters are scrawny, sinewy men and they lug insame loads through the mountains, just so toursits can have a familiar candy bar or three-plied toilet paper at 5000m above sea level.


These loads were sets of lawn furniture, consisting of tables and assembled chairs, each pack weighed between 40kg to 50kg. That memory, powered me the up the stairs where an AC cooled room and a lemon juice were waiting for me. quite posh compared the reality of a porter on the Himalayan trekking trail. The porters are truly the unsung heroes – try walking for fifteen minutes in their shoes, should you feel the need to gain perspective.

This little post morning workout experiment reminded me once again, that hardship voluntarily chosen ends in comfort, while hardship imposed by circumstances stays hardship. The question is are we fine about it, do we care or are we not bothered by mostly faceless misery. 

Alright, we all need to be able to sleep at night and I am not here to judge. Having said that – Stay Sharp.

Cheers Markus \m/

Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt5

Hm, amazing. We are on our last leg of this trek’s visual summary.  Jomson is the last destination we walk to. From here on it is driving, flying, horse, yak, donkey, piggy-back or jet-pack, but no more walking. So, let’s get on with it.

Jomson itself, as I have written before is forgettable. The citizens are rather full of themselves, the value for money is lousy and the stores way over promise and under-deliver – overall verdict: DISAPPOINTING! But, being the eternal optimist, there are silver linings. For example, when you walk around Jomson, as we did, you discover beautiful crop fields and gardens.

JomsomGardenOfEdenI have mentioned the phenomenally tasting apples and Himalaya Rocket Fuel 2.0 (Himalayan Apple Juice….[droooooool]), this is where they grow – good stuff.

JomsomTreeIn the fields around Jomson, I found this old and weathered tree. After two days, however, we moved on from Jomsom. By now you now that the flight was cancelled and that we took a dependable and rugged and punishment-tolerating Mahindra Bolero Camper.

B4Beni-1Due to the late arrival and the early flight out of Pokhara, I have nothing from Pokhara – you have already seen the images from the lake. So on we move on to the plane from Pokhra to Kathmandu. We see Manaslu.

Manaslu-PlaneThe biggest peak slightly to the right of the center is Manaslu, one of the 14 8000m peaks in the world. Once, I Kathmandu, I switched into street photographer mode – very unusual or me and a little uncomfortable. But I figured:”What the heck, this is vacation.”

KTM-PigmentSalesStreet vendor selling super saturated color pigment.

BikeTransportThis gentleman, was navigating and incredible amount of packages miraculously attached to thus bicycle through the traffic.

GroceryLadiesKTMThese two ladies were selling fresh vegetables…in a visibly casual and comfortable manner.

RikshasKTMThere were very active Riksha drivers underneath a cable chaos that proves that the 2nd law of thermodynamics MUST be true (disorder always increases).

RikshadriverNapThere was at least one Riksha driver who said “screw it all” and napped instead of pedaling.

LadiesChattingKTMThere were women chatting and taking it easy, while the works of art in their shop spoke for themselves. There were Fetishes and masks waiting to be purchased and haggled for by knowing tourists.

HouseOfFetishAnd of course there were people passing by and going in and out the famous Bong House.

BongHouse-ColAnd with that beautiful luminescent view of Kathmandu’s Bong House, I leave you for today. It’s been a great ride and was a lot of fun revisiting the places we saw on this trek.

Stay sharp and take here easy.

Cheers Markus \m/

 

Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt4

Our last entry ended with the crossing of Thorung La Pass at 5450m altitude. The view was quite magnificent and a just reward for the walking, ascending and rising early of the days preceding.

ThorungPeak2-colA last look across the prayer flag covered pass towards Thorung peak and we started our 1600m (one vertical mile) descent. Our knees and legs were screaming in agony just thinking about it. I think, packing a paraglider is the healthier option. Yes is it bulky, but ascending is so much easier and more comfortable than descending on foot. Thus, on top, you’d unpack the paraglider, lay it out, strap in, raise it and then it’s “Sayonara dudes, see you at the bottom.” You’d enjoy the flight, the views, catch a few thermals in between  – badda-bing-badda-boom. But that was just me mental gazing, so down we walked to Muktinath. Muktinath is a quaint little mountain village without any surfaced roads. We stayed there for an extra day, before we moved on to Jomsom.

MuktinathReflectionsWe really only recognized Muktinath’s beauty when we left it and we looked back up to the village. There are many terraces fields used for small agriculture. Life in this region is hard and agriculture in particular is a fight. Each crop and harvest must be fought for without industrial help. It’s muscles, a strong back and elbow grease that provide food from the fields. However, on this nice Fall morning, thoughts of toil did not come to mind.

Muktinath-TerracesInstead, thoughts of peacefulness and serenity came to mind – well, my mind at least.Muktinath-LookbackAs we moved farther away from Muktinath, we approached the main valley, which extends from Beni some 80 kilometers away in the foothills to Jomson and then further into the restricted region of Mustang. And man, what a treat that valley was. We came in high above the valley floor and the entire valley stretched out before us in all its beauty.

JomsomValleyNELooking north towards Kagbeni and into Mustang.

JomsomValleySWLooking south towards Jomsom – although all you can see is the team house on the bottom of the valley, where we’d have lunch. As the others descended, I stayed a little bit longer to look for more opportunities to soak up this view and to capture it with my camera.

TreeInBreeze

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I have a soft spot for trees. They are usually older than I am and they have seen a lot more that I have. Although, I have not met a talking tree, their appearance tells the great story of their life – the great silent story tellers.

I think this tree, can also act as an exclamation mark to this entry and close it. (not my smoothest transition, to close an entry)

Alright, stay sharp, and seize opportunities to stay back and enjoy your surroundings all by yourself.

Cheers Markus \m/

 

 

 

 

Annapurna Himalaya – Visual Summary Pt3

After the semi-destroyed outhouse it is a few more minutes to Ledar. Ledar is a great base for an acclimatization day, for ascents towards teh Chulus and to continue on towards Thorung La pass and Thorung Peak.

CWBc-ApIII-Ggp-colView from near Chulu West Base Camp towards Annapurna III (left) and Gangapurna (right). Behind the ridge in the middle extends the glacier tongue from Chulu West.

From Ledar we marched on past small tea houses with juniper fires via Thorung La Base Camp to Thorung La High Camp – where the weather turned bad.

Ledar-ThLBC-JuniperfireThorungHCStormAbout one hour after we had arrived at Thorung La High Camp, clouds moved in quickly and it started to snow. A beautiful and adventurous sight, when you sit in the teahouse dining hall cozied up to you neighbor under a blanket, sipping on a hot milk-tea. The next day, we ascended early in the morning under the light of our headlamps to Thorung La Pass. The reward for rising at some god-forsaken hour was well worth it.

Sunrise-SouthEastThe view to the South-East shows to the left is Chulu West, in the distance is Annapurna II and IV. Turning around and looking straight West, we saw parts of the Dhaulagiri range, another range that exceeds the 8000 meter threshold and is home to the 7th highest mountain in earth: Dhaulagiri at 8167m.

ThLP-WestwardAnd although these were great moments with phenomenal landscape – man is insatiable, so I had to look up, too, in the hopes of seeing even bigger and better sights.

ThorungLaNow this testament of visual greed ends our third installment of the Annapurna Himalaya trip.

Ashamed, I humbly request for you to stay sharp and exercise humility and restraint when it comes to look at the world’s wonders, don’t be a glutton, enjoy them !-)

Cheers Markus \m/