“We’ll be cruising at 16,000 feet,” said the Air Canada flight attendant as we departed for Nepal and the 12 day trek to Everest Base Camp. “We are going to climb higher than that!” said Kyle, my travel partner, as he turned to me with a big grin.
Flying in an Twin Otter plane high above the Kathmandu Valley, I finally spotted the Himalayan Range as it emerged from the smog and clouds. Like mountains floating on the clouds, the majestic white peaks hugged the horizon as if they were about to break through the Earth’s atmosphere.
Landing at one of the highest and most technical airports, the small plane carrying my team of eight led by Ace the Himalayas sailed into the runway with a quick clunk and screech of the breaks. Finally – and safely – in Lukla our adventure began.
Starting the downward trail along a glacier melt river, we acquainted ourselves. Eight young professionals, gear junkies and outdoor enthusiasts to the max, we quickly bonded over travel tales and hiking achievements. (And that we all purchased the trip via TheClymb.com). Accompanying our team was one guide, one assistant guide and four porters.
After a night’s rest in Phakding, the climbing began; our first test of altitude, stubbornness and pride.
Hiking up over 2000 feet from Phakding to Namche Bazaar, my breathing started to become laborsome. Feeling as if a cord was being tugged around my lungs with each step higher in elevation, I continued slowly.
Crossing a high suspension bridge before the final climb of the day, I started to hyperventilate from the altitude and my fear of bridges. Inching my way across the bridge with prayer flags unraveling behind it, I suddenly froze as a gust of wind caused it to swing. Luckily seeing my apprehension, our guide, Raj, and two fellow hikers helped me to the other side.
The first sign of the bond our group would create as we continued to pass the many obstacles and the challenges that the mountains laid before us.
Night: in Namche at the Yak Hotel.