It All Started With A Helicopter
The spring trekking season kicks off in Nepal with MM Guide Deana Zabaldo and Mountain Madness trekkers: Aquiles A, Michelle C, Eric C, Kristen C, Tammy D, Eric L, Krista M, Mary N, Jaime W, Beatrice W and Brett W.
Trekker Krista Means receives a blessing from a Hindu ascetic while out sightseeing.
Deana Zabaldo photo
“Maybe it was the blessing we received from the Hindu ascetics during our day of sightseeing in Kathmandu, but whatever the reason, luck was with us even when the weather wasn’t. After rising at 4am to catch the first flight to Lukla for our trek to Everest Base Camp, we sat in the airport 7 hours waiting for the clouds in Lukla to clear. By noon, we had decided to go in by helicopter – if we could get them. Medical rescues always take precedence, so we had to wait for a heli to return from an evacuation, but by early afternoon we had two French helicopters (a B2 and B3, I think) ready for takeoff. Helicopters don’t need as much visibility as planes and are safer in the cloudy weather around Lukla. We were lucky to get them and lucky the weather held long enough for us to land and start our trek on time.
Helicopter taking off from Lukla. Deana Zabaldo photo
“Day 2 we crossed the Sir Edmund Hillary suspension bridge (vertiginously high over a gorge) and hiked two hours straight up to Namche Bazaar at 11,300 ft. Day 3 we headed out for an acclimatization hike and our first views of Mount Everest. The weather was a little hazy but we had great views of Everest, Nuptse, and Lhotse. The adventure begins!”
~ MM Guide Deana Zabaldo
Crossing the Hillary suspension bridge on the way to Namche Bazaar. Deana Zabaldo photo
Trekkers spin prayer wheels as they enter Namche Bazaar. Deana Zabaldo photo
Trekker Krista Means shares her experience in Namche with us and her overall impression of the trek so far:
“Woke up day two in Namche. At two points during the trek we will stay for two nights in one village instead of only one to help with the acclimatization process. This however does not mean we have a day off from trekking :)
Hiking in the shadow of Everest. Deana Zabaldo photo
“This morning we got up and had a delicious breakfast of warm muesli, and omelets. The food here is very good! Traveling on this entire trek with us is a staff of 18 ‑comprised of porters/Sherpas and cooks. Not to mention 16 cross-breeds, which is an animal mix of yak and mountain cow. To say that we want for nothing would be an understatement.
The view from our room, morning in Namche. Krista Means photo
“After breakfast we headed out for an acclimatization hike. Today we climbed somewhere between 1500 and 2000 feet in just about 1.6 mile to the Mt. Everest Hotel. As the name would suggest, we got our first peek of Everest although it was just the very top and the rest was obscured by another mountain ridge. However stunning views of Ama Dablam, Lotse, Nuptuse and Taboche were all visible. After a quick cup of tea on the deck we headed back down and were back to our guest house by lunchtime. Another great meal followed by some shopping and some key downtime before dinner.
Shopping in Namche. Krista Means photo
“Despite the altitude, most everyone is doing well. Our guide Deana has been great about encouraging everyone to go at the pace that is comfortable for them. We always have 3 or 4 Sherpas walking with us so no one is walking alone.
“Tomorrow we rise early and depart Namche for Tengboche. It sounds like it will be another 5 – 6 hours of hiking and the weather is supposed to be good.”
~ MM Trekker Krista Means