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Mountain Madness Climber

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