Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Khumjung: First Look at the Top of the World

I realized that I posted the whole lead up to Everest and then never posted it! Whoops!

Well here it is.

I started the day early on a loop hike to Khumjung. The first part of the climb was straight up the mt. from Namche.

Here is a nice view of the village on a clear morning.
Namche from up high

Early in the day I met a nice Italian women (who I though was just a little older then me and ended up being about 40...) and we did most of the hike together. Turns out she has lived in China for 11 years and wants the next place she lives to be Afghanistan. She says China has lost its thrill and she needs something new.

Surprisingly after year, I am starting to understand.

We chatted until the guide told us that we had arrived at the first viewing place of Everest, and sure enough, there it was! Looming up another 17,000 feet after I had already gone up 12,000 in 4 days!

First view of Everest!

Everest is actually the one directly over my head, even though it doesn't look like the tallest of the 4 from this angle.

We hiked on until a Ukrainian guy stopped us and clued us in on a really good viewing spot right off the path. And what a view it was! No one else was there and nothing was in the way! Thank random Ukrainian guy!

Everest! 3rd Major peak to the left.

After a few 100 photos and a good half an hour of just sitting there in bewilderment of how fantastic it really looks and babbling about how lucky we were to have such good weather and all kinds of other nonsense, we moved on to the famous "Everest View Hotel"

The Everest View Hotel holds the world record for being the highest operational hotel in the world at 13,500 ft above sea level. It was built by the Japanese with a heli-pad right out side to bring tourist directly up from Kathmandu. Of course almost no one can acclimatize to 5000 ft of elevation gain in one day, so it almost never gets used!

The view however is great! We did find out AFTER being lead in, that you were expected to order something from the menu if you wanted to check out the view (which was annoying since the view was hardly better than the last place we had just sat and enjoyed for free and with out others chatting all around us...). So we got a pot of tea (the only thing that didn't cost mortgaging your first born child) and relaxed for a bit.

This picture is of the reflection of the Mts. off the big mirrored windows that allow guests to see Everest from their rooms (but don't allow guests to see into the rooms).

Reflection in the Hotel Window.

After an hour or so we moved on to Khumjung, a valley village craddled between some "Smaller" peaks. We ate lunch here and went to see the Sir. Edmund Hillary School and Hospital which have transformed the once desperately poor village into an oasis for the Sherpa people.

This is a monument to him.
Sir Edmund Hillary School

This lovely guy watched over us while we ate lunch.
Yak skull with... Light bulbs?

The lunch placealso had nice flowers in the garden.
Nepal is Beautiful.

And they fueled the fire that cooked our lunch with this...
Yak Patties!

Which are of course made by these guys...

After lunch we also check out the "Yeti Skull" at the local monastery. Legend of the locals is that it used to run around eating Yaks and small children until it was killed and given to the people of the village as a gift from another village. The village took it as an insult and kicked it all the way home. It didn't have any real significance until tourist started showing up and wanted to check it out.

A small donation was enough for them to open the box so that we could see it, but no picture were allowed of the skull it self. The inside of the monastery was quite colorfully decorated though. Here is a shot of all the different prayer books.

Prayer Books

On our way back to Namche the fog started to roll in. I was REALLY glad that my guide recommended we do the hike backwards from the way most people normally do it! We would have been arriving at Everest just as the clouds were covering it up!

We spent the rest of the day at the local market who's merchants roll in from miles around every Friday night and Saturday. Our guide said some people hike in as much as 9 days from Tibet just to trade here.

We did also go straight to the bakery in Namche for apple pie since French guy along the trail told us he had had the best pie of his life in Khumjung, but failed to tell us where! But the craving stuck and so we satisfied it with some pretty delicious apple turnovers when we got back!

The next day was just a hike down in a foggy day so I didn't take many pictures. Then of course there was the 3 1/2 days stuck in Lukla. But thats a post for another day.

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