Himalayas 2 - Salad Brothers 0
Lukla Travel Blog› entry 110 of 115 › view all entries
The tiny Yeti Air plane rushes off the edge of the sheer drop that marks the end of the short, shallow slope of the runway at Lukla. My stomach drops a little but we’re ok. Engines labouring away with a whirring throaty roar, the plane rises gradually into the laser blue sky. Following a frustrating morning of weather delays, I’m finally on my way back to Kathmandu.
From my small window, a portion of the Himalayas is visible. They line the horizon like the jagged teeth of an upturned wood saw. Turbulence catches us, tossing the plane about a little, testing my nerves and my guts. Despite the views, I’ll be glad when the flight is over.
I saw the Nepalese pilot on the tarmac at Lukla. He looked about thirteen years old, striking poses of exaggerated cool in his leather flight jacket and huge shades as he sipped his coffee. In my head I’ve nicknamed him Glamourpuss; just hope his flying is as slick as his hair.
I failed to reach Everest Base Camp. But then, the Himalayas appear to hold a bit of a hex on my family. Two years ago, my older brother Lee had an accident whilst walking in Annapurna Sanctuary in the West of Nepal. He fell on some stone carved steps, landing on his head. You can still see the discolouration of his hair where a broad flap of skin was ripped open on his scalp.
Three porters who were on the trail at the time stopped to help.
Whilst he was still in a daze, a local doctor stitched the flap of skin back up. A helicopter arrived the following morning to fly Lee, and his girlfriend, Anna, back to a clinic in Kathmandu. When he called home to tell my parents what had happened, Lee mentioned that he’d needed a few stitches. Turns out ‘a few’ meant about forty.
So yeah, all things considered and compared to what happened to Lee (who was fine to continue travelling after three weeks of recuperation by the way), my altitude issues pale into insignificance.
As the Yeti Airlines plane touches down in Kathmandu, I feel two things. First comes relief that our boy Glamourpuss has got us back safe. Hot on its heels though is a determination that, one day, better prepared, I will return to Everest. I guess I’m not the first, nor will I be the last to leave the region with that feeling anchored in the stubborn recesses of my mind.