AsiaNepalLukla

Himalayas 2 - Salad Brothers 0

Lukla Travel Blog

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A plane taking off from the airstrip at Lukla. This is taken from the end of the runway so this photo shows pretty much the whole length of the strip.

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.

The Yeti Air plane I flew in.


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.

Me, outside my hotel room 101. Absolutely knackered after completing the final long day of walking from Namche to Lukla but smiling again thankfully.
They cut the back from one of the large woven wicker baskets used to carry supplies in Nepal. They sat my brother in the adapted basket, so his back would be against theirs. Then, taking turns to bear the weight of the basket on a strap around their forehead, they carried Lee down to the nearest village.


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.

I think the sign on the left says it all. The Nepalese may not get the spelling or syntax quite right but they are wonderfully warm and big-hearted people.
I leave defeated, but not without lessons learned or experiencing something that relatively few people on this planet have ever seen, or ever will get to see. The Himalayas are magnificent, their massive scale impossible to relate through photos or words. To stand at their feet and gaze up in wonder at the ice locked reaches of the highest summits in the world is a rare privilege.


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.

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A plane taking off from the airstr…
A plane taking off from the airst…
The Yeti Air plane I flew in.
The Yeti Air plane I flew in.
Me, outside my hotel room 101. Abs…
Me, outside my hotel room 101. Ab…
I think the sign on the left says …
I think the sign on the left says…
You can kind of see the mountains …
You can kind of see the mountains…
Coming down to land in Kathmandu -…
Coming down to land in Kathmandu …
Lukla
photo by: halilee