Another day in paradise


There was a nip in the air. The lodges of Namche was getting the first warm rays of the morning sun. The summit of Kwangde was just turning golden.

Kwangde (6,187 m) along with Thamserku dominate the skyline of Khumbu.

And this fine morning some of the members of our trekking group decided to go down to the German bakery for breakfast. Our German student Suzy’s delight knew no bounds. And it is always a pleasure to find one’s ‘home’ food in foreign lands.

The trail to Syangboche started right from the gate of the Ama Dablam lodge where we were putting up. The climb was steep but the day was delightful and the view spectacular to say the least.

The trail was dusty with yak caravans moving along the trails leaving dust devils in their wake, while we could see the swirling pattern of lodges, shops and houses of Namche below. The Namche monastery could be seen at the upper end of the village.

Our group comprised nine members and we were on an acclimatisation trek doing the Khumjung Khunde circuit. Our climb was slow with plenty of rests and stops in between.

From the ridge of Syangboche, the STOL airstrip was visible. The airstrip was originally constructed to serve the patrons of Hotel Everest View. The patrons were flown into Syangboche, who descended to Namche where they spent the day and climbed up to spend the night at the hotel.

The view was truly out of this world. No wonder the patrons paid to see it! And ample reward for the steep climb — Kantega, Lhotse, Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse Shar, Thamserku, Kwangde and the prima donna of the mountains, Ama Dablam.

Ama Dablam and Macchapucchare, both below 7,000 metres, must rank as two of the most spectacular mountains in Nepal.

One of the group Vikram (Vicky) was proving to be a good trekker and was leading the pack. Ankush was a fast trekker when he was actually trekking but he spent only 30 per cent of his time (on an average) trekking. Otherwise he was found firmly glued to rocks and perhaps contemplating the folly of the whole enterprise! Suzy often joked that Ankush would be a fast trekker if only we removed all the stones and rocks on the trail.

It was a short hop to the Everest View hotel, which advertises itself as the highest star hotel in the world. It was closed for many years but was refurbished in 1990. Rooms cost around $135 per person per night. Food here was far beyond our means. So we ordered pots of tea and hot lemon and sat in the delightful sunshine soaking in the wonderful mountain scenery.

The reflection of the Himals in the plate glass windows was breathtaking. The three dimensional model of the Khumbu region in the hotel lobby was interesting.

The descent down to Khumjung village (3,790 metres) was easy and we came across the rock where we had done some singing and dancing on a trek a year earlier. Then we clowned for the camera dancing to hit Bollywood and Kollywood numbers.

Khumjung is a green roofed village located at the foot of Khumbila, the sacred mountain. This is the place Sir Edmund Hillary established a school in order to provide education to Sherpa children. We met a group of volunteers from England who were painting the roof of the school.

Khumjung has many lodges but is less commercial than Namche. Ama Dablam is spectacular from here and we were in a jolly mood as we walked singing songs through the streets of the village.

Kunde (or Khunde), the site of the hospital built by Hillary’s Himalayan trust, is slightly uphill from Khumjung at around 3,841 metres. The gompa is situated at the top of the village but we were famished and decided against climbing. Lunch was some instant noodles. Khunde is not a place that expects trekkers and has very few lodges. During our hunt for food, we rang the bell of a huge house which we thought might be a lodge but it turned out to be a private home.

After lunch it was a short ascent to a ridge and a steep descent to Namche. The Namche monastery is small but well maintained.

And as I spent a few minutes in prayer here (which I always do here), I felt it was truly a beautiful day out among some of the most beautiful mountains on Earth.

Yes, for me it was another day in paradise.