It’s a nearly two weeks since I landed in a cold, rainy Manchester, after three weeks trekking in Nepal, and it’s taken that time to get some photos and notes of the trip in order. The original intention was to set a limit of one photo per day and one post, but it proved too difficult and too limiting and so I threw that idea under a passing oliphant and instead decided to do the complete opposite and provide a comprehensive photo diary, complete with brief diary and shooting notes at the end. I’m sure there are many, many, EBC trekking posts that are more informative and better written, but hopefully the pictures go someway to redress the balance. More posts to follow over the coming days.
Day 1: Katmandu to Lukla, then onto Monjo (2,850m)
Day 2: Monjo Acclimatisation Day
Day 3: Monjo to Namche Bazaar (3,445m)
Diary Notes – Days 1 to 3
Saturday 5th November: Katmandu to Lukla, then onto Monjo (2,850m)
Day one. The alarm goes off early! There’s no lie in, and after the long flight from Manchester via Abu Dhabi I could really use one. Overdressed and overheated (an attempt to make the luggage weight of 15kg) we’re expertly guided through the chaos of Kathmandu airport check-in by our guide, Dumbar, and now sit in a mini-bus on the tarmac watching, our Twin Otter plane being checked, fuelled and loaded, with bright, red, Mountain Kingdom kit bags. The Twin Otter will take us to Lukla, 2,800m up into the Himalaya, and the start of our trek. The sky is blue, the weather calm, a perfect flying day. If you want a tip sit on the left to see the spectacular white wall of mountain peaks. We fly into Lukla without a hint of danger. And what a flight! What an incredible introduction to Nepal’s high country! The World’s high country. After a relaxing cuppa, a sorting of kit bags and lengthening of walking poles, we plunge into the sights, sounds and smells of the Himalaya. I’m lost in a state of awe.
Sunday 6th November: Monjo – Acclimatisation Day
Day two. Acclimatisation does not mean rest! It means an early start and a slow but strenuous hike straight up, then down, a near vertical Yak trail to gain, then lose, 600m of altitude. After lunch the afternoon is more relaxed as we take in Monjo, get our first view of the sacred, unclimbed, mountain of Khumbila, and, from the National Park checkpoint, the trail ahead. In the late afternoon I take a camera and tripod down to the stream we crossed at the foot of the village and lose myself in the moment. It takes five minutes to walk down the trail to find the stream and twenty minutes to walk back up! Even at 2,800m the effect of the thinner air is very real.
Monday 7th November: Monjo to Namche Bazaar (3,445m)
Day three. More incredible scenery as we first follow the river, then climb up and over suspension bridges, heading toward the market town of Namche Bazaar. On the way we catch our first glimpse of our ultimate destination, Everest. In the afternoon, to gain more metres, we climb to the Sagarmatha National Park Visitor Centre. From there we have distant views of Everest and Lhotse but I find myself more enthralled by the mass of rock close by, Thamserku. In the evening I head out with the tripod to take street shots of Namche at night, and as I wander I stumble on a view of the town dominated by Thamserku behind. At 3,445m I’m starting to feel the altitude. I’ve yet to shake off the nagging headache I’ve had since I arrived in Nepal, and combined with my first bout of the craps I’m not feeling my best.
With a weight limit of 15kg I limited myself to two cameras, the Sony RX1rII and, for those shots that needed some extra reach, the Sigma DP3 Merrill, the latter of which I hope will also provide some unique Foveon images. Incredible really that with the former currently costing ten times more than the latter I’ve absolute faith in the Merrill. The Sony’s 35mm lens means it’s out most of the time, but in the bright conditions the Sigma is in its element. When walking there was no real chance to use the tripod, we didn’t stop in a place long enough, so the majority of shots are handheld unless stated. All Merrill shots are at ISO100.