Thank You!

A huge thank you to everyone that has sponsored me for the trip to Gokyo, The Cho La Pass and Everest Base Camp.  Your generosity for these two great causes is very much appreciated.

The total sum raised continues to rise with some donations being made off-line.  Apologies to those I have not personally thanked yet and many thanks to all those who have donated anonymously that I cannot thank personally!

Would I do it again?   YES, YES, YES!!!  the only question is when do I start negotiating with the family….

View from base camp

Everest at dawn from top of Kala Pattar

View south from Kala Pattar with the Kumbhu Glacier


Day in Kathmandhu

An amazing breakfast with no calls of “black tea, black tea” or porridge etc which had been replaced with a jaw dropping array of options: cereals; fruit; pastries; yoghurts; curried vegetables; fried eggs, bacon and sausages; teas and juices; pancakes; waffles; bread and toast with options of jams including the non-descript “fruit” jam we had been eating each day on the trip (which we have finally discovered is apple based with some form of indistinguishable red fruit to give it some colour).

We arranged for three taxies to take a group of us the 3km west of the city to “Swayambhunath”, otherwise known as the Monkey Temple.   The journey, whilst short as the crow flies, weaved its way through the bustling streets of Thamel and the dusty suburbs with some challenging sites on route.  One of these was a pregnant cow on the back of a trailer being paraded as she gave birth – not the most relaxing of experiences for her I would have though although she appeared somewhat un-phased!  

A lesson learnt is that you don’t want to be an electrician here as the wiring is a nightmare:

The taxies dropped us off at the bottom of an extremely steep set of steps leading up to the stupa and other religious buildings at the top of the hill.  It’s a Unesco World Heritage site set on a hill with great views back over the city.

The monkeys greeted us as they used the maze of wires that adorn the telegraph poles as an aerial highway screeching at one another as they went – assuming they weren’t being hit by electric shocks…:

The climb up to the Stupa was a long one but gave us the promise of good views back over the city.

The site suffered some damage in the earthquake and as a result parts are being rebuilt with some challenges ahead as to the high quality of the timberwork they are replicating.

The site is somewhat confusing as to whether it is a market or a religious site, with all sorts of stalls selling, art, woodwork, chanting CDs etc whilst worshippers and tourists pass through side by side and the monkeys eye everyone up for titbits.

As we drop back down the rear side of the hill we find “The Italian Job” style parking – not for the faint hearted!

and decide to delay lunch – favouring a pizza over chicken:

We tried to book Rum Doodle which is well known amongst Everest summiters, but appears to have moved and may have gone down hill  as a result as speaking to them on the phone got us nowhere.  Instead the venue  changed to “Fire and Ice” – a pizza restaurant which became very busy, including a rotation of Buddhist monks complete with MacBooks and the requisite i-Phones!

The afternoon brought a slower pace as Phil and I spent it shopping for family in Thamel.  Phil braved a local barbers for a long awaited shave which we followed with a well deserved coffee and apple pie in an English style coffee shop.

Food was clearly the order of the day and we found ourselves back in Thamel for our final evening meal, dodging heavy rain for our return journey in taxies, soporific from more good food and a delicious local gin and tonic.

Day 16 – Lukla to Kathmandhu

Up at 5am and it’s been raining heavily but the skies are clearing so looks good for an early take off!

A thorough search of our bags at the terminal at Lukla “airport” which is a whole 1 minute walk from the front of our hotel. We watch 5 planes taking off or rather start their take off as the runway is so steep that within 50 metres of hitting the throttle they are lost from view.

Our boarding passes say flight 5, but there seems no logic to this number as others with flight 2 are waiting (long after a full flight 2 has gone) as we are told we are next as another tiny plane drops from the sky locating the precariously perched runway!

I managed to get a seat in the front row of the twin otter and better than that a double seat to myself with a view into the cockpit. (Due to weight limits there are a couple more of spare seats!)

Cockpit view of our take-off from Lukla

Posted by Hamish Watson on Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Arrived in Kathmandu at just before 9am, we have the best part of two free days to explore the city, but the priority is a hot shower and a clean set of clothes!

Swayambhunath Stupa:

The Garden of Dreams, a neo classical historical garden near Thamel which was created as a private garden by Field Marshal Kaiser Sumsher Rana in early 1920.   With 6 pavilions based around the 6Nepali seasons it was restored some 10 – 15 years ago.  Whilst the gardens are a welcome break from the hustle and bustle just the other side of the high boundary wall, the house has not been restored

With the cultural bit done, it was time to hit Thamel for some full on bargaining and shopping.  The roads can be a little exciting and you never quite know what you will see … (more on that in the next post though)

Posted by Hamish Watson on Friday, 3 November 2017

An evening meal at K-Too finished the day off in style with a much longed for and delicious steak with blue cheese! It came out on sizzling on a hot stone and washed suitably washed down with a good Aussie red.


Day 15 – Monjo to Lukla

Amazing views from room as we awake for our last day of trekking.

Just because we were at a lower level didn’t mean we didn’t continue to have breathtaking views!

Wood smoke filled the air as we went through the villages.

We passed many children greeting us as they played.

The strength and stamina of the guys carrying goods along the trail was incredible.  Many carried huge bundles of shop goods whilst others were bringing up building goods such as this chap with more ply wood than I could lift let alone carry along the trail.  We saw others carrying huge gas cylinders and one with a large generator strapped to his back!  Thankfully, by comparison our porters had a light load – but still did an amazing job bringing our belongings for us!


We re-crossed several suspension bridges as we look out for orchids – finally see one in full bloom!


Morning tea was back at Phakding – where we spent our first night.  The marigolds were in full bloom all around the terrace as we soaked up the sun.

The group spread out more in the afternoon – taking in final views before climbing back into Lukla, which now felt like a huge market town with its shops and bars all buzzing in the middle of the day rather than the quieter slumbering streets we had passed through early in our first day.  Despite the bustle,  the random dogs still lay sleeping unperturbed in the middle of the street having found sun warmed stone to lie on.

So the walk ended where it had begun in a lodge within 20m of the airport.  Whilst this may sound less than pleasant, the views and ability to watch the planes were great!  The  thrill of seeing the planes start their steep descent of the runway taking up its full length to get them airborne; or, seemingly plucking the runway out of the thin air as they came up the valley, made this a great spot with everyone standing up to watch each time they heard a plane as if seeking reassurance that this was not rightly called one of the most dangerous airports in the world.

We were put in the new block in the lodge which unfortunately had no hot water so our longed for showers would have to wait until the following day – assuming the weather was good enough as both rain and snow had been forecasted for the night!

Day 14 – Thyangboche to Monjo

Following our 6am wake up knock with black tea being brought to the door we had breakfast and were off with the frost still on the ground but clear skies and great views now that the cloud had lifted!

After heavy cloud the previous afternoon this morning brought clear bright skies and we were treated to marvellous views of Ama Dablam to the northeast. We could also now see the valley to the south west and, with it, our path down to Kungjum for our mid morning break.

A good chunk of the day was spent retracing our footsteps with lunch at Namche Bazaar where we met up with Konchoc Doma Sherpa’s daughter on her stall and bought a necklace for Gina.

A long but thoroughly enjoyable walk down the valley – descending a total of 1400 metres and ascending about 400 metres.

A long day and we arrive much later than planned at Monjo but Tensi manages to get us into the main dining area.

The Photos below give a flavour of the day:

Day 13 – Pheriche to Thyangboche

A little bit of a lie in this morning – well at least until 6.30am!

Surprisingly, there are 4 Geocachers on the trip and a cache to be found to the east of us up a steep ridge and only about 900 metres (horizontally) away!  Chandra, one of our Sherpa leaders had (been) volunteered to take us over to it. He set a blistering pace uphill and didn’t stop there! Whether this was because he knew we were up to it or he was eager not to miss morning tea – I have no idea!  Whichever reason he didn’t let up at the top as we headed in the opposite direction to the rest of the group! What we thought was the top turned out to be wrong and there was another section to head up as we reached a track that is the “fast” way to base camp and is used as the route by many other walkers – with the new mover we saw in a short space of time I am glad we were on the less heavily travelled side route in the adjacent valley at this point! Reaching GZ for the cache we spent a good while looking for the cache and finally found it hidden safely!

Our route to join the others took us down a delightful valley where we were virtually on our own with great views down to the stream below before crossing a stream that joined from the side and meeting with the route we would have been on but for our detour!

View down over Pheriche.

Ama Dablam – 6812                                            First climbed 1961

Continuing down the main valley we reached a small village where we met up with the others at a tea house with a “Mountaineering Equipment Museum”- or at least a small cabinet with a few items! That said, the highlight was a 1953 British Expedition box that we could touch!

Along the route we crossed the river using a new bridge with the relics of the old one reassuringly still next to it:

The days walk ended with a long climb into Thyangboche at 3867m (12,70ft).  As with so many places here, the spelling and name varies according to the map you are looking at.   Thyangboche is also known as Tengboche and Dowa Choling Gompa.  It is a small village with a monastery at its heart.  It is set on a ridge with the usual prayer flags set high above it (flags are flown in 5 colours denoting the five Buddhist elements of earth, wind, fire, water and consciousness.)

The monastery is one of the largest in Nepal and is a centre for many Tibetan monks who have moved to Nepal.

Below the village is a nunnery and as we walked up we saw three nuns dressed simply in red.  One of them was walking along, holding her hands behind her back clasping an i-phone 7 which looked somewhat out of place against her simple attire.  Up at the monastery the monks were dressed in red with one standing out with a matching pair of high end Nike trainers and I am convinced he had cut his robes short to show them off better!

After a much needed late lunch we headed off to the monastery to the puja to watch and listen to them chant.

I was welcomed on the steps to the monastery by a short monk who reached his hand up close to my shoulders and asked how tall I was – perhaps checking if I exceeded the maximum height allowed!?

We sat, or at least I tried to, sit cross legged on the floor in an amazing building in front of a pair of 12 foot dungchen (copper horn pipes) which reverberated about as harmoniously as the chanting they accompanied.

The monks gathered wearing red robes called (kashaya) and sat (cross legged) on raised platforms adding two heavy layers of robes to their usual attire.  The out one looking like heavy velvet.  In these they were far better insulated against the chill in the air.

After watching for about half an hour Andy and I went looking for the geocache set high above the village – rather than managing the direct route we ended up walking (or rather scrambling) about 900m instead of 200 metres as we took a far more convoluted route than was necessary!  A quick find of the cache and with it the route we should have taken from the village!  Unfortunately no views were to be had from the ridge this evening as the whole are was veiled in cloud.

We had been told by Elka and Jed, who had stayed at the lodge two nights before, that it hosted rats as well as trekkers (they had rejoined us at the morning tea break having missed the Cho La Pass and EBC). The rat they had encountered in their bedroom had a penchant for sun glasses and having left a deposit on Jed’s pillow earlier in the evening decided his diet needed balancing and ate part of the rubber off the arm of his Oakley Sunglasses which were stored only a matter of inches from his head.  I woke up half way through the night convinced I had heard gnawing – but thankfully I could see neither a rat nor a hamster!

Day 12 – Gorek Shep to Pheriche via Kala Pattar

We were woken at the crack of sparrows for our trek up Kala Pattar, from which we are promised the best views of Everest we will have!

A beautiful starlit night greets us as we step outside to awaited a delayed breakfast as the cooks overslept – I don’t blame them at this time of day! We are to have half our breakfast before we go and return for breakfast he other half to sustain us for the remainder of the day’s hike!

The porridge, once cooked, was hastily eaten and we were off on a very chilly morning, it’s now light enough to see without a headtorch as we cross a dried up lake bed before hitting the slope.

A long hard slog up the hill in the cold which numbed any exposed flesh along with the toes. Even when we stopped for breath we had to keep walking on the spot to try to keep our feet warm.

Eventually we could see the prayer flags and knew the top was in sight along with the best views we were to have of Everest. We summited (albeit a low one among the 8000ers around us) moments before the sun came over the horizon.

There is a small free climb to reach the very top of Kala Pattar, which was a little exposed – particularly given the winds we had.   It would have been a shame to miss out on this, so up I went to the concern of our guide!

From the top it was a welcome relief from the wind to drop down a little and find some shelter from the wind whilst allowing the sun to warm us up whilst soaking in the view.

With a long hike ahead of us we couldn’t stay too long, so the much resented downhill began.  Not only resented because you have put in so much work to gain the height, but also because for me I have little issue with the uphill but my knees were starting to hurt from the downhill pounding.

Our journey today was taking us on to Pheriche through a recent landslide with a temporary bridge over the Tsola River and then on past a series of monuments to Sherpas and climbers who have died on Everest – a poignant reminder of some of those incredible people that have taken on the elements to climb much higher than we have walked.

Day 11 – Lobuche to Gorek Shep (and EBC)

4.30 wake up call –  it’s my wedding anniversary – so very odd not to be at home!  Am pleased that say that I had remembered it and that a message and flowers had already been sorted!

Not as cold in the dining area this morning as they have actually put the stove on – but no sign of heat coming from it!  It’s cold enough to mean a woolly hat and down jacket essential attire.

The temperatures here fluctuate significantly both inside and out, at times outside a pair of shorts and a tea shirt would suffice but when the sun goes in and the wind picks up I have been wearing an outer shell, down jacket (heavy weight) and two morino wool base layers along with ski gloves, buff and double thickness trousers.

At night the warmth / heat in the lodges vary significantly, they all have stoves which are fuelled by dried yak dung which we see being air dried – stuck to walls and then stored in huge piles; in places they almost resemble dry stone walls. Most evenings, the stoves are fully charged and emit enormous heat which is almost oppressive, but as we have got higher the lodge owners have become more frugal to the point that in Luboche partly due to the number of outer doors and partly due to the lack of fuel being used we were cold to say the leas

The dining areas have a congenial and excited buzz about them,  they are a place to keep warm as the bedrooms are unheated and are the place that most people spend their time chatting after the walk and before heading off to bed.  It gets dark around 6pm and light at about 6am. We are normally off to bed by 9pm.

But back to the daily report … :

Yesterday’s short walk seems like it did not happen – the previous day’s challenge of the Cho La Pass is still the dominant memory in body and mind.  Today we have a long walk but little knowledge of how challenging it might be other than that we have the excitement of reaching EBC.

A quick breakfast porridge with honey and an omelette with the usual chant of “black tea, black tea” before setting off for a three hours walk to Gorek Shep. This was stage one of the day with our second meal – lunch at 9am in Gorak Shep, which seemed a little odd, but not much about this trip is normal – whatever normal is! I also ordered a cheese toastie for our walk to Base Camp – later to play hunt the cheese!


Heading off from Gorak Shep after a leisurely lunch we kept away from the ridge that runs alongside the Khumbu Glacier and thus out of the worst of the wind.  A glorious day although clouds were gathering up n the valley!

Closer to base camp we moved on to the glacier and weaved our way round it’s scree covered surface and across some of the small areas of exposed ice.

Walking past Nuptse, a huge and imposing mountain that rises to 7879 metres, you can’t help but think of the 1953 expedition and the other earlier summit attempts and how much harder it must have been for them. Hillary would not have had the clearly defined path to follow, the teahouses to provide warmth and sustenance nor did he have the modern equipment or the diamox to assist combat AMS – and I am only going to base camp!

The profile of Nuptse has changed as we have walked toward it from a triple peaked ridge to a single huge snow covered triangular peak. The snow hangs in places waiting for the sun to warm it and for gravity to take effect. We hear the cracks as large chunks break off and see the danger and beauty of avalanches from a safe distance!

Looking across from base camp we could make out the Kumbhu ice fall and draw on the history of this place.


Climbing back up from base camp I call Gina to wish her a happy wedding anniversary – another luxury that Hillary would not have had – 3G at base camp using a local SIM card!

Back at Gorek Shep and we find our room which is bijoux but comfortable and then discover the toilets which can only be d scribed as horrendous – I have never smelt anything quite like them and hope I never do again!

Surprised that there were much fewer people on the route today than I had expected, also surprised that base camp appeared clear and clean but it is now apparently much more spread out since the avalanche a few years ago.  Looking up across the glacier there is still much in the way of hanging snow and we saw 3 or 4 avalanches on Nuptse the largest of which sent clouds of powder billowing out over the glacier!

Having Co me back with good intentions of watching the sun set I fell asleep and only just woke up in time for the evening meal at 6.30, where we meet a team of Aussies have been doing a sponsored walk to base camp, but in a different style to ours – they are being flown back rather than walking back which seems like only half the challenge! One of their team has suffered AMS and was somewhat ill in the dining area as well as being on top oxygen – he, understandably is being flown off tomorrow and is spending the night on oxygen. Two of the others are also apparently suffering the ill effects of altitude – the whole team are being helicoptered down at huge expense. One wonders whether they came up too fast.

Evening meal chips with cheese – delicious, with loads of cheese making up for the lack in the toastie at lunchtime!

An amazing day’s walking with great views!

Day 10 – to Lobuche


Despite the opportunity of a (little) lie in we woke at about 5am. Very chilly, so glad of the sleeping bag liner and a blanket!

Caught some photos of the sun coming up:

On our way we came across a few snow cocks and some great views! 

 Along with a few yaks! 

Today’s walk is a short one of 3.5 – 4 hours without the height gains of the last couple of days, so hopefully an opportunity to recharge the batteries (both personal and using the solar panel which has proved very useful and has saved a heap of money!)and have some time out in Lobuche.

Lobuche sits adjacent to the Khumbu Glacier with a high moraine separating them.

After the level of exercise over the last couple of days we are advised to relax – not that I was thinking of a run, but a short walk up to the top of the moraine to take a glimpse of the Khumbu Glacier was essential!

The glacier whilst in retreat appears much more glacial than the one we crossed from Gokyo to Dragnag. The moraines to the sides are steep where part of the moraine has collapsed and there is more ice to be seen along with more pools of water. In the distance I could see much cleaner ice towards Nuptse which looms large.

On returning to the lodge, I sought reinforcements to prepare an anniversary greeting for Gina – many thanks to Phil, Pinny, Tensi and Shandra, great teamwork!

Too high for a beer (Everest or Sherpa being the local ones) well may be just the one…

Hot shower and bed!

Day 9 – Cho La Pass to Dzongla

An early start with a 4.30 wake up call in advance of a circa 9 hours walk taking us from Dragnag (4700) over the Cho La Pass (5420) and down to Dzongla (4830).

I think the porridge this morning was sweet corn based – it certainly tasted so (and a little odd at that) but filled the gap in my stomach and built us up for the days trekking!

About a third of our luggage was headed with us and the remainder was taking a longer route by yak avoiding the pass – it would therefore catch us up in a couple of days! A careful check that the right bag was going the right way and even then I am not sure that we had made the best decisions as to what or how much to take with us. The basics were however with us – down jacket sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and various snacks along with the much needed water purification devices and suncream.

Standing outside readying for the off it was still dark but by the time we left there was enough light to see by showing us impressive views of the valley and surrounding mountains that had been shrouded in cloud on our arrival the previous night.

A long climb in the semi-light watching the shadows shorten and waiting for the sun to hit us and bring the temperature up so we could remove the down jackets. When eventually we were out of the shadows it was time for a break and a snack before continuing the uphill slog.

Arriving at a ridge we had views of a glacier to the left and the pass the more closely resembled a wall ahead. Between us and it was a decent and a higher climb!

Much of the climb to the pass was through a boulder field requiring long steps or jumps in places. Under normal circumstances this would have been straight forward but at this altitude, carrying a pack and after a long walk and yesterday’s exercise it was challenging to say the least!

The pass was eventually reached and we were treated to great views of the snow field above and the glacier in front! A good place to stop for lunch!

The path took us across the glacier – a much more classic experience than that of the previous day, requiring mini-crampons. As we descended from the pass and onto the glacier we could see the clear ice formed under pressure from previous snow falls. The snow on top was melting fast and forming little brooks for us to cross!

After half an hour of walk on the glacier itself we took to the valley side and walked on moraine – seeing the end of another retreating glacier.

A long walk down to our hostel walking beside a babbling brook with occasional views of Ama Dablam ahead of us before the clouds once again deprived us of the amazing views!


Up 834 metres and down 682 metres.

Highest position by gained: 5420.

Condition – exhausted!