Everest Base or the Allure of Waterfalls and Junipers.
These are the Himalayas in April: For two days you walk through gorgeous forests of rhododendron trees and junipers and cross bridges over whitewater streams that pour out of mountain glaciers four miles in the sky. The views suddenly open and you will come to villages like the one called Phortse. There the tree line recedes and, seemingly in defiance of all known natural law, the sky erupts with stunning snow summits materializing out of the clouds thousands of feet above you.
In this little settlement of Phortse you will find a small K-through 8 school, potato patches tilled by the villagers and a snug travelers lodge built by a Sherpa trekking guide named Lhakpa. He will greet you warmly and modestly, apologizing for his limited English. Lhakpa’s face summarizes the faces of humanity, bronzed and seamed by the Himalayan winds and sun in more than 25 years of carrying loads beyond 27,000 feet on the great ridges of Everest. One of his sons, Dhorje, has stood on Everest’s summit at least thirteen times and it may we more by now because we haven’t seen him for more than a year.
These are the kind of Himalayan guides and companions with whom we will travel when we go to Nepal and the Himalayas April 15 through May 5 in 2011. Dorje may be off on another Everest climb. But Lhakpa, his longtime partner Gyaltsen and their friends will trek with us. It’s important to understand that Himalayan trekking is simply a form of hiking. It is not mountain climbing in the technical sense. Here we travel basically on broad trails, carrying light packs, led by our Sherpa friends and companions. The heavier loads have gone ahead. What sets this tour apart from our earlier travels in the Nepalese Himalayas? This time you’ll have choices that reflect your preference of the ideal approach to the Himalayan experience, one well within both your aspirations and capabilities.
The historic base camp of Mt.Everest, from which Ed Hillary and Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit, is available to you on this trek. From the 17,600-foot base camp you can look up at the world’s most famous climbing route, from the eerie Khumbu Icefall and beyond to the Western Cwm, the Lhotse Face, the South Col and then the summit ridge. Or if not base camp, from the high village of Gorek Shep you can move up to the promontory of Kalapatar at 18,000 feet, from where you have a sensational head-on view of Everest soaring to more than 29,000 feet, the highest mountain on earth.
Options That Make Sense
But this trip, the 18th in the Himalayas organized by Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, is not confined to those who want to travel to base camp or an overlook close to it. For those who prize the Himalayan experience for what it is– an odyssey into another world and time, a pilgrimage as much a journey—you can choose destinations well short of the somewhat more taxing base camp. If you do so, you can still travel deep into the Himalayas with day hikes to and from Namche Bazaar, Kunde, Tengboche and Phortse, locales filled with the lore of the Himalayas but where you can spend enough time to absorb the culture and some of the personalities you are bound to encounter, apart from the scenery. All of this is available equally to those who have traveled the Himalayas before and to those who until now have nourished the hope and opportunity of doing so.
Travelers to the Himalayas often will ask: “What’s it like?” Encountering the Himalayas for the first time—or the second or third, for that matter–produces a sensation unlike any you will experience. From the predictable patterns of your daily lives you are lifted into an exotic land of prayer flags flapping in the wind, the droning voices of monks in their monasteries reciting their mantras, churning streams, caravans of yaks on the trail, women with tump lines on their foreheads, carrying bamboo baskets of produce down the trail. You exchange greetings, “Namaste.” In its most lyrical translation, you are bidding each other, “I praise the God who lives within you.” Miles above you the sun’s rays create a dazzling light show on the icefields of Ama Dablam and Themserku. You sometimes want to gather yourself for a few minutes and ask: “Was I really expecting all of this?”
If you weren’t, the reality is something to carry away for the rest of your life. Much of the time our two groups will be able to travel together. All of our overnights will be in simple but clean rooms in lodges where we will also take our meals. Whichever choice of route you make after conferring with Lhakpa and MountainLegend, our provider, the total ground cost of the trip, based on double occupancy, will be the same. Those costs, $2,985, will cover 14 days in the mountains with overnight lodges en route, all meals on the trek and four nights (pre and post trek) at the Shangri La Hotel in Kathmandu. This will include the dramatic roundtrip flights from Kathmandu to the Himalayan village of Lukla at 9,000 feet. For those traveling without a partner, we can usually arrange to pair singles where that can be done sensibly.
The Airfare: The price under the package plan of a round trip Delta air fare from Minneapolis to Tokyo to Bangkok, plus Thai Airlines’ Bangkok to Kathmandu and return , will be $2,431. You are free to make your own arrangements with bonus miles. Kari Jerstad Olson in Oregon, our longtime booking agent for the Himalayan treks, will assist you whether you prefer to travel using frequent flyer miles or will be flying under the group plan. She will provide you with all the information you need in preparation for the trek—tips on clothing, trail aids, packing, entry forms plus passport and visa information. She can be reached at 503-632-6869 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kari is the daughter of Lute Jerstad, one of the first Americans to reach the summit of Everest. She is the person to consult on all logistics matters, including advice on frequent flyer plans that will reduce the cost of the trip substantially, basically to the land cost. Kari will be sending information packets as soon as you enroll with the $500 deposit that will assure your registration.
At Whatever Altitude, Something Glorious
In the 26 years that Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures has been escorting the venturesome into the Himalayas, the realities of Himalayan travel can pretty well be condensed with this observation:
You don’t have to be a super creature to enjoy two weeks in the Himalayas, and a few days added when you include four nights in exotic Kathmandu. You don’t have to be a climber. You don’t have to be a world-class hiker. You do need curiosity and reasonable physical condition and energy, which are more or less the admission cards for anybody with an urge to discover the faraway places . And nothing in our catalogue of travel comes closer to fulfilling the ultimate expectation of the traveler than the Himalayas or the sight of what the earliest dwellers on the Tibetan slopes of Everest called “Chomolungma,” their Goddess Mother of the Earth.
Our friend Lhakpa will be there to lead the Base Campers. His partner Gyaltsen will lead those trekking at a moderate altitude but to equally spectacular overlooks. On some days the two groups will merge and the opportunities will be ripe to exchange war stories about the Yeti somebody almost saw.
Lhakpa and Gyaltsen have been our friends and trailmates for more than 15 years, reliable and quick to assist. They will be again in April of 2011 when you’re invited to join us on a journey that has become the ultimate experience in wild nature for those who have walked in this marvelous high country and joined their lives, if only for a few weeks, with the wonder and gifts of these mountains.
The $500 deposit due by Sept. 30, 2010-, is refundable by Nov. 30, 2010. Make checks payable to Lute Jerstad Adventures, PO Box 612, Beaver Creek OR 97004 or forward to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, PO Box 47063, Plymouth MN. 55447. Payment for airfare may be made by credit card. Payments for the land portion are by check only. The total land cost less the $500 deposit is due on March 16, 30 days before departure.
Please add my (our) name(s) to the To The Land of Everest trek with Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures. Enclosed is a $500 deposit for each. In submitting this application I (we) agree that Lute Jerstad Adventures and Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures act only as booking agents for the company or companies performing service and can assume no liability for acts of omission or negligence of such companies.
The itinerary for the combined trekking groups
(the air schedules apply to those flying under the trip’s package plan.).
April 15 Depart Minneapolis-St. Paul on Delta flight to Tokyo and transfer in Tokyo for Bangkok.
April 16 Arrive in Bangkok.
April 17 Depart Bangkok at 10:35 a.m., arrive in Kathmandu at 12:45 p.m. and overnight at Shangri La Hotel.
April 18 Full day in Kathmandu, city tour, shopping and afternoon briefing by MountainLegend. Overnight Shangri La.
April 19 Fly from Kathmandu to Lukla at 9,000 feet; meet the Sherpas, snack and begin the trek from Lukla to Phakding, primarily downhill to the banks of the Dudh Khosi River to overnight at Phakding.
April 20 Trek to Monjo at 8,700 feet. Crossing bridges, walking through groves of Himalayan fir and receiving your first views of the immensity of the Himalayan landscape.
April 21 Namche Bazaar, 11,300 feet. This is a full and spectacular day, when you receive your first view of Everest and thread your way through a vast forestland of Himalayan fir. After gaining more than 2,000 feet, enter the celebrated Himalayan market center of Namche Bazaar.
April 22 Namche Bazaar. This is an acclimatization day for both groups. You can spend time in the fascinating shops and outdoor markets, or take a guided hike on one of the numerous trails criss-crossing Namche.
April 23 Here the groups split for a few days. The Hillary group bound for the high country heads for an overnight in Tengboche, the historic monastery village at 12,600 feet from where views of the massif of Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse spread before you. The Tenzing group hikes over a pass to a broad amphitheater of pastureland encircled by Himalayan ridges and summits. Temples and prayer flags introduce the villages of Khumjung with its school and Kunde with its clinic, both institutions built by Ed Hillary. Overnight in Kunde.
April 24 The Hillary group treks to its first of two overnights at Dingboche, 14,250 feet, beyond the monastery village of Pangboche. The Tenzings explore Kunde, and then take the trail to visit the school and enjoy the ambience of Khumjung.
April 25 This is a day of acclimatization in and around Dingboche for the Hillarys while the Tenzings move up to the famed monastery of Tengboche at 12,600 feet and a panorama of the highest of the Himalayas, making Tengboche both a hallowed ground for Buddhists and a paradise for photographers.
April 26 The Hillary group treks from Dingboche past the crossroads village of Pheriche and on to Lobuche at 16,200 on the trail to Everest. The Tenzing group gets a bonus day in Tengboche.
April 27 The Hillary group hikes a moonscape route above the glaciers to Gorak Shep, then descends in the afternoon for the climactic trek on the glacier to Everest base camp at 17,600 or to the top of Kala Patar at 18,000 feet and then heads back to Lobuche. The Tenzing group hikes to Phortse at 13,005 feet along a high and airy trail, one of the most spectacular in the Himalayas.
April 28 While the Tenzings explore Phortse and its environs, the Hillarys descend through Pheriche and Pangboche to Phortse for the reunion of the groups.
April 29 Both groups descend to Namche Bazaar.
April 30 Both groups descend to Monjo.
May 1 Both groups descend to Lukla.
May 2 Fly to Kathmandu.
May 3 Kathmandu, last night in Nepal.
May 4 Fly to Bangkok.
May 5 Fly from Bangkok, 5:55 a.m., arrive at 1 p.m. same day at Minneapolis-St. Paul via Tokyo.