|A long long walk for the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability|
by local business man Steve Thompson ...
Last year I walked the Inca Trail in aid of the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability on West Hill. This trip was to generate two results: one was to raise a decent chunk of change for the hospital, the other was to generate in me a deep love of mountains…and the bigger the better!
This year I decided that I might as well go for the biggest of them all…though I balked at the 3 months and many thousands of pounds that a summit attempt on pretty much any Himalayan peak would demand, I nonetheless headed for Nepal to join a small group trekking to Everest base camp and Kala Pattar (from which the best views of Everest are possible)
Flying into Lukla from Kathmandu is an experience in itself, with a runway clinging to the side of a mountain and looking more like a cricket pitch than a runway…if they ever played cricket on a slope steeper than Putney Hill!
After Lukla, we were on foot for some 14 days, through some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in the world.
Our first day took us gently downhill to Phakding; an easy start, followed by a slightly tougher day to take us to Namche Bazaar, where we spent a little time acclimatising to the altitude and earmarking some of the souvenirs we would be buying when we passed through the town again in a couple of weeks’ time.
From Namche, it was on to Thyangboche, which houses a spectacular monastery, (though for me the monastery was a lot less spectacular than the scenery through which we walked) then onto Dingboche for a couple of days of rest and acclimatisation; by this time we were some 4,300 metres above sea-level, and therefore higher than I had achieved in Peru by more than 100 metres.
Throughout this part of the trek; indeed throughout the entire trip, we were surrounded by mountain landscapes that defy description, which made me grateful to have my trusty Nikon and plenty of memory cards to capture some of the grandeur, though pictures scarcely do it justice.
From Dingboche to Lobuche and then on to Gorak Shep and Everest Base Camp, and a climb up Kala Pattar, which took us to about 5,600 metres. (To put this into perspective, the summit of Mont Blanc – Europe’s highest mountain - is at 4,810 metres, and the summit of Everest, which dominated the skyline, is at 8,850 metres-over 3 km higher than the highest point of our trek)
We then took just 4 days to get back to Lukla
It doesn’t sound too tough when you say it quickly, but believe me, we all had some rocky moments during the trip, and many of the groups we met had lost members either to altitude sickness or to the sheer difficulty of the walking. Happily, all 8 of our little team managed to complete the trek, and two folk stayed on to do part of it all over again!
I didn’t set out to rise funds with this trek, but would be delighted if anyone is inspired to buy a photograph or two in aid of the Royal Hospital…or just send a donation…mention my name won’t you.
November 29, 2006