AFTER KATHMANDU RAKU AND I STARTED OUR TREK TO BASE CAMP. I HAD CHOSEN THIS TREK BECAUSE OF ITS BEAUTY WITH ITS RIVERS, FORESTS AND SNOW COVERED MOUNTAINS WITH VILLAGES ALONG THE WAY. HOWEVER ABOVE 3000 M THERE WERE ONLY TEAHOUSES USUALLY A GROUP OF 3 OR 4. THESE ARE VERY BASIC OFFERING A BED, GOOD FOOD CONSIDERING AND VERY BASIC ABLUTIONS. A BED COSTS AROUND R30 FOR THE NIGHT WITH A GOOD MEAL COSTING AROUND THE SAME-TRADITIONAL NEPALESE FOOD, PIZZA AND PASTAS. ONE BEER COSTS THE SAME BUT NOT RECOMMENDED BECAUSE THEY CAN LEAD TO DEHYDRATION AND INCREASE THE THREAT OF ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS WHICH CAN BE LIFE THREATENING IF REMEDIAL ACTION IS NOT TAKEN. FORTUNATELY I WAS UNAFFECTED BUT SOME OTHER MOSTLY MUCH YOUNGER TREKKERS SUFFERED MILDLY FEELING DIZZY, NAUSEOUS AND DISORIENTATED.

THE TREK WAS TOUGHER THAN EXPECTED EVEN THO I WAS VERY FIT-THIS WAS MY 70TH YEAR. ALL TOLD WE ASCENDED/DESCENDED AROUND 55 000 STEPS. IT TOOK US 13 DAYS TO DO THE ROUND TRIP. WHAT MADE IT SO TOUGH WAS THAT THERE WERE MANY SECTIONS ON THE WAY UP THAT INVOLVED A LOT OF DOWNHILL AS WELL-ON ONE LEG WE DID 600 M UP AND THEN GOT THE NASTY SURPRISE OF THE SAME DOWN AND THEN THE SAME UP AGAIN. IT WAS THE REVERSE ON THE RETURN LEG THE SCENERY DISTRACTED FROM THE PAIN OF THE NEVER ENDING STEPS-WE WALKED AROUND 6-7 HOURS A DAY.

NEAR THE TOP I REMARKED TO RAKU THAT IT WOULD BE EXCITING IF WE SAW SNOW AT BASE CAMP AS ON THE LOWER SLOPES THERE WAS VERY LITTLE. THAT WAS TEMPTING FATE AS WE HAD NEARLY 2 M IN THE 3 DAYS WE WERE AT THE TOP OR NEAR TO IT. THIS MADE CONDITIONS EXTREMELY TOUGH BECAUSE OF THE ICY CONDITIONS ON THE STONE STEPS. AGE LEADS TO POOR AGILITY AND A DODGY SENSE OF BALANCE. I SLIPPED AND FELL A NUMBER OF TIMES BUT NEAR THE TOP THIS WAS NEARLY DISASTROUS AS I SLIPPED AND FELL WITH MY HIPS AND LEGS GOING OVER THE EDGE OF THE VERY NARROW PATH WITH A STEEP FALL INTO A RAVINE. FORTUNATELY AS I WAS GOING SO SLOWLY RAKU WAS RIGHT BEHIND ME AND GRABBED ME PREVENTING A COMPLETE FALL. HE ALSO SLIPPED BUT HUNG ON AND GRADUALLY PULLED ME UP. I WAS QUITE SHAKEN AND HE BRAVELY ASSISTED ME FOR THE NEXT HOUR OR SO UNTIL WE GOT TO BASE CAMP. I DID NOT LOOK FORWARD TO THE RETURN JOURNEY. ANOTHER CONCERN WAS THE THREAT OF AVALANCHES AS WE WITNESSED AND PHOTOGRAPHED A FEW SMALL ONES ALONG THE WAY-THE NIGHT BEFORE OUR RETURN THERE WAS A MASSIVE ONE ONLY A FEW KM BELOW BASE CAMP. 27 TREKKERS WERE WIPED OUT IN 1987 ON THIS ROUTE WITH MORE KILLED IN OTHER ACCIDENTS. I SLIPPED A FEW MORE TIMES BUT WITH NO SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES. THE TRIP DOWN WAS SLOW BECAUSE I WAS EXTRA CAREFUL AND ON THE 3RD LAST DAY I TORE THE CARTILAGE OF MY GOOD KNEE.

THE EXPERIENCE WAS WONDERFUL AND I NOW WONDER HOW I MADE THE TOP-MIND OVER MATTER AND THE BEAUTY AND TRANQUILITY OF THE MOUNTAINS. THE ATTACHED IMAGES WILL GIVE SOME IDEA OF THEIR BEAUTY.

THE PHOTOGRAPHS OF ME WERE TAKEN BY RAKU AND ARE ONLY INCLUDED TO GIVE AND IDEA OF THE  CONDITIONS.

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Thanks Bruna-Not brave really as I did not think it would be so difficult---only became hard when near the top and so turning back. Mike

Amazing picture and showing the beauty of the World we leave on. Really amazing pictures

Thank you Tshepo. It was a very special journey and I felt privileged to be able to enjoy it. mike

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