The Yak Attack is coming! The Straight Dope is going to be taken over for a while about an amazing trip I had this winter that I’m finally getting time to post about. It happened in three chapters; beginning with a visit to my brother in Calcutta, India, followed by an off-season trek to Everest, and capped with “the highest bike race in the world,” the Yak Attack, which is an 11-stage adventure mega-adventure also billed as one of the world’s hardest.
Today’s Friday Psyche is a slide show my wife made on our trip, which includes the first two segments. We trekked to Everest in the off-season, so we had what’s generally a ridiculously-crowed area to ourselves, the locals, and a few other adventurous types willing to risk a little winter weather in order see one of our planets most amazing places the way it looked before the Everest circus came to town.
You should go to Everest. You should go to Annapurna. And you should go in the off-season but that’s getting ahead of the story. For now, enjoy today’s slide show (recommend large screen, there are some great shots!) I left it silent, sans captions, so you can add your own music or let images take you where they may. Here’s a brief rundown on what you’re seeing:
Guru’s Dream Gym, Salt Lake, Calcutta, India – training on very old equipment
Calcutta with Brian, Ashna, Mael and Attiya.
Touring a Jain Temple and old Calcutta
The air strip in Lukla, gateway to Everest. One of the most dangerous airports in the world. More on it later.
Trekking towards Everest with our guide, Snow Monkey and porter Dorje. Snow Monkey is integral to the race, so lots about him later.
Namche Bazar (3,300m) covered in snow. We had snow almost daily, but usually in the afternoons post hike. Made for great photos.
Local kids skiing by strapping water pipes to their feet.
The pic of the kid skiing was our first view of Mt Everest, in the background with its snowy halo.
Ama Dablam, the mountain that first inspired me to become a climber.
Snow Monkey took us on a lot of adventures, not always on the beaten track.
Lots of shots of stupas and tea houses. The stupas are Buddhist shrines, usually to bless an area and protect the people. We stayed in tea houses. Usually pretty nice, with great food, but rooms aren’t heated. -10C bags were usually enough.
Thangboche Monastery. A place I’d been reading about all my life that I’m finally seeing. If you ever wanted to be a Buddhist monk, this would be a good place to get stationed.
Yield to yaks. Always. This one’s in Dingboche, 4200m, once only a summer venue for yak traders, it’s now a major stop for Everest climbers and trekkers.
Every peak you see is famous. Not exactly shocking as each one is incredibly alluring.
The final oupost on the trek, Gorak Shep, 5,100m. Reached by a rugged trail through the moraine of the Khumbu glacier. The original Everest base camp, which was moved up valley to the edge of the glacier, under the Khumbu icefall.
Pumo Ri, a beautiful peak above Gorak Shep. We climbed its lower flanks to Kala Patar, the best where Eric Shipton and Ed Hillary spotted the line that would eventually use to reach Everest’s summit for the first time.
Sagarmatha (Mt Everest), at sunrise.
Romney on a narrow snowy ridge at sunrise, over 18,000, in winter. It was a little chilly. Water was frozen. Thankfully Snow Monkey had tea. And rum.
Heading back down the way we came. Snow Monkey was great at finding animals. That’s a Thar (mountain goat).
People at work. There are no roads. Stuff moves the old fashioned way and makes FIT people.
We took a detour to Khumjung. At very nice town where Ed Hillary built a very nice school.
The bazar at a (now snowless) Namche Bazar. Note the local meat shop. No need for refrigeration.
Heading back down to Lukla and our flight back to Kathmandu.
Kathmandu: Monkey Temple, a pre-race group ride, and the ancient capital of Bhaktapur.