Day 4: Phakding to Namche Bazaar – 11,280 ft

Steeling ourselves for 2,580 of vertical climb this day, we forced ourselves to stay up to 9:30pm last night in hopes of kicking the last vestiges of jet lag and get a good night’s sleep. Room was chilly ( no heat as you will recall) but comparatively balmy to what we know is ahead. Had a great toasty warm sleep in my sub zero bag. Up at 5:30am for eggs, hash browns, toast, and coffee for breakfast. On trail by 8am. Notably steeper this section but fantastic views of glacier fed Dudh Koshi River below and passed many small communities with smiling children seemingly everywhere. One observation is that some trekkers are, shall we say, enjoying more pampering than others, and I imagine they are paying a premium for it. Had our first experiences crossing suspension bridges high above the river. Very nerve wracking given narrowness, and despite steel construction, still bounce and sway. So glad we weren’t trying to cross while a mule or pony train came the other direction!

So, a piece of trivia for you. Did you know this region, inclusive of Everest, is part of a national park? Sagarmatha National Park. I had no idea. It was established in 1976 and named a World Heritage Site in 1979. The name is also the Nepalese name for Everest. Another name for the mountain is Chomolungma (what Tibetans call it). Everest as a name came in 1865, from the British surveyor of India who actually objected to his name for the mountain. Nepalese and Tibetans from this region of course knew of it way before the British did.

After about an hour’s climb in the park, we rested at a rest stop and our guide matter-of-factly said, “Look there. That’s the summit of Everest.” Be still the heart. The moment had arrived. Even though it was about 20 miles distant (as the crow flies), and partially obscured by clouds, it was still an emotive moment. Despite being roughly 18,000 feet below its summit, it was still observable from that distance despite other very tall mountains around it. Can’t wait to see it from much closer up and its sister mountains in the top 5 in the world.

After about 6.5 hours of climbing, we reached Namche Bazaar, the capital of the Sherpa region. This too brought emotive feelings as this community is the true gateway to the high Himalaya and famous for its providing of Sherpa porters and guides. We have a rest day tomorrow and will explore. Will share more on Namche tomorrow. But will close with an interesting room assignment for us in tonight’s tea house. The rooms are named for famous alpinists, and ours is the Sir Edmund Hillary Room. Not only was he the first to summit Everest with Tenzing Norgay (who also has a room named for him) he also did much over the years to help the Sherpa people, including building and supporting schools and the airport in Lukla.

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