My assistant, Ludovico, just completed another fabulous adventure. This time he journeyed through Nepal and decided to hike to Everest’s Base Camp. Below are some photos he took along the way and a description of his experiences.
Ludovico’s Pilgrimage II: Nepal
After crossing Southeast Asia I found myself in Kathmandu, Nepal sans plan. I spent three days in the city exploring the ancient streets and markets on foot. One day I picked up a map of the Jiri to Everest Base Camp trek. It’s the original route to Everest. That night I slipped the map under my pillow and went to sleep. In the morning the decision was made and the next day I was on an incredibly bumpy 7 hour bus ride to Jiri. The trek to Everest Base Camp is 115 miles with an additional 40 miles or so back down to Lukla where I caught a plane back to Kathmandu. I finished the trek in 13 days. It was by far one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done but wonderfully rewarding. The way from Jiri led me over three mountain ranges. Rhododendrons flourished on the high ridges where the icy wind whipped the prayer flags. In the lush valleys banana trees, poinsettias, orchids and the occasional cannabis plant grew amongst terraces of millet and squash.
Above 4,000 meters a super miniature rhododendron covered the hillsides. It is collected by the Sherpa people and burned as incense every morning along with juniper. Once I reached the higher Himalaya the trees disappeared and the landscape became lunar. The peaks rose like great white fangs enclosing the world. Day time was sunny and because I was walking it was quite warm. In the night the temperature plummeted and after the yak manure fueled stove went out around 8 o’clock we retired to our sleeping bags. Any liquid froze over night in the room. At around 16,000 feet I experienced a bit of altitude sickness and was forced to take a day break in a place called Lobuche. It was a tiny village situated along side the great Khumbu glacier. Perhaps the most amazing thing was the river that literally sprang up from beneath a huge boulder in the village. The water was icy and so good. I filled my bottle and drank deeply there. Yaks wondered around and horses played in the dusty sun filled cold.
The walk to Base Camp followed the glacier. It was my first time meeting a glacier and wow what an amazing thing. When I stopped and looked out across the rock and gravel covered ice I could hear the crack and pop of the ice slowly grinding away and suddenly triggered by the movement of the ice, a mini rock fall would puff out a plume of dust. Base Camp itself is situated in the middle of the glacier. There were a few people there when I arrived but they soon left and I had the place to myself for over an hour. I burned some offerings and left some snake skin I had collected on my first day walking. A little while later a group of Malaysians I had befriended arrived. I am with them in the picture.
2017 was a year of pilgrimage for me. After the Camino de Santiago I traveled around Europe visiting old friends and new friends from the Camino. I was home for about a month and a half when I took off for Asia. I saw some incredible places in Southeast Asia, and when I found myself in Nepal I thought I could not leave without trekking to Everest, a trek that is in many ways a pilgrimage in itself. Life is wild and everything is totally up to you.
Assistant to Katherine Neville