Days 17 & 18 Rest days in Kathmandu

Stanley trying to be artistic with his camera

Day 17

After 7 straight days of rallying 8 to 10 hours a day, it was nice to be able to sleep late and "hang out." After breakfast, Brant spent several hours checking out the car. Minor maintenance and checking all the car's systems. I used the time to catch up writing several blogs, as I had fallen behind.

In the afternoon we walked around the Tramel section of the city. This is a few square blocks where all the trekking, hiking and serious mountain climbing equipment is sold. It is a colorful section of town because the area is home to lots of tourist shops and pubs. Very crowded and dusty like the rest of the city.

Yaks walking right through the landing spot for helicopters. These are the work horses of the
Himalayas moving goods and equipment up and down the trails that connect the small villages

Day 18

An early 6:15 am pickup at the hotel for a short ride to the airport. Today we've signed up for a helicopter ride to Base Camp at about 18,000 ft. First flight was to Lukla, a village at about 8,500 ft. for refueling. Although we were in a chopper, this village has a landing strip for fixed wing aircraft. Unfortunately, the runway is only 504 m (about 1,600 ft.); one end is a cliff with a 2000 ft drop and the other end of the runway runs smack into a gigantic mountain. A very dangerous place, but we did see a number of landings and takeoffs.

Our "Mountain Chopper" and it Captain parked in Lukla
Brant contemplating the world's problems

Lukla and its famously short runway
I was in Lukla about thirty years ago with my daughter Jennifer (aka Buffy). We landed here in a very old Russian paratrooper helicopter to begin our trek to Base Camp. At 16,000 ft the snows came and we decided to turn back; never getting to Base Camp.

Things didn't go much better today. While today we flew in a modern French-made helicopter, when we arrived at Lukla, we were told that the weather was too bad at Base Camp to attempt a landing. So twice in 30 years I failed to reach Base Camp.

Instead we took the chopper over a couple of ridges and landed at the Mt. Everest View Hotel for a warm breakfast. This is a rather new hotel located about a half mile up-mountain from Namche Bazaar, where a Buffy and I camped for a couple of nights on our trek 30 years ago.

Following our breakfast, our helicopter pilot took our bird up to about 14,000 ft where we could get a view of Mt. Everest and the surrounding mountains. Then back to Kathmandu and our hotel where we repacked our gear and readied the car for the last three days of the rally.