Yesterday began our journey to the Basecamp of Mount Everest. Everest Basecamp stands at 17,600 feet high. Everest stands at 29,029 feet high. There are fourteen eight thousanders in the world. They all lie in the Asian Himalayan mountain range. An eight thousander is a mountain whose peak reaches over 8,000 meters, or 26,000 feet.
We started the day back at the Kathmandu airport. We were on day two, trying to fly to Lukla, while most others were on day three. On average, flights going into Lukla are delayed three to five days. The Lukla airport is named as the most dangerous airports in the world. The runway is only 1,729 feet long. Compared to the famously short and scenic beachside runway on St. Barth's in the Caribbean at 2,133 feet long, and the famously "short" JFK airstrip of over 8,400 ft. One end of the Lukla runway is a cliff with a 2,000-foot drop. The other end of the runway is a solid stone wall. There's also an 11-degree slope to the runway. It's an airport where no adjustments in landing can be made. The plane either lands, or it hits a wall or drops off a cliff. There are no navigation aids and Pilots must use their knowledge of the area’s terrain and visual flying skills only.
The flight into Lukla was a rush. And white knuckling. You are surrounded by some of the most massive mountains you have ever seen. The turbulence kicks in and sends the tiny twenty person aircraft into heavy swells. Not to mention the knowledge you already hold on the dangers of this airport and the crashes and deaths that have already occurred.
Once we land, we are overwhelmed with adrenaline. We step off the flight, head to re-situate our ruck sacks, and step out into the almighty Himalayas. Having no clue which direction to go. We are few of the dozens of trekkers swarming the area that are trekking without a guide. But our adrenaline dictates our navigation, and there is only one way to go from here.