Following the Renjo, Missing the Gokyo

GYAN P NEUPANE ||

If you plan to trek Himalayan range to have exotic experience in life, Gokyo trail offers more than you would expect. The Rejo La commonly known as Renjo pass lies in an altitude of 5,360 meters in the middle of the trail, but it’s like a final destination. The reasons:  You have the majestic Himalayan range around you, and the Ngpzumpa glacier as well as Gokyo lake in the background.

Renjo Pass

Your journey to this heavenly piece of the earth begins from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Kathmandu. You take a flight to Lukla Airport, the beginning point of any treks in the Everest region.

Flights to Tenjing Hillary Airport in Lukla are usually not in time, mostly because of changing weather conditions in Lukla airport, and sometimes due to heavy air traffic.

Landing at the tiny airfield of Lukla, which the History Channel says is the world’s most dangerous airport, is itself an adventure. Unlike elsewhere, you experience passengers on board clapping thunderously once the airplane touches the tarmac.

The passenger seats in the aircraft are normally congested with daily essentials like onion, garlic, and other kitchen ingredients. This answers why the prices of goods in Lukla are generally much expensive as compared to Kathmandu other tourist cities in Nepal.

Gokyo Village has a beautiful lake system which includes many interconnected lakes

Notwithstanding this, cold air, the sound coming from bells tied in the necks of horses and yaks, traditional attires of local people, and the Buddhist chanting are among the things that make you fall in love with this place. After all, Lukla is the place from where you get a full sense of what Everest region is like.

Although the weather in Kathmandu is cold as well, you cannot travel Lukla with the same outfits that you wear in Kathmandu.  Down jackets, gloves, sports shoes, sticks, and sun glasses are necessary to travel to Lukla. And if you have some chocolates or peanuts in your bag packs, they will definitely help you get some quick energy while trekking uphill.

Once you land in Lukla, your immediate next destination is Namche Bazaar, a beautiful town in the region widely known as the gateway to Mt Everest. There you find nice bakeries and coffee shops, pubs and bar, gear shops and internet cafes. Trekkers and mountaineers celebrate at Namche Bazaar before marching ahead the tough journey upwards.

Renjo Pass in September, 2016.

But you are advised to stay in between Namche and Lukla to avoid any altitude sickness. This is actually worth as you get chance to stay in little lower altitude as this helps you to acclimatize yourself with the local weather condition.

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October is the best time to trek along these mountain trails. Taking breathtaking views of lakes, high mountains, rivers, Sherpa villages and their lifestyle introduce you with the varieties of things in a single trip. Climbing every stop uphill is tough, but the incredible experience you get by seeing unique things in each of your next stop makes you forget all your exhaustion and hardships.

The Khumbu region is the home of Sherpas, who are well-known for climbing mountains. It makes the region an area of the bravest people of the world. Almost every Shrpa you meet in the trek has at least once been to the mountains, be it higher or smaller. The stories they share are also something that make you remember the trek for many years.

Almost every Sherpa you meet would have climbed a mountain and it is wonderful to listen to their stories and experiences.

Personally, I was fascinated and moved by their struggles. Their struggles are of lager dimension, from how they grow up, what challenges they overcome in the mountains to their health challenges in old age. Sherpas are now in big businesses as well, but generalizing this doesn’t provide you the actual picture.

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Dal-Bhat are usually served for your meals, but you will have variety of options ranging from Pizza, Mo:Mos, Choumins, pasta, apple pie to many more.  This is something you cannot compare with Kathmandu or any other cities in Nepal.

While in Namche, if you wake up a little early, you will be welcomed by the shining views of the mountains as it lies in the lap of high Himalayas. And if you go for a little walk around, you will find several best spots to get selfies with the city and mountains in the background.

Not surprisingly, many compare Namche with Thamel in Kathmandu. The town has number of well-looking concrete buildings. Anyone can guess how difficult it would have been while actually building it. Everything from cement to iron rods, and furniture to clothes they haveto carry via airplane up-to Lukla or via helicopters to Syangboche airport, which is just above the Namche. However, Syangboche airport is not in a regular operation.

Our journey was to scale even higher places than Namche. In fact, Namche was the starting point of our 60-km long trek. We had made a  plan to trek past  the Renjo since three months ago.

We had no idea of our limit. At first we thought of reaching up to Namche, and later we extended the plan to trek up to Gokyo. And, the trek to Gokyo passed through the Renjo pass.

In a fine sunny day, you will be able see beautiful landscape of a number of high mountains including the world’s highest, the Mount Everest, and others like Lhotse and Makalu.

The Gokyo village has a beautiful Gokyo Lake system which includes some smaller lakes interconnected. Before reaching Gokyo, you have to stay either in Forche Thang or in Dole.

During a day-long upward walk, we were overtaken by dozen of yaks that were carrying the heavy-weight baggages. It was almost 7 in the evening when we reached Gokyo.  The next day we woke up with the beautiful lakes welcoming us. I ran close to the lake, and tried to feel its closeness. As we were now at an altitude of around 5,000 meter, we were already feeling little headache, and some difficulties in breathing.  Although this not very uncommon among new trekkers in the region, it is a warning that you should be careful in your every step now.

Finally, we were very close to the biggest destination i.e Rejo pass. Although the day was little cloudy to have the best picture, the exotic place, where were now, was in itself a source of immense pleasure. In a fine sunny day, you will be able see beautiful landscape of a number of high mountains including the world’s highest, the Mount Everest, and others like Lhotse and Makalu.

However, reaching Renjo was just 34 km of the total 62 km long trekking route from Namche. But rest of the journey was downhill towards Namche via Marlung and Thame, which is the hometown of veteran mountaineer Apa Sherpa.

Walking along the Bhotekoshi River, you get to meet other trekkers and monks. This gives you time and atmosphere to think about yourself. Although you are constantly walking, the serene peace and tranquility of nature you get to experience make you feel that you are in fact meditating. This will prove to be a lifetime opportunity that recharges you for several next years.

Writer can be reached at: gyanp.neupane@gmail.com

Unedited version of my travel article that appeared in YATRA MAGAZINE (SEE BELOW) in August, 2017.

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