Travels in Nepal # 30 The greatest challenge
As we left Namche Bazar I knew I was in for one the greatest challenges of the trek, perhaps of my life. That is not an exaggeration. In retrospect, writing this from the comfort of my office back home, it still amazes me how I did it.
The first few hours are relatively flat, although flat is not a word one uses often in this part of the Himalayas. By flat I mean that the path generally followed the contours of the mountains along the valley we were walking. Just before lunch in a small village (I forget its name) we dropped down rapidly into the valley.
After lunch we made another river crossing over a suspension bridge. This one, shown in the photo above, was perhaps the most unstable and ricketty of all the bridges crossed on our trek. Fortunately it was also one of the shortest and we crossed it with no problems.
From that point it was just a long, continuous hard slog up to Tengboche, our target for the day. Close to three hours of unrelenting climbing, sometimes very steep, always very challenging. Every step of the way I was gasping for every little bit of air I could get. Breathing became very laboured and very difficult. As for the climbing, it was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, steadily plodding ever upwards. At times it almost felt as if I was marking time, I was making so little progress. Every step up the next rock seemed like another mountain.
I believe it is the hardest physical and mental activity I have ever attempted.
This climb tested me way beyond what I thought I was capable of physically, and that demanded an intense mental application just to keep the legs moving ever upward along the path.
- Namche Bazar to Tengboche – my travel journal written at the time.