Trek Day 14
Escape from Lukla
Friday 24th November 2006
We were woken well before dawn as our plane would
be the first Sita Air flight out of Lukla.
As we sat shivering in the unheated dining room we watched the
dawn break and the clouds roll up the valley.
Our spirits fell as the clouds swirled outside the lodge, things
were looking ominous. Planes
fly to Lukla using line of sight and if the visibility is poor at either
Kathmandu or Lukla then they don’t fly.
We should have been leaving at around 6.45am but that time
passed and we ordered more tea. We
saw Lakpa talking to a guy with a walkie-talkie and he came over to tell
us it was also cloudy at Kathmandu.
He shrugged and said we would be ok.
It got colder the longer we sat and eventually someone lit the
tiny stove and we pulled chairs up close.
A girl wandered into the room and talked to Lakpa, asking what
time we were due to fly. She was crying and said she had been stuck in
Lukla for 5 days and couldn’t get a flight out, did we have any room
on our plane? Lakpa said
that our party and sherpas filled the 16 seats and she sat down staring
miserably out of the window.
The hours passed but we remained in the dining room as instructed. We should still be the first flight out, if there was one of course. If there were no flights today then tomorrow we would join the other trekkers hanging round the ticket offices looking for seats. As is the case everywhere, the scheduled flights take priority.
The end of the trek - Lukla
Lukla - air terminal at front
A tiny ribbon....
Suddenly at about 10.30am Lakpa ran into the dining
room and shouted that our plane had taken off from Kathmandu. We grabbed our bags and ran from the lodge, puffing in the
altitude as we made our way up the road to the air terminal where we
were greeted by a scene like the evacuation from Vietnam. Scores of trekkers were packed into the transit lounge and we
followed Lakpa, fighting our way through and holding our tickets above
our heads like badges of office. There
were stairs from the lounge down to the departure lounge and that was as
far as we could get. We
stayed on the stairs looking down into the lounge full of excited
trekkers. We heard the
drone of a plane coming in but looking out of the window I saw it was
Yeti-Air, not ours. During
the next hour another five flights landed, three Yeti Air and two Royal
Nepal – where was our Sita flight?
We watched the weather nervously, clouds still scuttled across
the sky but higher now and there was a cheer from our group as we saw
the little Sita Air turbo-prop pull up outside the lounge.
We would escape to Kathmandu after all.
The turn around was less than five minutes.
The engine on wing nearest the door was switched off but the
other propeller kept going as we and our bags were unceremoniously
dumped into the plane and as the last passenger sat down it was moving.
We slowly picked up speed as we watched the end of the little
runway approach and suddenly we lurched skywards and we were off through
the mountains to Kathmandu. I had been last to board and sat on the rear seat
with Lakpa and the stewardess. The weather made it a bumpy flight
and Lakpa was not very happy, beads of sweat showing his tension as the
plane seemed to move up and down and side to side at the same time as it
flew slowly between the mountains. On the credit side the
stewardess spoiled us both with a constant supply of coca cola and
I had been last to board and sat on the rear seat with Lakpa and the stewardess. The weather made it a bumpy flight and Lakpa was not very happy, beads of sweat showing his tension as the plane seemed to move up and down and side to side at the same time as it flew slowly between the mountains. On the credit side the stewardess spoiled us both with a constant supply of coca cola and boiled sweets.
Three hours later, showered and in clean clothes, Carole and I sat in ‘Fire and Ice’ in Thamel, eating pizza and talking with Sue and Clive about the hardships of the trail, the yaks and the mountains. It had been a good trek and we would have wonderful memories of the last two weeks.
Lukla - clouds lifting
Another world... Kathmandu
Reward at Fire and Ice
Hope you enjoyed the trek!
Any queries or comments?
I'd be pleased to hear from you