Photo Gallery
from Namche to Thyangboche
of the Khumbu
The Gear
that got us there


April 1:
April 2:
April 3:
April 4:
Lukla and Phakding
April 5:
April 6:
Between Namche and Thyangboche
April 7:
April 8:
April 9:
April 10:
April 12:


Photos by Peter Potterfield, © 1997 The Zone Network. All rights Reserved.

A Walk on the Weird Side:
The Trek to Mount Everest

Click here to see an enlargement.While only a few hundred people on the planet have the inclination, time, resources, and drive to attempt an ascent of Mount Everest, the trek to the highest mountain on earth is a different story.

Anyone with three weeks, a couple of thousand dollars, and a twisted yen for adventure can participate in the mind-bending walk through the outrageous landscape and funky reality that is the Khumbu trek. Know going in that this is not a wilderness experience. But it is a deep immersion in an exotic culture, spiced with a polyglot international scene of climbers, trekkers and hangers-on that will linger in memory, whatever happens. And everybody' s trek is different. Wind-swept monasteries, surreal vistas, a friendly indigenous population, strange travelers, debilitating dysentery, dissociative reactions, and potentially lethal hypoxia await all those who make this famous journey.

Like all adventures, it's a voyage of discovery, with an uncertain outcome.
The trek can be a lot of fun, but it can challenge one in unexpected ways. While I was in Thyangboche, a distraught trekker at the end of her rope approached Alpine Ascents International guide Wally Berg for advice. Berg is the quintessential Khumbu old hand, a three-time Everest summitter and trekking guide who has made the journey to Everest more than sixteen times. The trekker was sick and worried, weakened by intestinal problems, shaken up by the psychological strain of an extended pilgrimage on foot in a completely strange environment. In the dark confines of the teahouse, Wally's advice to her was succinct, even harsh: Deal with it — you're trekking to Everest, and you're responsible for your own well-being. Make your own decisions, press on or turn around, but don't look to others for answers to the questions you're finding about yourself.

Click here to see an enlargement. That particular trekker turned around. Most people on the Khumbu trek have a great time, and many come back for a second dose. Some die of altitude sickness, some get so sick they can't go on, some decide it's not for them and turn around at Namche Bazaar. Like all adventures, it's a voyage of discovery, with an uncertain outcome. But if you love mountains, it will be a journey you'll never forget.

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