The Himalayas, the ascent of Imja Tse (Island Peak) at 6200m and a cultural immersion into Nepal

The ascent to 6,200m on Imja Tse (Island Peak) was the hardest project I had done up to that point. Without taking into account the traffic of an ordinary day in Bucharest.

Nepal is another world compared to here. I’ve seen Everest and Nuptse, but in 2016 I wasn’t prepared for anything other than admiring them. The Himalayas through Nepal was also the most interesting travel experience, spiritually I might say, at the risk of using a word used like many others, far too much and far too wrongly lately.

The people, the way they understand how to live in hostile environments – with dignity, the immensity of the landscapes combined with the external and internal silence during hours of walking a day, take your mind to a place you either want to run from or you don’t want to anymore to leave. It’s the kind of trip where you can fall in love with something or someone every day. Or you begin to reanalyze your entire existence.

When I was thinking about the Himalayas on Mont Blanc, it seemed like a distant and difficult project. But from the moment of the decision to the flight to Kathmandu, no more than 2 months passed. Here’s proof that quick, intuitive decisions can turn into memorable experiences.

I saw Everest. I had raised it so high in my mind and yet it was even higher in reality. When you get to look at it, it’s like a flower opens in your chest and its petals come out through your eyes, coloring the sunset. Because at sunset I looked at Everest, after a climb on Kala Patthar, a neighboring peak of 5400m. Actually, it’s not really like that, but he wanted me to use this phrase so much that…

Imja Tso – lake formed by the Imja glacier

Rather, let’s try this approach of a phrase: the phisical dimensions of the Himalayan mountains, the sizes, are so large that they deceive my European “size” senses. What seems close to you is actually far. What seems normal to you is actually huge. On the descent from Island Peak, on the last stretch, I took it alone on a different road than the one used by the Sherpas. I looked down at the base camp. You could see the tents in the distance and a valley of boulders up there. I told myself it would be easy to walk on those boulders and in no time you reach camp. Where from. The small boulders were rocks and disappeared into the background, and what I thought would take 2 hours took me a quarter of a day and I arrived almost in the dark. Also in that valley were small canyons carved out of one side of the glacier that also blended into the background not being distinguishable from a distance if you didn’t know the area well. In Nepal there are heights higher than the Carpathians that don’t even have a name, but at best, if they represent an interesting landmark, at most a dry indication for orientation.

Apart from the image of Everest and the ascent itself on the peak targeted on this trip – Island Peak, a few things impressed me almost equally: how and how much I can that the porters in Nepal are incredible, how are the sherpas, how are the locals from the highlands of Nepal, what it’s like to hear nothing but your own thoughts for hours on end marching day after day. And about what it’s like to be present in time, to enjoy the present 100%, to be focused on a few things that your life depends on, to have enough time to put your thoughts in order and no feeling of mental congestion, lists to do , fear of missing out not to disturb your energy and thus allow you to see and think clearly, at maximum resolution – a feeling that I am still trying to find but which I think is impossible to reproduce in the urban agglomeration.

But let’s start with the beginning.

When in Saint Gervais towards Mont Blanc, Radu Albu suggested I go to the Himalayas. After 2 weeks I accepted although things were quite unclear. That’s because I didn’t go with a Romanian agency. Negotiations were conducted directly with a small Nepalese agency. Disbelief invariably sets in as none of us have ever been to Nepal before. Fortunately, not only were the guys there professional and ok, but we remained very good friends.

Hint 1! You can always leave me a comment or message to give you the company name.

Our little audacity thus reduced our costs by around 1000 Eur. With all due respect to the Romanian professionals, Radu or I did not necessarily need a Romanian guide in addition to those there (porters, guides and possibly sherpa), so strictly in our case, we had exactly the same conditions as on a trip of 3500 Eur.

This was followed by a few paid advances, insurance (made on the legs because it only covered the risk up to 4500m) and a bunch of purchases (new ice axe, new corners, fancier tools, gloves and climbing material). I chose to put everything in a 60+ l rucksack (Mammut), another 35+ l mountaineering one purchased specifically for Nepal (Deuter) and the rest of stuff, documents, supplies, in a hand bag.

We left Bucharest – Doha on October 29, 2016, stayed there in the stopover and then Kathmandu, where the people from the Nepalese agency were waiting for us. Before entering Nepal a small local visa bureaucracy. Then I stayed in Kathmandu for 2 days, during which I filled things out and talked, planned about the

Trader in Thamel, Kathmandu

route. I met the other members of the group, because we 2 Romanians were grouped with an Indian, a Norwegian (group leader), an Australian woman, there were 2 more Americans but they had an incident and so they didn’t even start their trekking through the Himalayas. Pulling the line we set off 5 + 2 trekking guides (Kazi and Nir).

Before leaving for Lukla, we visited 2 Irish pubs and witnessed the series of local celebrations of various ethnicities and castes. Nepal is very crooked in the good sense of the word. Mestizos are extremely interesting, they have faces that are different from anything else, something between India and China/Mongolia. The children are gorgeous, cheerful and very energetic, and the locals, although poor, are always cheerful, calm, I could say happy. Kathmandu, and especially the central district – Thamel, brings a lot with India for those who have been there and to a lesser extent with the Old Customs for those who have not been to India.

The capital is a kind of commune with asphalt or dirt streets, but oversized, with a population of millions and multi-story buildings. The agglomeration is specific to the area, there are no rules and if a moped or a car mirror wipes you, at low speeds, it’s no tragedy. However, the atmosphere puts you, at least in the first days, in a permanent state of alert.

Then you calm down, gradually. For those who have been to India before, Kathmandu is a familiar atmosphere. For those who haven’t been, it’s another planet. Then in the mountains the children become more and more cheerful and blushing.

Lukla is gateway to Everest. Located at 2860m, it has one of the most interesting airports in the world. Some people think flying is scary, but that depends on the individual. The plane takes off into the abyss and on landing brakes on the slope on a very short runway (about 500m and this at 2800m altitude). In the small plane of about 12 passengers, they even have a stewardess who offers candies. The runways are so short in Lukla that the plane brakes on the slope on landing and takes off at about the edge of the precipice. The plane can carry passengers or sacks of wheat, as ordered. The flight lasts about 45 minutes, but if you have a ticket in hand, all that is almost certain is that you are flying, not when you are flying.

The mountain adventure begins from Lukla, being, along with Namche Bazaar, the only larger town in the area.

The highlights of the trip went something like this:

Oct 29 – Departure to Nepal via Doha

Oct 30 – Oct 31 – Kathmandu

November 1 – Flight to Lukla, Lukla 2860 – Phakding 2610: 3.5 h / 3-4 km

Phakding – Namche Bazaar 3450: 5h

Rest and acclimatization Namche / local tour (5h)

Namche – Deboche 3875 (close to Tengboche monastery): 6-7h / 7-8 km

Deboche – Dingboche 4410: 6h / 5km

Dingboche – Lobuche 4910: 6h / 5km

Lobuche – Gorakshep 5140: 3.5 h / 3 km

Nov 7 – Gorakshep – Kala Patthar Peak (5,644 m, Everest view): 2 h up and 1 h down, at sunset.

Gorakshep – Dingboche 4h / 9km

Nov 9 – Rest and acclimatization Dingboche

Dingboche – Chukung 4730 (lunch) – Island Peak Base Camp: 8h (I arrived at 4:00pm)

Nov 11 – Base Camp – Island Peak 6189: 12h (1:30 am – 1:00 pm) – 15 min on top

Island Peak – Base Camp 5050: approx. 9h (21:30, wrong way down but fun)

Nov 12 – Island Peak Base Camp 5050 – Dingboche 4410: 4h

Dingboche – Namche: 7h / 9km (I arrived at 3pm)

Namche – Lukla: 11 km

Nov 15 – Lukla – Kathmandu (flight)

November 17 – Kathmandu – Bucharest – November 18


Many suspension bridges in the first part of the trek.

The trek to the Gorak Shep end of the line / Everest base camp involves a walk of approx. 12 days from 2860m to 5164m. You cross rivers, walking on very long suspension bridges, you pass through many small towns, you meet animals, porters, tourists. The temperature drops day by day as you climb.

When you run into a herd of yaks, you can only hit the back.

When we were there – outside the monsoon season, the main problem was dust. Even if the temperature drops to a few degrees below zero or even more, up above, everywhere a fine dust of clay made you get lumps of clay on your nose.

When you cross groups of tourists or a herd of yaks or donkeys, the dust rises so much that you can’t see anything. The joke doesn’t help much. Hint 2! I recently purchased a profi anti-pollution mask from England, for the pollution in Bucharest, a mask that would probably have been excellent for the dust particles in Nepal. The paths are few and narrow. Day by day with this dust and almost all tourists develop irritations or some kind of throat infection that restricts your water intake and creates discomfort, which can matter a lot if you have a climbing project. I remember an Estonian girl who was talking, with a stuffy nose, that she never catches a cold but there.. Many tourists from all over the world, many types of viruses or bacteria. She was going down, we were going up, I thought no, we certainly won’t have anything, but we also had the same infection due to dust and low temperatures, probably.

The back luggage, when leaving Lukla, was 11.7 kg. I chose to take the 35l Deuter backpack with me, for mountaineering, in which I crammed as much as I could. The rest of the equipment, about 20 kg, was taken over by the porters for about 15 dollars a day, as it were. Be patient as I will treat this topic separately.

Namche, un careu de elevi.

In Namchee Bazaar we had our first longer stop – a day break where we went up to a monastery and monument and came down. But it was a leisurely tour where we stopped and lay in the sun, watching the miniaturised city from afar. In the town, children in uniform were taken out to the playground for physical exercise. Unbelievable in what environment those people live. In Namche you can stock up on almost anything for the mountain, from medicine to second-hand professional equipment or fake accessories.

Namche is a fully developed town and the last city-sized town to the base camp.

This does not mean that various equipment or things cannot be purchased from other smaller towns. However, the lowest prices are still in Kathmandu. But in case you forgot something or don’t want to carry it all the way to Namche, you can restock in Namche.

The monument was dedicated to pioneers and activists in protecting the animal and plant species of the region. Moreover, it is felt everywhere that the Nepalese, although very poor, have a special respect for nature.

In Namche we also made friends with the group of Russians that I will tell you about below.

Namche Bazaar, at the entrance to the town.

With some more than others. There I met Andrey and there I also met Olesya, with whom I would remain good friends. Together with Radu, I later visited them in Russia. Why am I giving these details, to exemplify how you can connect with people on a trip like the one in Nepal. Disconnected from the hectic life, isolated on the trails in the mountains, surrounded by so much beauty, people find their normality it seems.



Then from Namche to Gorakshep follows a mountain route at high altitude but which does not pose particular difficulties even for beginners. Next are the localities of Deboche, Dingboche, Lobuche and Gorakshep. I will not go into details for each locality.

Ama Dablam, overview








Needless to say, the scenery is stunning. Already Ama Dablam appears and then even Everest can be glimpsed for a moment before disappearing behind the mountains in the foreground.

View of Ama Dablam

Hint 3! Everywhere there is water to buy, water from the tap in which you can put purification pills, showers are more difficult but wi-fi and battery charging do not pose problems, for a fee.

The food is relatively ok if you like Asian food, especially the super super spicy rice. Spicy in our place is a joke. Nepalese eat rice with their hands, and their hot pepper doesn’t even exist for them. For us, it’s enough to put a little pepper sauce on the tip of your tongue and you’re burnt.

Everywhere the indispensable garlic soup which is said to be good for exertion at altitude. If someone in the group is consuming something like this, make sure you can get in front of the group..

We didn’t rush to Gorakshep at all, anyway we had a fixed flight (well, fixed is relative in Nepal…) to return and everything was on schedule.

On the road it can be quite crowded considering that on the few roads (mostly a single narrow path) tourists walk and also lines of transport animals.



You’ll pass by a gorgeous Buddhist temple in Deboche that’s worth at least a 30-minute stop.

From Gorakshep you climb up to Kala Patthar, from where you can see Everest. We climbed Kala Patthar (or Black Rock, 5,644m) to catch Everest, alongside Nuptse, at sunset. The sun illuminates Everest less and less and the contrast with the surrounding snow gives you the impression that the peak is on fire. It is a wonderful sight.

You look and you look and you still can’t believe you’re looking at Everest and it’s right there and it’s so big and you’re right there.

Everest (8,848m), at sunset, view from Kala Patthar


Incidentally, Everest cannot be seen from Everest Base Camp and very very little is visible from below from Gorekshep. Although it is up to ten km away, the view from below is blocked by the massive wall of the Lhotse Glacier.

I wouldn’t say that the road to this peak poses special difficulties, although on this road 2 Persians from our group gave up climbing, and then returned to Lukla by helicopter. Although not difficult, this road somehow sets the tone for the atmosphere to come, you already feel a little of the harshness of the Himalayan mountains. However, we are talking about 5,644 m. However, the road is full of tourists. Although you won’t see many pictures full of tourists on this route, I assure you that it is full but no one takes pictures of the crowds there. The peak is also full, and among the narrow rocks you can hardly find a place from which you can quietly take pictures of Everest safely. Thus, I lingered quite a bit on the summit and on the way back I kind of sped up in the sense that I kind of rushed to catch the rest of the group. I left a lot of dust behind and I realize now that maybe it wasn’t very pleasant for the other tourists. But I stopped a bit to take a picture of Jupiter I think, at sunset.

On the way back, one of the colleagues had another incident, in the sense that he got dizzy and fell a little but without any consequences. As I said, this first test can cause problems for some. I had no problems on this route, but the approach was very flawed. I was in a hurry, I stayed too long for pictures, I didn’t drink enough water, I risked catching up with the group, all against the background of a sore throat caused by the cold and dust. Therefore, the next morning, we experienced the first major failures. I got a terrible headache that didn’t go away until 3 days later. I’ll tell you how later.

In Gorakshep it starts to feel a little colder, it drops below zero in the cabin rooms and the windows are full of ice in the morning. Until one more time, instead of sleeping in the bag at -19 degrees – yes, that’s how you already sleep in Gorakshep in November, in the cabin – I stayed outside for about 1 hour to take pictures of the stars.

The main picture there is taken, with an exposure of about 25 seconds, with the maximum opening of the diaphragm (f:3.5 and focal length of 18 mm). Although Raj, the colleague from India, had a tripod, I didn’t bother to borrow it. I put the camera between 2 rocks and shot.

I also got into the framework of what resulted in an experimental ghostly exposition, in addition to the tone and title of the article that I was then going to write now.


Also from there, I also took pictures with Pumori. Incidentally, Kala Patthar is a shoulder of Mount Pumori, a mountain of great beauty. Pumori, the “daughter of Everest” offers an extraordinary view from below Kala Patthar, especially at night. Look, Mount Pumori with a few seconds exposure, the mountain appears lit under the sky full of stars, but the light is more like that reflected from all the snow around.

If you are a beginner and on your first serious mountain climb, after GorekShep and Kala Patthar your smile starts to fade. You start thinking seriously about the next goal, the biggest peak of the trip, 6,200m, Island Peak. You begin to seriously question whether you will be able, if you feel able. As I was saying, 2 colleagues gave up before even climbing Kala Patthar. From GorakShep, we retraced a small part of the route back to Dingboche, where we were only supposed to stay one night. But the colleagues did not feel very well, it was also the day they left, so we all decided to stay a total of 3 nights in Dingboche. I, however, felt the worst among those left in the race for the summit (radu, Raj and guide Kazi). The headache was unbearable.

Muntele Pumori fotografiat cu expunere lungă din GorakShep
Mount Pumori (7,161m) photographed with long exposure from GorakShep

Imagine the worst migraine combined with the worst hangover to keep you going all day and all night. I couldn’t even move and my thinking wasn’t so clear anymore. I remember thinking that something bad might happen to me there and Mick Jagger had just recognized a newborn. Yeah, that’s what was going through my head. That and the fact that a dear old dog I had in the country is doing much better than me. Luck, however, made me feel a little better towards the evening and I went down to the table with a sigh. There we sat next to a Norwegian couple, both blond, both super hard working and both doctors. Surprise! The Norwegians were on a 6 month trip around the world, in a kind of lucky career break. And like all northerners, they were very well documented about anything relevant to their excursions.

The cake brought specially.

Being doctors, the discussion between me and them naturally turned to the headache. They recommended Diamox, explained what it does, that it masks the symptoms, that I certainly don’t have cerebral edema and gave me the pills. Those pills took my pain away. Apparently they should be included in the luggage, but I missed this information. Of course you will meet many who refuse to take any kind of pill with them. I will only tell you this, document yourself and take everything that is not dangerous with you as a precaution.

On November 9th, my birthday also caught me in Dingboche. I was feeling much better. I also had a cake ordered by the others as a surprise. The bill was also a surprise for him, but it turned out very well in the end and I served the entire lodge dining room with at least a spoonful of cake. Also in Dingboche, Trump’s election victory caught us. It just so happens that there is an interesting group of Americans with whom I had interesting discussions about the role of the US in the world. Special and very very interesting people. In Dingboche I went through a multitude of feelings and states, from bad to good, from resigning that I won’t climb again to coming back. In the end I decided that I feel better and I will risk climbing, no matter what. I risked.

We left early in the morning for Chukung, where we crossed paths with porters and left what was left there. Had lunch and headed to Island Peak Base Camp. Ta tam ta tam, you could feel the emotion come and leave you, but mostly it comes, only when you were thinking about what you are going to climb. We were all asking, so what is the peak? Oh, is that really it? Wow, is that where we’re going to go up? Yes!

Dingboche – Chukung 4730 (lunch) – Island Peak Base Camp: 8h (I arrived at 4:00pm)

Nov 11 – Base Camp – Island Peak 6189: 12h (1:30 am – 1:00 pm) – 15 min on top

Island Peak – Base Camp 5050: approx. 9h (21:30, wrong way down but fun)

Nov 12 – Island Peak Base Camp 5050 – Dingboche 4410: 4h


About Island Peak
Imje Tse Base Camp: Raj, Radu, me.

In the base camp we slept in a tent, in bags at -19 degrees. I think the temperature at night dropped somewhere to -15, -20. The conditions were excellent, from the tent to the meals served in the dining tent. On the day spent at the base camp we had a small training in the use of the climbing equipment, given directly by the sherpa – a practical training, a simulation of what was to come.

We then left at 1:30 at night for the summit.
On a more difficult lap, I go through a few steps of accommodation to the effort. These differ I imagine from person to person. For example, for me the first 30 minutes and I feel like wow how am I going to do this when now I can barely breathe. Then the first two hours and I feel like I can’t do it anymore – they’re always the hardest for me, until I get used to the effort. Then after about 9 hours, Then I don’t know, maybe I can go to infinity..
The night route in the Himalayas takes you with the thought of another planet, another dimension. Mountain seen in the light of the headlights, the lights of other climbers in the distance create a strange atmosphere that you should get used to as soon as possible.

This is because you walk on narrow paths and to the right or left there are hundreds of meters of precipices.

Crossing over the crevasse.

There if you made a wrong step, that’s.. not good..

To secure yourself as a group with a rope it’s a philosophical question. No answer here.
The altitude has its say, it hits you hard. Each step requires much more effort than usual. My breathing was almost always that of a marathon in Baneasa.. I was thinking that there, if you have serious heart problems, you are and that’s it.. The pulse is high on most of this route. You don’t run, but you take steps, uphill, at high altitude. It’s pretty much the same thing. Plus the danger that lurks at every turn.

We climbed like this until the day began to break and we could see the size of the precipices we were walking past. Interesting. Late in the morning we finally entered the snow and ice section.
It was interesting that from there to the top some fell and others rose, as a general condition. I stood up instantly entering familiar territory. Snow, sledgehammers, ice axe. The freshness of the snow. We started walking on even narrower ledges, also having ladder passes over crevasses. In particular, it is a crevasse, just before the final stretch to the top that keeps getting bigger from season to season. There is already a rope and ladder installed by the Nepalese.
At the beginning of the snow we took a little longer break to allow the rest of the group to catch up. At base camp, 4 more Sri Lankans were added to our group (3 tourists and a guide plus Sherpa).
The final section is the most physically demanding, although the effort caused by the very steep slope is compensated by the firm grip of the belays in the snow and the support provided by the existing climbing mechanism (the pre-mounted rope on the route that you hang on to with safety carabiners and a lock).

The final slope of the ascent on Imje Tse.
Almost reaching the top, the sherpa who was coming down yelled at us to turn back that it was already late and there wouldn’t be enough time. Seriously? I’m not coming down for anything in the world without reaching the top after all the effort I’ve put in to get here. Naturally everything was ok. But it is true that I was in a bit more of a hurry, according to his words.
Summit photo.

I reached the top of 6189 about noon and did not stay there for more than 15 minutes.

Some pictures and back. The pictures were taken with the phone, an iPhone from 2012 that heroically resisted the strongest tests. The battery lasted only when held close to the skin. Eventually the screen came off from the effect of low temperature on different materials (metal and plastic), but it was still working when we left Nepal.

On the top there are no more than, let’s say 15 square meters, in total and you stay anchored in the rope. A more serious gust can knock you off balance and that’s it.. So there’s very little space and you have to get down quickly to allow others to take the rigorous pictures in peace.

In Romania I was on the mountain with all kinds of people. At one time I thought that all people who go to the mountain are more correct, more spiritual, more intelligent. Although it is more likely that among those who go to the mountain you will meet very ok people, the mountaineers can also be weaker than angels. I have met mountaineers representing all social strata who can also be found in the city, but many who go to the mountain have a pronounced defect, they give their opinion very easily about what others should do and be and are very convinced that they are not maybe otherwise, a kind of moralistic foxes. You will meet a lot of such people in the mountains, people who know everything and everyone is against them. An acquaintance with whom I used to go on the mountain in Romania, a person with many qualities by the way, was totally against reaching the high peaks. That’s because he can’t afford to leave the country. This particular situation molded him into one of those unwarranted patriots who go to the mountain just to be zen and one with the mountain. The kind of person for whom the fact that you are a real Romanian matters more than if you are Chinese, even though you are a cocal Romanian and the Chinese may be a restorer of Buddhist temples. The kind of person for whom penciled borders on a map matter because I don’t have the money or the openness to see anything else anyway. And the fact that you set a goal to climb a height or other is sacrilege. However, I believe that such an attitude is wrong on several levels, with the following arguments: the goals of soaring heights give you motivation and focus, the view from up there cannot be compared to anything, your freedom stops where the freedom of the other begins – purely and it’s just not ok to give opinions about what other people should or shouldn’t do as long as it doesn’t affect you in any way. That person discovered the joy of heights later after he had saved enough money to be able to get out of the country.

In the 15 minutes I had time to look around and take 4 pictures: one simple, one with the Greenpeace Romania banner, one with the WWF Romania Banner, one with the Alternative Education Center banner.

Imja Tse is actually an extension of the southern part of Lhotse, the 4th highest mountain in the world.

The little climbing experience benefited me especially when descending from the summit to the plateau where I had left my pack. At the end of one string section you must re-secure the other string and change the eighth, fuse and lock in a certain order. It is also good to be familiar with abseiling. Colleagues had problems in these chapters so I was able to give them additional assistance on the descent when the sherpas in the group were not available at those times.

On the way down we took the photos of the climb, being more relaxed. After reaching the top, there is a huge relief, because that’s it, you’ve achieved what seemed almost impossible. You did it. Then you think that you have to go down everything you went up..
Next came the crossing of the small plateau, the crevasse with the ladder and then on the ridge to the beginning of the steep dry slope.
I did a mistake on the descent.
As I wrote at the beginning of the article, due to the fact that the sherpas considered that they had accomplished their mission, they quickly took it forward. I stayed further behind, my Indian colleague further behind, others took another path, the Sri Lankans further behind.
Visually motivated, I decided to take the section that seemed marked by some mounds but also more direct. And although the mounds were for marking, it wasn’t the best choice.. We hit that huge valley with boulders, which from a distance looked small but were huge. So big that you had to jump from one to the other. And what initially seemed like ordinary stones to me.

And not that there weren’t also ordinary stones on which you kind of slipped and kind of went to the bottom. And I kept going like this until I realized that it couldn’t go on. Good luck with Salomon boots with very grippy cotra-grip sole. Good grip. Without them I don’t know what I would do. I had to turn back because I had reached a lip created in the ice. There was actually ice under the boulders. I changed my route several times. Finally, towards evening I arrived at the base camp, alone. At the very end of the return, the Sherpas had mobilized and were coming after those who got lost or were left behind. The Raj had lagged behind, and so had those in SriLANka. I gave directions to the guides about where I think they would be and in the end everything turned out well, although one of the Sri Lankans came back with fringed trousers, I didn’t ask him how they got there. For there followed a relaxation, joy and exchange of opinions and information.

It was extraordinary. I still remember the sunset that had caught me on those rocks as I descended after reaching the performance. For others it’s just training, but for me it was a big deal, especially since I had gone through enormous difficulties caused by migraines two days before, and was almost ready to give up the climb. By the way, those pills did exactly what the Norwegian doctors told me. For me it was the solution that saved my pride and the whole trip. Next time, who knows, maybe I’ll go up in flip flops, but for now that was enough.
On the way back to Lukla, you pass through more or less the same localities. It was as if on the return routes I felt even better than on the way up. Not from the slope, because the road goes up and down and even if it goes down, the descent is also hard. It wasn’t until the end of the trip that I felt I had really gotten into shape. Which again denotes a lack of experience in dosing the effort. To be completely honest, I hadn’t trained much before the whole adventure either. You go over the same bridges, through the same towns as when you came.

On the way down to Lukla, being already familiar with the place, you have time to enjoy more the beauty of the landscape.

In Namche we stayed at the same location as on the way to the summit. We left there, next to dozens of T-shirts, a T-shirt with our names and expedition nicknames made up on the spot.

In Kathmandu we still had time before departure to visit the monkey temple and buy some souvenirs. Monkeys have such human behavior. And there are thousands. Interestingly, they are not aggressive at all. Maybe if you hold a banana in your hand you risk being without it, without a banana.

The monkey temple is filled with thousands of monkeys.

All this is somewhere in the city, in a complex of Hindu and Buddhist temples, side by side. Besides, the Nepalese live very well next to each other, different races, different castes, different religions.

The dogs were fast asleep when the monkeys were noisily barking and jumping on them. Then when the dogs started barking like crazy, the monkeys didn’t make any gestures. The two species completely ignored each other as if they didn’t exist for each other.

The chief of the monkeys was also the animal with the biggest cojones there. His place was at the top of a small turret, and he had only to stretch out a limb for the others to carefully scratch him. But if any conflict arose below, he went down and resolved the conflict with violence. Sounds familiar? Minus the phase with the shells, The most characterless people reach the top in the hierarchy of functions. Where are they in the hierarchy of understanding?

Monkey temple.
Children, though poorer, seem happier in Nepal.

The subject of shopping in Kathmadu has also been covered below. In short, the best prices are still in the capital. Some things are worth taking, others are worth avoiding completely. If one of your goals is to return with a Tibetan bowl, buy a handmade one. 

Compared to a mass-produced Chinese one, the sound cannot be compared. Beware of the so-called antiques, present everywhere on the streets of Tamel.

Wooden or metal products are so well antiqued that if you don’t have a trained eye it is impossible to realize that they are not antiques but just made to look like that. It’s perfectly ok to buy something for decoration, but it’s not ok if you pay the price of an antique for decoration.



About the people you meet along the way:

The people you can meet in this type of trips are their highlight. Locals, sherpas, porters, novice climbers, experienced climbers, mountain kids. The difference between sherpas, guides and porters should be mentioned right from the start. In the most simplistic and easy to remember way, the sherpas do their summit training and take you to the summit, the guides accompany you and guide you on the trekking side and the porters are the ones who carry.

Sherpas are interesting because they are superhuman. They have the mountain in their blood and are very well trained, hardy and robust. Where beginners struggle to climb the rope they run unsecured. I have seen Sherpa with good gear but broken probably 2nd hand or 3rd hand. Our group expanded for the summit with 4 Srilankans so there were 4 people from the original group (the guide Kazi, Radu, myself and Raj) and 4 newcomers who had started the adventure in the Himalayas directly with the summit (maybe it’s better that way, with the acclimatization of rigor). We thus had 4 Sherpas. You remember I mentioned the castes in Nepal. Kazi said that they can easily tell the physical features of members of various castes. The Sherpa is simple, they all have Mongolian features. The most experienced of them, he had said that he had been on Everest 7 times as a support.

The others could not confirm exactly, but told us that it is possible and very likely to be so. And with each climb he earned several thousand dollars, while the cost of an Everest expedition is 30k – 40k.

Radu left his La Sportiva boots at the end, which were still tight. It is incredible the modesty of these people who have so much experience and physical endurance. In Europe you would not reach their noses.

The common guides (not the sherpas) in Nepal are very tough on the trekking side and know the areas very well. But on snow and climbing, not everyone can handle it. 

The statue of the famous Tenzing Norgay from Namche, Ama Dablam in the background, on the right.

They usually accompany groups of tourists, in season. Experienced climbers who still arrive in the off-season don’t really need guides, maybe just Sherpas.

The most famous Sherpa is of course Tenzing Norgay, whose monument we visited on our free day in Namchee.

Porters (luggage and merchandise carriers) are interesting and also superhuman.

The porters in Nepal are usually apparently frail, weak people, but who carry, tied to their foreheads (as long ago, goods were transported in the mountainous areas of Europe), more than their own weight.

Portrait of a porter

These people carry 40-50 or 70 kg up to 18 km a day for 15-20 dollars a day. The style in which it carries is special, using the neck rather, in the existing style maybe in Europe, in the middle ages and the modern era, until the appearance of bags with rigid back. We also tried to lift a porter’s cargo to convince ourselves that it was heavy. Although I could see a lot in the back, from gas cylinders (3 each) to water barrels, sets of 2.5x2m wooden plywood, dufflebags (2-3 each of 20 kg), I still had to we convince ourselves. It was hard enough to lift such a weight and still walk such a distance at speed. During short breaks, goalkeepers have a wooden T on which they rest their weight without sitting down. Unbelievable what these people do. I understand that many young men are training for the army.

In Nepal, Gorka soldiers earn significantly more than other workers and also have a chance to get selected in

Porter with a medium load.

elite Gorka units used in UK or India. You remember I was talking about the endurance of the people here who make a substantial physical effort in high altitude conditions. Well, the military has also caught on to this and is recruiting Gorkas from Nepal because they are among the toughest and most disciplined soldiers. However, many young people sacrifice their studies for Gorka training and fail to be selected by the army so they end up as porters, being able to use their physical training to make some money. Looking from the perspective, yes, these people are exploited by the nature of the system but up close, you are doing them a favor by employing them because otherwise they would be very poor anyway and unable to make ends meet. We are talking about one of the poorest countries in the world, a country where people still respect the laws, are not allowed to cut down trees, are only allowed to pick up trees felled by storms with approval, and heat one room per house with dried dung yak (which by the way is very good for this).



Gorka soldiers can end up earning enormously more than ordinary Nepalis. If they are recruited for the ranks of the British Gorka they can end up earning 2500 pounds a month. But to get there, the selection is very tough. starting with education, physical endurance, determination. A Gorka recruit must be able to run 800m in 2’50”, be able to do 80 squats in 2′ and the like, pass intelligence and interview tests, run 5km uphill in 35′ with 25kg in back, another 2400m race Unlike those selected for the UK, a Nepali Gorka earns $150 a month and must be able to run 3200m in under 13′.

Nepali people, locals
Nepalese child with Ama Dablam in the background.

Apart from the porters, guides and sherpas, on the way, in the towns you can see a lot of children and many women. Children play all the time even in cold temperatures. The mountain people are very flushed. The girls especially have combined Indian and Mongoloid features. Children are used to tourists. I saw a group of women washing clothes in a kind of rustic washing machine similar to ours in the country. Men mostly deal with a little agriculture that is in the mountains, but mostly with transport, logistics.

Other tourists

From Namchee onwards, towards Everest Base Camp or Island Peak, you start to better distinguish, among the dozens of ordinary tourists, really interesting people. You can see in their faces, bodies and equipment that they are like that. You meet beautiful people, daredevils, climbers. I saw on the Himalayan trek the most beautiful girls possible, girls with the face and body of a model but with the endurance of a mountaineer, beautiful girls without fitz but with money, girls who easily carried 14 kg on their backs, girls who easily climbed 5,400 m in leggings. It can be seen that most of the tourists who get there have some financial availability not only for the fact that they got there but also through the lens of the equipment they carry. But the very fact that you choose to do this with your money despite probably ample financial comfort says a lot about a man.
But there everything gets mixed up. Experienced climbers and beginners, rich people, poor people sit at the same table.

In Dingboche I remember that Trump’s victory came right in the middle of a discussion with a group of Americans about the election. Among them was a burly black American with a knife at his waist, as if he had come out of Cliffhanger. Americans were dismayed by Trump’s victory. It was a calm and bright day. with the sun pouring in through the dining room windows. The entire team had a recovery day (headaches, colds, etc.) before the climb of Island Peak.

Nepalese girls on the road in the first part of the trek.

In addition to the everyday element, I noticed how, at an adjacent table, in the background, an old Nepali porter had just sat down, with a serene look and a calm attitude. He had nothing to deal with, nothing to say, he just wanted to sit and rest. That contrast was quite interesting. Between this old man, for whom all the politics in the world could change if he didn’t care, and the Americans who joked, told stories, filtered with other American women from another group and told and joked again and then discussed heatedly about the result choices, connected to technology, to the world at home, to the world around, to each other.

I have met many Spaniards, Italians, Australians, Nordics, French, Russians. Russians did not abandon their customs. For example, a group of Russians over the age of two, but in which there were also girls, managed to make a very good time on the trekking side. Although they did not climb the summit, the performance is enviable considering that they were beginners and every evening they consumed wine, gin, rum and vodka courtesy.
About accommodation:
The accommodation locations in the Himalayas – the lodges in the various localities between Lukla and the base camp – generally have much better conditions than the lodges in Romania. They are cleaner, they generally have an ok kitchen, you can buy various things (medicine, water, additional food) and most importantly they have electricity and wi-fi almost everywhere you go. How? Solar. The water? Enough, although it’s not bad to have purification pills with you. The accommodation is ridiculously cheap but what can thin the wallet is the electricity. Battery charging, hourly or up to 15370188_10211347953315110_5779142148345903261_ofull charge, can cost quite a lot, night after night. The cabins usually have light in the rooms, but no sockets. In Romania, you can find handmade sockets, but it’s not nice to cheat otherwise, especially in Nepal. The baths have water barrels for fluidization in much better conditions than in Romania. In some places you can also find a hot shower, although it costs. In Dingboche it was the last available shower up to base camp – when you went in to shower you would knock on the wall to have the boiler turned on just as you were leaving – to turn it off as electricity is obviously quite precious in those conditions.
About costs:
The whole trip cost us 2,100 dollars plus 600 dollars for the plane Bucharest – Kathmandu. In Nepal I spent another 60 dollars with the sherpa bonus for reaching the summit. I left about 100 dollars to the guides as a thank you after the whole trip. In total, however, I spent about 1000 dollars, but that’s because I bought nonsense, non-vital fake equipment, souvenirs, extra food.
An agency in Romania is now charging the same trip for 3,500 euros, 1,000 euros more than we gave, the same services included. We took a risk and contacted the Nepalese directly, but most tourists who venture to that part of the world for the first time feel the need for extra safety, additional guidance and psychological comfort. The costs are justified from this point of view. Since we didn’t need it, we saved 1,000 euros. I would not recommend leaving Romania without group companions if you have no experience of traveling to exotic places.
Raj, the Indian in our team, also a tourist, explained to us that we could go even cheaper, for more personal organizational work. Thus, if you buy your Kathmandu – Lukla plane ticket yourself, if you take care of the passes yourself (because you need some passes to present at the various checkpoints on the route) and if you meet the porters yourself, you get out cheaper with another 1,000 euros. Thus, with minimal costs, Everest base camp could cost 950 dollars for 14 days of trekking (without the plane to Kathmandu which would be about 600 dollars). Add to that a few hundred euros on your own account and you can also do Island Peak, but you have to prepare your own sherpa or climb without if you can.
The price was very ok considering the quality of the accommodations, the base camp, the provision of food both on the trek and in the base camp.
Wi-fi is about 100 rupees per hour and 500-800 rupees per night. Hot water is about 600 rupees.
About Himalayan gear:
Unless you’re doing real mountaineering, unless you’re climbing Ama Dablam or above 7,000m, one tip would be to buy most of your gear directly from Nepal. No more carrying sleeping bags, down jackets, sticks, isoprene gloves, etc. In the shops of Kathamandu and even in Lukla or Namche Bazaar you can find both fakes and second-hand ones. The fakes are, however, quite bad compared to the originals, depending on the type of equipment. For example, I bought The North Face gloves for $15 (and they were already expensive there) for shipping. Although they looked very good at first glance, what happened was that the coating on the palm went to the string after the first use. Worse, the inner layers broke and tangled so that they were very difficult to use. In the first lap after the Himalayas, on Negoiu, I was in danger of frostbite because, after a photo session on the summit, in a snow storm with ice at -40 felt, I could no longer insert my hand into the glove. I climbed down the cliff with great difficulty, held my palm half in my mouth and felt my hand after 30 minutes after taking cover. That’s what a fake can lead you to, or worse.
But I don’t advertise here the original products either. If you know what you’re doing, you can also buy fakes to use in the woods, in the trekking part or for lighter activities, thanks to the low price. But under no circumstances do I recommend them for the serious portions of the expedition.
However, you can find very good, second-hand bags or sticks left by tourists returning from expeditions in the various shops along the way.
For Island Peak in particular, I wouldn’t take the -35 bag with me, nor the poles, and maybe not even the fluff. It is not such a difficult climb from a technical point of view. And the bag can be evaluated on the spot by someone who knows how. However, I only used the bag in the cabins or in the tent at Island Peak base camp. So take it from Nepal.
So are the fenders. But in season (spring or autumn) you only find snow for the Island Peak expedition towards the top. Fall is heavy snow and you don’t necessarily need snow guards. Anyway, you can get them from Nepal at a low price, fake or second hand. They are not crucial for this type of expedition.
If you take your own climbing equipment (carabiners, harness, ropes, annulas, ice axes, additional equipment), you have to get it from a company store, preferably in the West. The same for boots, here the difference between fake and original can speak very clearly. And there is no turning back.
You could get a significant bargain with dufflebags. We ordered the guide company before the trekking, to take home personalized dufflebags with logo and everything you want. It was 15 dollars one with customization with everything and fixed the same quality as the originals. Then I saw in Bucharest an original TNF for over a hundred euros. In the dufflebag that in the Himalayas will be carried by the porters to the base camp, you can put, for example, hiking boots, down jackets, technical boots, sleeping bag, mattress, thick socks, etc.
On another note, I know people who have climbed close to 6000 with no special equipment other than boots and crampons. The mountain doesn’t kill you anyway and anytime if you don’t automatically write off the account of high profile sports equipment companies. But it can kill you if you don’t think and make obviously wrong choices. But there is nothing wrong with replacing some puffers or some body blouses with traditional materials if money does not allow otherwise, under certain conditions that allow you to do so. After all, we are not robots and the mountain cannot be closed on the principle that it is risky. The risk is something we could take as much and anyway when we don’t affect others. It’s purely our choice. Otherwise there would be no life.
About medicines / supplements:
I was tempted to start with naturism-snobbery like.. water is the minimum medicine you need to take daily. However, I have somewhat higher demands from the audience. Indeed, water is the first on the list as a substance that must be ingested, more precisely at least 4l per day. Yes, at the risk of going to the toilet often, four liters of water a day.
Diamox is the name of the wonder drug that you must have with you. It can be found in Nepal or something equivalent can be bought in Romania.
Naturists don’t recommend it and shun it as something unholy, modernists say it’s standard. As I worship the holy logic, I say make a well-informed choice. Better get here the most useful links about medication on the mountain:

Advice and Recommendations
If you don’t feel like reading here is my conclusion:
– water 4 l minimum for an Island Peak ascent or more.
– sufficient oxygenation.
– caffeine (1.5–3 mg/kg) helps performance and general well-being at high altitude.
– aspirin (320 mg every 4 h for a total of 3 doses) or Ibuprofen (400 or 600 mg once) for prevention and even treatment of AMS, headaches.
– if you cannot sleep, Temazepam (10 mg) up to 3600–5000 m: Temazepam (7.5–10 mg before bed), Zolpidem (10 mg) or Zaleplon (10 mg) can be taken without unwanted side effects.
– for treatment of pulmonary edema caused by altitude (HAPE) – Nifedipine – emergency, until specialized treatment.
– at the first symptoms of altitude sickness (AMS) – Nurofen and/or Paracetamol. If not, Diamox – 2 times a day before the climb, a day or two and stop immediately after reaching the summit.
Diamox was originally taken out for glaucoma. Without going into details, the substance makes you breathe faster and deeper, oxygenates you better. If I had problems with my heart, I wouldn’t have taken it because it feels like it is being put to work more intensively. It is a drug that masks the symptoms of AMS. If it doesn’t go away with Diamox it’s probably not AMS and it’s worse, brain edema or something, I don’t know. Diamox can also suddenly stop working when you’re high.
I, however, had terrible headaches for about 2 days, so I was determined to give up the climb to Island Peak. And on Mont Blanc we had nothing. The pains took me when, due to the pain in the throat caused by the dust, I didn’t hydrate as well (the 4l a day) and I couldn’t sleep as well (this and because of the lack of experience in how to sleep in a bag of -35). After taking the diamox, the pain went away like a miracle, I recovered overnight, climbed the peak and haven’t had a problem since.
I best recommend you read the UIAA advice and decide based on how you know each other to be.

About Ama Dablam seen from several angles:
Ama Dablam is perhaps the most beautiful peak in the Khumbu Valley region. It rises to 6812 meters and its climbing further allows the application for climbing on Everest, being the only peak below 7000m that offers this possibility. Ama Dablam means Mother’s Necklace. The mountain dominates the eastern sky for those going to Everest Base Camp.
About responsibility and ecology:
I carried with me the banners and messages of the organizations Greenpeace Romania, WWF Romania and the Alternative Education Center (Policy Center for Roma and Minorities). Saying why wouldn’t make much sense in this blog. Those who come to this blog are most likely well informed about the disastrous situation in the world, but especially in Romania regarding the protection of the environment, species, illegal deforestation and discrimination against children of other ethnicities.
I don’t know how many of us realize that the so-called developed and civilized countries pollute far more than the share of their populations in the global population. A lot more. And that too on an individual level. In vain you recycle paper to paper and plastic to plastic but the rest of your life is just waste: waste by what you work, waste in traffic, waste by what you consume. The waste is not only direct, and often recycling only feeds our personal pride.
In Nepal in the mountains, the cabins were made of plywood. Heating only in the dining room and that with compacted yak dung. Nepalese are not allowed to cut trees and even for those felled by the storm they need special approvals. The food is low in fat and generally healthier. And I’m not necessarily saying that the Nepalese are Captain Planet. Given the opportunity, people are just as destructive anywhere in the world under similar conditions. I’m just describing the situation there and talking about how we can live differently, by our choice or forced by circumstances.

Hint 1! You can always leave me a comment or message to give you the company name.
Hint 2! I recently purchased a profi anti-pollution mask from England (Respro), for the pollution in Bucharest, a mask that would probably have been excellent for the dust particles from Nepal. At the time of editing this article, this brand was not available in Romania.
Hint 3! Everywhere there is water to buy, water from the tap in which you can put purification pills, showers are more difficult but wi-fi and battery charging do not pose problems, for a fee.