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There are many memorable moments when one treks in the Khumbu. From flowering rhododendron bushes, to mountains that seem to stretch to the stars, to glaciers cracking and calving and feeding rushing rivers and streams. But perhaps even more fascinating than the dramatic landscapes are the Sherpa people who reside here. Living in a harsh and rugged land their lives are filled with hard work and few pleasures. But they are happy and cheerful people, grateful for small acts of kindness and happy to engage with you as best they can given language difficulties.
I was especially struck by the deep Buddhist faith of these folks, a trait shared with their neighboring Tibetan brethern, which you’ll see manifest as colorful strings …
The Sherpa people live in one of the harshest regions on the planet, the Khumbu. Their world is one of majestic steep mountains (the highest anywhere), roaring rivers, glaciers, steep trails and yaks. There are no roads, no airports, not even a swimming pool. They are poor and have little; still, they are among the happiest and friendliest people I’ve had the privilege of meeting. The Sherpa are best know for their excellence in mountaineering. From Sir Edmund Hillary on they have guided and staffed expeditions to the many tall peaks in the region, especially Mount Everest.
We had camped overnight near the village of Kumjung, close to Namche Bazaar and not far from Mount Everest. It …
We had spent the past week slowly working our way up the slopes of Kilimanjaro via the Shira route, an experience I’ve previously described in blog posts here and here. Finally, after a chilly night’s camping beside the Furtwangler Glacier on the Summit Plateau, the Roof of Africa was only a few hours away.
We were up before dawn, enjoyed hot tea and a light breakfast and were eager to tackle the 800′ climb separating our camp from Uhuru Peak (19,340′). It was slow going in the thin air and steep slope but what an experience to watch the early light of sunrise on the eastern horizon! The sky above us was mostly …
We had ascended the western base of the volcano this past half week, had hiked through jungle and moorland, as I’ve described in a prior blog post here, and were now entering Kilimanjaro’s alpine desert zone, characterized by wide open spaces with sparse, small plants. We began feeling the altitude as our pulse and breathing grew more rapid in the thin air. The views were unobstructed and wonderful — it seemed like you could see all of Africa from here. But in reality we enjoyed the African plains, the Shira plateau to the west and the iced peak of Kilimanjaro to the northeast. Often the clouds would roll by thousands of feet below our camp (Like …
Mt. Kilimanjaro has fascinated me ever since I read Ernest Hemingway’s classic novella, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro“. Little did I know as a schoolboy that I would one day walk its slopes. As it turned out my journey to the Roof of Africa was one of my greatest travel experiences.
Some facts about the mountain: At 19340 feet (5895 m) above sea level, Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa. Even though the mountain is near the equator, it’s so tall the summit is always covered by ice and snow (“Kili” means cold.); this snow-pack is an important source of water for the foliage and animals living around its base. The lower slopes …