The trek from the Kathmandu highway to Everest Base Camp took about a month to make the return journey. Many tourists flew to an airport at Lukla, just below Namche Bazaar, reducing trekking time to less than a week -- including acclimatization to the high altitude. The countryside above Namche Bazaar was dotted with a number of Buddhist monastaries like this one. At an elevation of around 12,000 to 14,000 feet, one experiences the effects of altitude quite strongly, even with acclimatization. Although I was only 23, walking was a great effort and I realized this might be a preview of old age. It took several days to reach the high point at over 18,000 feet as advancing too quickly can be fatal. I experienced nothing worse than a headache, but a friend became sick and had to descend immediately. These children, who have lived all their lives at this elevation, move like agile mountain goats.

1977, 1999 Richard McGuire

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