The day was finally here. We were up early at 5AM. I had actually been awake since 3AM with nerves about our adventure ahead and the flight . The flight to Lukla ( the start of the hike to Base Camp Everest) takes off from Kathmandu and in a short 20 minuets you are approaching the worlds most dangerous runway. Due to the length of the runway and height it is rated as one of the most difficult landings and has caused a few crashes over the years. The weather needs to be crystal clear at both ends of the journey for the small 14 people plane to take off. We were told the earlier the flight the better the chance you have of taking off that day. With all the information running through my head we grabbed our duffel bags and met Raju in the lobby. Our driver picked us up and drove us through the creepily quiet streets to the airport. This side of Kathmandu airport was very different to were we flew in. There were monkey’s all over the terminal. It was chaotic trying to get through security which was pretty relaxed compared to security at home. Each flight company had a stand with a flip sign of what destination they were currently checking in. We checked in our bags and stepped over some weighing scales to go through to the boarding area. The security machine for bags was not working so we walked straight through and grabbed a seat. Our hotel had packed us a to go breakfast which I didn’t really touch as I was full of nerves. The hours slowly went by and they started to push all the Lukla flights back. As we were on the first flight we had first dibs if any would leave that morning. On the plus side the airport had great WiFi, so I got to speak to my family and friends which was great. Our tour guides smile never faded. Then at 2PM they made the call that no flights would be leaving due to the clouds covering the runway. Raju grabbed our bags and before we knew it we were hustled into a taxi and on route back to the hotel. The craziest bit was our Sherpa had flown out on a late flight the day before and was up there waiting for us.
Back in the hotel we laid on the bed a bit heart broken and extremely disappointed our adventure was on hold. Raju said he would go back to the airport tomorrow and try get us on a early flight. That night we had dinner and discussed how crap it felt about us not being able to fly and how hopefully the day after tomorrow we would get to go. We also reached out to friends who had already done this trip and they had to wait a few days to before they got a helicopter up to Lukla. They gave us some great advice and kept our spirits up. After a few pep talks we headed to the Irish pub in Kathmandu for a few pints.
The next morning we got back into the same hiking gear and laid on the bed watching movies waiting for Raju to call. He had been at the airport to try get us on a flight that day but was unsuccessful. He had us on a flight for the next late on in the morning so our chances again would be slim. MK and I spent the day watching movies and napping we were both quiet just thinking about what a long two days it was and after all this hard work would we make it to Everest? After a day of day dreaming and napping we dragged ourselves out for dinner before having another early night.
Before we knew it we were back at the airport in the same set of clothes with the same people from two days prior. We were on a later flight that morning. While we waited Raju offered us a option of going in a car and hiking up to Lukla. A group was leaving in 20 minuets and we could jump in with them. My gut instinct was no…so I did a quick bit of research about the journey and it sounded horrible. It was around 14 hours cramped off roading in a jeep then a 3 extra days of hiking 20KM a day. MK was ready to jump in the jeep and begin the journey. I felt lots of pressure to say yes and go but I knew fitness wise I would not be able to complete the extra bit of trekking. I did have a moment and a cry. MK realized maybe this was not the route to go. Sitting in the terminal we noticed a long line of people outside a helicopter stand. Raju explained they had booked to go on a helicopter which would cost us $500 USD each. Being on our third day stuck in the airport we asked Raju if he could get us on a helicopter. He explained that none had actually left in 3 days either and they were being very careful as one had crashed only last week. The rest of the day was spent in silence at the airport just waiting. We saw some people leave from the helicopter line and heard 2 helicopters would fly. Next thing we know Raju said when the helicopters return he had got us on one, but the catch was it would just be MK and I and Raju would follow up after. Again my gut instinct was not good but I did want to go and get up there. We agreed to go on the next helicopter and Raju took us through to the office to pay. The card machine would not work, I was thinking is this a sign we should not be getting on the helicopter? After 4 attempts they got the card machine to work and we sat back in the terminal. We sat down and the electric cut in the airport. I must have looked terrified. MK asked me if I was okay and all I could say was I was trying to find one positive sign we should be getting on this helicopter. Another 45 mins went past and Raju came up to let us know the first lot of helicopters could not reach the airport and had dropped off the passenger in a rural village half way to Lukla. They did not want to return the tourist as they did not want to refund anyone any money. Once the helicopters had returned they would not be flying again and we would go on them first thing tomorrow. Honestly I was so happy we were not getting on the helicopter. We met a couple who also had been at the airport for 3 days and had booked to be on the helicopter with us tomorrow. It was great to talk to them and the many others we met in the airport. It just made us realize we were not alone and everyone in this terminal had come so far and trained so hard for this experience and were feeling exactly like we were. Back at the hotel I did bring up to MK maybe we need a plan B because we couldn’t just wait in the airport and not enjoy our trip. I brought up a hike called Annapurna Base Camp as alternate trek. MK was not in the mind frame yet to really plan a alternative trek so I left it.
We had discussed if we did not fly out today we would move on. Off we went back to the airport in our terminal outfits for the past 4 days. We said goodbye to the hotel for the 4th morning hoping we would not be going back for a few weeks. At the airport we checked in and got weighed with our bags for the helicopter. I had all the stuff from yesterday whirling around my head and I was nervous. I did not feel safe and I did not want to get on the helicopter. I sat quietly with my headphones in. The morning passed and we were still waiting. I was stressed at the thought of the helicopter dropping us off and leaving us stranded. I was phoned my mum letting her know how stressed I was feeling. MK and I had been sat in a airport for 4 days stressed, confused and disappointed. As I was letting my mum know what was happening MK walked up and said they cancelled the helicopter flights for the day and he had told Raju we would go to Annapurna base camp. That was that, our Everest dream was put on hold. Completely heart broken we stood in line as Raju talked to the airline agents to try get us on a flight to Phokara. The flight was a blur. It was a small plane and we were all sat separately. The captain came running through the plane swung open the door to the cockpit turned on the engine and we were off. The flight was 20 minuets of flying through pure cloud until we reached Phokara, one hard right around the mountains and we were back on the ground.