581594_10151386464956298_1778970168_nI love visiting New Zealand, Tuscany, Indonesia, but my heart belongs to Himalayas. I’ve spent the happiest moments of my life on the Everest and Kanchanchunga treks, feeling the most alive. When I visited Nepal for the first time in 2007, I had no idea I will get so addicted to the unbelievably beautiful landscape and will have to return many times…Himalayas became a substitute for Tatra mountains for me, and I am very fortunate to be able to visit the Himalayas so often.
I had no plans for coming back to Nepal the second time this year. But when my concerts and master classes in Indonesia got rescheduled from December to January I was left with 12 free days in Asia. My two top choices were: diving in Philippines or hiking Himalayas! To my surprise, I found quite affordable Airasia flight to Katmandu, fitting perfectly into my schedule. I have craved the view from the Ranjo pass at Gokyo lake for months…I kept thinking about it, dreaming about it….I have been there already but like with the valley of Five Lakes in Tatras, I had a need to return. So I did!

The flight to Lukla was smooth and beautiful as always. But there was no delay this time, for the first time! I started walking shortly before 8 am and kept going (Idecided not to go with a porter or a guide)  until I reached Namche before 4 pm….I so did not want to spend two days on the busy Lukla-Namche part of the trek. So I pushed, and did two days in one, arriving at the Everest hotel in Namche, quite exhausted after the final ascent , but happy. I ordered the famous chicken sizzler just for the sentiment. ( I don’t really eat meat anymore) and was disappointed. I skipped the” rest day” and continued on, the next day, but the body did not like that too much. I was tired. The trek continued sharply up after the initial easy 1 h walk. I had the second breakfast ( delicious vegetable omelet ) and stored some energy. It was a hard morning. I reached my favorite village on the way to Gokyo ( the corner village, cant remember the name…MongaLa?) and could not get enough of the view: Tamboche, Amadablam, Everest, just surrounded by mountains. The sun was strong and happy. I had my favorite food, dal bhat and started to chat with one of the hotel owners.The hotel was very clean and very warm, and I was offered  a free room, which convinced me to stay and do nothing else for the rest of the day but  to stair at the mountains while seating in the sun.
The hotel owner was a Sherpa women married to a Belgian man, who had two sons, and spoke very good English. She was telling me how tired she is of the city life and how much she would prefer to stay high in the mountains. “I hate Kathmandu” she told me many times during our conversation.

I was not looking forward to the next day hike. I knew the trail. It was steep and difficult and in shadows           ( forest). I walked too fast again, reaching the destination point by noon. Continuing up was not an option because my body could have not liked to gain more altitude. I have already covered 4 days in 2, I had to be smart. There was a larger group of tourist at the lodge I stayed at: Australians, British, Greek, Japanese, and Spanish tourists. The Japanese guy brought a coffee grinder with him, and a stove to make sure he could brew his coffee properly. ( there was boiled water at the tea house of course) I enjoyed watching his dedication. Nothing like Japanese precision! The evening was quiet except for a short disco the hotel owner decided to “entertained” us with. We ‘killed’ that idea very quickly.

The next day was a killer day for most people. Again, I got ahead. Unintentionally. The group from South Africa I passed was quite strong and we continued  mostly together. My ‘other friends’  arrived couple hours later. I was so glad to be traveling alone and not to have to wait for anyone! I had no problem with the altitude as far as breathing or headache is concern, but the heavy back pack ( 15kg) started to be a problem. The last 1.5h was tough, but I still made it by 11 ish am and went up the Gokyo RI (17,575′ (5,357 m) after the lunch. I needed to see the full view of Everest! It turned out to be a bad decision on my part, as I struggle to get up this time.  Again, I didn’t feel it in my lungs or head, but it was taking me a while to reach the peak. And I was ALONE again 🙂 The Gokyo Ri was mine for an hour! Just perfect.

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The next day was a well deserved “rest day”, with three huge meals and plenty of hot tea and chocolate.  I wondered around, took pictures at glaciers and managed to drop my new camera, or rather let the wind drop it down. It survived the fall 🙂

I decided not to go through the  Cho La Pass towards Everest base camp ( I have been at the Everest Base Camp before)but instead to visit the quiet valley behind the Ranjo Pass. I knew the next day would be very difficult. I had to carry my backpack (15 kg) and myself  1000 m up and reach 5360 m (17585feet)  and do it quickly enough to continue down the valley and reach a tea house before the darkness swings in.
It was strangely cloudy in the morning and looked like snow.

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I knew it usually doesn’t snow in December but it just did a week before for couple days, so it was a possibility. I was not thrilled about the clouds because I was worried about having enough light for my photography, but it turned out to be quite spectacular, especially the Everest looked intriguing with a rounded cloud- umbrella above the peak. It was windy!!!! I was happy I had all my hats, gloves, wind breakers and down jacket. I used it all. The last 30 min were brutal, but I felt the altitude for maybe couple minutes on the last 10 minute assent. I made it again!

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I can survive above 5000 meters without much problems as long as I don’t get too cold.

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I wish I could had stayed for a few hours there… But the way down was very very long and very down. I think it was over 1500 meters down. And there was NOONE there! Empty valley with lakes and white peaks, a few yaks were saying goodbye.

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It’s always so hard to descent ….I wish there were only assents in the mountains. The sun was brutal. I had to reapply the sun block several times and I was extremely grateful for my new sunglasses as my eyes were finally comfortable.  (I learned my lesson in Kanchenjunga! ) Sun, snow and altitude is not a good mixture.

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I arrived at the village and was greeted by a women collecting yaks shit. She said in her broken English:  last hotel, left, much food.” sounded great as I was hungry. I had only omelet and chapati and it was 4 pm. I found the hotel but there was only a guy there and he was drinking….I   thought about  leaving, but decided against it.  I needed to have some warm tea. He brought me an entire thermos of milk tea and it made me very happy. It turned out to be one of the best nights in the mountains. The women who suggested this hotel to me turned out to be his wife.  She came back with a lot of yaks shit, and made a beautiful fire a few hours later.  She also cooked a delicious dal bhat, and made a delicious  hot chocolate for me.There was also a couple from the USA staying there, and the guy spoke Nepali! He was able to communicate with the Nepali family, who shared with us many  amazing stories about their lives and Tibetans. (It was the last  Nepali village  on the route to Tibet) We laughed and talked long into the night. The next two days were peaceful and beautiful. I met no tourists and just a few yaks … on the trek. The trek was  finished when I reached Namche Bazar: the city life was very present here and the peace was over. Returning is never easy. But this time, I had something to look forward to: warm, summer weather in Australia, where I was performing shortly.  If I only knew how hot and difficult it was going to be to adjust from Himalayan winter to Australian summer!

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