It was an exhilarating experience as the chopper rose a few feet into the air from the landing pad, turned and – and descended down the valley, towering mountains on each side, the pilot skilfully navigating his way through the clouds, occasional turbulence and mountain passes.
Whilst there are many trekkers like myself who choose to walk to and from our destinations, increasing numbers of well off travellers/tourists use choppers to visit the region. Many risk altitude sickness as they have not had adequate time to acclimatise to the altitude.
The helicopter is a critical form of transport in the mountainous Himalayas. Without roads – the transport choices are walking, yaks, occasionally horses. Helicopters save lives in medical emergencies, allow trekkers and mountain climbers to rapidly reach distant locations and carry supplies of many types, to wherever they are needed.
Rock and ice – the glacier is constantly on the move. The noise of crashing rocks and distant avalanches permeates the air.
Mount Everest with Everest Base camp in the foreground.
This place is so rich in history, stories of survival and death, the strength of the human spirit and great human courage. In particular the inspirational dedication, loyalty and utter dependability of the brave Sherpas, who made climbing Everest possible. I am drawn to return to the Khumbu, which I shall do in 2018.
After the rain, the mountain streams are flowing. Icy cold and crystal clear water.
Deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), or fagus as it is best-known, a humble tree, usually growing to 2 metres or less. You find it in places most would describe as inhospitable. And one of its other names – tanglefoot – is ruefully confirmed by bushwalkers caught up in its twisted, ground-hugging branches. Yet this small Tasmanian tree can claim something few other Australian plants can. It is Australia’s only cold climate winter-deciduous tree, and you will find it nowhere else in the world except Tasmania.
And its autumn display is superb. Fagus turns a spectacular range of autumn colours, from rust red through to brilliant gold, during late April and May.