Destinations // Everest Base Camp Trek Day 15: Monjo to Lukla

EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIARY DAY 15

MONJO TO LUKLA

KEY STATS

Starting Point: Monjo (2,835m/9,301ft)

Finishing Point: Lukla (2,860m/9,383ft)

Distance: 13km/8mi

Trekking Time: 3.5 Hours

Accommodation: Yeti Mountain Home

It is true what they say – all good things must come to an end. That could never be more true as we woke up on day 15 of our Everest Base Camp Trek. After some coffee and a light breakfast, we made our way back to the trails for what would be our last day of trekking in the Everest Region.  The stretch of trail from Monjo to Lukla follows the main Everest Base Camp route we took on Day 1 of our trek. We passed through village of Chumoa and crossed over the Dudh Kosi River, which originates from the areas we trekked around near Mt. Everest (8,848m.)
As we passed through the small villages of Benkar, Phakding and Chuthawa I was reminded of the constant ascents and descents that greeted us as we started the trails bright-eyed and bushy tailed. In fact, the trails were buzzing with fresh-faced tourists – eagerly making their way through the first stretch of their adventure. I remember seeing the returning flush-faced trekkers on Day 1 and thinking to myself that they looked a bit worse for wear.
Given the curious stares we received as we were making our return, it was clear that we were now those people. It felt like the new arrivals were looking to us to get an indication of what they were about to experience. How was it? Will it get tougher? Did you make it all the way? How’s the weather? While I don’t feel we looked as beaten as some of those we initially saw, it was clear our faces were telling a story.
As we passed the newbies I could only think about smiling and being positive – leaving them excited about their journey and what was to come for them. Days of battering cold winds, constant aching legs, sleepless nights, smelly clothes, and for some, serious bouts of altitude sickness. They will experience it for themselves. My smiles to them hopefully brought excitement and hope that they too can go the distance on this amazing experience.
Their smiles directed at me and the occasional “well done” gave me a sense of achievement and ultimately the last bit of encouragement I needed to push myself up the grueling hills from Monjo to Lukla (2,860m). Each one of these steps was bittersweet as it meant the adventure was coming to an end. And just like that, we reached the Pasang Lhamu Memorial Gate and were back where we started – signifying the end of our Everest Base Camp Trek.
As with our initial flight into Lukla, return trips to and from Kathmandu are only available in the morning (and only depart if there is good weather). We were booked on the first flight out in the morning so we checked into the Yeti Mountain Home for our last night of the trail. With a handful of shops, bars and cafes in Lukla – we had plenty of things to occupy our time. We grabbed a bit to each and reflected on the last two weeks of trekking in one of those most beautiful parts of the world – what an adventure.
As we meandered around town, we found ourselves at the airport watching the flurry of helicopters buzzing on and off Lukla’s famously scary runway. At any one-time there were four or five whirring around us. Most of the choppers were carrying people off the mountain who were experiencing altitude sickness.
When we realised that some of the riders were taking part in scenic flights, the rest was history. Next thing you know we were negotiating rates with one of the workers at the airport to get us onto a private scenic flight. We spent the last couple of weeks navigating these stunning mountains by foot. It was time to retrace our steps by air to see the beauty of Mt. Everest from a different perspective. Note: For those wanting to do the same, be sure to bring your negotiating skills. These guys are skilled and drive a hard bargain. 😊
We had to sit around waiting for the inclement weather near Base Camp to calm before departing Lukla. Most of the chopper pilots had stopped flying due to the changing weather, so the skilled owner of the chopper company agreed to take us on our trip. We sat down with him and shared our trekking route through the region – and stated we wanted to retrace our steps with the chopper. He responded by stating he had never flown this route before, but was game if we were. While it had all the mixings of a mishap, we were most definitely game. We strapped the GoPro to the bottom of the chopper and away we went.
The first couple minutes of the flight were very cloudy and the setting sun in the distance prevented us from seeing much of anything. As it began to clear, we passed through the lower river valley over towns like Namche and Thame and zipped over the Renjo La and Cho La High Passes. It really put into perspective how vast the area is and how crazy the terrain was that we traversed over the last fourteen days.
The pilot flew up the Khumbu Valley to Everest Base Camp where we could see the continued action of the season’s build up. That’s where we climbed. That’s where we slept. That’s where we gazed admiring the mountains. This time they were smack dab in our faces.
To my surprise, the pilot navigated his chopper up the Khumbu Icefall and flew us over Camp 1 on Everest. Unlike our views when we were overnighting at Base Camp, Everest wasn’t hiding behind other mountains – it felt so close we could touch it. Then there was the Lhotse face – exposed and waiting for this season’s climbers to traverse it. The experience didn’t seem real.
The chopper left Everest Base Camp behind and made its way over the Khumbu Glacier and back down the Khumbu Valley. On our return to Lukla the pilot circumnavigated the peak of Ama Dablam (6,812m) and got us up close to the other amazing peaks we had admired over the course of trek.
And just like that, our chopper made its way back to Lukla. My adrenaline was pumping – we just flew a chopper as close to the mountains as possible and saw the beautiful region from a new perspective. The 45-minute flight helped tie our experience together and provided some visual context for the enormity of our accomplishment. The chopper ride will be one I will always remember and be thankful for the opportunity to have taken.
That evening we had our final dinner with our guide Prem and porter Pasung. We were very thankful for the laughs and support we got from our team while on the mountain. It was great being able to spend a bit more time with them reflecting on the trip we shared together. While we would be going back home, our crew would be taking more eager tourists up and down the mountain this season to sate their sense of adventure.
The following morning, we were booked on one for the first flights out of Lukla. We were blessed with clear weather which meant that we could fly back to Kathmandu with no delays. We boarded the small plane, which proceeded to make its way to the end of the runway. You may recall from Day 1, that the Tenzing-Hillary Airport is known for being one of the most dangerous in the world. The end of the very-short runway is a sheer cliff that plunges into a deep abyss.
To assist the plane in getting the speed required to take off, the runway was created at a 12% gradient. The engines roared and the plane proceeded to plunge itself downhill to the precipitous drop off – and shortly before reaching the edge of the cliff, the pilots did their thing and we were airborne heading back to Kathmandu. I may or may not have needed a change of underwear after that take off.
Simply put – Everest Base Camp Trek was an awesome adventure. I can’t wait to come to back.

WATCH THE ADVENTURE UNFOLD

LOOKING FOR NITTY GRITTY DETAILS?

Check out the day as recorded by Stava. See the trails taken, overall elevation gains,  trekking times and how fast (or slow) we made it from Point A to Point B.

If you are looking for more information on Everest and how we tackled our trip, be sure to check out the below posts:

GET ALL THE DETAILS ABOUT MY EBC TREK HERE.

READ MY Q&A WITH OUT ADVENTURES FOUNDER ROB.

SEE OTHER POPULAR EVEREST REGION TREKS.

ENJOY MONJO TO LUKLA? CHECK OUT MORE OF THE EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK AT DESTINATIONS // EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK.

25 comments

  • congrats for making it to everest! 🙂

    talking about everest is kind of close to home as one my senior in high school who married my friend, we lost them when we were planning out for everest due to the earthquake in nepal a few years ago. it was sad, and has always been until this very day because we haven’t gotten any clear sign about what happened to them exactly.

    i hope you and everyone will be safe whenever you travel. cheerio! 🙂

    • Many thanks! It was such a fun adventure. The earthquakes in Nepal have devastated so may different parts of the country and impacted so may people. Really sorry to hear about your friend. All the best and stay safe as well.

    • Thank you very much for the kind words. It was challenging but a heck of a lot of fun. In the process of planning my next trek, but would love to go back and see more of the Everest region.

  • I was smiling as I was reading how you were seeing the fresh newbies, the same thing happened to me a few months ago at a trek in the Colombian jungle. We were arriving totally drained and drenched in our own sweat and they were all starting to freak out about what was awaiting them! It’s fantastic that you could see where you trekked from a chopper!! Suddenly you realize the size of these mountains, it’s amazing. For sure something you will remember all your life!

    • Trekking in the Columbian jungle sounds epic! I would love to take on such an adventure. And yes, if you were drenched and drained you probably did scare the newbies. It’s all part of the fun. Thanks for checking us out.

  • I loved that you were encouraging to the hikers on the ascent after having experienced the difficulties of your own journey — and they were honoring your accomplishment. Wonderful how a brief exchange like this can be so authentic; it gives me hope in mankind’s basic caring for one another. 👏 Your photos are incredible, too!

    • Thanks for the kind words Jackie. You are right – it is an exchange that is authentic. It’s fun to see how challenges like trekking to Base Camp can bring people from all different backgrounds together. It’s almost as if you are connected because you have shared/will share the same experience.

  • What an amazing adventure! Congratulations on your accomplishment. The pictures from the helicopter are breath taking. How cool to be able to retrace your route from the air!

    • We feel quite lucky being able to retrace the steps via the chopper. Deffo was a nice way to close off this adventure in Everest region. Thanks for following along!

  • Have been following some of your Everest posts and they are all equally stunning! Keep up the good work, thanks for sharing!

  • I love how you describe the reactions of the newbies; it gives a great context for the distance traveled, both physical and in the soul. My GoPro is deeply envious of the chopper flight yours took. That’s a great idea to retrace the route you too, and such stunning pictures resulted.

    • Thanks for the kind words Bernadette. If it’s any consolation, I ended up not using any of the GoPro footage as it was inverted and a pain to deal with. ☺ Love a good travel mishap. Happy Travels.

  • Such an epic adventure, seriously. I am in awe of all that you have achieved here. What an incredible amount of lifetime memories. The landscape is just so beautiful and I loved that you were able to get up for a private flight. That would have been the best thing for me. I don’t think I will ever get to this location, so have enjoyed living vicariously through your trip.

    • Thanks for the kind works Kerri. It feel like sharing the experience is all I have been working on over the past few months and I glad that you found it fun. Never say never. ☺

  • Trekking Mount Everest is the ultimate bucket list feat! That’s so awesome you got to experience this and thanks for sharing your adventure with us! Looks like something I would love to do… hopefully I can someday!

    • I feel really blessed to have had the opportunity to experience the region like we did. Thanks for following the adventures – I hope that you get the opportunity to tick this off your bucket list.

    • Thanks Amy! The chopper ride is deffo a nice alternative to doing to actual trek. ☺ Happy Travels.

  • Now this is an adventure!! Everest is one of those ultimate bucket list items and I really would love to get there one day. Stunning shots as well. Looking forward to reading more!

    • Thanks for the kinds words Helena. Glad you are enjoying the posts – just don’t keep Everest on your bucket list too long. It deserves to be seen in person. ☺ Happy Travels.

  • I bet you’ve heard this many times before, Everest is on my bucket list. But it is. I can’t believe I have been so many times to India and close enough to Nepal, but never ventured through the Himalayas. I’ve been kicking myself seeing your lovely pics. I must go soon 🙂

  • What an amazing end to the Himalayan Adventure. Retracing the trekking route you took by helicopter sounds so fascinating.. The beauty and grandeur of Mt. Everest is spectacular and you are really blessed to have got so close to it.

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