Efforts to evacuate trekkers from Lukla, Nepal are underway today after bad weather has left many stranded for the past six days. The small mountain town has one of the few airports in the High Himalaya, and is the starting point for most climbers and hikers who are making the trek to Mt. Everest. Rain and fog have made it impossible for planes to land at the airport, which is already amongst the most dangerous in the world, preventing anyone from returning to Kathmandu.
All told, about 2000 travelers have been stranded in the village since last week, although CNN reports that some left yesterday on foot for the town of Jiri. It is a four day hike to that location, but once there, the trekkers will be able to board buses back to Kathmandu. Meanwhile, helicopters have begun shuttling people back to Nepal’s capitol, with most expected to be evacuated today and another 500 or so taken out tomorrow.
You may recall that hundreds of trekkers were stuck in Lukla last November as well, as poor weather can be a real issue this time of year in the Himalaya. Compounding the issue, Lukla isn’t exactly set-up to house large amounts of people for days at a time, as there are limited rooms available in the tea houses and food needs to be delivered on the incoming planes.
On my visit to the village last year, we stayed over night in Lukla on our return trip from Everest Base Camp. It was one of the more well stocked and comfortable locations along the trek, but that still isn’t saying much. Most people come and go very quickly from the town and I suspect with 2000 people stranded there, they had to resort to setting up tents where ever possible and rationing food and drinks to a degree. Fortunately, it seems that the issues are finally being resolved.
The other side of this story is of course the people that are stranded in Kathmandu who were hoping to go on their trek right now. They haven’t been able to fly out to Lukla for the past week either, so I’m sure they are more than eager to hit the trail. No word on when that will start happening, and while the weather is improving, it hasn’t gotten dramatically better just yet.
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