Late March and early April are always a very busy time in Kathmandu as spring finally arrives, granting mountaineers and trekkers access to the Himalaya at last. The city is generally crowded, colorful, and chaotic to begin with, but when the spring climbing and trekking seasons begin, that chaos is taken to another level. Most will only be in town for a brief stay, while they collect their required permits and gear and head out to their various mountain destinations in preparation for their adventures ahead.
Of course, Mt. Everest is one of the top draws for adventure travelers heading to both Nepal and Tibet this time of year. As of this writing, China has once again closed Tibet to visitors, although that is expected to change in the next few days. Once access to the region is restored, mountaineers will travel to Everest’s North Side, officially kicking off the climbing season there, which will run into early June, when the monsoon returns.
On the Nepali side of the mountain, it is business as usual, with regular flights to Lukla already in full swing. The mountain village serves as the gateway to the Khumbu Valley, which in turn gives access to Everest itself. Climbers who are taking on the mountain from the South Side must first make a ten day trek to Base Camp, where teams of Sherpas have been busy preparing for the their arrival for over a week now. Reportedly, poor weather prevented a number of flights from getting out of Kathmandu, over the weekend, but things have improved now, and the regular shuttles are back on schedule.
The route to BC is a popular one with trekkers as well, and although they’ll never stand on the summit of the 29,035 foot tall Everest themselves, they still enjoy the challenges of hiking through the Himalaya. Along the way, they’ll stay in rustic tea houses and experience Sherpa culture first hand, while basking in some of the most breathtaking (literally and figuratively) scenery found anywhere on the planet.
While Everest may be the most famous mountain in the Himalaya, it is hardly the only attraction that draws climbers and trekkers to Nepal. The Annapurna Circuit is widely considered one of the best, if not the best, trekking route in the world, and it attracts its fair share of backpackers as well. This trek runs around the amazing Annapurna Massif, which includes six major peaks, each of which is at least 7200 meters in height. The crown jewel of those peaks is Annapurna I, the 10th highest mountain in the world at 26,545 feet, and one of the toughest to climb as well.
The hustle and bustle of Kathmandu will continue for the next couple of months, with travelers coming and going. Most trekkers will hang around the region for two to three weeks, while the climbers will stay put for as much as two and a half months. Right now, more than any other place on the planet, adventure is in the air in the Himalaya and for travelers that make the trip, the rewards are endless.