We were the last two to arrive and fortunately without any glitches with our checked luggage, we were all set to fly out to Lukla early this morning (Thurs. 10/22). Our crew piled into the twin engine Dornier 228 and the sheer energy of our collective excitement felt more powerful than the horsepower and roar of the engines as we lifted off at 6:40 AM. Flying into Lukla (rated as THE most extreme airport in the entire world) is always an adventure even though this was our fourth time here. And the adrenaline-filled experience did not disappoint.
Because of the heavy cloud cover on the approach, our pilot had to circle around several times while carefully avoiding mountain tops, until he finally found a hole in the clouds. With the short 1,500 foot long airstrip in his sights, he expertly navigated us through the clouds into clear skies and a safe, albeit "edge of your seat" landing.
Not long after our feet were securely back on the ground we were thrilled to be reunited with DaOngchhu Sherpa. It has been five years since we have seen DaOngchhu and had the great pleasure of spending two months with him climbing Everest, punctuated by the highlight of standing on top of the world together. Early in the planning stages of this expedition, we made a special request with Garrett Madison to have DaOngchhu as part of our team and we are grateful to have his vast high-altitude mountaineering experience with us on Burke Khang.
Before hitting the trail to Phakding (elevation 8,700 feet) where we are spending the night tonight at the Sunrise Lodge by the river, we assembled our entire team for a group photo. We have a total of seven climbers and four trekkers (who will accompany us to Base Camp) plus our top notch guides Garrett Madison and Sid Pattison along with two of our Sherpas pictured here Ang Phurba (on left) and DaOngchhu. For detailed bios and photos of our entire team please visit Bill's blog post: http://eightsummits.com/bill-burke-blog/mountaineering/burke-khang-climbing-team/