Lions set a cracking pace in Himalayas

IT'S NOT every day that a Sherpa tells trekkers in the Himalayas to slow down, but that's what happened when they let Cooma Lions Club president Ken Hanna lead the group one day on their 18 day trek in Nepal.

At 66-years-old Mr Hanna was the oldest in the group of 14 people and three Sherpas trekking from Kathmandu to the Mount Everest base camp at 5,800 metres.

When asked if he would like to lead the walk one day the fit Mr Hanna readily agreed.

However, after two hours one of the Sherpas came running up to him and asked if he was trying to kill everyone because he was walking so fast.

The group, of 12 Australians and two South Africans, covered 163 kilometres over 18 days, walking up to eight hours a day.

Mr Hanna said he and his nephew Tony Saliba, 48, were planning an adventure together and tossed up between the Kokoda Track or the Himalayas.

"The cold of the Himalayas won out over the heat and mosquitoes of Papua New Guinea," Mr Hanna said.

"We started walking at 4am every morning with the days reaching temperatures of around 20 degrees. We wore tee shirts most of the time, but the wind was freezing, about -20 degrees wind chill factor.

"I think I got a bit of frost bite on my nose."

The group explored Kathmandu and visited Bodnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world.

"One morning we took a spectacular flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (2,827m), flying parallel to the giant Himalayan Mountains bordering Nepal and China (Tibet).

"We landed at an airstrip built by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpas in the mid-1960s. It is supposed to be the most dangerous in the world.

"We crossed the river near Phakding and headed up the valley, keeping close to the river valley which was lined with beautiful blue pine and a rhododendron forest.

"We crossed the Dudh Kosi River at Benkar, where we first saw the snow-capped peaks of Kusum Kanguru (6,369m) and Thamserku (6,623m). In the afternoon the walking got a little tougher and included the steep ascent to Namche Bazaar.

"We crossed a large suspension bridge high above the Kosi River."

They trekked through beautiful birch and juniper forests, treeless, grassy slopes and saw imposing waterfalls along the way. They were treated to spectacular sunrises and sunsets were spectacular and great views of Mount Everest.

Some could not cope with the altitude, causing one member of the group to turn back, but Mr Hanna and his nephew escaped any ill affects.

"We passed a line of memorial cairns, built in memory of the Sherpas and climbers who have died on various Everest expeditions over the last 50 or so years," he said.

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