Stuck

After waking up this morning, the first thing I noticed was that it had stopped raining … and that it looked pretty flyable (see pic above). My flight was scheduled for 9:00am and while I was walking over to the airport building I saw two planes land and take off again.

I was so sure that I would make it out, that I called our guide (who is in Kathmandu with the girls) to arrange him getting me from the airport with his motorcycle. But after another 30 minutes, I noticed the cloud base dropping lower and lower until the final approach from the other side of the valley was no longer visible.

Like the last time I was stuck here, there was absolutely no statement from the airline or airport … everyone just kind of stood around for a few hours, hoping that something would happen or that someone would say something.

After a bit of back and forth with the owner of the lodge that I’m staying in (who seems to be well connected to the airlines), the options are:

1. Wait it out

Get on the end of the waiting list and hope that the weather improves so much that the scheduled passengers all get out tomorrow … and that there are additional flights to start clearing the waiting list. If the weather is bad again, the waiting list builds up … and up … and up. In 1988 I was stuck here for a week and two years ago the situation was so bad that Lukla ran out of food and the army flew people out with helicopters.

2. Walk out

It’s about five days of walking to the next road (and possibility to take a bus). I’ve hiked it before and it’s endless up and down through dense forest with absolutely no views. Would REALLY like to avoid doing it again.

3. Charter a helicopter

Not a bad option. The word on the street is that a seat in a Russian built larger helicopter would go for about US$ 350 (if we find enough people to fill it up). I could get a refund for my plane ticket … which would make it an additional cost of about US$190.

4. Charter a private plane

Apparently there is a pilot here in town, who has a small 6-seater (I’ve seen it on the runway) and is willing to fly people out. He is asking US$200, only about a $40 surcharge if I get my original ticket refunded. He would leave at first light … the most likely time for flyable weather.

After a bit of asking around, I found four others (3 Croatian climbers and a German trekker) and will go with option No. 4.

Wish me luck 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Stuck

  1. Hannelore

    Lieber Uwe,
    wir hoffen, Du triffst die richtige Entscheidung! Wenn andere Maschinen aus Sicherheitsgründen (Wetter) nicht fliegen, warum sollte das Privatflugzeug das riskieren? Gibt es einen Grund, warum Du unbedingt zur vorgesehenen Zeit in K.sein musst? Wegen weiterer Flüge? Schreib mal ein e-mail. Grüsse und alles Gute, Mama

    Reply
  2. Annette Fassnacht

    I agree with your Mom. How safe is the private plane? We would love to have you back with us…alive!
    Ute will leave Wednesday afternoon for Germany but will not be completely heartbroken if you can not say good-bye to her personally. Just stay put and try to relax. E- book, coffee, walks around town….no kids!
    Love Anna

    Reply
    1. Uwe Post author

      I don’t think the pilot would fly if the others don’t. If the weather is OK tomorrow morning, all planes will go out. The advantage(s) with him are:

      1. His plane is already here. The others have to come here first from Kathmandu. That means we can use the window between sunrise and the beginning clouds more effectively.

      2. I’m on the first flight. With the airline I’m very far down in the waiting list (pretty much no chance to fly tomorrow)

      Don’t worry … Take-off from Lukla is much easier than the landing. If he was able to land here, ‘m sure he knows what he is doing 😉

      Reply
  3. Ulrike

    SAFETY FIRST!!!
    Lieber Uwe, pass gut auf Dich auf! Noch ein paar Tage Bergluft und Ruhe sind ja auch nicht das Schlechteste 😉

    Reply
  4. Yvette Cendes

    Just saw this, but guess you’ve either left or are still stuck. Either way, I hope it worked out well!

    Reply

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