Beware! The Clouds Have Rocks in Them!


I recently stayed in Lukla for a little more than a week. After interviewing lots of different fixed-wing and helicopter pilots, I’ve composed this article to teach you about life in the mountains and how wind and weather impact flight in the Himalayas!

What makes this environment special or different?:

People know Lukla as the gateway to Everest. It lies in a valley surrounded by large hills on either side, with a lower valley to the front and the Himalayas directly behind it. The altitude in Lukla is only about 9,334 feet, but the air is still a bit thinner than we are used to. To date, no ground vehicles can reach all the way to Lukla, only foot paths lead into the village. Plus, it takes two days of driving just to reach where the walking-only paths begin. From the capital in Kathmandu to Salleri, the journey takes at least 15 hours, assuming no problems come up. From Salleri, it takes between two and four days to reach Lukla depending on how quickly people can or want to climb up the steep terrain. The whole town rests on a slant, but construction workers leveled out much of the main shop and airport area. No matter where someone walks within Lukla, though, it’s guaranteed they’ll need to climb or descend a few cases of rocky stairs. 

Besides the air getting thinner, the weather changes phenomenally quickly.