For those who are restricted by time or other considerations from going trekking, there are mountain flights that offer a panoramic encounter with the highest peaks on earth. The plane departs from Kathmandu and flies alongside the Himalaya to give you eye-level views of the snow peaks and then brings you back in one hour. Cruising close to the awesome massifs of rock and ice, the flight presents a mind-boggling sight.
As the aircraft takes off and heads towards the east, you don't have to wait too long to find out what's in store for you. First to your far left, you see Gosaithan, also called Shisha Pangma, standing at the majestic height of 8,013 m. Immediately to the right of Gosaithan, there appears Dorje Lhakpa (6,966 m), a mountain that looks like the number 8 lying down and covered with snow. To the right of Dorje Lakpa is Phurbi-Chyachu, which looms over the Kathmandu Valley.
As the plane glides along, the mountains come closer and closer. Next on the vision is Choba-Bhamare, the smallest one of the lot at 5,933 m but singularly stubborn as it has never been climbed. Then appears the mountain that is not only prominent in sight but also in spirituality Gauri-Shanker. Lord Shiva (Shanker) and his consort Gauri are said to protect this mountain, at the proud height of 7,134 m, and the summit had a history of unsuccessful attempts till 1979. Gauri-Shanker is sharp and very conspicuous during the mountain flight. As the plane moves towards the land of the rising sun, the eastern Himalaya, a succession of glorious mountains follow. Melungtse, a plateau-like mountain, stretches up to 7,023 m. Chugimago at 6,297 m is still a virgin, waiting to be climbed. At 6,956 m, Numbur mountain resembles a breast, the maternal source in the sky providing pure milk to the Sherpas of the Solukhumbu. Next is Karyolung, an intensely white mountain that at 6,511 m gleams with the rising sun. Cho-Oyu is the sixth highest mountain in the world. Reaching a height of 8,201 m, it appears stunningly beautiful from the aircraft.
Next on the menu is Gyachungkang, at a majestic height of 7,952 m, considered an extremely difficult climb. To the right of Gyachungkang is Pumori (7,161 m). As you get closer to Everest, theres Nuptse (7,855 m), which means West Peak, signifying its direction from Everest. Finally, theres Everest (8,848 m) itself, known as Sagarmatha by the Nepalese and Chomolungma by the Tibetans. Much has already been written about Everest, but to actually witness it face to face during a mountain flight is something else. Even while it looms there in front of the eyes, it remains an enigma, this highest spot on earth.
The spectacular mountain flights are offered by the following airlines. Check the Flight Schedules section elsewhere in the magazine for timings.
Royal Nepal Airlines (Tel: 226574) flies Avro aircraft. Buddha Air (Tel: 437025) operates 19-seater Beech aircraft. Cosmic Air (Tel: 427150) flies Dorniers. Gorkha Airlines (Tel: 435121) flies 18-seater Dornier aircraft. Mountain Air (Tel: 489062) operates Beech aircraft. Necon Air (Tel: 480565) flies ATR-42 aircraft for mountain flights.
MD Publishing Co.
Tripureswor, P. O. Box 3525, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Tel: 260327, 256003 . Telex: 2611 EMC NP. Fax: 977-1-261159.
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Last Updated: 24 July, 2000
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