“We cannot leave Nepal for the last time without seeing Everest”, I recall my colleagues stating. Our social business startup was doing great and it was time to let it fly unassisted. This visit was to be the last one for the project. And no, we could not leave Nepal without seeing Mount Everest.
One early morning I found myself on a little prop plane, skirting the mountaintops, on my way to the most dangerous airport in the world. Lukla requires clear skies, and small planes on full throttle going up and full brake going down. Just watch any YouTube video and you’ll see how the pilot slams on the brakes and maneuvers a hasty hairpin turn before hitting the rock wall at the end of the runway.
And if you dare, observe takeoff: leaving Lukla some days later, our pilot slammed full throttle before lifting brakes and sped on the readily downward-slanting runway like he had a death wish. Grown men screamed in their seats as we zoomed down the runway, where at the end the only options were either liftoff, or crash down over the precipice into the valley below.
We lifted, as you can guess. Thank goodness. To be continued.
(Lukla airport, Nepal; November 2016)