Peril in the Peaks

For many adventurers attempting to scale Everest, risks begin from the moment they board the aeroplane. John Richardson recounts his adrenaline-pumping experience flying from Kathmandu to the mountain town of Lukla.

A typical scene in Lukla, with dense clouds enveloping the surrounding mountains. All pictures Breidenstein unless stated

As recent headlines have illustrated all too clearly, Mount Everest can be unforgiving to those attempting to reach its coveted summit. Less well known are the hazards associated with simply reaching the start of the mountain’s trail. Explorers face a stark choice from the outset: a tenhour bus ride followed by an eight-day hike, or taking a 30-minute trip into one of the most dangerous airports anywhere on the planet.

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