FZ30 sees Mt. Everest!

Started Nov 8, 2006 | Discussions thread
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Frank Jones
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FZ30 sees Mt. Everest!
Nov 8, 2006

Hi all,

I thought I'd share a few photos from my trip to the Everest region of Nepal a few weeks ago; I hope that you find them of interest. Comments and suggestions are welcome. This selection of pics has a slight transport theme.

I deliberated for some time as to whether I should upgrade my previous camera (FZ20) for this trip. I took some memory cards into local camera stores and took some test shots out the front door on a sunny day with several DSLRs. I didn't think the pictures were THAT much better - whether it was because of the rather 'ordinary' kit lenses or just the standard factory settings I'm not sure.

In the end I purchased an FZ30, which proved to be an outstanding tool for the job. No likelihood of dust on the sensor (the Himalayas being a very dusty place), good glass and without the weight/cost/hassle of extra lenses! I held off selling the FZ20 so I could take its spare batteries as well.

I took about 1,200 pics in all. Digital gave me the freedom to take a lot of pictures of things that I otherwise wouldn't have bothered with, plus many panorama photos which I'm currently working on.

I took 2 Gb worth of cards plus a portable hard drive/card reader. I was also able to get a DVD burnt at an internet cafe en route; I always prefer to have at least 2 copies of everything!

A polarising filter proved very helpful in the often glary conditions (although the skies were often a brilliant blue already). Dynamic range was often a problem, with very bright snow on the peaks and dark shadows in the deep valleys - often I underexposed by up to 1 stop.

No PP done on the photos below, except for No. 1, a stitch of 2 images.

OK, enough waffle - on with the show!

-- hide signature --

1. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, on the way from Melbourne to Kathmandu. Brand new, only opened about 10 days beforehand! Huge building, has 4 levels, other end is about 400m behind me.

2. An early morning shot of Lukla airport, at 2,800 metres / 9,100 ft. We took an internal flight from Kathmandu to here. The gradient of the runway is about 1 in 9, and has to be seen to be believed! I've heard it compared to landing on an aircraft carrier.

3. Lukla airport again, a more spectacular backdrop from this angle; slope of runway also apparent.

4. Next to where we stayed in Lukla on the return journey. The aircraft wreckage sheltering the wood pile is a bit of a worry!!!

5. Everything here goes by yak or porter. We didn't see a wheeled vehicle for nearly 2 weeks! View approaching the village of Thamo, a fairly level 'day walk' we did while we acclimatised to the altitude (about 3400 metres / 11,000 ft. here). If you don't acclimatise, you die!

6. Lots of 'Indiana Jones' type suspension bridges, this one near Phakding was about 100 metres long. Carrying capacity is of the order of 30 tonnes, so they're quite safe. Trail 'etiquette' is that you ALWAYS give way to yaks; not that they're dangerous, it's more like trying to argue with a bulldozer.

7. Yak dung is a major source of fuel, especially at the higher altitudes where trees are scarce. At Phurte, a Nepali woman places fresh yak dung out to dry on a stone wall.

8. A picturesque part of the trail near Kangjuma, at about 3400 metres - mountain in background is Ama Dablam, 6814m. Although it's a good 2000 metres short of Everest, it's arguably more spectacular.

9. Self-appointed trail maintenance worker on the 'road' to Everest. Saw a couple of these, some have been doing this work (surviving on donations) for 20-30 years.

10. Mt. Everest (not quite half way across the pic from the left, with cloud streaming off the peak).

11. Our objective - Chhukhung, at 4,750 metres (15,500 feet). This area is very stony as it lies at the bottom of several glaciers (technically, the 'glacial moraines'). Mountain on the left is Lhotse, No. 4 in the world at 8,501 metres. Air is VERY thin here, you'd sometimes have to stop for breath every 50-100 paces in spite of the fact that it wasn't an overly steep area. Found out later that the air at this altitude only contains about 55% oxygen!

12. Mountains are really 'in your face' here, at almost impossible angles and heights.

A tough question though... is Nepal's No. 1 asset its scenery? .....

13. Or, is it its people?

I guess one day I'll just have to go back to give this question more consideration!

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