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Mountain Flight


Only awe-stricken silence can come close to matching the experience of going on a mountain flight in Nepal to encounter the tallest mountains of this earth. No wonder mountain fly-bys have become a popular tourist attraction in Nepal. All airlines in Nepal offer regular forages into the snow-capped peaks of the Himalaya.

Mountain flights to the Everest and other major Himalayan peaks appeal to all categories of travelers. For those who are restricted by time or other considerations from going trekking, these flights offer a panoramic view of the Himalaya in just one hour. Even those visitors who like the rigors of a trek still do not miss the opportunity to "conquer" the mountains in one fell swoop. Travelers take off for mountain flights to the Everest from Kathmandu in the early morning for an hour's worth of spectacular mountain scenery. As the aircraft lifts up and heads towards the east, passengers do not have to wait too long to find out what is in store for them. There they are - the mountains, as they always have been.

First to their far left visitors see Gosaithan, also called Shisha Pangma, standing at the majestic height of 8,013 m. Immediately to the right of Gosaithan, there appears Dorje Lakpa (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-Ghyachu, which looms over the Kathmandu Valley.

As the plane moves along, the mountains come closer and closer. Next on the vision is Choba-Bhamare, the smallest one of the lot at5, 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 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 until 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 follows. 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 eighth 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), which means West Peak, signifying its direction from Everest. Finally, there is 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.