Only awe-stricken silence can come adjacent to matching the experience of going on a mountain flight to encounter the highest peaks existing on this earth. No wonder mountain fly-bys have turned into a popular tourist attraction in the Nepalese Kingdom. Nine domestic airlines offer regular forages into the snow-capped summits of the Great Himalayan Ranges. Mountain flights appear to all category of traveling visitors. For those who are restricted by time or other considerations from going trekking, these flights offer a panoramic view of the Himalayas in just an hour. Even those tourists who like the rigors of a trek still donít miss the sheer opportunity of "conquering" the mountains in one fell swoop.

Travelers take off from Kathmandu City early in the morning for an hourís worth of spectacular mountain scenery. As the aircraft lifts up and heads towards the cardinal direction of east, passengers donít have to wait too long to find out whatís in store for them. There they areóthe ancient mountains plus the abode of eternal snows, as they have always been.

First to their far left visitors witness Gosainthan, also called Shisha-Pangma, standing at the majestic height of 8,813 m. Immediately to the right of Gosainthan, there appears Dorjee-Lakpa (6,966 m.), a mountain that looks like the Arabic numeral of 8 lying down and covered with snow. To the right of Dorjee-Lakpa is Furbi-Ghyachu, which looms over the enchanting Kathmandu Valley.

As the plane moves along, the mountains come closer and closer. Next on the vision is Choba-Vamare, 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 spiritualityó-Gouri-Shanker. Lord Shiba (Shanker) and his consort Gouri are as a divine couple said to protect this particular mountain, at the proud altitude of 7,134 m. and the summit held a history of failing attempts till 1979. Gouri-Shanker appears sharp and very conspicuous during the mountain flight. As the plane moves towards the land of the rising sun, the eastern Himalayas, a succession of glorious mountains follow. Melungtse, a plateau-like mountain, stretches upto 7,023 m. Chugimago at 6,256 m., Numbur mountain resembles a breast, the maternal source in the sky providing pure milk to the Sherpas of the Solukhumbu. Next is Karyalung, an intensely white mountain that at 6,511 m. gleams with the rising sun. Cho-Oyu is the eighth highest mountain of the world. Reaching a height of 8,201 m. it comes out stunningly beautiful from the aircraft.

Next on the menu is Gyachung-Kang, at a majestic height of 7,952 m., considered an extremely difficult scaling. To the right of Gyachung-Kang is Pumori (7,161 m.), which means West Peak, signifying its direction from Everest. Finally, thereís 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 an alpine flight is something else. Even while it looms there in front of the eyes, it remains an enigma, this highest spot on the planet.


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