Manang Air charters helicopter rides over Everest Base Camp. // © 2016 Mindy Poder
Feature image (above): The highlight of a helicopter trip over Everest Base Camp is a view of Mount Everest itself – though you might have to squint to see it. // © 2016 Mark Edward Harris
Our flight was scheduled for 6:15 a.m. But at breakfast, our guide got a call: The weather in Lukla, Nepal — where we’d land after our helicopter ride over Everest Base Camp — wasn’t suitable for flying.
We gave up reading the clouds — they had a tendency to appear and disappear without much ado. So we drank more masala tea and waited for another call, wondering if we would be snowed in at 13,074 feet forever.
At about 7:45 a.m., we got the “go” call. We had five minutes to collect ourselves and make a beeline for the helipad. I was caught in what felt like a hurricane of snow as the helicopter started its descent.
It only took a few minutes to align ourselves with the Himalayas’ best. The flight was smoother than expected, altering my perception of my whereabouts. I felt like I was sailing on a glacier cruise — that’s the only time I’ve ever been directly opposite a rock face. We could see every crag, cloud and snowflake, not to mention ice falls, icebergs and glacier lakes. We quickly spotted Ama Dablam’s gorgeous twin peaks and squinted to catch Mount Everest, peeking behind fickle clouds, shy in its glory.