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    I Visited An Irish Bar At The Foot Of Mt. Everest And It Was Weirdly Exactly What You Would Expect

    It's probably the only Irish bar you'll go to that serves yak steak.

    Hi, I'm Ben! I'm from Doncaster and I live in London, and like most people, I love a good Irish bar.

    Ben Armson

    So when Jameson whiskey told me about the existence of this bar in Nepal that holds the title of the world's highest Irish bar by elevation, it sounded absolutely bonkers to me. But I had to go!

    Ben Armson, Jameson

    The purpose of the trip was to go to the Irish pub to help prepare for an unforgettable St Patrick’s Day celebration, It was about to go off!

    Now I know what you’re thinking: The highest Irish bar in the world? Where the hell is that?!

    Well, it’s located in Namche Bazaar, a small town in Nepal 11,483 feet above sea level. This is most commonly the last place where trekkers acclimatise to high altitudes before taking on the world's highest mountains, most famously Mount Everest. Or if you’re like me, kick back with a few cold ones.

    My journey started in Kathmandu, where I would be taking a domestic flight into Lukla, the most scenic airport in the world, or as I was also told just a short while before taking off, the most dangerous airport in the world!

    The reason Lukla has this prestigious title is because it has a very short runway due to being on the side of a mountain. It experiences high winds and rapidly changing weather conditions, and it’s nestled in between other mountains that the pilot has to navigate over and around. In hindsight I probably shouldn't have watched a YouTube compilation of flights into Lukla moments before flying...

    All this aside, I actually couldn't wait to get on the tiny fourteen-seater plane to what could either be the most beautiful place I've would ever see...or my impending doom.

    Because of the nature of Lukla airport, conditions had to be really good to even be able to fly. That morning I’d gotten up at 4.50 a.m. to fly at 7 a.m. Three hours later, after a couple of journeys to and from the plane because it wasn’t deemed safe to fly yet, it was finally time to set off!

    Ben Armson

    After all the drama, the flight was actually very relaxing and peaceful, that is, until we were about to land. The plane suddenly nose-dived, hurtling towards the mountain runway and only seemed to pull up just milliseconds before hitting the tarmac, bringing up to an abrupt but welcome halt! I’ve gotta hand it to the pilot; he not only looked like an extra from Top Gun, (leather jacket, aviators and all) he also flew like Maverick himself and bossed that landing.

    Heart racing and feeling like I could take on the world, I’d made it to Lukla and was ready to start trekking the Himalayas in search of a fine Irish tipple and some good vibes.

    As soon as we got off the plane, we pretty much started the six-hour trek immediately.

    Ben Armson

    The first part of the trek from Lukla to Phakding is mostly downhill, which came as a real surprise. It felt strange making my way down the mountain when my end goal was supposed to be up it. You'd think this would have made things easier, but at 8,562 feet, the altitude takes a toll on you. Imagine you've just sprinted for the last bus, but for six hours.

    Dotted all along the path at regular intervals are Buddhist prayer wheels and mani stones, giving good luck and safe passage to travellers.

    Ben Armson

    I was told by my guide that you should always pass on the left-hand side to bring luck and to spin the large prayer wheels three times, which is said to have the same effect as reciting the words inscribed on the wheel. The beautiful designs, vibrant colours and intricate paintings were incredibly inspiring, and it was nice to think about how many travellers would pass and spin the same wheels on their adventures.

    Something I didn’t expect to see was so many animals! While you’re trekking in the Himalayas, you’re never too far away from a real good boy or a barren of mules.

    Ben Armson

    Because of the difficult terrain, the best way for people to transport goods in the Himalayas is to use mules. These guys run up and down the mountain like it’s a gentle afternoon stroll, which made me feel pretty pathetic in comparison! You often hear them well before you see them since they all have bells, which makes for a lovely soundtrack to the spectacular views.

    I entered Phakding just before the sunset feeling tired but accomplished. The weather in the day was pretty warm but as the sun came down it started to get mighty chilly.

    In the day the temperatures are around 14°C, but at the nighttime it can drop drastically. Depending on the altitude it can go as low as -10°C! Luckily Jameson hooked me up with all the gear I needed to keep me toasty.

    My accommodation for the night was a little tea house with a bed and shower, which unfortunately had no hot water. I did have a an electric blanket on my bed though that reminded me of staying at my grandma's house. It was extremely cold in my room but luckily we could all crowd around the fire in the communal area and we were even entertained by one of the people who worked there with a mix of nostalgic bangers and some traditional Nepalese songs.

    After a long day on the trails, the thing at the top of my agenda was some hearty grub, which came in the form of this delicious dal bhat!

    Ben Armson

    Dal bhat is basically sherpa-approved mountain climbing fuel! The main ingredients are boiled rice with a lentil curry, but you can also have it with chicken or beef. It usually comes with some boiled and pickled veg and a papadum for dipping, too. I was so hungry I would have probably eaten my walking boots, but this was extremely tasty and exactly what I needed. After washing it down with a few Jamesons on the rocks, I was ready to jump into bed and get some rest — the next day was gonna be tough.

    The next day we started at 5 a.m. again, and this time we would be trekking for anything up to 10 hours in order to make it to the bar.

    Ben Armson

    With another 2,727 feet of elevation (yep uphill this time!) and the oxygen in the air decreasing to 67%, the day was gonna be a real tough ride. This somehow made me even more excited, and I was keen for the challenge especially knowing I was going to be rewarded with a well-earned drink (or several) at the end of the road.

    Because the weather the previous day was quite cloudy, it was hard to get a sense of my surroundings, but day two was completely different. With clear blue skies I could finally see all the towering snow-capped mountains, not to mention the icy blue water running below.

    Ben Armson

    The Irish bar while sitting pretty damn high, is at 11,483 feet compared to Mount Everest, which is near 29,029 feet. Seeing the mountains around me really gave me a sense of just how tough it must be to reach the summit.

    As the day went on, I noticed that surprisingly the trek involved crossing many bridges — including the famous Hillary Bridge — 410 feet above the river.

    Ben Armson

    A lot of the Everest basecamp trek is crossing back and forth across the Khumbu River using very safe (I was assured) but still sketchy-looking suspension bridges. These bridges are definitely not for the faint-hearted as they bounce quite a lot and with high winds can feel like they are incredibly unstable. I'm not one for getting scared easily and I've never had an issue with heights, but even I have to admit I was anxious crossing Hillary Bridge, my only way to tackle it was to just run across it and hope for the best.

    Once I'd passed over the Hillary bridge, the trail became much steeper and was basically a never-ending staircase made out of rocks.

    Ben Armson

    My thighs burning and my breathing getting heavier, I powered on toward the Irish bar.

    After passing more locals, small children dancing and waving and plenty of mules and yaks, I turned the corner to see the Town of Namche.

    Ben Armson

    The mist and cloud had rolled into the mountains but the bright coloured roofs of Namche were beckoning. I could practically taste the ice cold drink I would be ordering at the bar, and that's what got me through those last few steps.

    As I walked up to pub, looking around I was completely surrounded by mountains, it really dawned on me just how far I'd come. After two days of trekking, I was at the most remote Irish pub in the world!

    Ben Armson

    Inside the pub, I was amazed how authentically Irish it was!

    Jameson

    It looked just like all the Irish bars I have frequented over the years, and after a being there for a little while it was hard to think that I was actually in a tiny Nepalese mountain town 11,483 feet above sea level, and not down my local boozer! I ordered a Jameson and ginger ale, which unsurprisingly after two days of solid trekking, went down like an absolute treat!

    Sherpas were shooting pool, people were telling stories round the fire, and traditional Irish folk music was playing out of the speakers.

    Ben Armson

    The pub's decor was at heart traditionally Irish, with plenty of witty Irish signs and posters that are a staple in any good Irish boozer (If you're drinking to forget, please pay in advance). There were also with a few oddities decorating the walls, including quite a number of '80s hair metal band photographs and a Bob Marley mural, which added to the quirkiness of the pub.

    Although it did feel like I could be in a lovely little pub in County Cork, there were some twists of Nepal and the mountains mixed in.

    Ben Armson

    I don't think I'll ever go to another Irish bar that has yak steak at the top of the menu, that's for sure! The cocktail menu featured some rather interesting sounding drinks as well. These included the Yak Attack, the Khumbu Ice Fall and the Sherpa Killer. After seeing how unfazed the sherpas were with the mountain terrain, I could only imagine what would have to go into a drink to take one of those guys down.

    The walls were adorned with photos of trekkers from all across the world who had passed through the bar. Some had been to Everest basecamp and others had even reached the summit and had stopped for a cheeky and well-deserved drink on their way back down to celebrate!

    There's something about walking up mountains for two days that makes a drink taste incredibly good. And how many people do you know who can seriously say they've drank in the highest Irish bar in the world?!

    Ben Armson

    When I first set out on this trek, I didn't exactly know what to expect, At times it was challenging, both physically and mentally and with a few hair-raising moments along the way, I really felt like I'd been through it. This being said, I can't recommend this experience enough to anyone. I was completely blown away by the landscape and the scenery. All the people I met along the way and my fellow trekkers were an absolute pleasure and the memories I have from this trip I'll never forget. *Raises glass to the highest Irish Bar* Sláinte Himalayas!

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