You can read all of my posts about the Everest Base Camp trek here!
Our trek today was one of the shorter days on the Everst Base Camp trek, estimated to be only 4-5 hours of walking, which I was very excited about. We had ordered our breakfast the night before so my toast arrived quickly, and at 8am we were leaving Namche Bazaar to set out for Tengboche (3,867m).
We started out along the same steep climb out of Namche that we had tackled on our acclimatisation hike the day before, but although it was still quite hard, I was pleased to find it was much easier than yesterday. Acclimatisation works! We then headed off on the track to Tengboche which was surprisingly nice and flat.
Our group was in a jovial mood, and with the flatter terrain we all had plenty of energy to laugh and joke amongst ourselves. Along the way I hilariously had the first fall of the trek, managing to somehow slip over on flat ground while I was proclaiming how wonderful walking poles were! We also saw our first real yak train, which would definitely be the first of many. From Namche Bazaar and below, the “yaks” are actually dzo, a hybrid between cows and yaks.
It was yet another misty day, so we were still waiting to see that impressive mountain panorama, although we did have some great views along the way in the brief periods where the clouds parted. We had a local dog decide to join our group, following us on the way to Tengboche. We decided to name him Brian, and he became a part of our team, Deepak even calling him by name!
It was soon time for lunch, and we stopped at the River Side Restaurant in Phungi Thanga where I had an excellent spaghetti bolognese. We didn’t stop for too long, as we were eager to reach Tengboche in time for the monastery service at 3pm, so we soon set off on the last couple of hours of trekking.
Unfortunately, as we’d spent the morning trekking on a slight descent, that meant only one thing for the afternoon – plenty of steep ascents. I found myself falling into a slow rhythmic plod, timing my breathing with my steps, and stopping every now and then to take a couple of deep breaths or a few sips of water. Deepak was with me all the way, saying “bistari, bistari” (slowly,slowly). Just when I was unsure if I could continue much more (Brian had even abandoned us!), Deepak announced that there was only about 10-15 more minutes to go before we reached Tengboche and our teahouse for the night, the Hotel Himalayan.
As we approached Tengboche, we saw a helicopter which Deepak informed us was a medivac helicopter – they’re the only ones that will fly up this high. It was a sobering reality check to remember that the trek can be dangerous and to be careful with your acclimatisation. Arriving into the village, the sky still hung with a heavy mist, so our first sight of Everest eluded us for yet another day.
We checked into the teahouse, and although we wouldn’t have any private bathrooms from here on in, Ash and I did manage to score a room with the bathroom across the hall – almost as good! We settled in and went down to the dining room for a hot drink and to relax for a bit before Deepak would take us to visit the famous monastery in Tengboche at 3pm. Luckily the monastery was right behind our hotel, so we didn’t have far to go!
Sadly, the regular 3pm ceremony at the monastery was not happening that day, but Deepak went and spoke to the monks and they were happy to open up the main temple for us to have a look. Words cannot describe it, it was simply stunning. Intricate carvings and painting decorated every surface, and the room was dominated by a serene golden Buddha at the end of the room.
We stayed for a short while, then headed back to the teahouse to relax for the rest of the afternoon. I did start to develop a bit of a cough today, which I was unsure if it was related to the altitude or I was getting a cold – I just hoped it was nothing serious! Considering that I had never been anywhere near this high above sea level before, I really wasn’t feeling too bad so far.
That evening it was chilly enough for them to light up the big cast iron stove in the dining room, a welcome heat to dry out my socks and start to feel cosy. A guy came up to us who seemed to be trekking by himself and he was not in a good way, saying that he felt dizzy and looking terrible. Deepak said that it was part of the effects from the altitude, and that the best thing that he could do was descend, which luckily he was on his way down anyway. Michael and Danielle had some spare Diamox (medication used to help treat altitude sickness), which they gave him as well.
Even with the heat of the stove, the dining room was quite chilly, so we soon decided to head to our warm sleeping bags to read for a while and have an early night. We needed our energy up to tackle the 6 hour hike to Dingboche tomorrow, and our first time above 4000m!