You can read all of my posts about the Everest Base Camp trek here!
We awoke to a chilly morning in Lobuche, and although tired I was super excited as today would be the day that I would finally reach Everest Base Camp! After a quick breakfast, we started out across the moraine towards Gorak Shep, our trekking poles knocking hollowly on the frozen ground. Everywhere I looked there was a thick layer of frost blanketing the ground, sparkling like diamonds in the weak morning sun.
This morning was a tough trek, with lots of steep climbs and scrambling over large boulders on the glacier. The scenery was stunning, although desolate in its greyness. Despite my exhaustion, I became more and more excited as the big snowy peaks became closer and closer.
We ended up arriving at the tiny settlement or Gorak Shep (5164m) at mid-morning, and checked into our teahouse, the Buddha Lodge and Restaurant. Gorak Shep was the original Base Camp for climbers summiting Everest, and although Base Camp has since been moved closer to the mountain, it still remains a busy stop for both trekkers and climbers.
We quickly went up to our rooms and lightened our day packs, ready for the long 2 hour trek to Base Camp. We had an early lunch, and then set off past Gorak Shep towards our ultimate goal of Everest Base Camp. As we approached the Base Camp trail, we ran into another trekker that we’d stayed at a few teahouses along the way with. He had become unwell on the final leg and had to turn around with only 20 minutes before he reached Base Camp to be medivaced out of the mountains. It was yet another reminder along the way for us as to how quickly the altitude can affect you, and that it was still possible at this late stage to not reach Everest Base Camp.
About half an hour into our trek, we heard a large crack and Deepak pointed over to one of the distant mountains shouting “look, avalanche!”. We all quickly spun around in time to see the large trail of snow puffing up down the side of the mountain. It was an awesome sight, although we were glad when Deepak reassured us that no one would be climbing that mountain on this time of year.
We trekked for what seemed to me like ages, the snowy peaks getting larger and larger, and the terrain getting more and more difficult to navigate. The last half hour of the trek was spent scrambling over precariously balanced rocks and boulders, which at times had a large drop-off into glacial lakes on either side. At times there were large chunks of glacier visible through the thin dirt covering – it completely blew my mind that that we were walking on a glacier. This was the most difficult part of the trek for me, and I was completely exhausted by the time I hauled myself up over the final step.
I raised my head and finally spied the large clump of prayer flags that marked Everest Base Camp, and as I made my way towards it I burst into tears. It was so emotional finally realising one of my dreams, and great to have my wonderful husband and great friends there to share it with.
I took heaps of photos, and just spent some time there taking in the huge scale of the perilous Khumbu Icefall, and the majesty of the surrounding mountain ranges. It was an amazing time, and I was so proud of myself for making it when I had wanted to quit so many times along the way. I went over and thanked our guide Deepak, who was definitely instrumental in helping me get to Base Camp, and our porters Kabindra and Anjan as well.
All too soon it was time to head back to Gorak Shep. Scrambling over all those rocks seemed even worse on the way back, and I slipped over on the glacier more than once. I was going to have a bruised butt later on! I was tired and emotional, and just wanted to go back down now. I confided to Ash on the way back to Gorak Shep that I had decided that I didn’t want to do the climb of Kala Patthar the next morning. In my overwhelming fatigue, all I wanted to do was have a good night’s sleep (almost impossible at this altitude!) and start heading back down the next day. I just didn’t think that I would be physically or mentally able to make the climb up Kala Patthar, as I put it to Ash “I just don’t want to go up anymore, I only want to go down”.
We made it back to the Buddha Lodge, and were all completely exhausted. Surprisingly, we had a really great 3G mobile connection up there (having had basically no service the entire trek!), so I made a Viber call to my parents to let them know that we had successfully made it to Base Camp. Soon the potbellied stove was fired up, and the small dining room became warm and cosy very quickly.
We all sat around, far too tired to do anything much until our food arrived. My potato momos were delicious, but I could barely eat any, partially due to how tired I was and partly due to the altitude playing havoc with my appetite. I forced a few down, and then headed off to bed for an early night – after all we were scheduled for a very early start the next day to make sunrise at Kala Patthar. As we were getting ready for bed, Ash and I talked about what we were going to do about Kala Patthar. I had started to feel a little better during the afternoon, so we decided that we’d wake up early and see how we felt the next morning to decide if we would trek to Kala Patthar or stay in bed while the rest of our team made the journey.
Come back next week to find out if I managed to summit Kala Patthar!