Posts Tagged ‘Everest base camp’

How does it feel?

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011

My previous EBC trek entries have concentrated on the practicalities of what and when but skipped the emotional stuff. I hadn’t really thought about that until we were on our way down from Gorak Shep. So, in the words of Bob Dylan, how does it feel?

Cold, hot, tiring, exhilarating, fascinating, beautiful, awesome, joyful, alive sounds about right.

The Nepali people are very polite and helpful. Most of them reply to a “Namaste”. The porters generally don’t but then they’ve got up to 100kg of load on their backs and don’t have the time or the breath to spare for pleasantries with the hundreds of trekkers they pass every day. The trail-side sellers always have a reply and some banter but they’re hoping to sell you some overpriced, made in China “Nepali” craft work souvenir tat. When I was about ten years old I got a Plasticraft set at Christmas. It had a selection of moulds, release agent, clear epoxy resin, resin colourants and assorted small items to encase in clear plastic. One of the souvenirs I saw yesterday was straight out of the Plasticraft kit – an inch long scorpion encased in an oval of clear resin with a yellow background layer. I had to smile.

The environment has been stunningly beautiful. The rivers are a wonderful turquoise except where they turn white to gurgle and burble and roar over rocks and small waterfalls. Watching the water flow and listening to it is good for the soul. The next most common sound is the mellow clanging of the yak/dzo bells. Passing the beasts, or being passed by them somehow feels very satisfying.

Outside the villages the air is clean and fresh and it feels good to just stop and breath deeply – especially after an uphill section. In the villages the smells are mainly of burning incense or juniper twigs first thing in the mornings and yak-dung fires in the late afternoons and evenings. The burning yak dung smell is so much better than the stink around the fields at home after the farmers have been muck spreading.

The mountains are incredible, especially above the level of Namche. Many of them are snow capped and stand out against the brilliant blue sky. The best views come at first light or just after dawn. Everywhere you look there is a photo waiting to be taken and I probably drove Goki nuts with the number of times I stopped to just look around and take photos. Actually I was quite restrained on the number of photos I took, only about 1200. Later in the day the cloud and sometimes mist build up hiding the peaks and “spoiling” the view. I didn’t get the best possible views since we couldn’t climb Kala Pathar but those I got were easily worth the trip. The Himalayas are one of the youngest mountain ranges but the time periods involved in their creation (about 70 million years) are still mind boggling. Seeing and walking over sedimentary rocks at 5000m asl and knowing they extend all the way to the top of Everest at 8848m asl is mind-boggling. Knowing they were once under the sea and have been, and are still being, thrust upwards by the movement of the tectonic plates is awesome.

The lower valleys are starting to turn green with crops and the flowers are starting to appear. The rhododendrons are starting to open and in a couple of weeks the trails will be a riot of colour. I felt uplifted watching three golden eagles soaring above Namche and Dingboche. Not quite as uplifted as the eagles themselves, maybe, but uplifted anyway. When I finally get home I’ll be using Photobox to turn some of my photos into wall art.

I’ve met interesting people and talked about places we’ve been or are planning to go, things we’ve done or are planning to do.

Trekking the trails, breathing the air, seeing the sights, hearing the sounds has been a wonderful, joyful experience. There aren’t really enough superlatives to describe it. I may not have been present for the whole trek but I’ve felt more alive in the last two weeks than in ages. Coming to Nepal has been a great way to kick start my year off.

EBC trek 30 March

Friday, April 1st, 2011

We were indeed the only guests at Pumori Lodge at Pheriche. We had breakfast at 07:30 and I persuaded Goki of the wisdom of getting to Lukla tomorrow. Basically it gives me the chance of being in Kathmandu a day earlier, or gives me three shots at getting there before my flight to Delhi and connection to Bangkok instead of just two.

So yesterday was a long and tiring “downhill” slog from Pheriche to Monju. I’d have been happy to stop at Namche but Goki was keen to get to Monju. I suspected he had a hot date lined up. We left at 08:30 and got to Tengboche at 11:00. The trail to here was a mixture of snow and ice, and from Debuche to Tengboche, slush. The rhododendron forest between Debuche and Tengboche was still asleep, Goki said they should be in bloom in a couple of weeks.

After lunch we set off at 12:00 with a hard-on-the-knees downhill to the river and then a long uphill slog to Namche. We arrived after three hours, had a cup of tea and twenty minutes later pressed on to Monju.

We reached Monju about 17:00. For a day of going downhill – 4270m asl to 2835m asl – there was a lot of uphill involved. It was really quite tiring.

Today we did Monju to Lukla in just over four hours, arriving in good time for lunch. The theme for the day was “Spring”. Whereas on the way up, a little over a week ago I saw only one rhododendron in bloom, today there were several open. And there were many more alpine plants in flower. Also the crops  had shot up and there were fields of solid green (wheat and barley) whereas last week they were just brown fields. The photos are all uploaded to Flickr.

I met an interesting Australian  girl in Khumjung Lodge in Lukla. She’s a teacher, here doing voluntary work for a year. Later in the afternoon a group of Americans arrived and we compared notes on how our treks went. Goki managed to change our flights so we’re in with a chance of getting back to Kathmandu tomorrow. I’m not sure exactly which flight we’re supposed to be on. After delivering me safely back to Lukla, and changing the flights, he had one or two celebratory drinkies. He offered me a glass too of some local distilled from millet fire water. One sip of the evil tasting concoction was more than enough for me.  I guess all will be revealed tomorrow. Fingers crossed for good flying weather.

EBC trek 28 March – Fail!

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Today was supposed to be the big day: Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp and back to Gorak Shep. I had no headache or other altitude sickness symptoms so was good to go.

It was snowing again in the morning and for the first time I wore my waterproof coat over my fleece. We left at 07:30 and passed both the Gap Adventures group and the Adventure Company group who had left about 07:00. It was a fairly gentle ascent and the trail was quite slippery. We arrived at 09:30. It was still snowing and misty with about 200m visibility.

Goki spoke to another guide who had tried to get to Base Camp that morning and given up because it was too unsafe. So no Base Camp attempt for us either. And to add to the disappointment we wouldn’t be able to attempt Kala Pathar in the morning because the trail would be too icy and dangerous. Close, but not close enough; I don’t get to cross Everest Base Camp off my bucket list this time.

With no spare days in my itinerary there was no point staying overnight at Gorak Shep so we had a very early lunch and then headed back down to Lobuche in an hour and a half. The snow had stopped and the sun made an occasional appearance. We had a cup of tea and then continued down to Pheriche, which took another two hours. We’re staying at Pumori Lodge and appear to be the only guests tonight. My room is freezing but at least the light works.

The weather was basically rubbish all day so there aren’t many photos worthy of a second look. There aren’t many from yesterday either; Dingboche to Lobuche was quite tedious really. The latest ones are at Flickr anyway. Despite the duff weather I really enjoyed the trek down today and wasn’t too disappointed by not getting to Base Camp or being able to attempt Kala Pathar tomorrow. And somehow, even though the sun hardly made an appearance all day I got a sunburned nose.

Today we went from 4950m to 5200m back down to 4200m. A long and tiring day.