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What it’s like Trekking to Everest Base Camp

The trek to Everest Base Camptrek to Everest Base Camp is one many dream of – but what’s it actually like getting there? Last year KE traveller ... Read more
What it’s like Trekking to Everest Base Camp
The trek to Everest Base Camptrek to Everest Base Camp is one many dream of – but what’s it actually like getting there? Last year KE traveller Richard made the journey and wrote it down to give us an insight into this life-changing adventure.

All these phrases come to mind when talking about the Everest Base Camp trek: life changing, once in a lifetime experience, lucky, privileged. All of those things apart from ‘once in a lifetime’ were true, because following my first solo experience of adventure travel I just want more.....

I landed in Kathmandu a little apprehensive but soon clicked in to the hustle and bustle of Nepal’s wonderful capital, where we were promptly whisked off to our wonderful hotel the Shankar for the evening. We received our brief from Sunil our guide for the coming adventure and the news we would be getting our wakeup call at 3am to get the famous flight to Lukla.

We awoke and travelled through the quiet, deserted streets of Kathmandu; I found it hard to believe it was the same city I flew in to the day before. There was a quiet nervousness in the bus, but that soon disappeared as we arrived and negotiated our way through the airport where we were all boarded on to planes almost immediately. The weather was good around Lukla, so it was a matter of go go go. I was excited to fly in to Lukla, the famous mountain airport with its 527 metre runway, and it didn’t disappoint. It just appeared on the horizon – it was amazing.

I was busy marvelling at the incredible skills of these pilots to do this day in and day out, but as quick as we landed the departing passengers were passing us and boarding the same plane. Their adventure had ended and ours had just began.

Our first trek went from Lukla to Monjo on paths beside the Dudh Kosi River, which flows direct from Everest – the very mountain you have come to see. The river takes your breath away, seeing the power of the all that water! The excitement ramped up as we spent our first night on the trek in the beautiful village of Monjo, 2840m up; we were welcomed in to the hub of the lodge to be greeted with culinary delights and the warmth the lodge owners provide for the weary walkers.

The next section day we made our way to Namche Bazaar (3440m), the iconic Sherpa capital. We walked through the beautiful alpine forests, criss-crossing the glacier river over the famous Himalayan suspension bridges and dodging the constant motorway of Sherpas, mules and dzo (a yak and cow hybrid that works below 3500m) which make their way up and down the mountain trails carrying produce and kit. The walk is tough and long, but as you round the corner at the end of the day you are met with the wonderful sight of Namche Bazaar; an inspiring place situated against the side of a hill. A truly wonderful town.

Our first acclimatisation day. We climb 500m to the famous Everest View Hotel designed by Japanese architect Yoshinobu Kumagaya, and there it is: our first full view of Everest and the full Khumbu range. We enjoy coffee and cake with the most amazing views, and watch as the helicopters bring in and take away the tourists who didn’t fancy the walk!

Thyangboche (3860m) is our next stop for the evening, the end of a long but wonderful day of trekking through the wooded mountain valleys. Thyangboche is the site of the largest monastery in the Khumbu region and visited by mountaineers to light candles and seek the blessings of gods for good health and safe mountaineering as they attempt to summit some of the greatest peaks in the world. When the sun goes down you can feel the temperature drop considerably but the night is clear and I found myself staring at the beautiful Khumbu range in front of me. I just felt so lucky and honoured to be in such a beautiful place.

We move on to Dingboche (4410m) and the highlands; as we move out of the valley and the tree cover disappears, the temperature drops you can feel the wind swirling round. The landscape opens up here. That afternoon we ventured out on another acclimatisation walk to 4730m, where you can feel the oxygen levels drop but the views toward Tibet overtake the heaviness on the lungs.

The following day it’s on to Dughla (4620m) towards the Lake of Chola Tso. It’s another walk of different landscapes across ancient glaciers, crossing glacier rivers and green meadows where yaks graze on the pastures. As you walk across the meadows you want to walk quickly but then you’re quickly reminded that you’re at 57% oxygen your lungs start to feel heavy. But despite this you’re amazed at the extraordinary landscapes around you. This day was a tough walk, where your lungs and legs feel heavy, and I was very happy to get in to the lodge for dinner and tea and out of the cold and wind. I remember thinking while I was in Dughla just how remote the village was; the nights are cold, and the pipes freeze in the middle of the night, but despite this you look up and see 3 or 4 layers of stars! The sky is bursting with stars; it’s incredible.

We started the next day with a hard vertical walk, and at the top were rewarded with a shrine to some of the heroic climbers who have lost their lives in the pursuit of reaching the vast summits that surround us. We then headed to Lobuche (4910m) along the Khumbu Glacier. This is the penultimate day before we head to Everest base camp, so it’s a shorter walk, but still the altitude and cold hits your lungs. Your legs feel tired but you just rest up for that final push tomorrow.

Up early to get to Gorak Shep (5140m) for an early lunch at an incredible place, the start of all the great Everest summit challenges. It was bustling with people going and coming back from base camp. I didn’t want to stop for lunch! However I was so glad we did, the walk to BC is hard and tough, harder than any of the other days. But 3 hours later were there, Everest Base Camp (5364m) and 50% oxygen! The feeling is incredible; we made it. Groups of all nationalities are hugging and congratulating each other, there’s a wonderful shared elation and you just feel so lucky to be surrounded by such beauty.

We head back the 3 hours to Gorak Shep happy, tired and a bit smug that we’ve made it. The day after we were due to be up early for a sun rise view of Everest Base Camp from Kala Patar, but I woke with quite a bad cold and had to opt out. I needed the extra rest that morning but I had achieved my goal, I was ready to head down and I pretty much skipped down to Pheriche (4240m) that day.

The high trail you take back to Namache is amazing, walking on the other side of the valley you had been using the week before. You’re buzzing from your achievements, and despite the fatigue you’re walking on air, and the views are spectacular. Then on to Lukla and that famous runway again, you have your fingers crossed for the weather the following morning - it’s a clear sky so the morning is hectic with trekkers waiting to leave. Plane comes and we fly off just like that! Adventure over.

I remember sitting in my room in Kathmandu in a daze, looking at a map and thinking I have just been to Everest BC! Wow. Tea lodges, scenery, people, food and yak dung powered fires! Nepal is amazing, the Himalayas are amazing, this trip is amazing.

I feel so proud and lucky to have been able to come and experience this wonderful place. I never thought I would do anything like this but I am lucky and feel proud of myself for doing it. If you have any doubts about doing this trip or any trip on your own, then don’t. The guides and the people you meet on these holidays are the most amazing people, so you are never on your own. You all have the same goal and will achieve it together.

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