Everest Base Camp Trek
Trip Start Mar 07, 2009
69Trip End Apr 08, 2010
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It started badly. We got to the hotel as written on the paperwork and the show had been moved to another, apparently GAP had sent emails out to us all explaining this, they hadn't. So we had to hike across town in the midday heat from what looked like a very nice hotel to a comparative crap hole
We went down to the lobby for the briefing and were told it was upstairs on the 6th floor, good altitude training. We met the group that consisted largely of Canadians, with a gentle sprinkling of UK, OZ, & German people. It was difficult to tell for sure at this stage but it would turn out to be a really good group. We were then informed that the costs involved would likely be a lot more than we had thought so in a panic Ang & I hurriedly went out & changed some money, just in case. This proved to be justified.
Just for the record, the group consisted of the following: Dave (Pro photographer & legend), Ralph & Diane, Brenda, Jane, Sunnie, Mike, Silvie (All from Canada). Rich & Ian (Known on this trip as Bruce (Willis)) both UK and oop north, Audrey (From Hamburg), Bobby-Jo & Andrew from Sydney Australia. The tour guide was Go-Pal from Kathmandu.
Had to get up Early again the next day, 5am to catch a flight to Lukla which is the starting point for treks to Baser Camp, apart from the hard core elite that walk about 14 days to get there, each to their own
The plane was tiny, literally big enough for our group of about 17 people and no more. Both Rich & I got a lung full of diesel fumes as we walked past a compressor before boarding which helped, and the plane was full of them. Ang & I were lucky enough to be sat on top of a heater so we had to almost keep our legs suspended to prevent some minor scaldage to the legs. I must confess I did not enjoy this flight. I don't get air sick normally but this was something else, luckily it was only about 45 minutes so the pain was short lived. The landing was pretty spectacular though. The landing strip is at a 30 degree angle, upwards as you land ( I made the angle up but it is pretty extreme), so from my view you could not really see the ground before you hit it. The airport is a crazy little place with seemingly no order as these small propeller planes come and go. It was a lot quieter than on the way out though as we were lucky that our flight landed. Apparently many others were delayed 24hrs due to fog which worked well for us as we almost had the trail to ourselves
I was hoping that the altitude would not affect me, not due to my supreme physical form, just luck really. However I had a stinking headache already (this was at about 2800m above sea level), though I put this down to the heat & fumes on the flight.
At the airport there was loads of local dudes, over a hundred I would say, all hoping to get work as Sherpas for ours any any other possible treks or expeditions. Our had already been pre-picked but Ang was worried we would have to pick our own. Luckily this was not the case otherwise it would have been like going to the pound for a puppy. We would have ended up with about 20 Sherpas carrying a pair of pants or socks each. Would have needed about 10 grand for tips alone.
Their was no rest for the wicked though so after some quick nosh which we were able to eat this time, we set off on our first days trekking.
NB: Respect to Sherpas, actually they were porters, it transpired only the guys who live in the upper mountain areas are official Sherpas. Anyway the loads that theses guys carried were extraordinary. Ang & I were quite light in comparison to some others but the porter who carried our bags also carried 2 more! and he was about 20yrs old I think. And these guys were roaring up the hills in front of us
The first day was quite relaxed compared to what was to come but when we got to the first stop (pak-ding) about 3hrs later we were all pretty tired, especially after the flight & early start. Annoyingly we were at a lower altitude at this point than we were at the airport earlier. Some of us had a stroll to the river in the afternoon to take some photo's then it started raining pretty heavy while we warming up around the wood burner. It was pretty warm in the day, shorts & t-shirt whilst hiking, but it got very cold at night. I struggled in my sleeping bag, but Bruce & Rich did not even have one yet, this was a great source of amusement for the group as they begged for blankets. They would go on to hire bags at the next stop.
This was a full days hiking. In the morning 3 hrs of up and down (Nepali Flat), not too strenuous. pm was 3 hrs of almost solid uphill slogging, very tough. Had a minor headache but not too bad, ibuprofen kept it at bay. The views to this point had been stunning, kind of different to what I had expected. It was lush green forests and a beautiful river meandering through the mountains. I had half expected it to be fairly barren & lifeless, not so
We got to our destination called Namche Bazaar and everyone without exception was knackered. We were all excited though as it started to snow quite heavily just after we arrived, except the Canadians as they are used to temperatures of about minus 50 apparently, so it was same old same old for them.
Ang & I were feeling okay at this point but some of the group were suffering from altitude sickness, Mike in particular (though this was in fact due to bad guts). In fact he was seriously considering forking out over a thousand bucks for a rescue chopper (actual figures may vary, my diary was blank). We all hoped that the following day, a so-called rest day, would give everyone a little time to recuperate before continuing.
I spoke to Go-Pal about buying a cake for Ang's birthday tomorrow and he said he would take care of it, which was nice as it would have cost be about 20 quid.
18th March (Altitude 3440m ASL)
Ang's birthday today, talk about that later.We did an acclimatization hike today to help us prepare for the coming days, about 400m up and down including our first sighting of Everest itself
Had a shower at the lodge which would prove to be my last for about 8 days. Don't judge me it was freezing, I barely took any of my clothes off until the following Thursday when we were back at 3000m. Some people didn't shower all week, you know who you are!
Went shopping in the afternoon, bought some woolen slippers that I am sure will never wear again, and I decided that as everyone else had walking poles that I needed some. Ang also hired a down jacket that we too big for me even, which would prove to be very necessary later on as it got colder.
Dinner was fun, we had a birthday cake brought out which to be fair tasted pretty rank but the gesture was there. Bobby had got some decorations put up as well which was really nice and Go-Pal & the restaurant even gave her some gifts, a scarf and some incense & tea
7hr trek to Tengboche, 200m down then about 600m up. This would be a common pattern, lots of uppy & downy which was quite frustrating. Despite the difficulty we all just want to go up, not down. The uppy bit was particularly brutal today though I was not feeling too great as I had bad guts all afternoon. It snowed heavily again this afternoon as we arrived. This place is supposedly very religious and we had hoped to see some monks in prayer but they gad finished. We were told we could see them at 7am next morning but I didn't want to see them that badly. I would just look at Dave's pics. Dave is a pro-photographer by the way, very handy to have on a trip like this as my photo's will more than likely be guff. Top bloke as well.
Tengboche was at an altitude of 3860m and was possibly the coldest pace we stayed at, not sure why this was. It made up for it by having mars bar and snickers pie on the menu.
Mike unfortunately was not with nus today due to continuing illness, though he did feel better so we were hopeful of seeing him later.
4-5 hrs to Dingboche today, altitude 4400m so quite a climb
"Rest Day". Our rest days generally consisted of a semi-grueling hike, ending up in the same place we started, this was no exception. It was worth it though as the scenery was stunning. We walked through a valley with 6000m peaks either side including Ama Dablam which we were told was harder to climb than everest. (Since then I have read facing up by Bear Grylls who climbed Ama Dablam as a gentle warm up for everest so that's clearly rubbish) Though Bear G also kept saying how he was scorchingly hot when waiting at base camp and during the everest climb so not sure if I can take him seriously!
Hiked to lebouche, about 5-6 hrs. It was getting tougher now because of the altitude. It's difficult to describe but even walking on flat terrain feels like going uphill because of the reduced oxygen in the air. We were now at about 4900m. That night I managed to empty about half a litre of water on Ang's sleeping bag which did not go down well. Naturally I relinquished my bag, and bed as hers was soaked while Ang's bag dried out in front of the fire. Neither of us got much sleep tonight and woke up feeling pretty ropey.
Toilet watch: No further movement!
Got up after no sleep with no appetite and no energy at all. Stuffed a mouthful of toast in but was not hopeful of much progress today
The hike to Gorak-Shep (5100m) was slow and painful. Ang & I struggled towards the rear of the group, every step was a challenge as we dragged our feet forward. The group were very good and helped us along, though we were not the only ones struggling. It took about 4 hrs and we had decided to try for base camp the next morning but over dinner we were convinced to at least give it a go, what did we have to lose. I forced down some spaghetti and Ang manged on some Tibetan bread and we suddenly felt a bit better, more energized, still shattered mind. We took off to base camp and the thought of making it galvanized me and I got stronger as we progressed. I had a few dicey moments mind as we walked along the narrow ridge to our destination. We had a porter assigned to us (Gerging) and he was crapping himself as I lost my footing a few times, my walking poles were lifesavers, almost literally.
After a 2.5hr slog though we made it, to base camp at last. Though the camp itself was quiet, just a few tents, the scenery was breathtaking, especially the khumbu ice fall which is a glacier which provides the first obstacle to climbing everest itself
Still felt like crap today so declined to climb kalla patar which is a steep mound next to the digs where all the best photo's of everest are apparently taken from. A few people made it up there, though Bobby was pretty sick at the top. I was puking at the bottom last night so there would have been a river of vomit coming down if I had climbed it. We headed off down to Tengboche fairly rapid as we knew we would feel much better at lower elevations.
25th - 27th March:
Frog marched down the mountain along the same route. This would have been more fun had it not been for the tooth infection I suffered causing half my face to swell up like a balloon. Luckily Rich had some anti-biotics which helped a bit but I checked out the hospital back at Lukla and they wanted to charge me 100 bucks for a consultation so I told them to forget it, hoping it would sort itself out
Flew back to Kathmandu and the manang hotel. They had double booked so offered some of us a free breakfast to shift hotels, snapped there hand off. It was an all you can eat buffet so they would live to regret it. Went out for dinner with the gang, a kind of farewell, to a nice pizza joint where we saw Tilda Swinton of 'the beach' fame, and other films apparently. She looked a bit moody so no one dared ask for an autograph. Ralph made another speech before we handed Go-pal his tip and a good time was had by all.
I will try to put some pictures in at some point dad.