To the top of the world... well nearly

Trip Start Feb 12, 2008
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Trip End Jun 26, 2008


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Where I stayed
Everest Base Camp

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Trekking to Mt.Everest Base camp was a really exciting challenge... It's hard to explain it to anyone... it really is one of those things that you have to experience yourself and see with your own eyes. You can't capture the pain, the cold, the effects of Altitude and the lack of oxygen even with the best camera. I hope the pictures give at least some idea of what it is like. The views are breathtaking, around every corner you could take that postcard photo. I really recommend this trek to anyone who wants a challenge coupled with some awesome scenery.

We started in Kathmandu with a group meeting and met our guide Ashok who was an absolute hero. He has great knowledge about the mountains and a fantastic sense of humor that helped bond the group of 12 strangers. About the group - surprisingly there was more girls than lads on this trek. 8 girls and 4 boys - Most from Australia, a couple from Denmark, one from Canada and UK.

Day 2 - Pakding (2610m)
We started very early on this day for an early morning flight from Kathmandu to Lukla (45 minutes). It was the first time for me in a small propeller plane so I was very excited. Landing on the approx 250m runway in Lukla (which is on a angle to assist with breaking when landing and gaining speed when taking off) was pretty wild to say the least. In Lukla we met our 4 assistant guides and 3 porters. Each porter would carry up to 4 peoples gear, weighing between 40-50kg! All we had to carry was day packs with clothes for the day, water and other items needed during the day. We then did a last check of our gear and commenced to trek approximately 3 hours to Phakding.

Day 3 - Namche Bazaar (3440m)
On the third day we trekked to Namche, 9km in about 6 hours. Namche is the administrative centre of Khumbu region. Time for a last check of your equipment and to hire any gear required for high altitudes from Dingboche onwards. This was the last chance for a hot shower and other small luxuries like tv, pool hall and a great little bakery (Note that naturally all guys denied to have a hot shower).

Day 4 - Namche Bazaar
Today was an acclimatisation day. The best way to acclimatise is to do a strenuous walk up high then come back down to sleep. We visited a nepali army base and saw a museum that had some great information about the mountains and the people that live there. I think it was in Namche that some people started to develop headaches. It doesn't matter how fit you are, anyone can be affected by altitude.

Day 5 - Phortse Gaon (3810m)
Today we trekked for about 6-7 hours to cover the 9km. This route offered an insight into the life of Sherpas and their culture, as we stayed in the village that is home to a number of Sherpas who have reached Everest's summit. I had the privilege of helping out in the kitchen peeling potatoes and met a Sherpa that has climbed to the top of Mt.Everest twice. He said that climbing season was just around the corner and that he will go up the mountain again.

Day 6 - Dingboche (4410m)
Trek To Dingboche, travelling approximately 6 hours to cover 8kms. Most people are now feeling the effects of altitude with some of the girls feeling particularly ill. I was taking Diamox from the beginning of the trek so I was still feeling fine. Diamox is medication that is supposed to prevent AMT (Acute Altitude Sickness), however it doesn't work with anyone. We met another group that returned from EBC (Everest Base Camp) and they had to send a guy back with AMT even though he was taking Diamox. One of the typical side effects of Diamox is getting really bad pins and needles in hands and feet. I got that most mornings but it would go away after start walking.

Day 7 - Dingboche
Another acclimatisation day. We walked from 4410m to the top of a mountain (the name I forgot) at the altitude of 5200m. At this altitude there is roughly about 50% of the oxygen that exists at sea level. Walking up a hill at 45 degree angle becomes really hard, walking becomes really slow and regular breaks every 20 or 30 m were essential, for me at least. At this point I really started regretting ever touching a cigarette in my life. I haven't smoked or drank since Namche Bazaar and intend to keep it that way until base camp. Either way, as exhausting as it was, I made it to the top with more than half the group. Some had to return to Dingboche because of sickness/exhaustion. I felt sorry for them, not knowing that I would be dealt a similar fate 2 days later. Base Camp lies at 5300m so it's only 100m up from this point.

Day 8 - Lobuche (4900m)
The trek to Lobuche is about 5 hours to cover 7km. We did a short acclimatisation up the hill for about 100m to help us sleep at night. All the lads had plenty of energy because it was a rather easy day so we decided to sprint up the hill at 45degreees. It started of fine until we collapsed, trying to catch our breath for about 10 minutes. You really feel the lack of oxygen at this altitude. Anyways, we had a laugh about our stupidity later (and so did the guides). Sleeping in Lobuche was the worst night for me because I just couldn't get warm. I had about four layers of clothing on and I was still freezing all night. I didn't get much sleep. In the morning we found the water in our bottles was frozen.

Day 9 - Everest Base Camp (5300m)
From Lobuche we trekked to the Everest Base Camp and then back down to our lodge at Gorakshep (5140m), starting in the dark at 5.30AM in the morning. Needless to say it was freezing cold, from memory it was -6degrees. We soon started walking next to Khumbu Glacier which runs down from Mt.Everest. The land up there is really barren, not much grows, it's mainly a rocks, sand and some grass. We were up in the mountains now, with some astonishing views to the Himalayas. This was the hardest day for me as I had lost all appetite and felt like vomiting after every step. I had a painful headache and really struggled up even the smallest hills. I thought that I wouldn't make it to EBC for a while. Anyhow, I somehow managed to pull myself up to EBC - the final destination of the trek! Main guide Ashok pulled out a flask of Khukri rum which got eagerly passed around. It was really a great moment, especially because everyone from our group made it and the weather was brilliant. The group photo is from EBC.

Day 10 - Kala Pathar / Pheriche or Dingboche.
The next day started off with an optional 3.5hour hike up to Kalapathar, which is 5545m high. I wasn't planning on doing this because I was feeling so ill the day before but as my room mate John was rising at 5AM I thought why the hell not. I had a good sleep and recovered some energy. I have to say I regretted this decision 30 minutes later as I was again struggling up a hill at 45degrees. I was close to giving up a few times but our guide Indrey, who has been a guide for 20 years, kept tricking me by saying "It's just around the corner, common! Jam Jam". "Jam Jam" is the nepali equivalent for "Let's go!". Anyways, I made it to the top just a few minutes after the sun has gone up. Also to the top made it aussies Aaron, John and Rachel. 3 others made it half way. The rest of the group was still sleeping peacefully (I assume) in Ghorka Shep. Totally exhausted and frozen but I made it. All the way up I had pictures of black toes in my head as I could hardly feel my feet. Before then it was the coldest we have ever walked in on the trek. It was -10degrees Celsius plus about 15-20knots wind-chill. From the top we had the best views of Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse and other surrounding peaks of this awe-inspiring region. Coming back down to Ghorka Shep we had breakfast and then walked for a further 6 hours back down to Tengboche. I felt really good for making it to the top of Kalapathar so going down was quite easy, especially because with each step down you got more oxygen.

Day 11 - Namche Bazaar (3440m)
Ok, here is what happened in Namche Bazaar. Imagine 12 people who have been eating a mainly vegetarian diet, have not drunk or smoked in 12 days and exercised heavily all day for 12 days. Now imagine this same group drinking straight Khukri Rum (Nepali Rum) and dancing to the song wonder wall. This is what happened.

Day 12 - Pakding (2610m)
Morning was spend curing headaches at the fantastic bakery in Namche Bazaar. Walk to Phakding and had a early night as everyone was still recovering from the Khukri bashing.

Day 13 - Lukla
Another Khukri extravaganza - great memories. Next day we flew back to Kathmandu after waiting for more than an hour at Lukla airstrip for the weather to clear. I'm not sure how the stewardess felt when 12 people who (mostly) haven't had a shower in 13 days entered the plane. I must say I didn't think we smelled so bad but then again I was probably used to it.

Back in Kathmandu it was back to the old story. "Where you from sir? - Do you want to do some trekking? I have good company, very cheap". Noisy streets, pollution etc... I think most people wished to still be up in the mountains.

Evening we had a group dinner at Rum Doodle Bar/Restaurant that is visited by most expeditions, trekkers and climbers after a successful trek, climb, expedition. You fill out a foot which then gets hung up on the roof or walls. I was excited to spot one that has been signed by the great Sir Edmund Hillary himself.

All in all it was a great experience that I recommend to anyone...It's hard and it's challenging, don't expect the comforts you have at home. No running water, squatting toilets, cold rooms, so so food (It gets more expensive the higher you go as everything has to be carried up by porters. The quality of food declines with altitude too). Intrepid costs a little more than some local companies but you get what you paid for plus the extra convenience of having everything sorted out from home. I highly recommend our guides Ashok, Indrey, Basu and Dines. Their English is very good, they have a good sense of humor and know the mountains and people very well. They all have good leadership qualities.

Other trip notes from Intrepid website:
Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world at 8,848 m, is one of the
greatest trekking destinations on the planet. Locally known as Sagarmatha, the mountain has long been revered as the home of the gods. First conquered by Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, Everest has traditionally been the ultimate goal for mountaineers from all over the world. Today trekkers seek the challenge of reaching the mountaineer's base camp, an incredible achievement in itself. Amid spectacular mountain scenery we also explore the diversity of Himalayan traditions and religion and gain an insight into the world famous Sherpa culture. Crossing glaciers and broad plains, traversing valleys and climbing high passes, we ascend to the picturesque Everest Base Camp. Our accomodation comprises small, basic teahouses along the track. These cosy remote teahouses are operated by the mountain Nepalese to cater for trekkers and offer simple yet filling and delicious meals to sustain our efforts. This is a challenging trip and involves difficult trekking at high altitudes but the whole experience is simply awe-inspiring!
This is a trek that requires an excellent level of fitness as there are plenty of ascents and descents and the walking is very strenuous. The weather can be harsh in December and January, with snow and frosts.

Our expedition is led by an experienced local guide who speaks English. Two assistants help with the daily logistics of the trek and though you are expected to help carry your gear, there are porters provided to assist. We stop at teahouses or lodges where accommodation is multishare, toilet and washing facilities rudimentary and the food is basic, filling, usually vegetarian and cheap.
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Comments

forkintheroad
forkintheroad on

How did you arrange your guides?
Great Blog - your trip seems amazing!

A quick question for you - I am going to Nepal in October. Just curious how you hooked up with your guides - were they guides or porters? How much? Recomend them (if so, how can I contact them)?
Appreciate your response!

Have fun trekking and in Tibet...
Sherrill the Canadian.

mookie
mookie on

Intrepid Travel
Hey,
I organized everything through Intrepid Travel. They've been fantastic (http://www.intrepidtravel.com). You can try to contact some local companies before you come for a cheaper deal (Check out www.alpineasiantreks.com I've talked to them about tibet trip and they seem pretty good). Other option is to come here and see the companies yourself. There are loads of treks on offer as soon as you step out on the streets. You don't have to find them, they'll find you :) If I would do it again I'd prob contact the local companies from home or organize it here. Cheapest option is to come here, find a porter and guide here. Get ready for some heavy negotiations though. Good luck.

stebmaster
stebmaster on

wahnsinn
Wow, kann nur sagen ich beneide dich für die Erlebnisse, und bewundere dich, denn ich hätte wohl keine chance gehabt. Freu mich schon mehr von dir zu sehen und zu lesen

franzkafka
franzkafka on

morning
...is due to all -
to some - the night -
to an imperial few -
the Aurora light

forkintheroad
forkintheroad on

Thanks! Intrepid is Great!
Should have known Intrepid...I went with them in China, and again on a Cambodia/Vietnam. Thanks again...will check out the sight!

Happy travels!

sandensham
sandensham on

Nepal memories
Having just read your account of your trek to the Top of the World, my memories of my own trek in March 07 have come flooding back.....the cold, the basic facilities, the effects of altitude, the amazing porters and fantastic, patient support of our trek leader and his assistants (The Advenure Company/Himalayan Encounters), the breathtaking scenery, Kathmandu, the end of trek parties, Nepalese people and of course the ultimate sense of achievement. An amazing country to visit and a fantastic experience.

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