From the moment you walk out of Lukla to trek to Everest Base Camp the views are beautiful. The higher you go the more amazing the views, higher again the views become breathtaking panoramas. Continue reading →
Three photos of a Stupa in Khumjung taken from different directions and over five years. Photos taken in December 2013, the end of September 2015, two earthquakes later and in September 2018.
There is a beautiful mani wall along the walk in from Namche Bazaar.
I assume the cracks are from the second earthquake on May 12 2015. The small boy in the photo has his back pack on and had just come out from the Edmund Hillary School, the biggest school in the Khumjung.
And finally in September 2018 the repaired stupa in Khumjung but the eyes and face are not finished in this photo. The open space in front of the stupa to the right of the mani wall is the play area for the Sir Edmund Hillary School. The wall around the school has been repaired as well. That is me walking in with the red jacket and our porter guide on my left. As for most of the photos the Trainer (my husband) was taking the photo.
It’s true there is weather station on the Everest Base Camp Trek Trail
Italian Weather Pyramid out of Lobuche in the direction of Gorak Shep
The Weather Pyramid at Everest Base Camp or thereabouts. The Trainer walked there by himself. I decided to stay in the lodge and rest up for the next to big days. Built by the Italians he joked he was in search of a short black coffee …
Sadly since we visited in 2015 the Weather Pyramid was defunded by the Italian Government and I have read the structure has been turned into a lodge of sorts,
I had travelled through the Sahara and had explored Timbuktu, had marvelled at Iguazu Falls and the Perito Moreno Glacier. I had lived and experienced life in Milan and Buenos Aires. I was about to set out on a trek that would be the travel adventure of my life, but I didn’t know it.
I sat crying on our couch. My husband and trekking partner wanted to go out on a final training session. I was exhausted from training five times a week and I wanted to cry even at the thought of it. So I cried. He’d pushed it too far. He designed the training plan so we would make it to Everest Base Camp without feeling pain all the way. I had named him The Trainer he had trained us so well.
He had also researched, planned and organised the trek. Now he was weighing my pack and contents and being tough like the The Trainer could be. I could take 5.5 kilos in my back pack and my little pot of lip moisturiser had not made the cut I cut. I would be carrying it up the hills. So I sat on the couch crying with exhaustion and at not being able to take my only luxury item on a trek I didn’t want to go on in the first place.
He met us at the baggage collection at Lukla airport. After a cup of tea and sorting our packs at the Paradise Lodge we were ready. He tied our bags together with his ropes, positioned the load on his head and led us out of Lukla, stopping every now and then to check we were following.
At first from his lack of response to our questions and attempts at conversation I thought he had limited English. But as he tuned in to our accents and we started to get to know each other, he spoke more.
On the second day he seemed a bit more relaxed and he started to teach us some Nepalese words. Jum jum, let’s go and appropriately on the hard climb to Namche Bazaar bistari bistari, slowly slowly. Jokingly he taught us quickly quickly. When we climbed to Khumjung the thick cloud forced my focus to my feet and the spider webs covered in dewdrops, he told me the words for spider and spider webs too.
Familiar with the trail, he pointed out things I would never have seen without him. He pointed out birds and bee hives hanging in the crevices of rocks on the other side of the river. Sometimes he sang his Nepali songs. We watched fascinated by his animated conversations with others along the track and picked up his sense of humour and friendly nature.
At the end of the day when I wrote in my small diary, he reminded me of the things we had seen on the trail. He spelt out the Nepalese words I had learnt during the day and I helped him with some new English words in our guide books.
In Dingboche, surrounded by magnificent mountains he taught me their names. He helped while I practiced naming them in order, like a child reciting their abc, learning the Himalayan range spread before me.
Many times we waited together for donkeys and yaks to pass. Once I was caught in a tight spot and I turned away when I shouldn’t have. Fortunately Basanta was watching. I turned around in time to see him pushing a donkey away from me. If he hadn’t of done this the donkey’s side load would have pushed me over the small wall.
He pulled me up the huge black boulders to reach the top of Kala Pattar. Took photos of us together and celebrated with us at Everest Base Camp.
He called me Louise, sometimes jokingly Mom and sometimes Didi – Big Sister.
Sometimes he led. Sometimes he followed. And sometimes we walked side by side.
On the last day, walking back to Lukla a woman coming the other way silently pointed at the porter right behind me as if she thought I needed to move aside and let him pass. Yes I know, I thought, he is my porter and he has been close by for sixteen days. He has carried our load making our trek to Base Camp easier. He guided, pointed things out and watched out for us. He was our companion, Nepalese friend and shared his country with us. Thank you Basanta.
Day Seventeen Lukla to Kathmandu, Everest Base Camp Trek
The final day of seventeen wonderful days trekking from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and back in October 2015. Having fare-welled our Porter Guide, my husband “the Trainer” and I flew to Kathmandu grateful for completing the trek safely and already thinking of a return trek.
Above: The tarmac at Lukla airport and the parking spaces for the four planes that fly back and forward to Lukla every day.
We were up early for one of the first flights out. The Paradise Lodge where we stayed the night is a one-minute walk to the airport. The owner of the lodge said goodbye to us and presented us with the traditional cream scarf to wish us well.
The departure hall at the airport is a bit crazy and we were glad to have someone with us to direct us where to go and in which order. We passed through the tickets and security checks very quickly and into the hall to wait boarding where passengers are always keen to watch the planes landing. The unloading of passengers and baggage is amazingly quick and the same goes for loading and boarding. In 2018 I saw a trekker almost miss getting on the plane by seconds. Obviously he had to take a trip the toilet or somewhere. So be vigilant.
Being our fourth flight, we were relaxed. I was more relaxed about take-off than landing at Lukla.
As we flew back along the line of the Himalayas I wondered if it would be our last trip as I was hooked on this magnificent part of the world.
The Trainer and I returned to Nepal to trek to Gokyo and over the Cho La Pass in September / October 2018.
The first photo for the day was of a dog sitting expectantly outside the kitchen of our lodge. The Trainer had taken it because “everyone loves a photo of a dog.” The dogs we saw on the trail appeared well cared for.
Mani Walls coming into Ghat
On the last day of both our trek it was with a feeling of sadness that we made our way back to Lukla. Lingering on the trail as we went. Standing aside for the last lot of the donkeys and yaks, crossing the last bridges which on the way up were the first scary bridges. Savouring the last of the views of green fields of vegetables, mani walls and stupas as we would back down through a string of villages.
Prayer Wheels, Mani Walls and the Stupa at Ghat
We saw groups of trekkers fresh off the plane new to the trail and not sure quite what to expect. I pointed at the brand new boots of a young woman and I pointed to my boots all covered in white dust and told her that her boots would look like mine after Base Camp.
I smiled a woman we passed who pointed behind me indicating there was someone behind me. I think she thought he was trying to get past. I wanted to say yes, he has been behind me for 16 days, he’s my porter. Although he wasn’t always behind sometimes he was ahead and leading. But he was always there walking beside me in essence, keeping an eye on where I was stepping. Only a short time before he had pulled me out of the way from a donkey, because I turned around and wasn’t paying attention.
In the end, despite not wanting the trek to end we were glad to get to Lukla’s entrance gate. The last of the hills seemed endless. And we had just walked 130 kilometres.
We walked through the streets of Lukla which we very quiet. Lukla would normally be a bit of a party town with people celebrating the end of their treks. It is always a place people stay at the end of the trek not at the beginning.
At the lodge we were happy to have a shower, do some washing and explore the town a bit more. Basanta came back later in the afternoon. We had a few beers together and said thank you and goodbye. He was going to have three days’ rest and then going to back on the trail again with a group.
Basanta our lovely porter guide and me in Lukla at the end of our trek
The dining room at Paradise Lodge Lukla
After dinner and a chat with the woman who owns the lodge we were ready for an early night. We had the first flight out in the morning.
Leaving our lodge in Namche Bazaar was a bit sad. We had stayed there four times and a total of six nights with the acclimatisation days. It was in the middle of Namche, the owners and staff were lovely, the menu and food good and the hot showers wonderful.
Leaving Namche Bazaar and the Kwangde Range
Not long after we started out, Basanta our porter guide pointed out a Danfe or Danphe Nepal’s national bird, a beautiful large black pheasant with a metallic green head and a chestnut tail.
First and last view of Everest
Lower suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi Gorge
We had our last look of Everest at the resting spot on the way down. We crossed the high bridge again across the Dudh Khosi gorge. The fourth time over it I was still glad to get off however The Trainer stands in the middle looking over at the view.
Back down on the old river bed we posed for a photo together and watched some of the porters with huge loads of building materials slowly make their way up to cross the bridge.
The trainer and me heading back down to Lukla
We stopped at Monjo Lodge where we had stayed on the first trek and another place that I felt a connection to. Waiting for lunch in the garden in the sun we took some more happy snaps feeling relaxed, fit and happy. The Trainer, yes, my husband Sam looked really relaxed in the photos, his job was done. His training and planning had got us up and back without mishap. Following the no more than 300 metres increase in altitude a night had been a key factor I am sure.
Porters carrying building materials up the trail
Waiting for lunch in the garden at Monjo Lodge
The lodge we stayed in Phakding on the way up and on the way down
The trainer was very excited about finally seeing the marathon runners who had started early that morning from Everest Base Camp running past, all of us on our way to Namche Bazaar. The event was originally in May but was rescheduled to the beginning of October after the earthquakes.
We left our lodge at Pangboche as doctors prepared the medical check point and lodge staff the water bottles.
View of Tengboche in the Middle Distance
The Temple Gate in Tengboche (Thyanboche)
A half marathon runner who started at Dingboche at the Tengboche check point
The following photos show the track. The steep uphill climb (600m) had nearly killed me on our 2013 trek. Coming back down isn’t easy either. It can impact on your knees which is why I chose to use trekking poles. The steep track with lots of small loose rocks can be slippery so the only way to go is slowly.
That’s me picking my way down with the trekking poles.
Runners taking their time
The trail from a distance… crazy
Sanasa with women selling jewellery
The Finishing Point at Namche Bazaar
Namche Bazaar from Above
The view of Namche Bazaar from above. I had my sights set on the red roofed lodge in the middle, right …. which for me meant our favourite lodge, our own bathroom and a hot shower at last.
Cafe Danphe Bar named after the National Bird of Nepal
We had a drink at Café Danphe Bar to celebrate our successful, wonderful trek to Everest Base Camp. Huddled together in the bar we looked at all the photos Sam had taken. For the best of an hour I sat with tears streaming down my face, hardly able to believe the photos of the magical places we had just been.
We had reached our goal of Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar and now our focus was getting back to Lukla for our flight out while savouring the final days of our trek. Descending in altitude is easier than ascending as you don’t need to worry about gradual increments of altitude. The plan for Day 13 was to walk to Pangboche.
The photos remind me that the trek looks different in reverse. Generally you look in the direction you are going and don’t look back at where you have come from which usually it quite a different view. The memorial cairns above Dughla looked different with the mountains behind.
We crossed the small bridge at Dughla. Sam turned around to help me step up and over the gap between the side of the rock and the bridge. I momentarily froze looked at Sam’s outstretched hand and thought I’d better not miss the large step onto the low rock bridge.
With the trail to Dingboche above us we walked through the Khumbu Khola valley into Pheriche. The small settlement had been badly affected by the second earthquake in May 2015 but had been rebuilt and only limited damage was evident. The medical centre and the daily talks about altitude sickness were operating business as usual.
We stopped in Pheriche for a drink and toilet break and Shomare for lunch.
Above is a small yak enclosure before Pangboche.
The following day the annual ultra-marathon started the next day from Everest Base Camp and our lodge in Pangboche was a medical check point and drink station for the event. Three doctors from Kathmandu were staying the night in the lodge and to check the vital statistics of the runners.
The walk into Everest Base Camp took me by surprise as I hadn’t read the section in the guide book. The track isn’t much of a track, making the walk a little crazy. At the end you just clamber over boulders and slip everywhere. But that’s getting a little ahead.
Insane trail to Everest Base Camp
The photo shows the middle section of the trail which had lots of boulders and scree. A defined path becomes non-existent, so we headed in a general direction picking our way as best we could. And following our trusty Porter Guide, of course. Because of clambering over boulders, I developed blisters on my toes. Applying band aids before setting out is probably a good idea.
EBC has the reputation of looking very dull. Most trekkers visit it in the afternoon when the mountains can shade the area. We took the advice to visit in the morning and with the light it was quite lovely.
Large boulder perched on ice above a small stream
Exploring the Everest Base Camp area
Our Porter Guide Basanta exploring
Tents for the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp
I plan to write a post about the runners and the marathon as they were a feature of our trek. We bumped into them several times along the trail much to the Trainer’s delight.
The Main Everest Base Camp Trail’s highlight is the view of Mt. Everest and the Himalaya Range from the top of the hill Kala Patthar. Not everyone has heard of Kala Patthar. However, Everest Base Camp is famous, so it’s a must do. Or is it? I felt uneasy at Base Camp, being directly underneath where the 2015 avalanche came off Mt. Pumori into Base Camp (or so I was told). If I go back I would climb Kala Patthar twice, climbing it once in the afternoon and again the next morning at sunrise.
The triumphant team of three, lined up to take the obligatory photo by the sign and flags.
The Trainer, Me and the Porter with the Yellow Wig at Everest Base Camp
Climb Every Mountain – The Open Door Singer’s sign at EBC
The sign for my choir had its big moment here. 130 people sang Climb Every Mountain to me before I left Melbourne. It was very special.
The round trip to EBC from Gorak Shep is 8km and takes 6.5 hours. Back at Gorak Shep (the end of the trail and starting point for Kala Patthar and EBC) we had lunch at the lodge where we had slept the night before and left. We headed back down to Lobuche (a 2.5-hour walk) through the long valley that feels like a moonscape. Back in our lodge in Lobuche we ate and went straight to bed. Exhausted but very happy and very pleased with ourselves.
All the training had prepared us well. The trek to Everest Base Camp is more than the walk to that point. It is about the training before hand, getting all the right gear and training with it, the research and preparation and then the trek itself. It is a long journey in many ways, for which you are rewarded in just as many ways.
Now we just had to get back down to Lukla in one piece.
Day Eleven – Lobuche to Gorak Shep and climbing Kala Pattar (5545m)
People who have been to Everest Base Camp or have researched the trek know the highlight of the trek is not Base Camp but is the climb to Kala Pattar above Gorak Shep to view Mount Everest from the closest and highest viewpoint on the main EBC Trail. Many trekkers climb the hill in the dark to see the sun rise on Everest or in the evening to see the sun set. Climbing in the afternoon after first arriving in Gorak Shep and an early lunch is also an option.
I slept badly because of Diamox the altitude sickness tablets, which make you pee all night. We left our lodge quite late as we did not have far to walk and also wanted to wait for some of the cloud to clear. The trek out of Dughla was a steep climb. After the climb we spotted some very large quail type birds called the Tibetan Snow-Cock or Snowbird on the slopes.
Above that there are many cairns or chortens, memorials to the mountaineers who have died on Everest including Scott Fisher’s memorial. Some of the climbers made it to the summit and then died on the way down. The area is quite beautiful.
The clouds cleared above the chorten area. The landscape became very much like a moonscape with a small stream and reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.
The walk was only two and a half hours. The Trainer went to explore the Italian weather pyramid. Inside our lodge was very warm with lots of laser-light in the roof letting the heat in. I stayed in bed happy to rest up for the next two very big days.
We retraced our steps into the town for the initial part of the walk and then took a trail along the side of the hills past yak pastures and herders’ huts. A few big trekking groups were walking out probably groups doing the trail in fewer days along the main trail.
It was great walk across flat plains, slowly going uphill with great views of Periche below. On the way we saw some teenagers carrying large baskets of dung and Basanta had an animated conversation with them.
After we arrived at Dughla we decided to stay at the Yak Lodge. One of only two lodges there which is probably why people don’t stop there. We had lunch in the sun with the beautiful blue skies and watched as trekkers came down from Gorak Shep. We met the group who had flown on the same flight into Lukla with us including a mother and daughter team from Queensland who flew on the same flight from Kuala Lumpur.
After a rest we walked up behind the lodges for a view of Dughla Lake which was almost completely hidden from view at the lodges. It was a two hour walk and wasn’t really a trail so we picked our way carefully to a good sitting spot. There were lots of juniper bushes growing on the hills. My wind jacket protected me from the cold wind which is why you should pack one even if it is a dry season.
We stayed at Dughla to make sure we stuck to the rule of not ascending more than 300 metres. We didn’t want to risk altitude sickness and not make EBC.