Todd Samson and How Not to Trek in the Himalayas

Todd Samson’s Salute to Sherpas and Climbing Lobuche

todd-samson

What Todd Samson has been getting up to lately is far from tame. Todd Samson is an Australian Canadian television celebrity is currently in a show called Body Hack.

Each episode looks at a different group of people who are involved in extreme activity and how the body copes with it. Taking it one step further Todd Samson walks in their shoes for some time. The Nepalese episode looked at the life of the Sherpa people who work as porters along the Everest Base Camp Trail.

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Fashion on the Track

Some Accessories I took to Everest Base Camp

Periche

Here I am walking through Pheriche looking like the Michelin Man. Complete with the hat and given today is the Melbourne Cup (horse race) I decided on a twist the Fashion on the Track theme. Tongue in cheek of course. However I am wearing some accessories you shouldn’t leave home for Everest Base Camp without.

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A Snapshot of the Bridges to EBC

Bridges the Traffic Lights of the Everest Base Camp Trek

via Daily Prompt: Bridge

Small Metal bridge on EBC trek
Bridge over stream before Gorak Shep

The last bridge before Gorak Shep, the last place with lodges before Everest Base Camp. That’s me and our porter guide just ahead.

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Dingboche Door Framed View

Day Seven Shomare to Dingboche

Lodge in Dingboche with mountains behind nepal everest base camp trek
Our lodge in Dingboche on the Everest Base Camp trek

Climbing to Namche Bazaar

Day Two Phakding to Monjo 2013  and Phakding to Namche Bazaar 2015

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Above is the suspension bridge at Upper Phakding. We stayed at the lodge just above the end of the bridge in the photo on the way back down from our 2013 trek. The bridge on the Everest Base Camp Trek Blog and  my donkey video.

PLANNING THE TREK BY THE SEASONS

When planning our trek for late September we expected some rain. Continue reading

Donkey Central at Phakding – Chuk Chuk – Video

Donkeys on the trail to EBC

Keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. CHUK!

Rule Number Two: Give Way to the donkeys too.

I posted this video on Facebook on our first trek in November December 2013. It was taken on my iphone and shows the number of donkeys on the trail and why you don’t want to be on the bridge at the same time as donkey herd. Continue reading

Heading Out for Everest Base Camp – Day One Lukla to Phakding

Walking out of Lukla

trek n.1. a long difficult journey, esp. on foot  2. a journey or stage, esp by ox wagon            3. make a trek  – trekker 

Saying Goodbye in Melbourne

In September 2015 my husband and I flew to Nepal to trek to Everest Base Camp. At the departure hall at Melbourne Airport saying goodbyes to our adult daughters,  the eldest hugged her father and said

                          “Dad, go easy on Mum remember it’s her holiday too.”  She turned                                      to me and said “Mum, ….man up.”

And with that sage advice…

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At the Top of Kala Patthar

Video

I made it. I climbed to Kala Patthar the highlight of the Everest Base Camp trek. The video of me reaching the top, breathless and exhausted.

Reminiscing the Trip of My Life

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The Best Travel Adventure

Trekking to Everest Base Camp

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.

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Recharging in Nepal

Resting Spots Along the Trail to Everest Base Camp

A post about the porters on my Everest Base Camp Trek blog is long overdue. The Daily Post Daily Prompt Recharge has given me a perfect launching point.

Porters loads at a resting point on the EBC Trek

Trekking through the Khumbu you see resting points for porters to unload, rest and recharge. These resting spots are at a height so the porters can easily unload and reload onto their backs without having to lift their load from the ground.

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Above Pheriche Nepal

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Above Pheriche, Everest Base Camp trek

Blogging U Photography Day Six: Solitude

Connecting When You Travel – Chokos, Children and Conversations

Namaste and Jum Jum Bistari

Last year in Nepal “connecting” started with learning a few words of Nepalese at the small hotel we stayed in Kathmandu. People always respond well if you have a go at speaking their language, they love it. My choice of words might seem strange. I learnt  Continue reading

Keeping Watch in Khumjung

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

Eyes peeping out from the yellow fringe seem sad against the grey cloudy backdrop. Despite being badly cracked from the 2015 earthquake, the stupa still stands sentinel at the end of the main path into Khumjung and watching over the Sir Edmund Hillary School.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/eyes/

Our Porter Guide

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.

Consulting the map
Consulting the map

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.

Alpine flower Solukhumbu
Dew on spider webs

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.

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.

Khumjung Village Everest Base Camp Trek
Porters climbing up to the bridge to Namche Bazaar
Dingboche to Dughla Everest Base Camp Trek

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.

The porter guide and me
Saying goodbye at the Paradise Lodge in Lukla

Life Is Great in Retrospect

Why the Trainer and I turned back before Everest Base Camp in 2013.We trained more than when we made it in 2015 . We were fit enough. So why didn’t we make it ?

The Background Story

The sport teacher at work took an interest in my EBC training. One Monday morning he asked how it was going. I replied well but pulled up my trouser leg to show him the rash on both my ankles. He told me to go to the hospital immediately.

The colleague I share an office  with came to look at the rash. Unbelievably his wife had had the same rash, had spent time in hospital and could have died. I made an doctor’s appointment for the afternoon.

The doctor  looked at the rash on both my ankles said it wasn’t Cellulitis and agreed it was probably caused by my trekking socks. My bamboo socks. He told me if the rash changed in any way to come straight back.

The rash cleared up and some months later and the trainer and I left for Kathmandu to trek to Everest Base Camp. With the same bamboo socks. I didn’t really think about not taking them. They hadn’t caused anymore problems. Life is great in retrospect.

Day  Five Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

On the trek to Tengboche the rash returned with vengeance caused no doubt by the eight hour walk that day and the dusty trail. And the socks. However it was a lot  was redder than it had been back home and coming up over the the sock line. I was a bit panicky.

It had been a unexpectedly hard day’s climb. It was freezing cold and late in the afternoon when we arrived in Tengboche. A lot of the lodges were closed as it was getting late in a quiet season. We weren’t that thrilled with the accommodation and the shared toilet arrangement which we had managed to avoid until then. It was turning out to being not such a great day.

Tengboche Everest Base Camp Trek

Tengboche from the monastery looking cold and dark with sun setting

Sunset on the Everest Base Camp Trail

Shadows and the sun setting on the Lhotse – Nuptse ridge from Tengboche

Day Six Tengboche to Pangboche

The next morning after breakfast I showed my rash to a woman in the lodge we had met the day before. She had told me she was carrying a lot of medicine and as I suspected she was a nurse. She agreed with me the rash looked like it was caused by my socks and told me if it got worse or started to feel hot to start taking the broad spectrum antibiotics and ring for a helicopter.

I was a bit panicked at this comment given we were trekking without a guide or porter. The Trainer tried to calm me down. We walked to Pangboche a lovely walk and found a lodge fairly early. I spent some time trying to find out how we would call a helicopter without much luck. We had showers which made the day seem a bit better. During the night I started the antibiotics because my leg felt hot.

Pangboche, Everest Base Camp Trek

The next morning the Trainer suggested we walk to Shomare have a coffee and then decide whether to go on or not. And yes, we had that drink and decided to turn back.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Shomare. Our last stop before turning back

Life is great in retrospect I should not have taken the bamboo socks to Nepal, bought some topical cream, investigated the rash more on coming home but I didn’t.

Lessons Learnt

When we returned home I heard a lot about bamboo socks not being good for trekking. They retained moisture instead of wicking the moisture away. The socks were banished from my sock drawer forever. I had actually had been recommended the socks in a camping store. In retrospect don’t buy hiking gear in a camping gear shop. I recommend finding a hiking gear shop that employs staff with lots of trekking experience.

I bought woolen socks for our second trip. Trained with them and packed more pairs.

Ironically I got the rash again on the second trek. And on the first day. Just a tiny bit at first and with woolen socks. I applied the cream I brought and raised my legs. By the end of the trek the rash was being annoying.

Rash on ankle

The rash back in Kathmandu after the second trek in 2015.

The type of socks you wear trekking are really important. I was very excited to find a post devoted entirely to socks in my travels around the blogosphere. Here it is

Links to related posts

Don’t be put off Tengboche. It is a hard days trek and being mentally prepared will help.

We trekked back through Tengboche on our way back from Everest Base Camp. It seemed like a much nicer place in the middle of the day with the sun shining. We spent some time there, watching marathon runners coming through and taking photographs. We still haven’t seen inside the temple to we might just have to go back.

Tengboche Monastery

Tengboche Monastery

 

Anyone else have a frustrating medical “emergency” on holidays ?

My You Tube of Walking to Tengboche.

More photos of the walk from Namche to Tengboche (2013)  

Other posts that may interest you

Acclimatisation Days

What to pack

25 Reasons to Trek to Nepal  

How hard is it to trek to Everest Base Camp ?

Our trek itineraries in 2013 and in 2015

Our Experience on Diamox

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Travel Makes Us Modest

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Travel makes us modest,
you see what a tiny place
you occupy in the world.

Gustave Flaubert
Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridgetop

I could not agree more Gustave.

My Favourite Day – Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridge-Top

Two Earthquakes and Two Films

Trouble for the 2016 -17 Seasons? Visit Nepal and Help Rebuild

Monjo Guest House EBC Trek
Will there be another slow season of empty lodges ?

On April 25 a 7.8-magnitude quake devastated parts of Kathmandu and rural Nepal. Two weeks later on May 12 a second 7.3-magnitude quake hit. It is the anniversary of the first quake this week.

In the last six months two films were released about climbing Everest. One Everest about the fateful climbing season in 1996 when rival trekking company leaders lost their lives climbing. More recently the documentary Sherpa-Trouble on Everest was released. The film covers the 2014 avalanche when 16 Sherpas were killed. In an interview with director Jenny Peedom, she said that the Khumbu Sherpa community were very pleased with the film. A key message is the risk Sherpas take in working on the mountain to enable tourists and climbers to summit the peak. Put simply without the Sherpas the tourism around the climbing season would not be possible. Another message is the exploitation of the Sherpas in terms of pay and conditions.

This film may have affected the Everest Base Camp Trekking  season. A work colleague of the Trainer, a keen Australian bush walker announced that he was planning a trip to walk the Inca trail. The Trainer suggested to him he should trek to Base Camp and his reaction to this was negative and he said no way. He had recently seen the Sherpa documentary and he didn’t want to be part of such an exploitative adventure. I think there may others who are turned off because of the film.

Trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp to climb Everest is one thing. Trekking to Base Camp to trek to that point is quite another. The trail does not have the same commercial  pressure. People pay a lot of money to climb Everest. There is a huge pressure on the climbing companies to deliver. This pressure does not exist trekking on the trail to Base Camp.

Most of the people living along the trail would rely largely on the trekking tourism either directly or indirectly. The Khumbu region has had three quiet seasons. If you are planning to trek to Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna or any of the other areas please don’t change your mind because of a film. Nepal needs tourists. Be part of the rebuild.

everest base camp trailBuilding along the Everest Base Camp trail

 

Article about the Sherpa – Trouble on Everest 

25 April Earthquake Wikipedia 

Not convinced ? – 25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp 

 

The Trainer and Me

Why I Started A Blog About Our Journey TO EBC

The Blogger and the Trainer

The Trainer always the watchful eye in the background

Hello I’m Louise

In 2013 the Trainer and I trekked the Main Mount Everest Base Camp Trail. It was the Trainer’s idea not mine. I really didn’t want to go to Everest Base Camp.  I was worried about an endless list of things – getting robbed, murdered, lost, breaking an ankle, the trek being too difficult, getting sick, getting altitude sickness, freezing, oh and being tipped off a mountain by a yak. But I didn’t want to be left behind to worry about the Trainer either. Given I met him on a felucca on the Nile and he later dragged me across the Sahara when all I wanted was to relax on a Thai beach, well, after 30 years I should expect these things.

The optimistic Trainer had been to the Annapurna area in Nepal years ago and saw no problems with trekking to EBC. But I wanted to be reassured by someone else. Talking to a few people helped. YouTubes helped get a sense of the trail experience. But I really wanted to hear from a woman like myself – in her fifties and not a veteran trekker, who had been there. I searched for a blog but at the time I couldn’t find any.

The time came to decide to go or not. I didn’t want the Trainer to go by himself. We flew out in late November 2013 and we nearly made it to Everest Base Camp. Could have and should have. But didn’t. We were disappointed and  it felt like unfinished business and amazingly I was hooked. Addicted to thriving on the challenge and the place. Yes that’s me standing there, almost at Namche Bazaar with just a couple of steep hills to go.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Almost there! The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished.

 

We returned to Australia and I wanted to tell everyone how special the trail to EBC is and how alive and incredibly fit I felt from the experience. I was the fittest I had been. Ever. I wanted to tell everyone that a not particularly fit middle aged woman, with training, could trek to Everest Base Camp and love the experience. We planned to try again and this time get there. I decided to share my training journey and the experience of Main Everest Base Camp trail in a blog.

We trained and trained,  me and the tireless Trainer.  We bought our flights to Kathmandu early 2015. Two weeks later Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. That changed everything. The following months the Trainer researched, trained and was optimistic. Me, I trained and well of course, worried. Finally we agreed to believe the reports the EBC Trail was ready, it was business as usual and we flew to Kathmandu in late September. And on 2nd October 2015 the Trainer and I, with our porter made it to Everest Base Camp.

But this wasn’t the only reason I wanted my message out there….

I discovered that the important thing was, it wasn’t just about getting to Base Camp it was about the whole journey. The training journey was big lifestyle change for me. It was a fitness first. 2013 was also the year I touched my toes for the first time. Ever.

Final ascent into Namche Bazaar Everest Base Camp Trek

I’m the fourth one down. the one without the 100 kilo load. The porters are something else. 

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

From the perspective of an over 50 years old woman was never particularly fit, never wanted to go to Everest Base Camp and would now happily go there annually.

1.Trekking to Everest Base Camp is amazing. Amazing. And yes amazing. I make no apologies for the overuse of the word.

What better Big Challenge than Base Camp?

2.Climbing Kala Pattar, looking at Mount Everest at sunset or sunrise or standing at Everest Base Camp is possibly be one of the best things you will ever do in terms of travel experiences. Certainly it will be an achievement you will be proud of. Guaranteed.

View from Kala Patthar with Mount Eversest
Mid afternoon photographed from Kala Patthar as clouds started rolling in

3.Trekking to Everest Base Camp is something you have to work at. And we always value things more if we have to work for them. And you have to work for trekking to Everest Base Camp before you leave for Kathmandu. It’s what you call Training for EBC – that’s Everest Base Camp. And to do it you need to train for six months or more depending on your base fitness level. We did. My trainer  often reminded me; “Remember it’s not just about the destination, it’s about the journey.”

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Trekking to Tengboche

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Tenzing Memorial and Ama Dablam

Namche to Tengboche Everest Base Camp Trek