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

Walking out of Lukla

trek n.1. a long difficult journey, esp. on foot 2. SA 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… Continue reading

Bucket Lists and Difficult Journeys

Trekking to Everest Base Camp-Are You Up To It?

You’ve read great posts about the Everest Base Camp Trek and want to go but are you ready for it?

You don’t need to be an athlete nor a mountain climber to trek to Everest Base Camp. You don’t have to be seasoned hiker either. For many people who trek to Base Camp it is their first experience of anything like this. I was one of these people.

Everest Base Camp is achievable to the average person. Training before you go is highly recommended. Your training is part of the bigger journey. It certainly was part of mine. The Trainer kept reminding me, you know the quote, the journey is not just about the destination. Oh and the question of age. I’m in my fifties and there were plenty of people older than me on the trail.

Above the yak pastures on the trail to Dingboche.

One of favourite days walking into Dingboche past yak pastures.

If you are healthy, have trained and mentally prepared Everest Base Camp is possible. Continue reading

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

From the perspective of a woman who is over 50 and never particularly into being 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.

Tears for the Big Picture and the Big Challenge

  1. Climbing Kala Pattar, looking at Mount Everest at sunset, sunrise or even at noon or standing at Everest Base Camp could possibly be one of the best things you will ever do in terms of travel experiences. It might even rate as one of the best things you do in your life. Certainly it will be an achievement you will be proud of. Guaranteed.
View from Kala Patthar with Mount Eversest

Mid afternoon from Kala Patthar as clouds started rolling in

  1. Why? Trekking to Everest Base Camp is something you have to work at. And we always value things we have to work for, more. Don’t we? 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.”
Climb to Namche Bazaar, main trail to Everest Base Camp

Part of the steep ascent to Namche Bazaar before the rest point

I’m not sure who said that but I discovered on my journey that this is true. Your training will be part of a journey you experience when you realise what things you can – underline the word can – achieve, when you have a big challenge before you. The trek to Everest Base Camp is a life changing experience. Taking on an amazing challenge and achieving it feels amazing. You will cry on Kala Pattar or at Base Camp because you will have made it. Guaranteed.

Perfect for Everest Base Camp Hill training

Our favourite training hill in Melbourne -that’s the Trainer half way down and my daughter is the speck at the top.

  1. Standing in a valley in Dingboche or on top of Kala Pattar totally surrounded by mountains is an amazing experience. You get a little understanding of how astronauts feel when they view earth from space. You walk through the massive landscapes and feel so small. We are a small part of a very big picture on this wonderful planet. You might cry here too.
Above Periche Between Dingboche and Dughla

Between Dingboche and Dughla

Brief Anxious Moments and Some Tears

  1. I confess I didn’t linger long on the bridges. At first I felt a bit anxious crossing the suspension bridges that span the roaring rivers and jiggle about a bit. But no tears. You do get used to them and people are very careful on them. But the bridges are one of the reasons on the list because they are an exciting part of the trek.
Suspension bridge at Chheplung

First bridge on the Everest Base Camp Trek

  1. Add flying into Lukla one the world’s most dangerous airports. Granted it is a bit nail biting the first time. It was a dot point on my 2013 “Why I Don’t Want to Trek to EBC” list. I was so worried about all the things that might go wrong that I hadn’t thought about the amazingly beautiful place and adventure I was about to embark on. So when I saw the view out the window of the little plane, I cried. For most of the forty-minute flight you fly along the line of the Himalayas.Flying to LuklaIt is an experience in itself. After doing it once it’s a piece of cake. The pilots fly into Lukla every day. They have lots of experience and there are lots of procedures in place now since there have been air crashes. So you will be able to add that to your list of amazing travel adventures.
Lukla Airstrip

The airstrip at Lukla airport

Amazing and Beautiful Nepal

  1. You walk through the most amazing and beautiful landscapes and pass through lovely little villages on the way.
  2. Nepal is beautiful full stop.
  1. The people are beautiful. The opportunity to have some time with the local people – your porter or guide and maybe some of the lodge owners is special.
  1. Tourism and trekking to Everest Base Camp supports those beautiful people.

Why Would You Choose Anywhere Else?

  1. In terms of treks you don’t have to carry a big backpack, just a daypack. This is the job of the porter who will carry your gear for you. In doing so you will be employing a local person and be helping build the local economy.
  1. In terms of treks and challenges you don’t have to stay in a tent unless you want to. There are lodges which used to be called tea houses, all the way along the trail.
Lodge in dingboche Everest Base Camp trek

Our lodge in Dingboche

  1. You are part of life on the track. It feels like you are on a pilgrimage. There is only one track and you are either going up, or you are going down. And you see the daily life along the track of the porters, trekkers, kids going to school, yaks, donkey trains, people going to market, lodges being built.
  2. You meet other trekkers staying at the lodges. People are keen to hear news of what is happening along the trail.
Talking to a trekker returning from Base Camp.

Hearing about the trail people’s experience of Base Camp and the weather was always good. Our porter waiting patiently for me.

  1. And if you are a couple like we were or a small group you probably will stop and talk to people going the opposite way while you catch your breath or rest or maybe even help with a bit of donkey traffic control.
Donkeys on EBC Trek

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

Great for Your Health

  1. The trail provides a path to your goal also provides a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. You need to be watching where you are stepping all the time. For that reason I found the trek quite meditative.
  2. You breathe fresh air at least five hours a day and think of all the vitamin D.
  3. You eat well. We ate vegetarian food and many lodges grow their own vegetables.
  4. You sleep eleven hours a night.
  5. Very few decisions need to be made. You get up in the morning and you know you have only one thing to do. Get to the next town on your itinerary. And you know how you are getting there. You are going to walk and you are either going up or down.
  6. No traffic, traffic jams or fumes. There is lots of foot traffic though and there are donkeys, yaks and a few horses just give them the right of way.
  7. No emails, no phone calls, no stress.
  8. You feel so fit and amazing. I looked and felt ten years younger. I have never felt as fit as on that trek. Ever. So, why wouldn’t you want to trek to Everest Base Camp?
  1. Even if you don’t make it all the way you will have tried and had an amazing experience and you can always try again.
  1. You learn taking on a big challenge is a great thing to do; whether you achieve it or not. The important thing is that you have tried. The journey is as much about the how you get there, the training, the preparation and how great it feels to get out of your comfort zone as is the final destination.

WARNING: You may get addicted to Nepal and to trekking in such an amazing place. We are seriously thinking of returning a third time.

After reading the 25 reasons, you might have a few unanswered questions. Like why on earth did I try to trek to Base Camp the first time if I was worried about it?

Or might want to see some of the bridges you will cross some high and long and others low and short.

Lower suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi taken from the higher bridge

Lower suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi Gorge

Lobuche to Gorak Shep

Crossing a Stream over the Rubble Strewn Trail to Gorak Shep

You may want to do a shorter trip and take in Namche Bazaar, Khunde and Khumjung and Thame or go as far as Pangboche or a bit further to Dingboche my favourite and climb the Dingboche Ridgetop for an amazing view. You will still have had an amazing experience. Most of the villages have side treks. I will be researching those a bit more for future posts.

And then there is Kathmandu itself with lots to see and great food.

Here is the itinerary for our trek in 2015 when we made it all the way to EBC.

Convinced? Ready to go? Here is a suggested  packing list.

And don’t forget you need to train to enjoy it, that way you will have no aches or pains and better still, you will feel fantastic. Guaranteed.

Leaving Lukla

Day Seventeen Lukla to Kathmandu

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.

Lukla Airport

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.

Lukla with the mountain behind

The larger yellow building in the middle is the control tower at Lukla Airport

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 very quickly passed through the tickets and security checks 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.

Being our fourth flight we were fairly relaxed. I was more relaxed about take off rather 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.

Other Posts

The Infamous Lukla Airport 

Missed the beginning of the 2015 trek? Here are the first five days to get you started.

Day 1 2015 Trek – Lukla to Phakding

Day 2 2015 Trek – Phakding to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 2015 Trek – Acclimatisation In Namche Bazaar

Day 4 2015 Trek – Namche Bazaar to Khumjung

Day 5 2015 Trek – Khumjung to Phortse

and here is the 2015 Trek Itinerary with links

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Slip Sliding Away at Everest Base Camp

The Walk You Have To Do

Day Twelve Gorak Shep (5170m) – Everest Base Camp (5300m) – Lobuche

The walk into Base Camp took me by surprise as I hadn’t read the section in the guide book. The trail isn’t much of a trail, making the walk a little crazy. At the end you just clamber over boulders and slip everywhere. But that’s getting a little ahead.

Almost at Everest Base Camp

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. As a result of clambering over boulders, I developed blisters on my toes. Applying bandaids before setting out is probably a good idea.

EBC has the reputation of lookng 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.

Exploring Everest Base Camp

Large boulder perched on ice above a small stream

Exploring the Everest Base Camp Area

Exploring the Everest Base Camp area

Everest Base Camp Area

Basanta exploring

Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

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 is 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.

We Three at EBC

The Trainer, Me and the Porter with the Yellow Wig at Everest Base Camp

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 hours 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. So It had been a long journey in many ways, for which you are rewarded in many ways.

Now we just had to get back down to Lukla in one piece.

 

Everest Above Our Heads and Base Camp at Our Feet

The definitive photo on Kala Patthar

The trainer and me with Everest above our heads and Base Camp at our feet.

The Million Dollar View from Kala Pattar

And the Trainer’s Last Words

Day Eleven – Lobuche to Gorak Shep and climbing Kala Pattar (5545m)

People who have trekked to Everest Base Camp, or have friends that have, or are busy planning and researching the trek themselves will know the highlight of the trek is not Everest Base Camp but in fact, is climbing to Kala Pattar above Gorak Shep to view Mount Everest from the closest and highest viewpoint on the main EBC Trail. Continue reading