Stupa at Khumjung

Two photos of a Stupa in Khumjung taken from different directions and two years apart. Photos taken in December 2013 taken end of September 2015, two earthquakes later.

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There is a beautiful mani wall along the walk in from Namche Bazaar.

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

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 Khumjum.

April 25 earthquake magnitude 7.8

May 12 earthquake magnitude 7.3

Two Earthquakes and Two Films – another of my posts

Drying Hair and Potatoes in the Khumbu: Behind the Scenes EBC Trek

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Drying potatoes in the sun in Pangboche Nepal

Pangboche, Everest Base Camp Trail, December 2013

Wordless Wednesday

A Snapshot of the Bridges to EBC

Bridges the Traffic Lights of the Everest Base Camp Trek

via Daily Prompt: Bridge

Small bridge before Gorak Shep going to EBC

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

Dingboche Door Framed View

Lodge in dingboche Everest Base Camp trek

Our lodge in Dingboche

Climbing to Namche, Up Down Up, Down Down, Down Up Up Up, Up Up Up

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 is the site of 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

Stepping Out in Thamel Kathmandu

Thamel the Tourist Precinct of Kathmandu

Barbie stepping out in Thamel

Barbie and the Trainer in a Bakery shop in Thamel

We all know Barbie gets around, but we were a little surprised, to find Marzipan Barbie, stepping out in our favourite bakery in Thamel the tourist district in Kathmandu. I suggested my husband pose with her. He’s the master mind, researcher and driver behind our two treks to Everest Base Camp and The Trainer in my blog. Continue reading

Reminiscing – the Trip of My Life

IMG_1809The Best Travel Adventure

Trekking to Everest Base Camp

I had travelled through the Sahara and been to Timbuktu, seen Iguazu Falls and Rio and lived in Milan and Buenos Aires and was about to go on the trip of my life but I didn’t know it. I sat on the couch with a small pot of expensive lip moisturiser in my hands, crying. Continue reading

Facebook Flashback

Couch with sleeping bag

Facebook tells me it was one year ago today- the sleeping bags were being aired and I was nervously psyching myself up for the big picture. Mount Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Tabouche, Ama Dablam, Kantenga, Thamserku, Kala Patthar. Nervous and worried about landslides and aftershocks.

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 English and 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 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 TrekSometimes he lead
Porters climbing up to the bridge to Namche Bazaarsometimes he followed
Dingboche to Dughla Everest Base Camp Trekand 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.

 

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

 

 

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.

 

Day Ten Dughla to Lobuche

Dughla to Lobuche 1 October 2015

I had a shocking night’s sleep because of Diamox the altitude sickness tablets, which make you go to the toilet 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. It was a steep climb up from Dughla. After the climb we saw 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  for all 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 also reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.

The walk was only two and a half hours. Sam went for a walk to see the Italian weather pyramid. Inside our lodge was very warm with lots of laser-light in the roof letting the heat in. I was happy to stay in the lodge and rest up for the next two very big days.

Eveerest Base Camp Trek Dughla to Lobuche

Pumori on the left on the trek to Lobuche

Day Nine Dingboche to Dughla

Day Nine – Dingboche to Dughlia     30 September 2015

Above Periche Between Dingboche and Dughla

Between Dingboche and Dughla

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 up hill 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. Continue reading

Bridge Too Many or Bridge Love

The two bridges to Namche Bazaar

The two bridges to Namche Bazaar

Love them or not, the Everest Base Camp Trek has many bridges to cross. For the personal trainer it was Bridge Love. Probably at first sight. He stood in the middle of the bridges looking over the edge enjoying the wind and the rush of water underneath. He put on his documentary maker’s hat and strolled across them filming, making his commentary against the roar of the water underneath. On time he threw the camera at me and asked me to video him crossing the bridge. Not my idea of fun especially when he started jogging on the bridge while I was on it filming.

Yes bridges weren’t my favourite part of the trek. Continue reading

Day 3 Monjo to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 The Big Day

Most treks do Phakding to Namche Bazaar on day two. Before we left Australia, the Trainer  decided to add a day to our itinerary and walk to Namche Bazaar on Day 3 instead.We had time and it would be easier on our legs and lungs. I was happy for him to do all the research and planning and trusted his judgement. From my minimal research and a friend’s first hand experience I knew the infamous climb to Namche Bazaar was a hard one. The friend had trekked with  group and had been one of the earliest to arrive. He sat in a cafe and watched others from his group walk into the town. One very tough character from their group finally arrived, absolutely exhausted. He came up to my friend with tears in his eyes, hugged him and said that it had been the hardest day of his life. So when we set out from the tea house in Monjo I was mentally prepared and planned to take it slowly.

Just outside of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmantha National Park the checkpoint where Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card details are recorded.

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

I realised I wasn’t quite up to the local speed when a woman who looked 80 passed me with a load of 40 kilos of cabbages on her back.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags. on the way to Namche Bazaar.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags

In front two bridges over the Dudh Kosi gorge

A rest before the climb to the higher bridge at the Dudh Kosi Gorge and famous bridge.

Made It off the highest scary bridge

Almost off the high bridge across the Dudh Kosi Gorge

Fruit sellers on the Everest Base Camp trail on the climb to Namche Bazaar.

Fruit sellers on the climb to Namche Bazaar

One of the rewards of a strenous day's climb.

A reward of a strenuous day’s climb – the first view of Everest

Yes that is the trail around the mountain.

The trail around the mountain

Everest Base Camp Trek

The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished

Day 2 Phakding to Monjo

Phakding to Monjo Day Two Trek to Everest Base Camp

Follow the Pumpkin Coloured Backpack

This day was a short walk. For many trekking tours Day 2 is Phakding to Namche Bazaar. The climb to Namche Bazaar is a big day so the Trainer added a day to our itinerary so we didn’t need to rush and allow time to acclimatise to the altitude. Groups leaving our lodge for Namche a good hour before us. Setting out we looked forward to a leisurely day.

Phakding EBC Trek

Before leaving Melbourne our plans to trek the Everest Base Camp by ourselves and without a guide or porter had a few people concerned. Me as well. The Trainer explained to my mother before we left that trekking the trail is not like trekking a in remote location. He explained the trail is through villages with small tea houses dotted all the way, with lots of people trekking, porters and Nepalis going about their daily business including school kids walking to school. We did in fact see many children walking to school along the trail. Small children in small groups without adults running to school had my  herd mother radar working on overdrive at times.

Everest Base Camp

Kids walking to school

 
Phakding to Monjo

Vegetable gardens and stone walls line the trail through many villages. Note the Donkey train coming up the path.

Phakding to Monjo

Different types of prayer wheels are all along the trail. The important thing to remember is to turn them clockwise.

Bridge across Dudh Kosi

Cable  hanging bridge across the Dudh Kosi river after Benkar. I got off the bridges as quickly as possible.

 

Crossing the river Phakding to Monjo

Donkey trains on trek were a fascination for me. Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow ones moving while waiting on the sidelines.

Doing a bit of traffic duty and keeping the slow donkeys moving from the safety of the sidelines. Chuk Chuk!

2015 Trek

Itinerary for 16 Day Everest Base Camp Trek

Late September to October 2015

Day 1    Kathmandu 1210m  to Lukla
Day 2    Phakding 2610m to Namche Bazaar 3440
Day 3    Acclimatization Namche Bazaar (walked above town) 3440m
Day 4    Namche Bazaar to Khumjung 3780m and more photos
Day 5    Khumjung to Phortse 3800m
Day 6    Phortse to Shomare 4070m
Day 7    Shomare to Dingboche 4360m
Day 8    Acclimatise Dingboche (walked to4900m)
Day 9    Dingboche to Dughla 4600m
Day 10  Dughla to Lobuche 4940m
Day 11  Lobuche to Gorak Shep 5170m and Kala Patthar 5545m
Day 12  Gorak Shep, Everest Base Camp 5300m to Lobuche 4940m
Day 13  Lobuche to Pangboche 3930m
Day 14  Pangboche to Namche Bazaar 3440m
Day 15  Namche Bazaar to Phakding 2610m
Day 16  Phakding to Lukla 2840m
Day 17  Lukla to Kathmandu

Climb Every Mountain and Don’t Forget Everest

Cloud in the Khumbu 2015 EBC Trek

My Open Door Singers Sign

My choir sang Climb Every Mountain to me last night to wish me luck. It was magic.
Thank you Open Door Community Singers. Thank you Shaun Islip.

Above Dingboche Ridgetop

Acclimatisation Walk Above Dingboche Ridgetop over 4000 metres

Above Dinbboche Ridgetop

EBC Trek in front of Pumori

Resting in front of Pumori not at Everest yet!

Standing on top of Kala Patthar

At 5643 metres on Top of Kala Patthar and pointing at Everest – we made It !

Below is from a shot post in January 2016.

A great way to start the week, singing with a choir, in this case a very big choir. Our version of The Prayer is taking time to perfect but starting to sound good. The interesting thing about singing with the choir is, my training seems to help my singing and my singing helps my breathing when I train. Mutually beneficial one might say.

I love my choir… Open Door Community Singers