Beautiful One Day Breathtaking the Next

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A Photo is Worth a Thousand Superlatives

Above Pheriche, EBC Trek, Nepal

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. Looking through the hundreds of photos taken by The Trainer and our two treks through the Khumbu, the beauty is commonplace and you gravitate to the most spectacular photos. It is easy for a good photo to go unnoticed. Like this one.

I found it hiding in among some spectacular shots in my media viewer. When I looked closer I realised it was a great photo that had it all. The long milky river, the panorama of mountains, the track where you walk, the close up of the plus 4,4oo metres ground where I was standing and the settlement of Pheriche below in the distance. This walk on day nine of our trek from Dingboche (4,360 metres) to Dughla (4,600 ) was a relatively easy walk. And we took a side walk off behind Dughla to have a look at the lake.

An here is the view or should I say panorama taken down in the valley just before we walked through Pheriche. Sometimes I still can’t believe that’s me in the red jacket and our porter guide walking alongside. I walked through that magnificent landscape. Spectacular, hey?

Near Pheriche Everest Base Camp Trek

 

 

Things You Should Know about Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Things you might not know about Kathmandu, trekking to EBC and Nepal in general.

If someone says that they are trekking to Everest Base Camp it doesn’t mean they have to sleep in a tent or are intending to climb Mount Everest.

Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

Tents of the 2015 Ultra Marathon Runners at Everest Base Camp

Accommodation is simple on the trail there is not a lot of up market accommodation.

There are no roads into Lukla the start of the Everest Base Camp Trek. Generally  people fly into Lukla. The nearest road is at Jiri and you can walk from there. Most people start trekking from Lukla . The nearest road is at Jiri and you can walk from there. The airport was built in 1964. People still walk in from Jiri. Jennifer from Jennifer’s Journeys did it.

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Some villages along the track have wifi but it doesn’t always work. Great places for wifi are Namche Bazaar, Dingboche and maybe Pangboche and Lobuche. It is a combination of the place but also the lodge.

The early part of the trail is not that remote and you will see children going to school along the trail.

Children running home from school EBC trek trail Nepal

You need to research the season and the months you are traveling well. There advantages for the different seasons.

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December -cold but beautiful dry sunny days

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Late September two years later. Warmer days when the cloud lifts.

Going there you are helping the local economy.

Stick to vegetables on the trail. Refrigeration is not brilliant.

Neplese food on the EBC trek

It is not normal walking and Diamox is key. Make sure you have it an I would tend to follow the trekking guides recommendation. A slow trek is key to getting there without be sick. Altitude headaches can be really horrible. I’ve heard and read.

There is a thing called a Go Girl. Practice is advised,

Kathmandu has lots of places to see including Durbar Square where you can see lots of pigeons.

Durbar Square and pigeons Kathmandu

Having a massage after a trek is a very good idea. I didn’t do this and boy did I feel it a few weeks later. I felt like my body was seizing up. Next time I will have a massage.

The lower part of Nepal is quite tropical almost and you can even go on a jungle safari. We went to Chitwan. Buses are very scary and the journeys are incredibly slow.

You can fly into Lukla for a day and take flights up over Everest.

You don’t have to go to EBC you can take a shorter trek and just go as far as Tengboche.

 

 

Step Training ? Affirmative.

Three Months Until your Trek? Get Training

 

Main Everest Base Camp Trail between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche treacherous steps but a great view.

There’s the man with the vision and the all the plans. Trek to Everest Base Camp, Nepal. He had been to trek the Annapurna circuit in the 80s and he knew there is a lot of uneven ground so he insisted on finding uneven hills to train on and lots of stairs too.

And stairs there were in abundance …..

Between Lukla and Phakding

Eveerest Base CAmp trek trail

Aproach to bridge at Jorsale

trekking Phakding to Monjo Everest Base Camp Trek September 2015

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Donkeys making their way down these stairs – wait for them to pass.

Everest Base Camp trek

Kids an their way home from school running down the stairs. October 2015

Outside Monjo towards Namche Bazaar

An eighty plus year old woman with 40 kilos plus of cabbages, beating me down these stairs. November 2013

Everest Base Bamp Trek

Base Camp Marathon runners after Tengboche heading to Namche Bazaar. October 2015

So you are planning a trek on the Annapurna circuit or to Everest Base Camp and you will be there in three or months you need to start in earnest on your incline training, or hill training. Find some good hills close to home to start doing walking them twice a week with a more intense session on the weekend.  All you need is one good hill with some uneven ground. Go up the hill turn around and go back up. Turn around and do it again and again. Ad nauseum.

Find Some Stairs to Train on

We did stair training for the last two and half months once a week and twice a week for the last six weeks. We started off at ten or twenty minutes building up to 45 minutes to an hour. Up four flights , down four flights. You get the picture.

Track back no person

Namche to Tengboche

Everest Base Camp Trek

November 2013

Oh course you will be rewarded by fabulous views at the top … before you go down hill to go up again…

Practice with your boots and all your gear. Buy trekking poles they will help your knees, especially going down hill.

The photos of me with the orange pack are our 2013 trek without a porter. The shots with the small purple pack were taken on the 2015 trek when we took a porter guide, which we would recommend.

Om Mane Padme Hum

Monastery or Gompa at Khumjung Nepal

Khumjung Monastery

Khumjung Monastery Khumjung Nepal

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Gompa at Khumjung

IMG_0462Khumjung Monastery

The colour on the inside was a welcome warmth from the cloud that had descended on the town for most of the day. The monastery is the red building you can see on the right.

This monastery has the famous yeti skull. I don’t think it is right for me to have a photo of that here. You will have to go and see for yourself and pay a donation for the privilege.

Photos taken 25 September 2015. The weather can be still a bit tricky at the end of September.  Also posts on the same day

 

All Things Yak on the EBC Track

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Meeting Yaks on the Track

On the Everest Base Camp trek you might see mountain goats, magnificent eagles and other beautiful birds but the yaks were my favourite along the trail.

These hardworking animals are the delivery vans on the EBC trail. There are no roads. Everything goes up and down on the back of a donkey, yak or a porter.

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Yaks between Shomare adn Digboche

The First Rule of the Track – Stand Aside for Yaks

I loved the sound of the yak bells as they approached. Hearing the bells is a signal to find somewhere safe to stand on the mountain side and wait while they pass. The first rule of the track. If you are caught standing on the outside of the path you risk being knocked off the side of the mountain. The baby yak in the video had his own plans about which path he would take.

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The walled sections of grassland above are yak pastures between Shomare and Dingboche. Not only do these wonderful animals carry packs and food up the trail they also provide fuel. The woman was collecting dung from the yak pasture to dry to use for cooking and heat.

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A young girl resting with her basket full of yak dung behind her.

Shop front Everest Base Camp Trail

Yaks, well really the naks which are the females, provide milk which in turn is made into cheese which you probably will find on top of your pizzas on the trek.

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This guy just would not move. I really think he wanted his photo taken. Say Yak Cheese!

Many travel experiences provide possibilities of  interactions with animals, wild ones if you are lucky.

Some animal travel memories of mine are seals on Kangaroo Island when I was a child, monkeys in Bali, passaperos (dog walkers) and their packs of dogs in Buenos Aires, llamas in Argentina and a day spent riding camels in the desert in Rajasthan. But hundreds of dolphins in the mouth of the Gambia River was probably my most magic wildlife experience. It took us totally by surprise and was amazing. Do you have any special memories of animal encounters while you traveled?

Other I things I loved on the Everest Base Camp Trek.

Unbelievably most of the photos and the video show yaks without loads! Which means they were on return journeys. The photos were taken in 2015 when the season was extremely slow after the earthquakes. I’ll have to get a good full load photo next time.

 

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Simple Not Basic

A Post About Food on the EBC Trek Becomes More. Or Is it Less?

There is a difference between basic and simple. Especially when you are traveling.

Recently I posted about accommodation on the EBC trek being basic. A comment from a fellow blogger (thanks Miriam) made me rethink how I had labelled  the accommodation. It is the very fact the Everest Base Camp Trek is basic, makes it so good. Basic can be seen as a negative.  So simple, not basic, is a better word to use. Because it is the simplicity of the EBC trek that makes it so special.

Gorak Shep the end of the Everest Base Camp trek

Walking into Gorak Shep the end of the Everest Base Camp Trek

The simplicity of the accommodation, the simple food, the every day simple routine. The early to bed, early to rise. Get up, get dressed, eat,  leave. Which way to go? Up or down. Maps to consult? No, not really, there is one path. Just like a pilgrimage, you know where you are going and why. The people you meet, the common quest, the simplicity of the destination but the challenge of getting there make it special. A quest so well rewarded.

No phone calls, television, emails and internet access is limited. All put into perspective in the big landscape or simple path you are on. Up or down.

And yes,  simple meals too. This simple meal below in  simple surroundings is one I remember well. A bowl of hot simple potato soup made with the broth and grated potatoes. A well earned bowl of soup after a hard steep walk out of Namche Bazaar and a 600 metre trek down hill to the river to Phunki Tenga.  Three hours plus of a hard work, it was a meal well earned.  A simple meal, simple surroundings the roar of the river, the sound of the yak bells as the yaks pass. Simple stunning beauty all around.

Potato soup at Phunki Tenga at 3250metres EBC Trek trail

So back to the food, yes the food is simple. But it is good. It is organically grown along the track and cooked in a simple kitchen.

Vegetables growing in the Khumbu

Food in a Namche Bazaar lodge

A meal in Namche Bazaar above.

Potato Soup Nepal

This bowl of potato soup was al fresco at Debouche on the trail down. In a stunning landscape. How much simpler and more beautiful can you get?

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The umbrellas above,  weren’t the norm. The Sherpa stew was.

Vegetables growing on the EBC Trail

Simple, but addictive. Everest Base Camp Trek too simple to say no.

Need more convincing?  25 Reasons to Trek To Everest Base Camp

Trekking to Everest Base Camp ? Are you up to it?

 

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

Worth a look earthquake 2015 – Great Himalyas Trail website

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

At the Top of Kala Patthar

Video

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 Everest 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. And following our trusty Porter Guide, of course. 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

Our Porter Guide 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’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.

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. It is 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