Bridges the Traffic Lights of the Everest Base Camp Trek
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
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.
When planning our trek for late September we expected some rain. Continue reading
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
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
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
A rest before the climb to the higher bridge at the Dudh Kosi Gorge and famous bridge.
Almost off the high bridge across the Dudh Kosi Gorge
Fruit sellers on the climb to Namche Bazaar
A reward of a strenuous day’s climb – the first view of Everest
The trail around the mountain
The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished
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.
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.
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.
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