From the perspective of an over 50 years old woman who 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.
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.”
The first photo for the day was of a dog sitting expectantly outside the kitchen of our lodge. The Trainer had taken it because “everyone loves a photo of a dog.” The dogs we saw on the trail appeared well cared for.
On the last day of both our trek it was with a feeling of sadness that we made our way back to Lukla. Lingering on the trail as we went. Standing aside for the last lot of the donkeys and yaks, crossing the last bridges which on the way up were the first scary bridges. Savouring the last of the views of green fields of vegetables, mani walls and stupas as we would back down through a string of villages.
Leaving our lodge in Namche Bazaar was a bit sad. We had stayed there four times and a total of six nights with the acclimatisation days. It was in the middle of Namche, the owners and staff were lovely, the menu and food good and the hot showers wonderful.
Leaving Namche Bazaar and the Kwangde Range
Not long after we started out, Basanta our porter guide pointed out a Danfe or Danphe Nepal’s national bird, a beautiful large black pheasant with a metallic green head and a chestnut tail.
First and last view of Everest
Lower suspension bridge over the Dudh Khosi Gorge
We had our last look of Everest at the resting spot on the way down. We crossed the high bridge again across the Dudh Khosi gorge. The fourth time over it I was still glad to get off however The Trainer stands in the middle looking over at the view.
Back down on the old river bed we posed for a photo together and watched some of the porters with huge loads of building materials slowly make their way up to cross the bridge.
The trainer and me heading back down to Lukla
We stopped at Monjo Lodge where we had stayed on the first trek and another place that I felt a connection to. Waiting for lunch in the garden in the sun we took some more happy snaps feeling relaxed, fit and happy. The Trainer, yes, my husband Sam looked really relaxed in the photos, his job was done. His training and planning had got us up and back without mishap. Following the no more than 300 metres increase in altitude a night had been a key factor I am sure.
Porters carrying building materials up the trail
Waiting for lunch in the garden at Monjo Lodge
The lodge we stayed in Phakding on the way up and on the way down
We had reached our goal of Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar and now our focus was getting back to Lukla for our flight out while savouring the final days of our trek. Descending in altitude is easier than ascending as you don’t need to worry about gradual increments of altitude. The plan for Day 13 was to walk to Pangboche.
The photos remind me that the trek looks different in reverse. Generally you look in the direction you are going and don’t look back at where you have come from which usually it quite a different view. The memorial cairns above Dughla looked different with the mountains behind.
We crossed the small bridge at Dughla. Sam turned around to help me step up and over the gap between the side of the rock and the bridge. I momentarily froze looked at Sam’s outstretched hand and thought I’d better not miss the large step onto the low rock bridge.
With the trail to Dingboche above us we walked through the Khumbu Khola valley into Pheriche. The small settlement had been badly affected by the second earthquake in May 2015 but had been rebuilt and only limited damage was evident. The medical centre and the daily talks about altitude sickness were operating business as usual.
We stopped in Pheriche for a drink and toilet break and Shomare for lunch.
Above is a small yak enclosure before Pangboche.
The following day the annual ultra-marathon started the next day from Everest Base Camp and our lodge in Pangboche was a medical check point and drink station for the event. Three doctors from Kathmandu were staying the night in the lodge and to check the vital statistics of the runners.
Day Eleven – Lobuche to Gorak Shep and climbing Kala Pattar (5545m)
People who have been to Everest Base Camp or have researched the trek know the highlight of the trek is not Base Camp but is the climb to Kala Pattar above Gorak Shep to view Mount Everest from the closest and highest viewpoint on the main EBC Trail. Many trekkers climb the hill in the dark to see the sun rise on Everest or in the evening to see the sun set. Climbing in the afternoon after first arriving in Gorak Shep and an early lunch is also an option.
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 uphill 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.
After we arrived at Dughla we decided to stay at the Yak Lodge. One of only two lodges there which is probably why people don’t stop there. We had lunch in the sun with the beautiful blue skies and watched as trekkers came down from Gorak Shep. We met the group who had flown on the same flight into Lukla with us including a mother and daughter team from Queensland who flew on the same flight from Kuala Lumpur.
After a rest we walked up behind the lodges for a view of Dughla Lake which was almost completely hidden from view at the lodges. It was a two hour walk and wasn’t really a trail so we picked our way carefully to a good sitting spot. There were lots of juniper bushes growing on the hills. My wind jacket protected me from the cold wind which is why you should pack one even if it is a dry season.
We stayed at Dughla to make sure we stuck to the rule of not ascending more than 300 metres. We didn’t want to risk altitude sickness and not make EBC.
Day Seven – Shomare to Dingboche Monday 28 September 2015
Yaks on the way to Dingboche. I loved the lime green leaves that provided a flash of light contrasting with the dark green heath type plants featured in this landscape.
We walked for three hours today.
The yaks that had arrived the night before at our lodge were brought down from the hill early in the morning. They were loaded up on the lawn in front of the lodge. A vet (well possibly not a vet as such) came to attend to one of the yaks so we witnessed the ointment and injection procedure while we waited for our breakfast.
Which reminds me it usually is a good idea to order your breakfast the night before and your dinner a bit beforehand to give the person cooking time to get organised.
We said goodbye to Ngima (means Sunday) and her husband Lhakpa (means Wednesday) from the lodge. Sherpa people’s first name is always the day of week. This can be confusing. Ngima and Lhakpa spent some time explaining this the night before.
After a steep ascent out of Shomare it was a lovely walk over heavily rutted but flat grassy tracts of land. We passed lots of yak pastures and a woman gathering dung for fuel. We didn’t know it at the time but India had put an embargo on goods going into Nepal. Nepal’s gas comes from India which meant no gas was coming in either. This may have accounted for the lack of donkey trains as they carry the gas up the mountains.
I met two people coming back from Everest Base Camp who really raved about it. The actual Base Camp has the reputation for not being very picturesque and really the view from Kala Patthar is the highlight of the Everest Base Camp Trek. One woman suggested we go to EBC in the morning rather than the afternoon, which we did.
Hearing about the trail people’s experience of Base Camp and the weather was always good. Our porter waiting patiently for me.
One of favourite days walking into Dingboche past yak pastures.
Had a great warm shower in a spacious shower room outside. It was our first opportunity to wash clothes and have them dry on the following acclimatisation day.
The Trainer met the team of marathon runners (field of 30) who were walking to Everest Base Camp to run the Everest Base Camp to Namche Bazaar Marathon. It was rescheduled after the earthquake from May until the end of September. The Trainer knew about this because of his research and was excited to finally get a chance to meet and talk to them.
Dingboche was a big surprise because I hadn’t seen many good photos of the town. It was magic walking in along the valley being totally surrounded by massive mountains. The Trainer was also taken with Dingboche and after the trek we both agreed it was one our favourite spots. It would be a great finishing spot if someone trekking didn’t want to go all the way to EBC. There are lots of walks to do from here apart from the standard walk above the village above the stupa.
Almost there – walking into Dingboche
At this altitude an Everest Base Camp Trek would have an acclimatisation day and it would either be in Dingboche or in Periche depending on which way you walked in.
As it is a village people stay two nights there are a few WiFi cafes and I had the best chocolate croissant fresh out of the oven.
Other day treks off the Main Everest Base Camp Trail from Dingboche would include a hike to Chukhung up the Imja Chola Valley. The guide books say that is a three to four hour trek. This hike goes through Bibre.
We walked up out of Phortse and then up forever. At the top it was very cloudy (dherai mukpa) which was disappointing as the views would have been spectacular but because we were trekking at the very end of the monsoon season there were still clouds around and we could not see a thing.
At Pangboche and went inside the monastery or gompa here while our lunch was being cooked. It is the oldest monastery in the Khumbu.
We came in and walked out of Pangboche a totally different way from our 2013 trek. Our impression walking in was of quite a different village. The walk out past the helicopter rescue pad and lots of chortens and mani stones was interesting and the cloud broke and we had some sneak mountain views at last. Continue reading →
Was actually a descent of 110 metres. In a way acclimatisation around the Namche Bazaar and Khumjung altitude was a total of four nights by staying at Phortse.
Phortse is also referred to as Phortse Tenga and Phortse Thanga (local spelling)
The clouds cleared in the morning and we took some video and photos before we left the village of Khumjung while we still had mountain views. We had seen the spectacular views above the town on our 2013 EBC trek when we were there. The date was the 30 November for people wanting to know what the weather and the all important views are like at different times of the year.
Mount Khumbila is the larger brown mountain to my right.
Many treks go from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche possibly because some parts of the trail to Phortse are very narrow and may not be suitable for lots of trekkers. So the trail to Phortse was very quiet and we saw hardly anyone going in either direction.
Unfortunately, it was very cloudy most of the day so we missed some spectacular views. The walk up to Phortse after crossing over the river through rhododendron forests was lovely (even though they weren’t flowering).
Phortse is a very steep town so the walk up to the monastery at the top of the village was quite a walk. The village grows wheat and buckwheat. We saw the Rock Climbing Academy being built which will be fabulous when it is completed. The woman who owned the lodge we stayed at was lovely. I remarked on the coriander she was picking in her garden and she asked me if I liked it. To which I replied yes. So, she put it in the momos I ordered for dinner. They were the best I had eaten. Over dinner we had some Nepalese and English lessons with Basanta and ‘Nepal on a Shoestring’. We were the only guests and the only trekkers in the town. We had our first shower since leaving Kathmandu.
Amazing seeing the towns perched on the hills from a distance
The cloud really made these trees look beautiful and very moody.
In a nutshell – one very high bridge and one big mountain.
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 Sagarmatha National Park the checkpoint where Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card details are recorded. TIMS cards no longer exist as such (2018) however there is a permit and a process for registering trekkers.
The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo
I realised I wasn’t quite up to the local speed when an older Nepali woman with a load of 40 kilos of cabbages on her back passed me.
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 at the resting place on the climb to Namche Bazaar. there are toilets here and ….
your first view of Everest – one of rewards for the strenuous day’s climb
The trail around the mountain
The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished.
It is best to think of the acclimatisation day involving some walking above where you are going to sleep. We walked above Namche Bazaar to the helicopter landing strip and quarry. The day was cloudy and the sound of rocks being chiselled for structures over the stream near the stupa rang out across the arena shaped town.
We also visited the monastery and turned some of the many prayer wheels on the way up. On the path to Khunde we sat on a large flat boulder and looked out over the pines and down to the river way below.
After our walk at one of the town’s bakeries I remembered meeting a French woman in 2013 who had spent what I was still calling a rest day walking up to Khunde and Khumjung and back down to Namche. At the time I thought she was mad but she was walking to Base Camp in less days than us and so walking the large circle up to Khunde and Khumjung would have helped with her walk to Tengboche’s altitude the following day. I now know better than to call it anything else but an acclimatisation day.
For our 2015 trek we had decided to sleep a night at Khumjung. This was not the original itinerary. We had planned to sleep our second night in Monjo but we reached there by 11:00 and were feeling great so we decided to continue and climb to Namche Bazaar. We had our two nights in Namche Bazaar and then using the day up our sleeve on the following day we were then able to walk to Khumjung and sleep at a slightly higher altitude allowing us more acclimatisation time for the altitude. I am sure this extra day was one of the keys to successfully arriving at EBC without any issues.
I now know better than to call it anything else but an acclimatisation day.
Trekking independently with a porter gave us the flexibility to make this change of itinerary.
Below are photos taken on our Acclimatisation Day on 24 September 2015.
What does it mean to trek to Everest Base Camp? Do you actually stay there? Not unless you want to sleep in a tent on very cold rocky ground and climb Mount Everest. Which incidentally is barely visible from Everest Base Camp (5300m).
The best place to see Everest from is from Kala Pattar (5545m). How do you get there? From Gorak Shep (5170m), the end of the trail for the average person. Not that you feel very average after walking from eight to eleven days to get there. It feels like walking to the Middle Earth.
Gorak Shep is pretty average when it comes to accommodation. Situated on what was once a lake it has a handful of lodges. But at that stage of the trek you just want a warm bed and a toilet and somewhere to have three meals – lunch, dinner and breakfast usually in that order and to go to what will possibly be the two most special and remote places you will go to in your lifetime. And when you have been there you will want tell the world.
Apart from walking to Base Camp also abbreviated to EBC the best part is the Himalayas spread before you in the most magnificent vista that will be hard to top. You see this from what I discovered was a fairly insignificant looking “hill” of which I had never seen a photo of. So here is one, so you know what you will climb to see that view.
Looks insignificant in the scheme of things with all the massive mountains around it. Innocent even. But that little brown in the middle ground, Kala Pattar is 5545 metres high. It takes two hours to climb to the top, an elevation of 375m from Gorak Shep via the trail on the right. The snow covered mountain in the middle is Pumori.
Louise and Sam Terranova were at Everest Base Camp at the very start of the trekking season after the Nepal earthquakes on 2 October 2015. Lodges had been repaired and the Khumbu was ringing with the sound of stonemasons building new lodges and repairing others along the trail.
A note about Pumori the big triangular mountain in the middle, it is off this mountain that the avalanche came as a result of the April 2015 earthquake. It dumped snow at Base Camp.
Yes that’s me. On the lap of a man with a yellow wig on. At Everest Base Camp.
In my mind’s eye I had pictured it. For over twelve months we had planned it and for six months we had trained hard for it.
We paid for the air tickets a week before the first quake. Twice we decided to cancel the trip, the second time only a month before we were to depart. But we had trained so hard and planned for so long, it was something we had to do, it didn’t feel right to cancel.
Back home with stories, memories and photos that still bring tears to my eyes it is without doubt one of the best things I have ever done. It is an amazing experience and the Everest Base Camp trail and the Khumbu is ready for trekkers. So if you have ever thought of doing it, think no longer, just do it. Train and prepare for a life changing experience.
Oh and the wig – it was a big hit at EBC and borrowed for photos that will adorn shelves in Japan and India just to name a few.
Louise Terranova trekked to Everest Base Camp, 23 Sept- 8 Oct 2015
People who have trekked to Everest Base Camp may forget some of the names of villages along the trail but are unlikely to forget the name Lukla. Unless you opt for the five-day hike in from Jiri, Lukla is the start of the trek to Everest Base Camp. Google Lukla and “air crash” appears near the top of the key words search list. “Flying into Lukla” was on the top of my Why I Don’t Want to Trek to Everest Base Camp list. Continue reading →