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 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 Bazaar 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

 

 

Life Is Great in Retrospect

Why the Trainer and I turned back before Everest Base Camp in 2013.We trained more than when we made it in 2015 . We were fit enough. So why didn’t we make it ?

The Background Story

The sport teacher at work took an interest in my EBC training. One Monday morning he asked how it was going. I replied well but pulled up my trouser leg to show him the rash on both my ankles. He told me to go to the hospital immediately.

The colleague I share an office  with came to look at the rash. Unbelievably his wife had had the same rash, had spent time in hospital and could have died. I made an doctor’s appointment for the afternoon.

The doctor  looked at the rash on both my ankles said it wasn’t Cellulitis and agreed it was probably caused by my trekking socks. My bamboo socks. He told me if the rash changed in any way to come straight back.

The rash cleared up and some months later and the trainer and I left for Kathmandu to trek to Everest Base Camp. With the same bamboo socks. I didn’t really think about not taking them. They hadn’t caused anymore problems. Life is great in retrospect.

Day  Five Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

On the trek to Tengboche the rash returned with vengeance caused no doubt by the eight hour walk that day and the dusty trail. And the socks. However it was a lot  was redder than it had been back home and coming up over the the sock line. I was a bit panicky.

It had been a unexpectedly hard day’s climb. It was freezing cold and late in the afternoon when we arrived in Tengboche. A lot of the lodges were closed as it was getting late in a quiet season. We weren’t that thrilled with the accommodation and the shared toilet arrangement which we had managed to avoid until then. It was turning out to being not such a great day.

Tengboche Everest Base Camp Trek

Tengboche from the monastery looking cold and dark with sun setting

Sunset on the Everest Base Camp Trail

Shadows and the sun setting on the Lhotse – Nuptse ridge from Tengboche

Day Six Tengboche to Pangboche

The next morning after breakfast I showed my rash to a woman in the lodge we had met the day before. She had told me she was carrying a lot of medicine and as I suspected she was a nurse. She agreed with me the rash looked like it was caused by my socks and told me if it got worse or started to feel hot to start taking the broad spectrum antibiotics and ring for a helicopter.

I was a bit panicked at this comment given we were trekking without a guide or porter. The Trainer tried to calm me down. We walked to Pangboche a lovely walk and found a lodge fairly early. I spent some time trying to find out how we would call a helicopter without much luck. We had showers which made the day seem a bit better. During the night I started the antibiotics because my leg felt hot.

Pangboche, Everest Base Camp Trek

The next morning the Trainer suggested we walk to Shomare have a coffee and then decide whether to go on or not. And yes, we had that drink and decided to turn back.

Everest Base Camp Trek

Shomare. Our last stop before turning back

Life is great in retrospect I should not have taken the bamboo socks to Nepal, bought some topical cream, investigated the rash more on coming home but I didn’t.

Lessons Learnt

When we returned home I heard a lot about bamboo socks not being good for trekking. They retained moisture instead of wicking the moisture away. The socks were banished from my sock drawer forever. I had actually had been recommended the socks in a camping store. In retrospect don’t buy hiking gear in a camping gear shop. I recommend finding a hiking gear shop that employs staff with lots of trekking experience.

I bought woolen socks for our second trip. Trained with them and packed more pairs.

Ironically I got the rash again on the second trek. And on the first day. Just a tiny bit at first and with woolen socks. I applied the cream I brought and raised my legs. By the end of the trek the rash was being annoying.

Rash on ankle

The rash back in Kathmandu after the second trek in 2015.

The type of socks you wear trekking are really important. I was very excited to find a post devoted entirely to socks in my travels around the blogosphere. Here it is

Links to related posts

Don’t be put off Tengboche. It is a hard days trek and being mentally prepared will help.

We trekked back through Tengboche on our way back from Everest Base Camp. It seemed like a much nicer place in the middle of the day with the sun shining. We spent some time there, watching marathon runners coming through and taking photographs. We still haven’t seen inside the temple to we might just have to go back.

Tengboche Monastery

Tengboche Monastery

 

Anyone else have a frustrating medical “emergency” on holidays ?

My You Tube of Walking to Tengboche.

More photos of the walk from Namche to Tengboche (2013)  

Other posts that may interest you

Acclimatisation Days

What to pack

25 Reasons to Trek to Nepal  

How hard is it to trek to Everest Base Camp ?

Our trek itineraries in 2013 and in 2015

Our Experience on Diamox

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Travel Makes Us Modest

Image

Travel makes us modest,
you see what a tiny place
you occupy in the world.

Gustave Flaubert

Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridgetop

Acclimatisation Walk on Dingboche Ridge-Top

I could not agree more Gustave.

Travel to Nepal Now

Last year we booked our flight to Kathmandu two weeks before the first earthquake.

We changed our minds several times over the months following the quake and at the last moment thought about cancelling the trip. But not going didn’t feel right. So we left Melbourne with me being quite nervous and the Trainer being, optimistic, of course.

As soon as we left Melbourne I felt less anxious. What were we expecting? I should probably say what was I expecting because the Trainer and I rarely expect the same thing. I was expecting to see Kathmandu really devastated when flying into it. And it wasn’t.

Damaged Durbar Square

Although we didn’t visit Durbar Square until after our trek people were walking around the area but hardly any tourists. The Square was badly affected and I’m sure it will be a while before it is restored.The photos below show some of the area.

Earthquake damage Kathmandu

Nearby not actually the Square

Durbar Square Kathmandu and old buildings being propped up after the eartquake

Historic buildings in Durbar Square being propped up by timber

Durbar Square Kathmandu damage after the 2015 earthquake

Starting the Everest Base Camp Trek

We flew into Lukla and after leaving the small airport building,  I stood looking down at the short runway and looking around me and cried. I got teary seeing the owner of the Paradise Lodge again. She gave me hug.

After a cup of tea and a short break for our porter to sort the packs we started out down the main street of Lukla, the Porter, the Trainer and me. I felt we had made the right decision.

Tourists are starting to return to Nepal but it is still very quiet. If you are thinking of going to any part of Nepal to trek, go and go this year. Get ready for the the October to December season. If you want to have a life changing adventure that you will never forget. Go trekking in Nepal or simply visit Nepal – Kathmandu, Pokhara or the jungle of Chitwan. Your tourist dollar is what is desperately needed to help get Nepal back on its feet.

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

Sadly earthquake damaged stupa at Khumjung

 

If you need some more encouragement read

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp.

Who wrote this post and why I blog 

Worth a read if you are still worried about Earthquake damage.

Two Earthquakes and Two Films

Trouble for the 2016 -17 Seasons? Visit Nepal and Help Rebuild

Monjo Guest House EBC Trek
Will there be another slow season of empty lodges ?

On April 25 a 7.8-magnitude quake devastated parts of Kathmandu and rural Nepal. Two weeks later on May 12 a second 7.3-magnitude quake hit. It is the anniversary of the first quake this week.

In the last six months two films were released about climbing Everest. One Everest about the fateful climbing season in 1996 when rival trekking company leaders lost their lives climbing. More recently the documentary Sherpa-Trouble on Everest was released. The film covers the 2014 avalanche when 16 Sherpas were killed. In an interview with director Jenny Peedom, she said that the Khumbu Sherpa community were very pleased with the film. A key message is the risk Sherpas take in working on the mountain to enable tourists and climbers to summit the peak. Put simply without the Sherpas the tourism around the climbing season would not be possible. Another message is the exploitation of the Sherpas in terms of pay and conditions.

This film may have affected the Everest Base Camp Trekking  season. A work colleague of the Trainer, a keen Australian bush walker announced that he was planning a trip to walk the Inca trail. The Trainer suggested to him he should trek to Base Camp and his reaction to this was negative and he said no way. He had recently seen the Sherpa documentary and he didn’t want to be part of such an exploitative adventure. I think there may others who are turned off because of the film.

Trekking to Mount Everest Base Camp to climb Everest is one thing. Trekking to Base Camp to trek to that point is quite another. The trail does not have the same commercial  pressure. People pay a lot of money to climb Everest. There is a huge pressure on the climbing companies to deliver. This pressure does not exist trekking on the trail to Base Camp.

Most of the people living along the trail would rely largely on the trekking tourism either directly or indirectly. The Khumbu region has had three quiet seasons. If you are planning to trek to Everest Base Camp or the Annapurna or any of the other areas please don’t change your mind because of a film. Nepal needs tourists. Be part of the rebuild.

everest base camp trailBuilding along the Everest Base Camp trail

 

Article about the Sherpa – Trouble on Everest 

25 April Earthquake Wikipedia 

Not convinced ? – 25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp 

 

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp Trek

25 Reasons to Trek to Everest Base Camp

From the perspective of an over 50 woman 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?

  1. 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.
View from Kala Patthar with Mount Eversest

Mid afternoon from Kala Patthar as clouds started rolling in

  1. 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.”

Continue reading

Farewell to the EBC Trek

Everest Base Camp Trek

Day 16 Phakding to Lukla

Nepalese dog

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.

Mani Walls coming into Ghat

Mani Walls coming into Ghat

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.

Stupa and Mani Walls at Ghat

Prayer Wheels, Mani Walls and the Stupa at Ghat

Waiting for Donkies to Pass on Everest Base Camp trail

We saw groups of trekkers fresh off the plane new to the trail and not sure quite what to expect. I pointed at the brand new boots of a young woman and I pointed to my boots all covered in white dust and told her that her boots would look like mine after Base Camp.

Small villages on the hills on the way

Resting spot for porters outside or Lukla

I smiled a woman we passed who pointed behind me indicating there was someone behind me. I think she thought he was trying to get past. I wanted to say yes, he has been behind me for 16 days, he’s my porter. Although he wasn’t always behind sometimes he was ahead and leading. But he was always there walking beside me in essence, keeping an eye on where I was stepping. Only a short time before he had pulled me out of the way from a donkey, because I turned around and wasn’t paying attention.

Empty Street in Lukla

Starbucks and the Irish Pub in Lukla

In the end, despite not wanting the trek to end we were glad to get to Lukla’s entrance gate. The last of the hills seemed endless. And we had just walked 130 kilometres.

We walked through the streets of Lukla which we very quiet. Lukla would normally be a bit of a party town with people celebrating the end of their treks. It is always a place people stay at the end of the trek not at the beginning.

At the lodge we were happy to have a shower, do some washing and explore the town a bit more. Basanta came back later in the afternoon. We had a few beers together and said thank you and goodbye. He was going to have three days’ rest and then going to back on the trail again with a group.

Basanta and Louise

Basanta our lovely porter guide and me in Lukla at the end of our trek

Paradise Lodge Dining Room

The dining room at Paradise Lodge Lukla

After dinner and a chat with the woman who owns the lodge we were ready for an early night. We had the first flight out in the morning.

Savouring the Last Days of the Trail

Everest Base Camp Trek

Day Fifteen Namche Bazaar to Phakding

From Lodge to Lodge to Lodge

Lodge at Namche Bazaar

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.

Namche Bazaar and the Kwangde Range

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

First and last view of Everest

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

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 suspension bridges across to Namche Bazaar

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

Porters carrying building materials up the trail

Garden at Monjo Lodge Everest BAse Camp trek

Waiting for lunch in the garden at Monjo Lodge

Lodge in Phakding EBC trail

The lodge we stayed in Phakding on the way up and on the way down

 

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Going Down the Return Journey to Lukla

Everest Base Camp Trek

Day Thirteen Lobuche to Pangboche

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.

Walking back from Gorak Shep Everest Base CAmp Trek

 

Everest Base Camp Trek -Gorak Shep to Lobuche

 

Cairn Memorials at Chupki Lhara on Everest Base Camp Trek

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.

Walking through the Khumbu Khola Valley on the Everest Base Camp trek

With the trail to Dingboche above us we walked through the Khumbu Khola valley into Periche. 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.

Khumbu Khola Valley coming into Dingboche

Rubble from earthquake at Periche

Lodge in Periche

We stopped in Periche for a drink and toilet break and Shomare for lunch.

Heading back on the Everest Base Camp Trek

 

IMG_1191

IMG_1200

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.

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

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 pee 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 to 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 reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands.

The walk was only two and a half hours. The Trainer 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 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 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. Continue reading

Day Seven Shomare to Dingboche

Day Seven – Shomare to Dingboche Monday 28 September 2015

Yaks coming back from the Base Camp.

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.

Three hours walking today.

The yaks that arrived after dark 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 Continue reading

Day Six Phortse to Shomare

Everest Base Camp Trek

Heads in the Clouds

Clouds blocking a great view

Sitting in cloud hoping it would lift

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

Naming Mountains Above Dingboche

Video

The Video

One reason why you should take a guide or porter guide with you…

…they teach you all the names of mountains ! But there are lots more reasons…

See the post about The Porter

Day Five Khumjung to Phortse

A Quiet Day on the Everest Base Camp Trail

The clouds cleared in the morning and we took some video and photos before we left the village while we still had mountain views. We had seen the spectacular views above the town on our 2013 EBC trek.

Many treks go from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche possibly because some parts of the trail 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.

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.

Phortse perched on the hill from the other side of the valley

Amazing seeing the towns perched on the hills from a distance

Late afternoon cloud in the small "forest" in Portse Nepal

The cloud really made these trees look beautiful and very moody.

 

Exploring Monjo

Exploring Monjo

 

Our lodge in Monjo had an outside area with tables in the sun and an orchard out the back, growing apples of course.

Monjo Guest House EBC Trek

A relaxing place to sit in the sun at the Monjo Guest House

As it was an easy walk to Monjo and after a hot shower we went for a short walk through the village to take some photos.

View of Kumbila Peak Monjo

View of Kumbila Peak from Monjo

Prayer Stones in Nepal

Om Mani Padme Hum Prayer stones

Meal for two at Monjo Guest House

Meal for two at Monjo Guest House