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 I 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. Many climb the hill in the darkness of early morning 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 after an early lunch is also an option. But more about the options in another post.

Unlike our first trek in 2013, when we had no porter a notebook would have been considered excess weight.

During our prolonged packing planning phase, every gram was weighed and assessed and rationalised. More on that later too. On our recent trek I did take a small notebook and I kept a very short diary. My last entry to this diary was in fact the previous day (Day Ten Dughla to Lobuche). Why? Because day eleven and the following two days are big days and you are very tired, as a result. I came back down from Kala Pattar, exhausted and was fast asleep at 5:30.

Most treks go from Lobuche to Kala Pattar. You start off early from your lodge and the walk out is quite flat initially, over turf sometimes with very small streams and little puddles of water which reminded me of rock pools. Not far out of Lobuche is the turn off to the Italian Weather Pyramid. Sam had been there the afternoon before to explore and take photos. I had taken the soft option of resting up for the next day.

Part of his research back home in Melbourne had often looked at the weather on the webcam on the pyramid. The closest thing to the Bureau of Meteorology at Base Camp. The building looks spectacular from the photos. And more amazing when you realise what a building like that means in terms of getting the materials there to build it.

There is a very short steep climb not long after setting out but after that, most of the walk is flattish. The trail crosses the moraine of the Changri Glacier. There are mountains on both sides of the long valley and the landscape is stark, stunning and like a moonscape.

Lobuche to Gorak Shep

Eveerest Base Camp Trek Dughla to Lobuche

You move ever closer to the conical peak of Pumori another mountain fairly easy to identify. That’s it, peeking out from the left of the hill in the photo above.

The flattish path is strewn with rocks and often becomes rutted turf. It was relatively easy for us because we were managing the altitude well with half a Diamox tablet taken twice daily. I had started taking them in Dingboche. This was part of the advice we took from Lhakpa from Khumbu Adventures in Kathmandu the day before we flew to Lukla. We had different advice from different sources, different doctors, including some very good advice from a GP in our group of doctors who had been there on several occasions. Firsthand experience is always good but at the end of the day Lhakpa has led many treks to Base Camp and many other mountainous regions so we decided to take his advice which was to take the Diamox at 4,000 metres, regardless of how we were feeling.

Lobuche to Gorak Shep

Lobuche to Gorak Shep
Crossing a stream over the rocky trail to Gorak Shep

The bridge above takes the prize for being the smallest of the many bridges you cross on the trek to Everest Base Camp.

Coming into Gorak Shep with the Mountain Range Above
Coming into Gorak Shep with the path to Kala Patthar above the left of my head.

I felt a huge sense of achievement arriving at Gorak Shep and a great sense of anticipation. Pumori towers over Gorak Shep with it’s dry lake bed and seven or eight lodges. We decided on which lodge we would stay in, even though we did this quickly, retrospectively precious time was wasted doing it. I will write a separate post about lodges.

After lunch we walked across the dry lake bed to the brown hill behind me in the photo above. Looks innocent enough compared to the huge ice-covered mountains surrounding it but at this altitude Gorak Shep is 5170 metres, the climb to Kala Pattar and 5545 metres requires effort and pre-training to make that effort achievable.

The sky was almost cloud free and we had decided after talking to two people on the trail that we would climb there in the afternoon and leave the walk to Everest Base for the next morning when the morning light gives life to what is often viewed as a dull area. Most people generally decide to trek to Base Camp after lunch on the day they arrive.

Climbing Kala Patthar October 2015
The path to the top of Kala Pattar the hardest few hours of the trek for me.

The mountains of Lingtren, Khumbutse and Changste are in clear view and Everest begins to appear.

Kala Pattar means Black Rock named after the black rocks at the top of the hill. Some hill. The climb to the top or more precisely to the flag pole, took two hours. At one stage I was ahead which made a change, but then was overtaken by The Trainer. I waved him ahead because there were clouds behind us and we wanted the view and the photos without them. Basanta our wonderful porter guide stayed with me.

The climb was hard. In some ways it was easy in that there are not many rocks to watch for tripping etc and no stone steps. I could stop easily and find lots of perching spots and I didn’t have to worry about dodging yaks or porters with loads. I had to stop frequently to catch my breath and my legs were burning which I hadn’t experienced.

The hard bit was the large boulders we had to scramble over to get to the flag pole with the prayer flags. Quite close to the point where the flag pole was I thought I couldn’t go any further. Puffing, legs burning and exhausted I was ready to give up on the final bit and be happy with the view from there. Who said I had to climb to the top anyway?  I yelled out to Sam who was at the top. “Do I have to come to the top?” And what were the Trainer’s last words? “Come on Louise this is what you trained for!” he yelled back. And it was. So, with one last effort and with the help of Basanta pulling and pushing me up the last enormous boulders I made it to the flag pole. A very short video captures the moment I reached it, almost too exhausted to even wave for the camera and to the trainer who had his photographer hat on.

It took me a while to get my breath and then of course we stood and did the obligatory photo shoot being careful not to step backwards off the boulders. The afternoon clouds started to roll our way.

Mount Everest
Mount Everest cloud free from the top of Kala Pattar
On Kala Patthar with Mount Everest in the Background
Triumphant moments, happy snaps and the yellow wig.

And yes, then the wig appeared. The yellow wig. It had been purchased back home in Melbourne with the statement that the trainer intended to wear it at Base Camp. I told him what I thought of that idea and then forgot all about. It had been hidden in the luggage and then his bag and then in the day pack and the next thing, there it was. Two young Japanese boys up there with us thought it was hysterical. They loved it and borrowed it for some of their shots and it had a popular showing and sharing the next day at Base Camp. Basanta also liked it and he can be seen in some of those photos wearing it.

Triumphant Trekkers Above Everest Base Camp on Kala Patthar
Me, the Trainer and the Porter

So, a series of triumphant photos and videos where shot in different ways on different cameras with different photographers. Of course, the Open Door Singers sign appeared for the big moment.

We had made it. Safely and without any blisters even. The training had been spot on to getting us there without drama and worth it in many ways. Trekking in Nepal and trekking to Base Camp hadn’t been on my grand plan. Hadn’t been on any of my lists originally but I wasn’t going to be left behind and after the failed attempt to reach Base Camp in December 2013 it had felt like unfinished business. If you don’t succeed the first time, try again. I haven’t forgotten that if it hadn’t been for Sam the Trainer pushing me on, encouraging and teasing me and having the travel wanderlust I would have never have had the wonderful experience. Of course, I had an inkling on my honeymoon that I was in for a ride, when he dragged me across the Sahara.

And of course, the view was magnificent. Magic. Stunning. Many people cry at this point after the anticipation, the huge trek, the training, the preparation, the effort, for some maybe the pain, certainly the beauty and the grandeur. You are standing in the most enormous, magnificent landscape. You realise how insignificant you are in the scheme of things and how enduring and ancient the place you are privileged to be in, is. Astronauts experience this looking at earth from outer space. For those of us not aspiring to space travel this will be our astronaut moment.

Of course, I cried. I allowed myself that. I cried many times on this wonderful life changing trek. I can honestly say that except for a few tears on the way up to the top of Kala Pattar which I quickly stopped, telling myself it wasn’t that bad, none of the tears shed were in anger, pain, frustration or desperation. They were tears of happiness, tears of triumph, tears of disbelief and the very happy tears of relief of arriving in Lukla, fresh off the plane and being grateful that we had rethought our decision to cancel the trip due to the fear of a landslide or tremors after the earthquake.

We stayed up the top for quite a while after the photos just taking in the view. We were lucky there were only five people up there. One, because most people choose to climb to Kala Pattar early in the morning, two because it was very early in the second season after the monsoon and three due to the earthquakes, there were hardly any trekkers.

Retrospectively writing this post, it is worthwhile remembering the privilege to be able to do this trek with relative ease is thanks to the Sherpa people and all the other Nepalese people who work hard to bring food and gear up the trail every year so people can have this wonderful experience. It is particularly important to remember the back- breaking work of the men who carry building materials up the trail even all the way to Gorak Shep so that lodges can be built for people to stay in. Without them such an experience would not be possible.

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, climbing Kala Pattar would be on it. But I wouldn’t consider it ticked off because I had done it. Trekking in Nepal is addictive and I would like to think that I would do this trek again, at least one more time.

Other posts to read

At Everest Base Camp

Day Ten Dughla to Lobuche

Starting out Day One

The  Bridges

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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.

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.

Lake near Dughla Nepal

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

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 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.

Talking to a trekker coming back from Base Camp.
Hearing about the trail people’s experience of Base Camp and the weather was always good. Our porter waiting patiently for me.
Above the yak pastures on the trail to Dingboche.
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.

Walking into Dingboche with the river below.
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.

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. 

Being at Pangboche and heading towards Shomare we were back are on the Main Everest Base Camp trail so we saw more activity including a lot of yaks.

The landscape, being above the tree line is very like the moors of Scotland. We spotted our first mountain goat. I think we would have seen him without our porter guide but there were many times on the trek where Basanta pointed out things we would have never seen. We also saw an enormous eagle flying high above the valley and a lot of helicopters flying back.

We hardly saw anyone on the trail for at least two hours.

The clouds parted for a few views of Ama Dablam (Mother’s Treasure Chest) our favourite mountain because it is easily recognisable and also Lhotse pictured just before Pangboche.

Since leaving Namche Bazaar we had only seen three other trekkers. We found out that our flight to Lukla was the last for five days.

The walk took us 6.5 hours.

Above the trail to Pangboche
Walking towards Pangboche
Lhotse from the trail to Pangboche
Great to see some ice covered mountains after morning clouds
Above Pangboche
Above Pangboche going on the UP.
A mani wall and chorten area
A mani wall and chorten area above the tree line

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