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 Sports 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 woollen 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 woollen 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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One Trek and One Marathon

Day Fourteen Pangboche to Namche Bazaar

The trainer was very excited about finally seeing the marathon runners who had started early that morning from Everest Base Camp running past,  all of us on our way to Namche Bazaar. The event was originally in May but was rescheduled to the beginning of October after the earthquakes.

We left our lodge at Pangboche as doctors prepared the medical check point and lodge staff the water bottles.

View of Tengboche in the Middle Distance

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The Temple Gate in Tengboche (Thyanboche)

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A half marathon runner who started at Dingboche at the Tengboche check point

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The following photos show the track. The steep uphill climb (600m) had nearly killed me on our 2013 trek.  Coming back down isn’t easy either.  It can impact on your knees which is why I chose to use trekking poles. The steep track with lots of small loose rocks can be slippery so the only way to go is slowly.

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That’s me picking my way down with the trekking poles.

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Runners taking their time

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The trail from a distance… crazy

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Sanasa with women selling jewellery

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The Finishing Point at Namche Bazaar

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Namche Bazaar from Above

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The view of Namche Bazaar from above. I had my sights set on the red roofed lodge in the middle, right …. which for me meant our favourite lodge, our own bathroom and a hot shower at last.

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Cafe Danphe Bar named after the National Bird of Nepal

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We had a drink here to celebrate our successful, wonderful trek to Everest Base Camp. Huddled together in the bar we looked at all the photos Sam had taken.  For the best of an hour I sat with tears streaming down my face, hardly able to believe the photos of the magical places we had just been.

 

 

 

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Day 3 Monjo to Namche Bazaar

Day 3 The Big Day

Most treks do Phakding to Namche Bazaar on day two. Before we left Australia, the Trainer  decided to add a day to our itinerary and walk to Namche Bazaar on Day 3 instead.We had time and it would be easier on our legs and lungs. I was happy for him to do all the research and planning and trusted his judgement. From my minimal research and a friend’s first hand experience I knew the infamous climb to Namche Bazaar was a hard one. The friend had trekked with  group and had been one of the earliest to arrive. He sat in a cafe and watched others from his group walk into the town. One very tough character from their group finally arrived, absolutely exhausted. He came up to my friend with tears in his eyes, hugged him and said that it had been the hardest day of his life. So when we set out from the tea house in Monjo I was mentally prepared and planned to take it slowly.

Just outside of Monjo is the entrance to the Sagarmantha National Park the checkpoint where Trekkers’ Information Management System (TIMS) card details are recorded.

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

The Sagarmantha National Park entrance outside Monjo

I realised I wasn’t quite up to the local speed when a woman who looked 80 passed me with a load of 40 kilos of cabbages on her back.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags. on the way to Namche Bazaar.

The bridge to Jorsale festooned with prayer flags

In front two bridges over the Dudh Kosi gorge

A rest before the climb to the higher bridge at the Dudh Kosi Gorge and famous bridge.

Made It off the highest scary bridge

Almost off the high bridge across the Dudh Kosi Gorge

Fruit sellers on the Everest Base Camp trail on the climb to Namche Bazaar.

Fruit sellers on the climb to Namche Bazaar

One of the rewards of a strenous day's climb.

A reward of a strenuous day’s climb – the first view of Everest

Yes that is the trail around the mountain.

The trail around the mountain

Everest Base Camp Trek

The infamous climb to Namche Bazaar almost finished

Day Four Namche Bazaar to Khumjung

Steep Climb Through the Clouds

Friday 25 September 2015
Namche Bazaar 3420 – Khumjung 3780 metres 2.5 hours walk
Khumjung is the largest town in the Khumbu region.

Khumjung Everest Base Camp trek September 2015

Walking into Khumjung

The climb out of Namche is steep and we were in thick cloud. We could not see very far but sounds travelled up the hill to us – the chinking sound of the stone masons and the anthem and then music for a fitness program from the school below. I practiced my newly learnt Tashi Dele greeting, much to the delight of the Sherpas passing us. Possibly they were going down to prepare for the market the following day. The large market on the Saturday is very famous and sadly as we had changed our itinerary and we would miss it. Perhaps next time.

The landscape changes and reminds me of the moors in Scotland. The thick cloud made me focus on the low heath like plants. Spider webs bejewelled with water droplets reminded me not to forget the beauty at the ground level. Consequently new Nepalese words included putali (butterfly), makura (spider) and makura zal (spiderweb).

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I was keen to see that the school built by Edmund Hillary had not been badly damaged by the earth quake which had affected Khumjung. I was pleased to walk into the town and past the school just as the children finished their half day Friday. Sadly though the gompa near the school had been damaged.

Stupa at Khumjung in the Khumbu region of Nepal

Sadly the earthquake damaged the stupa at Khumjung

We found a lodge, organised our room and had lunch. Later we walked to the town’s monastery and home of the famous Yeti  skull (Wikipedia). The monastery was quite beautiful and worth the visit.

We were the only guests in the lodge and after our dhal bhat we watched a video about the life of Hillary.

We woke in cloud, walked straight up out of Namche in cloud and went to sleep in cloud.

See photos for our walk into Khumjung

 

Day 3 Namche Bazaar Acclimatisation Day

Acclimatisation or Rest Day

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 her “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.

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. Trekking independently with a porter gave us this flexibility. We were then able to walk to Khumjung on the following day and sleep at a slightly higher altitude allowing us more acclimatisation time for the altitude.

Below are photos taken on our Acclimatisation Day on 24 September 2015.

 

Namache Bazaar, Main Trail Everest Base Camp Trek

Looking out onto Namche Bazaar

Namache Bazaar, Main Trail Everest Base Camp Trek

Above Namche Bazaar on the path to Khunde

Pines above Namche Bazaar September 2015

Stunning large black pine cones

 

 

Monastery at Namche Bazaar

Monastery Entrance

2015 Trek

Itinerary for 16 Day Everest Base Camp Trek

Late September to October 2015

Day 1    Kathmandu 1210m  to Lukla
Day 2    Phakding 2610m to Namche Bazaar 3440
Day 3    Acclimatization Namche Bazaar (walked above town) 3440m
Day 4    Namche Bazaar to Khumjung 3780m and more photos
Day 5    Khumjung to Phortse 3800m
Day 6    Phortse to Shomare 4070m
Day 7    Shomare to Dingboche 4360m
Day 8    Acclimatise Dingboche (walked to4900m)
Day 9    Dingboche to Dughla 4600m
Day 10  Dughla to Lobuche 4940m
Day 11  Lobuche to Gorak Shep 5170m and Kala Patthar 5545m
Day 12  Gorak Shep, Everest Base Camp 5300m to Lobuche 4940m
Day 13  Lobuche to Pangboche 3930m
Day 14  Pangboche to Namche Bazaar 3440m
Day 15  Namche Bazaar to Phakding 2610m
Day 16  Phakding to Lukla 2840m
Day 17  Lukla to Kathmandu

Two Hours to Tengboche

Video

I knew Day Three of our itinerary, climbing to Namche Bazaar was going to be a strenuous. We trained well for the trek and though it wasn’t easy we took the climb in our stride.

When we set out two days later for Tengboche, the Trainer told me it would be a relatively easy day. That proved far from the case. We had a breather at the top of Namche after a steep climb out of the amphitheatre-shaped town.

Namche Bazaar Everest Base Camp Trek

Namche Bazaar

After a few more challenging hills with spectacular views, the track really levelled out. That bit was the honeymoon period.

The trail then descends 570 metres to the river, after crossing this, there is a relentless 750 metres two to three hours climb (according to the guide book) to Tengboche. I am sure this section took us much longer.

The biggest problem was the signage. Not long out of Namche there was sign which said “2 hours to Tengboche”. Two hours further along the track there was another sign “2 hours to Tengboche” and then about another two hours further on, you guessed it – “2 hours to Tengboche”. Hence the comment on the video and the post title. At one point after the third sign, we stopped to catch our breath. Another trekker was doing the same with his guide waiting for him. When we asked the guide how much longer to the top, what do you think he replied? I couldn’t believe it.

That day I learnt mental preparation is everything. I had heard it said in relation to physical challenges but had never really experienced it. For our next trek to Everest Base Camp we will be prepared for the “two hours to Tengboche”. In fact we are changing the itinerary to start the trek from Khunde or Khumjung and not Namche. The other tip is don’t believe the estimated trekking time between the towns and definitely don’t believe the signage.