Resting Spots Along the Trail to Everest Base Camp
A post about the porters on my Everest Base Camp Trek blog is long overdue. The Daily Post Daily PromptRecharge has given me a perfect launching point.
Trekking through the Khumbu you see resting points for porters to unload, rest and recharge. These resting spots are at a height so the porters can easily unload and reload onto their backs without having to lift their load from the ground.
Yes I agree this is not a brilliant photo. But it is the only one from our Everest Base Camp trek with a reflection. And there were no mirrors either and I could have done with one of those. The EBC Trek equals bad hair days. I’m not sure which is better long hair or short.
Photos of reflections in water are rare on the EBC trek . The rivers are running too fast Continue reading →
Just a reminder that Nepal is not all about mountains. This photo was taken at the Chitwan National Park on the fringe of the Indian plains. We rode on top of this fellow into to the forest in search of rhinos, tigers and deer. They are magnificent creatures, aren’t they?
Last year in Nepal “connecting” started with learning a few words of Nepalese at the small hotel we stayed in Kathmandu. People always respond well if you have a go at speaking their language, they love it. My choice of words might seem strange. I learnt Continue reading →
Bhaktapur is an UNESCO world heritage site not far from Kathmandu.The old town is closed to traffic so it is a peaceful place to walk and explore. Sadly Bhaktapur was significantly damaged in the 2015 earthquake. Continue reading →
You don’t need to be an athlete nor a mountain climber.
You don’t have to be seasoned hiker either. For many people who trek to Base Camp it is their first experience of anything like this. I know because I was one of these people.
With Training Everest Base Camp is achievable for the average person
Training before you go is highly recommended. Your training is part of the bigger journey. It certainly was part of mine. The Trainer kept reminding me, you know the quote, the journey is not just about the destination. Oh and the question of age. I’m in my fifties and there were plenty of people older than me on the trail.
One of favourite days walking into Dingboche past yak pastures.
If you are healthy, have trained and mentally prepared Everest Base Camp is possible. Continue reading →
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.
Nearby not actually the Square
Historic buildings in Durbar Square being propped up by timber
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.
Trouble for the 2016 -17 Seasons? Visit Nepal and Help Rebuild
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.
From the perspective of an over 50 years old 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?
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.”
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.
I slept badly 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. The trek out of Dughla was a steep climb. After the climb we spotted 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 to explore the Italian weather pyramid. Inside our lodge was very warm with lots of laser-light in the roof letting the heat in. I stayed in bed happy to rest up for the next two very big days.
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.
On our first flight to Lukla a European man in his seventies was sitting across the aisle from my husband. As we flew along the magnificent Himalayas mountain range he pointed out the names of the various mountains to Sam. I was impressed. This guy knew his mountains. Obviously it wasn’t his first trip. Warning: trekking in Nepal is addictive.
I wanted to be able to list off the mountains too, so before our 2015 trek I studied up on them, well the pictures at least. (Back home I’m still working on that). Apart from Mount Everest which is not that easy to spot because it hides a lot until the very end of the trek, Ama Dablam is one of the first mountains you will come to know and recognise wherever you are. The mountains change shape as you move along the trail because your view changes. Ama Dablam is different it has that funny skinny cone shape and later it has an armchair shape. Remember you’ve got to use your imagination a bit.
Ama Dablam is first visible after Namche Bazaar and there is good view of from Khumjung, which is above Namche Bazaar. In fact the guide books tells you Ama Dablam towers above Khumjung. And she does. Are mountains referred to as male of female? Well I’m calling Ama Dablam a she as it means Mother’s Chest or Mother’s Treasure Chest or a jewel box if you like. And by all accounts she deserves some respect.
Here she is.
Ama Dablam photo taken between Namche Bazaar and Tengboche
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.