View Full Version : Nepal - Everest Base camp trek - Ascent (2 of 2)

28-10-07, 07:33
...Cont'd from previous entry....

We both awoke refreshed from our sleep, and although I still wasn’t 100%, decided to press on anyway to try and keep on -schedule. But before pressing on we had to register with the Police ‘for our safety’. (We knew that Maoists were active in the mountains and had robbed a lone Swiss trekker a few weeks previous and so thought the registration a good thing.) However the Police officer logged us in the book and then logged our expected time out as if it had already happened., so if we went missing nobody
would know (or possibly care) anyway !! Great !!

The path out of Namche Bazzar is along a steep and long set of steps, immediately reducing me to a near-crawl. Already I was questioning my decision and we were only 20 mins into the trek. After a further 15-20 mins we were walking along the contours of the valley and it was beautiful and we continued trekking for a further 2 hours or so. Finally we came to a very basic café (even by Nepalise standards!) and ordered some Hot Chocolates and were charged double the normal price but we hadn‘t checked beforehand and so couldn‘t really argue.

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The man himself ! Seen en route to Tengboche.

After that we made the long and painful ascent to Tengboche. With 20kg in my rucksack and the Camera I found the going really tough.. Sylvia on the other hand was doing really well and patiently waited for me as I struggled to each turning point on the path up.

It started to rain just as we entered Tengboche and Sylvia noticed an Tea-house(motel) close-by. We walked in and saw a very hot stove in the centre of the room which had been lit early enough for the room to be already nice and warm. We were convinced and had lovely evening. An evening made all the richer by the re-appearance of Drew and Tanya. …..and hot apple pie & custard …twice !!, …….not to mention a reasonably priced glass of decent red wine. Poor Tanya though was suffering from a cold which was taking the edge off her evening. As normal we all went to bed early.

At 11pm both Sylvia and I had to get up for the toilet, and I again at 5am. For the 5am call though I got a surprise reward of a beautiful clear view of the surrounding mountains. (I’d left my camera inside so popped back inside to retrieve it !) I went back to bed and relaxed for a while before we both finally got up.

When we finally did get up ’for real’, the sun was shining and the lodge owner/manager had put a number of tables and chairs out in the sun for us to have breakfast and It was Drew’s Birthday !! We also got our first sighting of Everest. We hadn’t really known what it looked like before but now with Peter along with us, we got a clear impression of where Everest was and what it looked like. At this stage it didn’t look the tallest or that impressive, but it was Everest. It was a real treat and we sat chatting in the sun for hours. Tanya though was still feeling very ill from her cold and so had gone back to bed for a while.

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Tengboche the following morning.The highest Budhhist monastry in Nepal if I remember correctly.

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The views of the surrounding mountains.........

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...which can change from one minute to the next.

Finally everybody had left except Sylvia and I and so we got packed up and set off. (Whilst it sounds like we left very late, in actuality it was only about 10 mins after Drew & Tanya.)

No more than 30mins later we came across Drew & Tanya again, with Tanya sitting down and really struggling. We chatted for a while. After finally wishing them the best we headed off again.

Somewhere around this point we seem to have subconsciously decided against a guide or Porter as I don’t remember us ever properly discussing their need again. Neither of us had wanted them anyway but we were also both aware of the potential benefits and dangers with or without them. Our main desires being to set our own pace, keep our trek private and to achieve it on our own.

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Another suspension bridge.

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The trek from Tengboche to Pangboche was supposed to be easy but it wasn’t. We both found it fairly hard going and struggled to find anywhere in Pengboche open for lunch. When we did finally find somewhere and settled down for lunch, Drew and Tanya joined up with us again with Tanya still really struggling very badly. They’d decided to get to Pengboche and stay the night there and not our joint desired meeting point of Dingboche, a further point for a 2 day acclimatisation. We had a nice chat with them for an hour or so and headed off again.

Just after this point the trees stopped and a growing sense of an awesome isolation started to creep in.

We’d been told that Dingboche was a further 2 hour walk and so we thought we would almost glide there. Hmmmmm. It wasn’t and we didn’t !! After we’d walked for about 2 ½ hours we couldn’t see anything resembling a town. Finally we met a couple, the young lady of which had done a horrible injury to her knee and was hobbling along, fortunately after seeing Everest ! We learnt from them that Dingboche was a further hour or so away. Whilst the terrain wasn’t that steep to start with, this last section was steep enough to slow us down.

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On the way to Dingboche.

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Dingboche is a well organised largish town and we were a bit overwhelmed with where to stay but after not too long we found a reasonable place at a reasonable price and settled down for the evening.

Our stay at Dingboche was to serve two purposes. One was to visit Chukkung, a mountain and local beautiful viewing spot. The second was for acclimatisation above the next barrier above 4,000m.

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We’d understood from the Landlord that there was to be a large fesitival in Pengboche the following day, where we’d had lunch today, and as a result there were unlikely to be any residents in Chukkung and advised to take a picnic if we wanted to trek there. We went to bed with the desire to get up for an early start to take advantage of the advantageous weather often only found first thing in the morning.

We woke up at 5am and I looked out of the window. It was amazing, everything clearly visible in clear blue sky & bright sunshine. I was out with the camera and clicked away until there was no angle left to click from. We managed to finally get walking at 08:00 am. The views were amazing and changed quite dramatically every hour or so. The mornings trekking was fairly warm and necessitated stripping down to shorts and T-shirt to keep at a nice temperature, however on the return trek the sun was playing hide & seek and the temperature dropped from cool to cold. We had a pleasant evening and retired to bed.

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The view looking towards Chukkung.

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Sylvia setting the pace towards Chukkung.

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The view looking away, back towards Dingboche...although not seen.

We’re really not sure why Annapurna base camp is rated above this trek as the scenery on the way to Everest is in a different league to that offered by the former. Annapurna is a nice trek & pretty but if you want to see awesome snow capped mountains and huge valleys and really experience a true wilderness, Everest is the place.

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Views in Chukkung region.

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We decided to take a latish start and had a good conversation talking to our Landlord. We learnt that the average porter got 20NRs per Kg carried. 20NRs is equal to about 17p They will carry the required delivery for 2-3 days to get this. The real shock was though that some porters carry up to 100kgs !! 100kgs. I was carrying 20k’s and found it enough with my size. No wonder we like having the Gherkis on our side when we‘re in a war!! We also learnt that he was about to spend a further $US100,000 on the addition of 11 luxury rooms to his lodge. I was staggered to think of where he’d get $100,000 from let alone what he’d spend it on. The later turned out to be the transportation costs as the materials need to be flown in by helicopter.

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Rocks being broken by hand for our Hotels additional luxury rooms, haven been given permission by the Himalayen park authorities to use them.

We finally left at 11:00am under the impression that today’s trek was short but the first part was far harder than expected and traced the ridges of a valley and went up and down like a roller-coaster. Fortunatley we were comforted by the Hari-Bous were we carrying. It was windy, fairly cold and we definately were out in the wilderness. Finally we came to a river crossing point at Dughla which was quite exciting. The river was fast and furious and there were three principal points to cross. One fairly solid wooden bridge made of one large piece of wood. Then we had to cross the river walking across some rocks until the final ‘bridge’ which was two smallish logs bound together. You definately had to keep your act together to cross this one. Not quite Harrison Ford perhaps but definately a walk on the wilder side. Just after we crossed we saw Drew & Tanya with their guide and newly acquired porter for Tanya. The river was just by a tea-house so we all took lunch together. Tanya still hadn’t managed to shake her cold and so they were going to stay there for the night.

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Sylvia crossing on the rocks between 'bridges'-this really wasn't as easy as it may look.

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We finished lunch and set off again to a very steep, and rocky ascent whose questionable pleasure was not increased by the downpour of rain. On the way we picked up a poor and very furry looking dog. It would follow us until we rested then rest itself until we carried on again, then after a few more seconds would carry on again with us. This happened until we got to the top, some 45 mins later. We shared 3 of our chewy bars with him and he followed us for the rest of the day.

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The steep rocky ascent after lunch.

The rest of the day had us walking in a beautiful valley and we both just loved it. I felt like my Birthday had come one day early. It was what we’d always hoped it would be like. The dog dutifully followed us all the time and so we named him Chewy !

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On the way to Lobuche. - Feeling ill earlier in the day did not diminish my ability to enjoy this amnazing view.

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We arrived at Lobuche and looked at the Hotel recommended by Drew & Tanya’s Guide. We didn’t like it and so chose another. The room of our Hotel was fine but when we asked for dinner we were a bit taken aback by the state of the boys hands-they were covered in warts and I mean really covered. We did eat dinner but decided we’d have breakfast elsewhere. We were hoping to get up early the following morning so that we might even make Kala Patthar, the best and only viewing point of Everest in this region, on my Birthday.

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Around sunset time-My Birthday felt it'd come a day early !

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Just to show we've been there !!

At 04:45 the alarm went off but the weather was foul so we stayed in bed. When I did get up I felt awful. I hadn’t slept at all well and was suffering from mild Altitude sickness !..It was my Birthday !!! I got a few nice kisses from Sylvia and had to start the day.

We took breakfast in the Eco Lodge which was fine but I still felt awful. Finally we started to trek but I just wanted to die. After 3 or 4 stops in the first hour I was on the verge of returning but after further weighing up the options I decided to continue. There are so many warnings about altitude sickness, this had been my concern but ultimately I thought I would be ok, if somewhat out of salts !

The first part after this decision was relaxing and so I settled down a bit, however the second had us clambering up and down over rocks in the Khumbu glacier region which was staggering, absolutely staggering. You have to see how big this region is to believe it. We were finally faced with a river crossing which had no safe looking place to cross. After further investigation the ‘obvious’ but dangerous looking crossing point was a series of rocks acting as stepping stones. I just about managed to get across, although the handle of one of my poles came off and left the pole in the ground. I did manage to retrieve it though. Sylvia followed and found herself with one foot in the water and so she just decided to cross with both her feet in the water. Hmm, nice !!

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The Khumbu glacier region.

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Shortly after this we climbed one last series of rocky hills and arrived at Gorak Shep, the last point for a restaurant and/or Hotel before the actual base camp itself. It is also the highest bar in the world at just under 17,000ft.

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Gorak Shep !!!

We were shown to our room and re-arranged the furniture to our liking, that was the position of the one table and two beds. The restaurant section was relaxing and warm. We bought a bottle of red wine and took it outside with a glass, a chair & the Cigar from Kathmandu for some Birthday photo shots. We returned for dinner and went to bed to watch Casino Royal on my newly acquired Ipod. 20 Mins later I could hardly keep my eyes open and so the rest of the film was left for another day.

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My Birthday Cigar !!

After the awful sleep I’d had last night I felt sure I’d sleep for England. We set the alarm for 04:45 to see if the weather was good enough to climb Kala Patthar. I’d been awake all night again and felt awful but not an unusual phenomenan when at altitude. All through the night I’d been very aware of the lower oxygen content in the air, and although at 50% of normal there was still enough, it’d had freaked me out a bit in the night in the form of panicking when I couldn‘t seem to find enough breath. The worse thing was that this would be especially poinient just as I was at the point of dropping off.

We collected a few bits and pieces together, drinks & chewy bars mainly and set off. The ascent was steep, it was cold and definatley short of oxygen. We found it very hard work almost straight away and could make about 20 steps(100m) only at some points and we would need to stop to get our breath back. Sylvia defiantly wasn;t keen on getting up or putting her semi-wet boots on from yesterday and took a good hour before her normal sense of humour returned. Eventually we got to about half-way and the weather clouded in and we were in two minds as if it was worth continuing.

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Cold & Tired early in the morning.

We did and a few more minutes later the weather cleared again and the whole mountain range opened up-it was beautiful. We climbed to the top of Kala Patthar and drank the scenery in, and stopped again about ¼ of the way down for an hour just to gaze at so much beauty. We were there and were looking at Everest, as close-up as it gets for non-climbers. We’d trekked for 8 days, were exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. It was fantastic !!

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Our views from Kala Patthar. Staggering !!

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The concentration of ice in the bottom, slightly left of centre, is the position on the glacier where the base camp is positioned.

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The big one itself, Everest.

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Looking up at the top of Kala Patthar.

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Looking out at the rest of the Himalayas.

A few chewy bars & a few drinks of Tang later we were on our way back down. We arrived back at Gorak Shep for around 10am totally shattered and so decided to take brunch and take a few hours sleep…which ended up being for the whole afternoon. We’d arranged to meet Drew & Tanya this evening for a belated Birthday drink and so got up.

Drew and Tanya arrived, Tanya’s cold now improved a bit. Birthday or not, we still only managed 2 bottles of San Miguel each !! How sad !?! We did have a nice evening but had to call it a day at around 8:30 as we were set for trekking to the Everest base camp the following morning. The base camp being where most Summit attempts on Everest are initiated from.

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Drinking the Port I'd bought for my Birthday having taken an Overland Solutions sticker to the highest pay-bar in the world !!

During the night I wasn’t sleeping again and by about 2 am was climbing the wall being now on my 3rd sleepless night. I don’t really know why but I took an Ibrupofen and Sylvia said I was asleep within a few minutes!

The alarm went off and we went to breakfast at around 07:00am with intention of leaving at 08:00. Meanwhile Drew and Tanya had got up, had breakfast and set off for Kala Patthar and intended to trek to the Base Camp as well, something not deemed possible according to our guide book by ordinary mortals !! A Danish couple we’d also met a few times set off at 08:00am whilst we were still eating breakfast/drinking coffee !! Finally we left at 08:45, fortunately in Sunshine.

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Sylvia showing her climbing prowess on the way to the base camp, and the scale of our environment.

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We met the Danes on their way back approximately half way there…….I don’t know what they eat for breakfast in Denmark but I want some. They advised us exactly where the base camp was. I’m glad they did as it would have been hard to work out otherwise. We continued and were again joined by Chewy who seemed to know the way too. To our right was the Kumbu Glacier beneath us and our path finally led us to join it. From high above the glacier looks fairly flat. From next to it, it isn’t and the path rides up and down across gravel and ice with no apparent path after a few hundred meters.

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The glacier we were to walk on from a distance. If you look carefully you can see a group of four other trekers.

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The glacier close up !!

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We’d seen some other Trekkers on the Glacier and they seemed to be going in the direction pointed out by the Danes so we sort of set them in our sights. When we lost sight of them from time to time, Chewy was still there and so we followed him unless it was obvious he wasn’t going the right way.

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'Chewy', Nepals answer to Skippy, Flipper & Lassie for those of you old enough !!

Chewies direction was occasionally confused by the other trekking party on the Glacier but we finally got to the base camp kitchen(four part-walls constructed of rock) after both falling over once where it was hard to discern what was ice, rock or just a hole. We got out our picnic lunch and sat down to eat it. We offered Chewy some of it but he wasn’t interested. We think he may have had a young Yak he’d killed stashed away as he disappeared for a few minutes into a crevice and seemed to loose his apetite afterwards. There we were in the Everest Base camp kitchen looking at the ice field behind it where the climbers faced their first obstacle when leaving here.

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The base camp kitchen.

30 minutes later Drew & Tanya arrived having made it half way up Kala Patthar just before. We celebrated our joint achievement with an array of photos capturing different angles and views of us in the surrounding area. Sylvia however did not like being on the glacier after our fall each and whilst she knew we were relatively safe, found herself feeling uneasy. As Drew & Tanya’s guide seemed keen to get off again, we went with them, which was also a great help to us getting off the Glacier. It is impossible to convey what an experience this was to be at the actual base camp-I hope the photos do it some justice.

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We'd made it to the base camp !!!

That evening Drew shared that he’d had a lot of problems sleeping as well so I told him of the Ibruprofen experience and gave him a few for the night. We both took them and slept fine ! What a strange thing !!

We’d seen what we came for and so it was time to go back down again and that morning we gave ourselves a target for the day of Tengboche, a target shared by Drew & Tanya.

cont'd to descent...........