Everest Base Camp Diary: Part One

Just a few hours after returning safely to Kathmandu from Lukla, I called my parents. Mum asked how the trip was and I broke down into tears. She asked what was wrong, why was I feeling emotional, what had happened?! I wiped the tears away and told her nothing was wrong and told her I’ve never been anywhere so incredible, so beautiful or done anything so challenging in my whole life…

As travellers, we all appreciate getting out into the wild and seeing some of Mother N’s finest work. And to have an experience out there which can push you to tears is a pretty powerful feeling. I’ve been trying to figure out how to tell you guys about this trip, so I’m giving you my personal account with some key facts and pictures I took to document the journey to show you what it’s really like in the remote Khumbu valley. Spanning almost two weeks, there’s heaps to report on, so the blogs are broken down into two easy to read posts straight from my diary. Here’s the first, I hope you enjoy it!

Day 1

Start point: Lukla (2800m)

Finish point: Phakting (2600m)

Km walked: 8km

Hours: 3

Elevation descended: 200m

Showers: 0

We actually arrived in Lukla! After spending about 8 hours in Ramechhap – which is the half way point between Kathmandu and Lukla – because Lukla wasn’t clear to fly into. I actually thought our leader was joking when we had landed and he said we’ll just stop here for a while before flying on to Lukla. Thoughts going through my head at the time…

What?! What do you mean this isn’t Lukla, you’re absolutely joking. I mean, it definitely doesn’t look like how it looks on videos I’ve seen, they’ve re-hauled the runway and it looks far less dangerous than it does on Youtube, even resurfaced the runway and moved it to a more secure place in the valley.

Our leader wasn’t joking. It really wasn’t Lukla.

Then at 14:15pm suddenly it was ON! The pilots turned up and there was a rush as everyone got back on their planes. Flying into Lukla is MENTAL! It actually looks as though you are nosediving into the mountain… then the (very short!) runway goes uphill. Total madness, tiniest plane and most awesome airport I’ve ever been to. Then we hiked for about 3 hours to Phakding where we spent our first night. It was mostly downhill.

Day 2

Start point: Phakting (2600m)

Finish point: Namche Bazaar (3400m)

Km walked: 12km

Hours: 5.5

Elevation ascended: 800m

Showers: 1

Oxygen: 94

Heart rate: 87

Today was cool, we walked across the highest bridge in Nepal which is 150m high! It was pretty awesome. There was a LOT of climbing involved which made it a tough day but we only hiked for about 5.5 hours total. It was 7 hours all up but we had 30 min tea break in the morning and lunch was about 1 hour. We are taking it pretty slowly which is good because we really need to acclimatise as we started off already at altitude at 2800m in Lukla.

Day 3 – acclimatisation day

Start point: Namche (3400m)

Finish point: Namche (3400m)

Km walked: 8km

Hours: 3 (4.5 but we stopped over 30mins at Tenzing Norgay memorial and 1hour at 3800m tea house)

Elevation ascended: up to 3800m and then back down so 400m

Showers: 1

Oxygen: 92

Heart rate: 78

Today was sick, we saw the one and only Mount Everest, Sagamartha herself for the first time! My own naked eyes caught a glimpse of the highest mountain on the planet. A humbling moment. The morning was so clear we could see all the mountains it was mind blowing scenery, just mountains everywhere you looked as you turned 360 degrees! The soundtrack of helicopters as they run constantly up and down the Khumbu Valley. Then the cloud started rolling in by around 11am which is when we were at 3800m on our acclimatisation hike. It was pretty cool, we were IN the clouds. Feeling short of breath on the uphills naturally, but fine coming down at the moment or when we stop so not feeling the affects of the altitude too much just yet.

Day 4

Start point: Namche (3400m)

Finish point: Phortse (3800m)

Km walked: 10.5km

Hours: 6

Elevation ascended: up to 4000m and then back down to 3800m so 400m difference in Phortse from Namche

Showers: 1

Oxygen: 89

Heart rate: 95

Tough day with ups and downs. Started to feel really nauseous tonight. But ate some plain potato chips and felt better… and a few jelly babies. Nearly thought I was going to vom though… welcome to 3800m!

Um yeah it’s starting to get tough. It’s been tough from the start actually with the steep up and downs! The mountains are flippin magnificent!!! The first hour or so was filled with a panorama of Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam. The rhododendrons are freaking gorgeous! We walked through a few forests filled with them today and they take my breath away it’s like foliage from a fairytale. So beautiful! I enjoyed the trail up to lunch at 4000m, there was barely any other tourists on it and the rhododendron forest that made up the first couple of hours turned into stark, arid land with small juniper and thorny bushes.

After lunch, we descended to 3600m down the valley to cross the river, then climbed again through another rhododendron forest before returning to the the arid dry landscape of the hills at 3800m in Phortse. The clouds just whizz past, we are actually in them here. The guy that runs and owns this guest lodge is awesome, Krishna told us he’s summited Everest 9 times and Cho Oyo 12 times AND he came second in the flippin’ Everest marathon. What an absolute LEGEND!

Day 5

Start point: Phortse (4000m)

Finish point: Dingboche (4410m)

Km walked: 12km

Hours: 6 (approx)

Elevation ascended: 400m

Showers: 0

Oxygen: 84

Heart rate: 78

Today was a long day and definitely pretty challenging! But we’ve just arrived in Dingboche, at around 15:15pm and left Phortse at 8am. We can see Ama Dablam peak from our frickin’ bedroom window, and we think this is a good location to hunt for starts tonight eeeek!

Even though we climbed 400m the trail was really up and down, we followed a trail round the side of a hill up the valley after climbing above Phortse. After about 2.5 hours we stopped in a little village for a tea break for about 20 mins before continuing on. We saw Everest again (woo!) but it soon went out of view as we moved closer through the Valley, the view obscured by the Lhotse Tsar (a huge ridge which sits in front of Everest when you look from the direction we were moving in).  Really spectacular scenery and out of this world stuff, like a HUGE landslide area that runs off a glacier just before Dingboche. Had a bit of a headache but a few jelly babies and a ibuprofen, panadol mix sorted it out.

Day 6

Start point: Dingboche (4410m)

Finish point: Dingboche (4410m)

Km walked: 5km

Hours: 3 hours (4 including stops and stop at top to take photographs)

Elevation ascended: 400m acclimatisation hike that took us up to 4800m then back down to 4410m.

Showers: 1

Oxygen: 82

Heart rate: 85

We went on acclimatisation hike today which took us up to 4800m on a ridge above Dingboche. We were surrounded at one point by Griffin Vultures which was just magical! This whole place is starting to overwhelm me with its sheer beauty. There’s snow topped mountains everywhere I look. Feeling good today, taking it slow on the up and a bit faster on the down at the moment.

Day 7

Start point: Dingboche (4410m)

Finish point: Lobuche (4900m)

Km walked: 8km

Hours: 5/6 hours

Elevation ascended: 500m plus an additional 100m that took us to 5000m elevation acclimatisation hike when we arrived in Lobuche.

Showers: 0 (wet wiped)

Oxygen: 77

Heart rate: 88

Where to start with today, I don’t even know. It barely feels like we’ve hiked mainly because I was distracted on the hike EVERYWHERE I LOOKED.

It all started in the middle of the night last night when Mark woke me up at 00:30am to show me the stars. They were incredible, right outside our window. So with that I got up and we attempted to take some long exposures. Then just after I’d got warm again and got back to sleep(which took flippin ages) this ROARING thunder broke out around 3am. It sounded and FELT like we were inside the thunder storm. Looking outside there was cloud everywhere, and then the brightest lightening I’ve ever seen! It lit up the whole room. The thunder moved away much quicker than it does when you have a thunderstorm at sea level. But then suddenly it was back and felt like we were inside the storm again. It was madness. We woke up in the morning to falling snow and a snow covered valley. Which is why the whole hike was even more spectacular… and why I was so distracted with the beauty of it all!

Then there was the part of the hike where we reached around 4900m and the incredible and moving memorial site for those who have lost their lives on Mount Everest. It was a really moving moment for me, after reading Everest literature, suddenly you see the memorial for those characters that were in your books. It makes it all come to life. A harsh reminder of the risk anyone who climbs Mount Everest takes. We saw the stupa for Scott Fisher and Rob Hall. It was pretty emotional for me, not just the site itself but remembering how most of these people won’t even have been laid to rest. We met a guy in Ramachaap who has summited Everest before, he said how he’d seen Scott Fishers body. Still up where he passed away, his face like a china doll, just crouched in the snow and frozen. And not just the reminder of the harsh environment but together with that, looking around, surrounded by giants, huge mountains towering above me everywhere I look. A barren, bleak but oh-so beautiful landscape. A reminder of how small we are against nature’s giants and a reminder to be humble and let yourself be humbled. It’s frighteningly beautiful. It scares me that I might never see something this incredibly beautiful again in my life. It scares me that this might be the best of the best, the biggest most humbling and highest mountain range in the entire world. Will anything ever come close to the overwhelming beauty of this again? I mean, what can top the top of the world?

So here we are, at 4900m in Lobuche. Tomorrow is the day we go to THE Everest Base Camp. We’ve already had an acclimatisation hike today, up to 5000m. I’m feeling better now but when we arrived I felt incredibly spaced out with a headache. I still have a small niggling headache but me and mark are going to try rehydration sachets first before we give in to more ibuprofen or painkillers. I’ve prepared my gear for tomorrow and put my clothes under my sleeping bag to keep them warm while I sleep. It’s getting cold and the wind is pretty harsh. I’m excited about tomorrow. I feel like it will be a slow slog to BC but I know I got it, I’m feeling positive.

To be continued…

Everest Base Camp Diary: Part Two

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