Sunday 28 October 2012

Dingboche to Everest Base Camp

19/10/2012 Dingboche to Thukla

Another short day and awake around 6:45 and on the trail by 8:00 after breakfast. Again we climb the hill behind Dingboche to the stupa which takes 15 mins and cross into the wide valley turning out backs on Ama Dablam, heading deeper into the Khumbu.

From here the the trail is pretty easy going and heads over a relatively flat valley, after 1.5 hours we see Thukla on the other side of the river that flows from the bottom of the Khumbu Glacier.

We drop down to a small metal bridge and cross the river and make the final 5 min walk to Thukla. The whole walk has only taken 1 hour 40 mins. The place only has one tea house/restaurant. We are to stop here tonight rather than heading up higher to Lobuche as it is getting quite busy with other trekking groups going up and down to Everest Base Camp.

The rest of the day is spent resting and talking to other trekkers.

20/10/2012 Thukla to Lobuche

It was hard to get out of bed this morning for 2 reasons:

  1. It was a cold night and my sleeping bag was warm and cosy. The thought of leaving this cocoon was unthinkable.
  2. The other reason was that I had done the sleeping bag zip fully up and cinched all the draw cords tight making it difficult to find my way out. I was trapped!!!

I was finally driven out by the need to go to the loo, it was 5:30.

After breakfast we waited for the sun to creep down the hillside and hit the trail we would be walking on, we left at 7:45. It's nicer to walk in the sun.

The initial part of the trail was all uphill, Pasang said that this section normally takes an hour, so we were both surprised when we reached the top in 35 mins. At the top, there are numerous stone memorials to climbers who have lost their lives pursuing their dreams on Everest and other Himalayan mountains. Quite a humbling place. We take a 15 min rest then continue on the now flat trail to Lobuche. We arrive at 9:20, only 1 hour 35 mins after setting out. This normally takes 2 to 2.5 hours, I must be getting fitter!

We check in to the tea house and I find an Internet cafe to send birthday greetings to my long suffering and very understanding girlfriend. I cannot call home or send a text as I have no phone signal.

21/10/2012 Lobuche to Gorak Shep (inc Everest Base Camp)

Early start today and we leave Lobuche at 6:45. The trail is initially very easy as the path follows the valley that has been carved out by the Khumbu Glacier. The sun has not yet hit the path, but we can see it in the distance. When we reach the sun it warms my body making it easier to move, I can dispense with my gloves. Also at this point I cross over the 5000m mark, the air is cold, thin and dry. My lungs are screaming out for more oxygen and my thigh muscles are burning, due to the fact I only have 50% of the oxygen than I do at sea level.

One hour and 15 mins into the day the trail changes and the hard work begins with a steep climb up the moraine, the piles of rubble left behind by the glacier. We cross one hill after another which saps my energy quickly. Finally we reach Gorak Shep after 2.5 hours. This will be be only night of the trip that I will be sleeping above 5000m above sea level.

We take a 30 min rest drinking some tea and getting some snacks, we are heading up to Everest Base Camp (EBC). From Gorak Shep we head past a frozen lake then up on to the moraine that flanks the mighty Khumbu Glacier, in the distance I can see some tiny orange tents of the few expeditions that are attempting to climb Everest. The moraine seems to go on forever, undulating and rocky. Eventually the path descends sharply onto the glacier itself, after 20 mins of walking on the glacier we reach some prayer flags that signify the start of Base Camp at 5364m.

I take some photos, eat some snacks and collect some mementoes (rocks). By now the wind is starting to pick up, so after some final glances at the icefall we turn around and head for "home". The return trip to base camp from Gorak Shep has taken 3:45, which is pretty quick. It was such a privilege to be able to visit such a place it's pretty cold and bleak, but all the same it's the bottom of the the top of the world!

For the remainder of the day I rest up and call home to send birthday greetings. Great to hear a voice from home, which makes me a bit homesick.

Tomorrow is a massive day....


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