As many people who I surround myself with know. I have recently set myself a challenge of reaching Everest base camp. Not only for my own bucket list so to speak but also in aid of a fantastic cause. Cancer Research UK. I have not only managed to reach base camp set at 5,364 meters or 17,598 ft as Americans out it. I have also managed to raise a significant amount of money for the charity as well. Of which brings me even more satisfaction that you can imagine.
Here is the link if you would like to donate to the fantastic cause… gotta try right! https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claudia-bett
In this blog posting I will go through the days of my experience of the trip and guide you through the highlights as well as the lowlights of my time in Nepal. The experiences I had on the Everest base camp trek in as much detail as I can will follow. Plus lots of pictures for you too… I did my trip though a company call G adventures and after my experience with them I would strongly recommend them – especially if you get Geli and Pemba, they were fantastic guides.
Day 1. Flying into Kathmandu
All packed up and ready to go. The excitement was really setting in as I sorted the last of my things before I was completely set and ready to head off. The flight was set to take off from Heathrow in the evening so I thought that I would have plenty of time to get there. Traffic on the M25 however had other plans. Having found that there was not one, but three crashes on the motorways on route from my home in Norfolk up to the airport terminal. My relaxing time at the airport was rapidly vanishing before my eye. With one hour before take off I made it to the terminal two to rush to the check in desk, drop my bag and run through security without a backwards glance.
Having made it to the gate I walked straight onto the plane heading to Mumbai. Not such a good start to my trip but I made it. What else could you ask for after all. Once arriving in Mumbai airport, the second leg of the journey had been delayed by an hour so I had a while to get myself some food at the airport before heading to my gate. This was a mistake. I just didn’t know it yet…
Walked to the gate after grabbing something to munch on at the airport to find I was yet again one of the last to arrive at the gate. Having found my seat and made myself comfortable for the second flight as it was about full. An airport official came to find me to inform me that my bag hadn’t been put onto the plane due to the bag having been found containing a portable power pack within. At this point, the trip had not gone smoothly at all. He told me that it would be put onto the next flight to Kathmandu arriving at 1pm. Annoying as it was, I wasn’t worried about it, and figured I would just hang about at the airport and collect it from the next flight as it came in. Easy.
Only it didn’t happen that way at all. Once I landed I went to the luggage problem desk to find out that it was not arriving that day because there is only one flight from Mumbai each day. A detail that the airport official left out of the information that was passed onto me.
So there I was standing in the airport being told that my trip to Everest base camp was going to be without all my carefully preplanned items. Fantastic.
Once I had arrived at the Fuji hotel in Thamel, the tourist area of Kathmandu. I spoke to my guide who would be leading the trekking trip into the heart of the Himalayas, Gelu. He reassured me that the likelihood would be that they could get the bag to me… but also told me that if they were not able to get the back to catch up to the group by the time we left Namche Bazaar, that I would just have to continue with what ever items that I bought down in Kathmandu. Not what I wanted to hear.
Having heard this I collected a few things from Kathmandu that I wouldn’t have been able to continue without – aka more underwear, socks and an extra top. Praying that the bag would make it to Namche Bazaar in time.
Day 2. Lukla to Phadkding
Day two of the trip or day one of trekking. We started early to catch a flight from Kathmandu into one of, if not the worlds most dangerous airport, Lukla.
Our flight was delayed as a result of the viability and rainfall that was occurring at Lukla. This didn’t full us with encouragement. If the plane wasn’t going due to a bit of rain, how scary was the plane. Would it not hold us up in the fast changing climate of the mountains. It was fine however, around 8.30am we had take off. Only two hours late, landing in Lukla to a cloudy but rain free runway was something that all of us were able to breath a sigh of relief at.
After we had refuelled with a hearty breakfast we started the first leg of what was to be a very long walk uphill. The first day we didn’t cover much distance as it was only day one and we were getting into the rhythm of what we had signed up to do for the next two weeks. A nice four hour walk travelling a total of 7.09 miles (11.4 km). The views were breathtaking from the very beginning with animals coming from all over the scenery. Even though the clouds kept threatening to rain, I was ok as a result of my bright yellow poncho (or jelly bean suit as I like to think of it).
Day 3. Phadkding to Namche Bazaar
This day was where the first test was. Up and out of the tea house we were staying 8am. The day consisted of a lot of up and down hills. This was annoying for everyone involved especially as we were also getting rained on. Moral wasn’t at its highest on day three of the trip as a result of the weather. We even at one point reached the first view point of Mt Everest, only not to see it due to the rain storm that we were in the middle of. Being told that you can “usually see Everest here” wasn’t what we wanted to hear at all. Especially as the forecast wasn’t looking good for the entire two weeks of our trip it was not good. Mother nature wasn’t in any of our good books at this point in the trip.
Day 4. Acclimatisation day 1
Day 4 was the first day of sunshine. We could really see the magnitude of the Himalayas now. This just built up our excitement for the grand finally of seeing the worlds biggest and most talked about mountain. Although we visited a view point on our day of climbing up to come back down again we still were not able to view Everest. Mother nature was hiding her greatest gem for later it would seem. There were however, lots of sexy mountains for us to see now so we were not disappointed with the views as we walked to a high point, reaching 3860 meters (12,664 ft).
Today my bag arrived!! Hurrah! After a fast re-packing of the duffel bag that we each were given to put the 10kg of possessions that we could take on the trip with us, that the porters carried. I was ready to cease the day! The sunshine was out as well which just made my mood go through the roof. All my things back, sunshine out, and off to a new location. Today was going to be a good day from the moment I awoke.
We walked for five hours up to Tengboche along a really scenic pathway that allowed us to even see Everest for the first time. Even though it looked tiny, hidden behind the ridge of another mountain called Nuptse. So all we could see was the tiny little peak of the largest mountain in the world but that didn’t matter. We were still so excited to have finally seen it with our own eyes!
Once we had arrived at Tengboche we had one of the best hot chocolates I’ve had in a long time at the place that we were staying – Tashi Delek Lodge. Once we had warmed up a little we headed out to the monetary to have a little tour and an education about the Buddhist monks and their way of life. We learned that the pray flags represent the elements and had to be hung in the order blue (water), white (air), red (fire), green (plants) and yellow (earth) from North to South when they were hung. They also have to exceed the age of the person who is hanging them. For example I would have to hang more than 23 flags up, as I am currently 23 years old.
Day 6. Tengboche to Dingboche
Sleeping at Tengboche was not as nice as one had hoped for. We were rudely awoken by the sound of dogs barking in the early hours of the morning. This then was accompanied by the sound of the monks donging of the drums to signify the start of the service at the monastery. The service was an open one so that the tourists were able to sit in and see the proceedings. They sat in meditation and were chanting whilst we were trying not to choke on all the incense that was being burnt around us. Once our spiritual encounter was over we headed back to the hotel to grab some breakfast before head off on the days walk.
We all started on this day to gather resentment for the downhill parts of the trek. Where there was a downhill we then found there would be an extra large uphill to counter it. This was not only annoying for me in particular as a result of the effects of the altitude was hitting me a little more than everyone else. I had a splitting headache all day whist we were walking which was less than ideal. It also made it significantly harder as a result of the diminishing trees that were around the trail. We were heading up and over 4,000 meters (13,123 ft), which in turn resulted in the tree line being behind us on the landscape. This left us open to the wind and rain with little to no cover. Also didn’t help as it started to snow while we were in the final stages of walking to the hotel.
I was extremely grateful to have this acclimatisation day as it allowed my body to catch up with the altitude that we were staying at (4,330 meters / 14,206 ft). I felt a million times better first thing, clearly my blood cell count was upped over night so that it could manage in the thinner air. Today we walked up a hill that was going to be the start of the route the day after. We did go significantly higher than we needed to go tomorrow on the hill however in order to get our bodies used to being close to the 5,000 meter mark. We had a really casual walk up in the sunshine to 4, 700 meters (15,419 ft)where had a little rest stop and a chat whist we were perched on some rocks.
In the afternoon, Stephen and I set out on a yak hunt in order to get the perfect yak selfie. I think that we manage fairly well overall!
Day 8. Dingboche to Lobuche
The walk on the way to Lobuche wasn’t too bad as it wasn’t that steep it was more gradual than we have previously done. That being said it was really starting to show on a few of the group, they were beginning to struggle much more than they had previously. Once we arrived at the tea house that we were staying at, a few of us did an extra walk to breach 5,000 meters (16,404 ft). The trails and the landscape of the ground that surrounds us has changed so much since the start of the trek, it almost resembles another planet once you get above the tree line. Dust has managed to get everywhere, each night we have to give ourselves a wet wipe shower. The amount of dust and dirt that had managed to get everywhere on us was remarkable and made you crave a hot shower even more than we already did.
Today we also reached the memorials to all of the climbers who have lost their lives on Mt Everest. It was really impressive given that so many people had lost their lives yet still there are more people wanting to reach the summit of it anyway. The memorials were for both the Sherpa’s as well as foreigners all were given equal standing at this place which is something that I really liked. The memorials were made up of piles of rocks surrounded with prayer flags and they had a plaque on to inform people who it was in remembrance of and when it took place.
We are also running out of options on the food menus by this point. Having eaten dahl bhat, the traditional mountain meal, almost every evening and some form of vegetarian rice/noodle dish. It has to be said that the food is not going to be winning any awards.
Day 9. Base Camp day!
Base camp day started very early indeed. 6am out the door and off on the first leg of the day to reach the Buddha lodge where we will be staying the night. This meant that we went straight out the door, had our two and a half hour walk to the lodge then a break to have breakfast. Once we had devoured our food it was time. The moment we had all be waiting for. Time to make our way to the base of Mt Everest. The walk itself wasn’t too bad, we just followed the tail end of the glacier around to where the Khumbu glacier originated from. When we reached base camp Gelu had organised for the porters to bring a couple of pastries up with them and some hot chocolate in order to have a little celebration. The celebration was not only for the fact that all 12 members of the group made it up to base camp but also because it was Kirsten and Sophie’s birthdays that day. They both described it as the best and the worst birthdays that they have had. Which made me laugh.
We stayed at base camp for around 20 minuets before heading back down to the Buddha Lodge for the evening of rest and recuperation.
I even took a little memento back from base camp – a rock, which will now be a paper weight reminder that I made it!
Day 10. Kala Patthar peak
This was the day which I was so close to giving up. It is ridiculous how much harder than heading to base camp. I knew it was higher in altitude but I don’t think I fully knew the difference that it would make to me physically. The walk itself was also very deceiving, it would present itself as being high and when you thought you reached the top you were in for a nasty surprise. Not only was it not the top, but we had an even steeper part to scramble up next or as Pemba put it “the second top”. It isn’t the top unless there is no more but not in Nepal apparently. Once we finally made it up to the second top with the help of Pemba taking my bag as well as Kirsten’s, otherwise I don’t think that we would have made it all the way. We sat on a rock attempting to catch our breath before heading up to the top of the final rock that is situated at the top for some pictures. Otherwise who would believe us that we made it. I wouldn’t after doing it. I am proud to say that I was one of three who made it to the top of Kala Patthar, and I won’t be repeating the experience any time soon.
The 360° view was well worth the mental and physical struggle it took to get up there. This was all done in the time before our 8am breakfast. I don’t think I have ever achieved so much in a day before the first meal of the day – especially as I am a big breakfast gal.
Needless to say it was amazing, plus we got to have the best views of Everest from the top!
So after all of the excitement back down we walked to have breakfast before starting the five hours of walking back down to Lukla airport again.
Over all I had a fantastic time and would recommend it to anyone who would like to give it a go. All I would say is, don’t think that it is going to be easy. Not by any stretch of the imagination.
Here are a few stats for you to get a feel of just how far we went on our little walk, up a very big hill.