My Trek to Everest Base Camp
Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world, standing at 8,848 metres above sea level. It is part of a large range of mountains in the Himilayas including Lhotse (8,516m) and Nuptse (7,855m). It is known to the locals as Sagamartha, and for Christmas I had decided I was going to trek to the Everest Base Camp.
There are two Base Camps, on opposite sides of the mountain, one on the north side in Tibet, and the other on the south in Nepal. They are used as the base for climbers to begin their ascent to the top of Everest, from the north to the northeast ridge and from the south to the southeast ridge. They also provide some amazing views and an incredible trek to the base camp.
Although the actual climb to the peak of Mount Everest is not too demanding on skill, it's the altitude that can be a real killer. Mount Everest alone has claimed over 200 lives, even trekking to the base camp can be dangerous if warning signs of altitude sickness are not heeded.
So this was going to be my adventure. 12 days of hard trek just to get to the base camp, I've been to Nepal before and know it quite well so decided I would head out from a base I already felt familiar with.
Having been to Kathmandu several times previously I didn't feel it necessary to tour it again, but I had a free day before I started the trek and to be honest, there's always more to find in this city it would appear! I couldn't possibly count all the shrines and temples I have seen when wandering around, but with a real mixture of religions around Kathmandu there's something to amaze everyone. The first thing I did in the morning was to find a rooftop restaurant to get a good picture. But it's also so good from the ground with lots of winding streets and alleyways, involve yourself in the hustle and bustle and enjoy the wide variety of shops with home made products.
The next morning I took a short scenic flight to Lukla (2,860m). It's incredibly quick to fly there and is a great place to start the trek from, you are rising in altitude but not too much and a quick trek that day takes you closer to sea level for a nights sleep in one of the many local lodges - otherwise known as teahouses in this region; before another day of trekking. My night in this first teahouse was actually spent watching 'Into Thin Air: Death On Everest'. Great film but perhaps not the most appropriate!
Base Camp Trek
From here we started trekking, day in day out. For the large part of every day we walked, taking in the ever changing scenery from long winding rivers surrounded by fir and pine trees, before starting our first major ascent to Namche (3,440m) where you suddenly get a real feeling of the Himalayas and all around you are mountain peaks. In Namche they have the most fabulous bazaar so you can buy all your last minute warm clothes at incredible prices before making your final attempt at ascending to base camp. But don't worry, this will take many more days yet!
From Namche we took a day off to climatise to the altitude. Although you may think this means a day of rest it doesn't, it actually means that we took a day of trekking up into the mountains once again for the day before heading back down to Namche for the night. It's hard work as you suddenly climb a lot higher above sea level than you've been before, and oxygen is getting thinner all the time which makes every step that little harder. But it makes going back up again the next day a little easier. Plus it also gives you some great views!
Thyangboche, Lhotse and Nuptse
I was now heading up and up, heading towards Thyangboche (3,867m) where they have the most beautiful monastery,but also some of the best views of the Lhotse and Nuptse peaks. It was after dinner that evening I was relaxing outside the teahouse for a moment as the sun went down and the dark quickly came in that I managed to capture my favourite image of the trip. It's the two peaks of Lhotse and Nuptse with their snowy caps glowing in the light as dark came down around us all and captured an incredibly special moment for me. There were lots of moments like this on the trip but this was one I will always remember.
The way to Everest Base Camp
From here on in the landscape has changed as it becomes a lot colder and the scenery more barren. The oxygen level gets lower and lower and everything becomes a lot tougher. But my breath was still taken away more than anything by the sights.
You will come across some very sobering areas as well. The stones laid out are memorials for all those that have been lost on the mountain. There are some large memorials for the likes of Scott Fischer but the rest are just small memorials to those lives lost by the hundreds of people who have failed to come back down from Everest.
Kala Patthar and Everest Base Camp
Then once again the scenery changes as we're really getting closer to the top of our trek now. And it's getting colder, some nights near Everest Base Camp it's cooling to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. I trekked up to Kala Patthar (5,643m), which means 'black rock' in Nepali, and this was incredibly hard work as it's very steep and at the altitude oxygen levels are down to less than 50% the levels at sea level.
And here is the proof I made it all that way!
And that dark peak is the peak of Mount Everest. It eludes me so far but one day I hope to go the next step and reach the top. One day!
But after this I just had the very long walk home again, but all in all it was definitely worth it for every moment of scenery, landscape and views that will forever be lodged in my sweetest memories. I just hope I've managed to share some of the wonder with you.