Jiri to Everest Base Camp…What’s It Really Like? (Part 2)

P1000461 (2).JPGSo here I was, about to embark on the rest of my journey. The bit where I get to test myself further, the cold, the altitude, the terrain. The bit where I actually get to be as up, close and personal to Everest as I possibly can (without climbing her that is…but that’s for another day I think 😉 ). I was basically about to be blown away…

Day 9: Phakding to Namche Bazaar

I woke up today feeling so excited…I was about to reach Namche Bazaar! I mean geez…I’ve read about this place and I’ve see the pictures and I’ve seen it on documentaries… now I was about to be in that place! To little old me…this feels epic! Try to set little goals, to divide your time and to feel excited for each little section. If you start each day with the approach of “got to get to base camp, must get to base camp” – this trek is going to seem like a long arsed haul! – and you don’t want that. You want to enjoy each day and as many moments as possible. My excitement today was heading to Namche…. and what a happy little start it was. As you leave Phakding you’ll cross a little swing bridge over a river. This morning I had a puppy sized package come to wave me off over that bridge (if puppies could wave that is). This cute little thing came running up to me and walked with me to the bridge before sadly I had to say goodbye to him and cross. I could hear his gorgeous little puppy barks as I walked further away from him.

The hike from Phakding to Namche is a somewhat lengthy and gruelling one. For me though I am enjoying seeing a change of environment. The scenery was definitely different, narrower. More alpine valleys and higher, longer, swing bridges. There are people as well now folks! Yup, actually people! I mean you’ll have met and passed by a few hikers up til now for sure, but mainly they’ll have been sporadic in their presence and they’ll more than likely have been solo hikers or hikers on a different route or agenda. The main difference now is that you’ll start seeing the big groups, all with their fresh looking attire and gear that they’d have recently bought and checked off their list (I had succumbed to looking a bit like a ragamuffin by this point!) Oddly, instead of feeling uncomfortable with all this new and sudden life around me, I actually took solace in seeing these people, all with their own stories and reasons to be here, and with their own challenges ahead of them. The mum and dad with their barely turned teenager son at the start of their great family adventure towards Everest. The group with people from all nationalities, accidentally thrown together to share in this journey; strangers at the start, an unbreakable connection by the end. In a way we were all here sharing in this together. Still happy to be in just my own company though and with no particular desire to go up and talk with any of them, instead I just hiked past and enjoyed being able to observe them from my own little world.

You’ll have a TIMS check point and a Sagamartha National Park permit check point to pass through today… oh and you’ll also have about a zillion steps to walk up and down!! Somewhere along the way you’ll stop for lunch. Enjoy this break! Because the second half of your day is a bit of an ouch.

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Lunch stop for the day. Sherpa’s and porters carry their heavy packs.

Ooooh ‘dem steps! At the bottom of the valley you’ll walk along besides the Dudh Kosi river for a short while (Dudh meaning milk. The ‘milk’ river.) You’ll then find yourself face to face at the bottom of that mountain side you now need to climb. Just one foot in front of the other folks, just one foot in front of the other. 

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Dudh Kosi River

You’ll probably see a familiar sight as you’re scaling these steps. We’ve all seen those iconic images of the two swing bridges that hang high up over our heads. Well this is where you get to see them and cross them. (Sometimes it’s the little things in life that get’s us through huh!)

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Crossing the bridge. Apologies for the poor quality, I realise some of these images are extremely lacking. A lot of the time I was too absorbed by my surroundings to be worrying about taking pictures. My bad I know.

 

 From here you’re home sailing. Namche is insight. One more check point to cross and then in you go.

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The view from outside the guest house I was staying in. It’s a world of snow capped mountains from here on in.

What a buzz! This mountain village has all those little home comforts that you would have started missing by now nine days into your trek. Silly things like, hot showers, wifi, coffee shops – yes folks…there is a starbucks. There’s even an Irish pub! (Of course there’s an Irish pub…there’s always an Irish pub!) Not only this but Namche is your first of two acclimatisation stops…so here is now home for two nights. You can have a lay in! Go on… treat yourself 😉

Facetimed my sister this afternoon and spoke to her and mum. Started crying. Standard. 

Day 10: Namche Bazaar Acclimatisation Day

So after my yummy dinner of fried potatoes and fried eggs last night (generally no sarcasm meant there – it really was good!) I was eager to sit and enjoy my morning tea and breakfast, knowing that the day really was mine. The only duty of the day really was to take a hike up to ‘Everest viewing point.’ Now, I’m not entirely sure that the title of this afternoons agenda had fully sunk in with me yet as I almost didn’t even bother going! So much so that I ended up doing the walk in just my flipflops after I’d just popped out for a bit!’

“Wow, hiking in your flip flops? Hardcore!” I had thrown in my direction a few times…

“Nope… just a bit of an idiot is all!” 

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Flip flops and mountains, Oh my! Namche in the bottom right hand corner.

So I have a few great moments in my life that have stuck with me; Surprising my Dad at Orlando airport, him and Heather were on the last section of their America trip and he hadn’t known I was flying out to spend it with them. The look on his face as he clocked me at the airport was incredible! Frozen on the spot for about 30 seconds looking at me, I could see his brain desperately trying to process the situation, until acceptance finally kicked in that yes…that’s Jenni. Seeing my nephew after three months away as I opened the door to him at our apartment in Turkey. Things like this. Special moments. And now, as I reached the top of our steep climb up towards Everest viewing point, turning a corner to see Everest right there in front of me… this guys, this is a moment that I honest to God had simply not prepared myself for.

It might be clear to you by now that I was an emotionally unhinged person throughout this trek. Happy tears, grateful tears, tears of frustration, tears because my body just didn’t know how else to respond (you’re seeing so many new things and encountering so many new experiences that you have no conscious response system to those things yet!) So it won’t come as a huge surprise to you that the first thing I did after walking around that corner and seeing Everest for the first time was to jump up and squeal with excitement, only to then land back on my feet and simultaneously burst into tears.

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Panorama of mountains seen from viewing point. Everest the small triangular peak hiding behind Nuptse…

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Here’s a close up of her. The peak without all the clouds.

There are just no words to describe it, I mean… it’s the highest point in the ENTIRE world! Everything else sits below, nothing else sits above (outside of space of course). I’ve been fascinated by this mountain since I was a little girl. I would read about her and learn her facts from the kids geography book that I used to have. I sat there for what felt like some time just by myself.

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Taking some moments to myself.

So yeah, I would like to think that today will be a pretty momentous day for you. Enjoy it 🙂

Day 11: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche

You know how I’ve been saying throughout these posts that you need to eat well and choose your food wisely? Well, I say that from experience. Today I chose my lunch very unwisely and I massively paid for it on the second half of the day. The half that, by the way, is a total shitter of a climb!

Eager to get your hiking boots back on and onto the next stage of your journey you’ll start your morning with a slight spring in your step… That spring however will quickly start to cease up and rust as you’re faced with a hundred steps just getting you out of Namche! Once you’re out of the village though, and for the most part of your mornings trek, you’re then facing that incredible panorama of mountains you’d have seen yesterday at view point. Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Ama Dablam, amongst others, keeping you company as you carry on your journey towards them. I had perfect blue skies and a warm sun over me and I couldn’t help feeling like one of the luckiest people alive.

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Clouds coming from the peak of Everest today.

The walk will take you around the ridge of a mountain side with views expanding out over the lower hills towards the beautiful beasts that lay ahead of you. After a while you’ll start to notice your surroundings have changed and you’re now walking through some pretty wooded areas which will eventually start to descend quite steeply towards the bottom of the valley. Cross a swing bridge over the Dudh Koshi river and stop for lunch in Phungkitengka village. A couple of days ago on the walk from Phakding to Namche we had got chatting to and befriended a hiker from South Korea, Jinho, and his guide, Shiva. So the four of us sat for lunch overlooking the Dudh Koshi river in the sun.

“I’ll have a tuna and cheese sandwich with homemade chips please”

Even as I was giving my order I was like… ‘don’t do this Jen!’ But my incredible lack of will power and my intense love of a tuna and cheese melt override any warnings my brain was desperately trying to send my way…

…and so I ordered it anyway, and so I ate it.

Lunch over and steep climb towards Tengboche commenced.

Instant regret!

I mean, even without a full and heavy stomach, anyone will tell you that this hike up towards Tengboche is one of the toughest ones you’ll have! Now on top of that I was getting stitches and cramps from having eaten such a heavy meal. It was not fun and was actually probably the worst time that I’d had throughout the trek. Stupid really how a lunch can have so much of a negative reaction! A two hour hike in the scorching heat up a steep incline, with stitches! Don’t do it guys… the tuna cheese melt just ain’t worth it!!

Ah, life lessons.

Once you reach Tengboche, at an altitude of nearly 3900m, for one you’ll just be so happy to have arrived and that the pain is over! But mostly you’ll just be struck by how different the terrain up here looks, Everest sitting pretty much right there in front of you. You’re entering barren landscapes now. You’re entering a different side to the majestic Himalayan mountain range.

Your afternoon will probably be spent checking out the Tengboche monastery. You might go to watch the monks praying, watching at the side as though you’re watching a play. I stayed only a few moments. I felt that our presence there, the presence of an onlooker, was making a spectacle of what should be such a private and personal time. I don’t practice buddhism and I’m not particularly religious, so I didn’t understand what the purpose of my being there was. Instead I took a little hike up past my lodge and sat there looking out over the views. To me that is a much more spiritual encounter than watching from the side lines as monks sit and pray. My opinion folks, doesn’t mean it has to be everyones.

Tonight I had my first, and only, possible effect to the altitude. Nothing major, it just started off with a small headache in the early evening which got progressively worse over dinner and our obligatory game of cards. Then tiredness, such a heavy tiredness came over me. I had to go to bed. I drank some ginger tea and had a chat with my guide who helped bring my rapidly growing anxiety of “this is it… I’m guna get hit by the altitude” at ease again. He helped put everything back into perspective. Reminding me to stick to that oh so important ‘good psychology.’ It’s true what they say…once you get one negative thought in your head it is quickly followed by ten more! I drank my tea, took a nurofen, and rest my head. I was comfortable and warm. The words from my guide kept me positive.

The next day I woke up feeling normal again. Let’s get this show on the road…

Day 12: Tengboche to Dingboche

I woke up and pulled open my curtains…

“Oh hello and good morning to you Mount Everest” – I had to pinch myself that I was sleeping with the mightiest of Gods beside me. What a way to start your day.

Your hike this morning will be predominantly down hill. You’ll walk across the plateau and then down towards the river once again. It’s a nice walk through the trees (try not to think about the fact you’ll be having to hike back up this path on your return 😉 ) until eventually you’re crossing the river and scrambling your way back up again on the other side (ya know – what goes up must come down…and it works both ways). Cut your way across and up the side of this valley and then take rest and lunch in Shomare village.

It ain’t a bad place to stop folks! Trust me when I say… the views could be worse! Check it out…

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Ama Dablam joins you for lunch today

You see what I mean by the blue skies! But once you start with those damn climbs (I mean who the hell knew there would be so much uphill trekking to be done when hiking towards Everest eh) and you’re cursing the soul of the miscreant who put you here – Oh hang on a sec…that was me!! God dammit I hate myself! – that sun soon starts to become your sworn enemy! So folks, don’t forget your sunblock, sunglasses, headscarf/hat/buff!

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Buffin’ it up!

You’ll be pleased to know that I had a much healthier lunch today…no stodge insight! Proud eh 😉

So once you’ve mentally prepared yourself to get up and get going again – it’s always hard once you’ve done the deadly…’sitting of down’ – and you’ve unstiffened your stiffened body, off you’ll go. Now, I quite liked this walk. Yes there was some uphill, yes this of course pissed me off…but really this was all just old hat by now. Each passing day was just a running repeat of up, down, straight, up again, straight again, maybe a little down again if you’re lucky…but don’t get too excited of the down coz you just know that whatever down you get you just gotta come back up it again! This stuff just passes you by and it becomes monotonous. It’s the surroundings though that continue to bedazzle and to change. After your lunch today you will start to notice that you’re not in Kansas anymore Toto. The landscapes as you head towards Dingboche begin to become larger, barren, epic! You’ll walk across large empty land, scaling higher. White peaked giants seem closer than they were. Things are changing. It’s exciting:

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Mount ‘Nuptse’ – and you know wherever there’s Nuptse there’s Everest hiding right behind her

It’s not too long before you look across and there laying ahead of you is Dingboche. Your mountain home for the next couple of nights. Your second acclimatisation day pit stop. Time to get comfortable. Thank god they have a bakery’s here!

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Dingboche Village. You’re now sitting at 4410m altitude.

After I’d arrived and I’d had my obligatory cup of hot masala tea to balance my sugar levels out again, there’s honestly nothing quite like that first cup of hot tea after you’ve finished your day of hiking, I took a little stroll by myself with my phone and headphones. I found a quiet spot (although everywhere here is pretty quiet) and listened to some music. I can never quite listen to the theme tune of the Bourne films in the same way again, without thinking about these:

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To the left….

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…to the right.

Day 13: Dingboche Acclimatisation Day

Last night, whilst sat around the wood burner, I got to to chatting with some other hikers on their own journeys. A girl from Canada about my age, she was trekking with just her guide and porter. Two guys from Florida in their mid-twenties, trekking just the two of them. Really nice folk that for the remainder of our time in the mountains would all keep bumping into each other, encouraging each other. None of us interested in forming a group, but all of us keen to see the other do well. All of them had flown into Lukla, starting their trek already at the elevation of over 2800m. Waking up the next morning, two of them, the Canadian girl and one of the American boys, had been hit by the altitude. Smack! Fatigue, headaches, nausea. We’re at high altitude now folks so this kinda thing starts to get a lot more real.

There’s no real need to panic though, you know your bodies, you can tell if there is something that doesn’t feel right. It happens to some but not all, don’t be assuming that it will definitely happen to you though okay. If it does, then that’s okay too. You have an acclimatisation day here so, like these guys did, just rest. Eat the correct foods, ginger, garlic, get those soups down you, and then more than likely you’ll start to feel better again. If you have the energy take a small walk up to a higher altitude and then come back down again. This will help you to acclimatise.

I strongly believe that the reason I didn’t particularly suffer with the altitude is because I had walked in from Jiri. It helps you to acclimatise, and it helps to put your mind at peace. If I had flown into Lukla at an already high altitude, I fear that my bout of anxiety (I never even knew I could have anxiety before this little jaunt into the mountains!) may have gotten the better of me. Who knows. Maybe I need to go back and do it the other way so I can compare. You see, I like to believe that I have quite a strong mind, but also through this experience I’ve learned that sometimes it’s not until you’ve done something does it then have the power to create that strength and confidence of mind. Point being, it’s okay to go into something feeling a little fearful, unsure. It helps you to respect the situation. Then with every small accomplishment you’re able to achieve, with every day you’re able to push through, something happens… Those small accomplishments roll into big accomplishments, that day you’ve pushed through becomes two days, three days, and before you know it you’ve done the whole damn thing. You’ve grown stronger! You’ve learned new skills. You’ve learned new capabilities. It’s actually a pretty cool feeling.

Anyhoo, I digress…

So yes, today is acclimatisation day. The agenda for the day is to walk to Nangkartshang Peak that sits at just over 5000m. I didn’t do it all. I walked about two thirds of the way until I reached a rock that…well if rocks could have names on them then this one would have had mine on it! A gorgeous spot in the sun overlooking just a ridiculous amount of mountains protruding into the sky. I took my day pack off, put on my earphones and sat back. I clapped my hands in rhythm on my legs and swayed my head in the direction of the sun as the sweet sounds of Otis Redding’s ‘Sitting on the top of the bay’ filled my body. It was a good moment.

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You can see Dingboche down at the bottom.

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You just seriously cannot get enough of looking at these mountains!

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A front row seat to Ama Dablam. One of the most iconic and photographed mountains in the world

Back down I went to a long day of doing not a whole lot.

Where’s that bakery…???

Day 14: Dingboche to Lobuche

You’ve probably started noticing a lot of villages with ‘che’ at the end of the word. Well, I had noticed, and so I asked…

“What does the ‘che’ mean?”

“It means ‘hidden village'” – was the answer I was given. Now, how accurate this is I’m not sure, but it certainly would make sense. Tiny villages sporadically scattered across the Khumbu region, completely hidden. I could believe that.

Well you won’t be short of a few tears today if you’re anything like me. After your mornings hike, a fairly straight forward stretch across more barren terrain and those towering mountains filling the space around you, you’ll stop for a rest and some food in Dughla. By this stage in your trek it’s not really the climbs that effect you, it’s the lack of oxygen levels. But you know it’s funny, the air never seemed so clearer than up here. Not an ounce of pollution. The air may be thinner, but what you’re getting sure feels purer.

(oh, you’ll be pleased to know by the way that my Canadian and American friends felt better this morning and were able to carry on with their journey today. Huzzah!)

Dughla sits at the bottom of a fairly steep set of steps. You’ll need to climb those steps. However, once you do, once you’ve reached the top, what you’ll see might just be one of the most humbling parts of your trip, or entire life in fact! At the top lays a memorial site for climbers and Sherpas who have lost their lives on Mount Everest. Monuments and Stupas sit proudly, prayer flags whip silently in the wind. Names of lives that were lost etched into the rock forever. Their souls left to rest in one of the most honest to God incredible spots in the world. The sheer magnitude of everything punched me hard somewhere and all I could do was cry. These people had come here with their hopes and dreams of reaching the very top of the world. The scale of emotions that this must conjure up I simply don’t believe can be put into words. All that raw energy, so much of it still here, captured, frozen in motion by those who didn’t quite make it back. I  just couldn’t quite fathom it. Such respect. There is only one Everest, only one highest peak in the world, and we were in its shadow, we were walking beside her. To me, it felt incredible. As sad as it is to think of the heartache left behind from the families and friends of the fallen, I hope they find a peace that their loved one now lays forever surrounded by the mountains that they so obviously loved. That’s what I kept thinking as I walked around, what a place to have as your resting spot. If I believed in heaven then I think that this place would be as close to it as we could get without leaving earth.

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So yeah, I would say that this place probably had the biggest impact on me throughout my time in the mountains.

From here it’s not too far or too difficult a walk until you reach Lobuche. If you’re feeling strong then perhaps take a walk up to see the glacier. It’s not as far as you think and anything extra you can do will go towards helping you acclimatise. Tonight you’re sleeping at 4940m high. Tomorrow in Gorak Shep you’ll be sleeping at close to 5200m!

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Beautiful Mount Pumori to the left

Going back two weeks ago on the bus from Kathmandu to Jiri I met a girl from Portugal called Rita. She’s an experienced trekker and likes to go around the houses, so after that first morning waking up in Jiri I’d not seen her again. Just as I sit down with my hot cup of tea after arriving at our guesthouse for the night, guess who walks in! Rita!!!! 🙂 This is so exciting. We started our journey together and now we’re able to end it together. Tomorrow we reach Everest Base Camp.

Day 15: Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp

I had my yummiest breakfast so far this morning. Warm Tibetan bread with smooth peanut butter. Honestly guys it was delish!

We set off normal time to make our way towards Gorak Shep. Here we will be leaving our bags at the lodge and then setting off again for base camp. It’s a long straight walk for the first part of the morning until you reach a rocky incline you’ll then need to climb up and over.

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Most of the terrain is rocky now so make sure you’ve got your good ankle boots on. You’ll also by now have gotten used to the gentle sound of chiming coming from the cow bells hanging around the necks of the Yaks. The herds and their shepherds always close by, carrying their loads. Remember to always stay on the inside when taking over or being taken over. I used to love this sound. It’s exactly as you imagine these remote areas to be when wondering around the roof tops of the world. Vast barren lands. A stillness in the air with just the chimes of the cowbells to be heard nearby.

And then we arrive in Gorak Shep. You’re now standing at 5164m above sea level. Your body is breathing in 50% less oxygen than you would be at sea level! Pretty wild huh!

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Tents outside of our lodge in Gorak Shep

There is a helicopter landing strip just outside of the guesthouses. People landing in delivering or picking up goods. Air ambulance’s on rescue missions or collecting anyone suffering from AMS (acute mountain sickness) and bringing them back down to a lower altitude. I watched all this happening for a while before eventually we set off for base camp.

Again the hike continues on in the same way. Long and in a straight direction. Sometimes scrambling up over the rocks and sometimes walking along the high narrow rim leading us towards base camp. It’s April so there will be Everest expeditions happening, which means we can see their bright yellow and orange tents dotted off in the distance at base camp. To think there are some people nearby who are here with the plan of actually climbing Everest! I mean that’s pretty damn cool!

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Hikers enroute to Everest Base Camp, and some heading back. You can see the Khumbu Glacier ahead of you.

The sun feels different up here, stronger. My eyes begin to hurt and I realise it’s because I’m not wearing my prescriptive sunglasses. I remember hearing that the altitude can effect your eyes especially to those people with imperfect vision.. So I switch to my prescriptive sunnies. Ah… so much better!

Well guys, on the 23rd April 2016 I reached Everest Base Camp, Nepal. Hurrah!! Altitude: 5380m.

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Base Camp!!

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Expedition tents and the Khumbu Glacier. To get any nearer to Everest you’ll have to ice-pick your way through this first! We’ll leave that to the professionals for today eh 😉

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Me and Rita. We made it!!

It’s a strange feeling getting to base camp. It’s cold, it’s dark, it’s a bit gloomy actually. As you probably have read before you don’t even get particularly great views of Everest from here, if at all! But it’s the sense of accomplishment you should be feeling here guys. This is the destination you’d set out for all those, weeks, months, years ago that you started planning, dreaming about this. You’ve reached the last stop saloon to Everest unless you plan to climb her. I had always been fascinated by Everest, the highest mountain, the highest anything, on the planet, and here I was so close to her. What a feeling.

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I wondered how long it was that I should stay for? I mean this could be the only time I get to be here. But geez it’s cold! What’s the protocol here? In the end I stayed for around 20 minutes. I took some photos and I tried to absorb as much of it as I could. Done.

It’s an early night back at Gorak Shep, ready for an early start tomorrow morning. You see, it’s not all over yet folks! Tomorrow we have the final and probably toughest push yet. Kala Pattar.

Day 16: Gorak Shep to Kala Pattar to Pangboche

Kala Pattar is a peak that gives you incredible views of Everest and her neighbouring mountains, and it sits at an altitude of 5643m. That’s almost 200m higher than base camp. If anything is going to kick your arse on this trek, this will be that thing!

You’ll wake up early, around 4am. You’ll more than likely already be dressed because it’s so god damn cold here at night you’d have slept in your clothes. (Oh here’s a tip…try and sleep with your window slightly open. That way more oxygen can get into your room whilst you’re sleeping 😉 I did that and I woke up to a teeny tiny little cute pile of snow beside my pillow!) When your alarm goes off you’re guna want to keep pressing snooze to carry on sleeping… Don’t do it! Don’t miss out on this guys. It’s pretty special.

It’s still dark out and you hear the other trekkers doing the same as you and getting ready. Quiet shuffles start to fill the lodge and before you know it each of you are heading out the door. This is something you’re guna want to walk at your own pace okay. No need to feel like you have to rush or keep up, and on the other hand you shouldn’t feel like you should constantly stop and wait for someone (unless of course that someone is your girlfriend or wife… you don’t want to be hearing the story of ‘how you left your girl behind’ for the rest of your life now do you?? haha). If you’ve found your stride then keep going with it. It’s an easy route so you won’t get lost, I mean it’s literally in just a straight up direction over a rocky path for about 500 metres! You can literally see the peak…it just takes freakin’ ages to get there because of the altitude and the steepness! I said easy route okay, I didn’t say easy walk.   

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You can see the people hiking up coming in from the left. This is your climb.

In front of you you’ll have a perfect view of Mount Pumori, and to the side of you Everest and Nuptse. So many times I want to stop and turn back. My body seems to have reached its limit. Each step feels so slow. I can see the peak but damn it I just don’t seem to be getting any closer. There are people ahead of me, there are people behind me, everyone is doing there own thing now, all in their own worlds with the sole focus of reaching the top. Some faces that I had grown to recognise over the last few days I saw turn back. The altitude sadly getting the better of them, the sickness and fatigue in their faces and bodies. I feel that I owe it to everyone who is hit by altitude to reach the top. If it’s not the altitude that stops you then it’s weakness. And I refuse to be weak. Especially here, at the last hurdle. So up I continued.

So after an hour or so I reach the peak. I turn around (very slowly and carefully…it’s icey up here!) and I enjoy them views:

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There’s Everest… the darker mountain directly above my head and touching the sunbeams.

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Finally, Kala Pattar peak

I met an Australian at the top here who had carried a bottle of red wine with him for his entire trek just so that he could pop it open and drink some once he reach the peak. Nice!

So guys you’ll be pleased to know that it’s pretty much all down hill from here for the day. Head back to your lodge  for some breakfast, oh my god just think how good that tea and food is guna taste! After that you’ll be on your merry way going back from whence you came. Back to Lobuche, back across the memorial, back down to Dughla, and then on to Pheriche. I know I’ve not mentioned Pheriche yet but that’s because it sits just slightly lower than Dingboche, parallel with the path you’d have walked from Dingboche to Lobuche, and so is an easier route back down. Some people opt to stay here on their ascent rather than Dingboche, but due to its lower elevation of just 4370m it’s better for your acclimatisation to stay in Dingboche.  I had originally planned to stay here for the night, but we’d reached in good time and I wanted to keep going. You see folks, it’s my birthday tomorrow and I would seriously love to be back in Namche for it. Hot shower (I’ve not showered now for about four days), wifi, warmer evenings, oh and more oxygen! That’s always a good one. I wanted to have a beer for my birthday, it would have been my first beer in close to a month so I wanted to be somewhere that I could enjoy it in comfort. So instead of staying for the night here we had some lunch and then carried on to Pangboche.

Day 16: Pangboche to Namche

It was the first birthday I had ever woken up to without anyone I know being with me. No friends or family. Very peculiar!

Let’s get to Namche shall we!

Again from here you’re really just reversing your route. Remember I mentioned earlier not to think about the return journey of the steep descent from Tengboche to the river? Well now you’re on that return journey and that descent has now turned into an ascent! Go on…up you go. 

Actually today is full of quite a few ups and downs. Up towards Tengboche and then back down that awful climb up I’d had on a heavy stomach that time. All well and good, but now you have a steep climb up again to take you up the otherside towards Namche. Just focus on that beer and hot shower Jen…you got this!

Really by this point it’s just a case of getting back down as quickly as possible. You’re craving some home comforts. All those things I mentioned earlier, birthday or no birthday, you’re eager to get your hands on them. So it’s a case of powering through. When I reached Namche I have to say, it was a great feeling. I washed, I changed into clean clothes, I ate the food I had been thinking about since I left here before. I messaged my friends and my family. I was then able to sit back and fully take stock over everything that had happened these last 16 days. I can’t believe it’s over. I can’t believe I did it. That morning back in Sete when I had been overwhelmed and cried about my fear of what lay ahead seems a million years ago. Now look at me. Mission accomplished.

To top it all off I’m having birthday celebrations with the Canadian girl and two American boys I’d met in Dingboche. We had all gone at our own separate speeds, had our own completely separate journeys, but had managed to all arrive back here today. Happy days. Three beers, and a room full of people singing happy birthday to me with a battered mars bar as my birthday cake, later and I was ready for bed. What a happy birthday indeed 🙂

Day 17: Namche to Lukla

Another long day today. Be careful with the descent leaving Namche. It’s steep and by the end of it my knees had started to lock up and seriously  hurt! It was the first major discomfort I had felt on this trek, but geez did I feel discomfort now! I had to keep moving. When I stopped my knees would just lock up even more making it harder to carry on. We walked back over to Phakding (okay so I stopped here….I had to have that tuna pizza one last time. Again, it didn’t disappoint), and then up towards Lukla. I’d not walked this route before as I’d come in a different way, but oh my god was it a lot of uphill! What the hell!! I thought all the climbing was supposed to be over after Kala Pattar! I have to admit I grumbled a lot on this bit. It was hot and I think by this point my knees were in so much pain I couldn’t think of anything else. I just wanted to stop now.

Sweaty, tired, and broken, I finally rocked up to Lukla. I need sugar…

“Coke-a-Cola please.” I gulped it down and enjoyed my sugar high, which was then quickly replaced with my sugar crash.

….aaaand rest.

Day 18: Lukla to Kathmandu

Today I woke  up feeling super excited. Not so much about getting back to Kathmandu (although I was looking forward to heading to Chitwan for a few days) but more for the flight! I had missed out on this funny little airstrip in the middle of the Himalayas on the way up, so now I get to experience it for the first time heading back down. Like most of you I’m sure, I had seen the documentaries about Lukla airstip. Predominantly the documentary entitled ‘Worlds most dangerous airports! – Oh we do like to live on the wild side of life don’t we!

You’ll be pleased to know that although it was a bumpy ride, the flight is actually very cool. Like your international flight into Kathmandu, you’ll see all the peaks of the Himalayas sitting above the clouds. Once you think you’ve seen the largest you’ll move along and there you’ll see a mountain even larger. The sheer scale and beauty of them is sometimes inexplicable. It literally never ceases to stump me. These are the Worlds Greatest, people! Nowhere else in this world is comparable because nowhere else will you find the rooftop of the world.

And lucky little me got to be a part of that, even if just for a little while.

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So that’s it guys, that’s my take from my time trekking in the Himalayas. From Jiri to Everest base Camp, Nepal. I finally got to live out my dream of seeing Mount Everest and to walk within the rooftop of the world. Hopefully there will be more. I long to one day set foot in Tibet and to walk its vast open plateaus. There has always been an air of mystic that surrounds Tibet which has always fascinated me. So perhaps that will be next. I would love to be able to compare north facing Everest to south facing.
For now though I hope you enjoyed my read, and more than ever I hope that I’ve inspired even just one person to do the same. Even if your dream isn’t Everest, perhaps it’s Machu Piccu or seeing the Northern Lights, anything! Whatever it is believe that you can make it happen.
See ya x x x

 

My Tips and Facts

  • Times I Cried: 4
  • Wow Moments: Seeing Everest for the first time.
  • Costs: Average US$25 per day (excluding cost of a guide)
  • Worst Moment: Climbing up to Tengboche on a heavy stomache
  • Best Moment: Sitting and enjoying a birthday beer knowing I had seen and done everything I had.
  • Humbling Moment: Seeing the memorials to the lives lost on Everest.
  • How Many Blisters: Still zero! My Northface boots are still awesome!
  • Favourite Foods: Tibetan bread with peanut butter (smooth of course), and tuna pizza!
  • Remembered Dates: 18th April 2017, saw Everest for the first time • 23rd April 2017, reached Everest Base Camp • 25th April 2017, One year anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake that killed and destroyed thousands of lives and homes.

One thought on “Jiri to Everest Base Camp…What’s It Really Like? (Part 2)

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