Everest I: To Base Camp
A characteristically fast insertion trek up to Base Camp provided a star-studded surprise.
EVEREST DAY 1, 15-Apr-2018
It feels so good to be back in the Khumbu!
After a few days rest in Kathmandu, today we got the small fixed-wing flight up to Lukla (2800m). I’ve done that flight a number of times now but the landing on the short inclined runway is always fun.
After a quick breakfast in Lukla we hit the trail up to Namche. It is a spectacular walk initially dropping down into the valley, then winding along the river with a few suspension bridges to keep it interesting, then up the hill into Namche
I felt a little sluggish to begin with; it took a bit of time to get the legs going again, and also had an upset stomach from something I ate last night, but once that worked its way through I quickly got into a rhythm and was in Namche in just under 3.5hrs. It makes such a difference trekking up when already slightly acclimatised.
EVEREST DAY 2, 16-Apr-2018
Today was a beautiful walk from Namche to Dingboche. Probably my favourite part of the whole trek to basecamp.
Just out from Namche you get your first clear view of Everest and surrounding mountains. Nuptse, Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam all forming the most incredible panorama at the head of the valley. The track follows the contour up the valley for a while before dropping down to the river and ascending all the way back up to Tengboche.
Tengboche is home to the world famous Monastery and equally spectacular views. At Tengboche I had the pleasure of bumping into Reinhold Messner, a legendary German alpinist. He was the first person to do the 7 Summits including Carstensz Pyramid hence why it is now commonly known as the “Messner List”. But far more impressive, he was the first person to climb all 14x 8000ers without supplemental oxygen. Incredible. So here I was standing outside the Tengboche Monastery rubbing shoulders with mountaineering royalty with Everest in the backdrop.
From Tengboche we continued up the valley to Pangboche and then onto Dingboche where we are staying tonight. A 4.5hr walk in total from Namche to Dingboche.
The weather was a real mixed bag; sunny this morning, overcast during the middle of the day, snow showers in the afternoon and finally sun piercing through the clouds for sunset.
Everest Day 3, 17-Apr-2018
Today walk from Dingboche to Everest Base Camp. Took about 4hrs at a steady pace. We’re a bit late to the party, most teams are already here and settled in but we’ll catch up.
The hardest part about today was just trying to find my camp amongst the sea of tents. We’re using Himalayan Guides for general logictics and basecamp. Whenever I asked someone where Himalayan Guides’ site is I got pointed in a different direction. After an hour or so wandering aimlessly around basecamp I finally managed to find it.
It is so good to be here. I was with Himalayan Guides and Tim Mosedale on Ama Dablam in 2016 and Lhotse in 2017. Arriving it was great to see a bunch of friendly, familiar faces. This will now be my home for the next month or so in between time on the hill. It is great to know we are staying put for a while so can settle in and make ourselves comfortable.
Everest Day 4, 18-Apr-2018
Rest day with a walk to Kala Pattar.
Today marked the 4th anniversary of the devastating 2014 icefall collapse so as a sign of respect to those who lost their lives we did not go up through the icefall today. Instead, we had a rest day in basecamp.
While we have been up and down to altitude numerous times over the past few months we have not spent significant time sleeping up high. After trekking straight up to basecamp at 5340m in only three days we were interested to see how our bodies would respond. Arriving at basecamp yesterday we didn’t have any headaches and last night (our first night here) slept quite well so hopefully a good sign that we’ve been able to carry reasonable acclimatisation through.
As most of you probably know, I am not a great believer in complete static rest days so this morning I went for a walk to Gorek Shep, up to Kala Pattar and return. It was a beautiful sunny morning and apart from a couple of people I passed on the way up, I was the only one up there. The climb from Gorek Shep to Kala Pattar took 39min which I wasn’t overly happy with. Last year when I was well acclimatised I got my time down to 32min I so obviously still have some more work to do. Anyway, it’s a good benchmark to see where I’m at.
This afternoon has just been a quiet afternoon around camp. I still need to sort out a wifi connection so I can communicate properly back home but it is actually quite peaceful at the moment so I am in no rush.