Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Everest Base Camp Trek & Kala Pattar

A good climb up the dusty steep track to Namche we honed in our first acclimatisation goal to stay 2 nights at the busy little trading bazaar. It was great to get there and have a decent espresso coffee and chocolate brownies at the Everest Bakery - yumlicious! The next day (a rest day) we carted ourselves up the relatively steep track to Everest View Hotel to let our bodies feel some altitude and return down to sleep. Lovely hot chocolate on the balcony with sublime views of Everest 8848m, Lhotse 8516m, Lhotse Shar 8386, Peak38 4587 and Ama Dablam 6812 - what a beauty of a day and great 'posi' for a drink or lunch!

The next day it was time to set off to the beautiful Monastery of Tengboche to see the Monks perform their Mantras. Again a steep climb after lunch but well rewarded as we pulled into town greeted by the beautiful chortens and rich coulurs of the temple. Again we found the 'Lavazza' sign and it was another last chance for real coffee. A great little guesthouse and an early rise to capture the first of the sun and the young monks welcoming in the morning blowing Conch Shells. For cool video please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcQsnI57lMA

We trekked on through Deboche and winding our way up to Shomare and nearing our next acllimatisation spot of Dingboche at 4420m where, as entering we received our first views of the 6119m East Lobouche Peak. Our group was divided into 3 whom were heading to EBC (Everest Base Camp) and a couple of climbers to make their first ascent of this classic 6000m peak.

Another 'Rest Day' although local guide and slave driver Super Subbaman had a half day trek planned up the Nankhanshang ridge fopr us which takes you up to 4800m although you can go to the peak at 5100m which was perfect acllimatisation for the Lobouche climbers. I was very lucky to see a huge Golden Eagle making an awesome flight right over me, searching for prey. A good climb in gorgeous weather and it was down to chill out, do some washing of socks/gruds etc and a spot of reading. For lunch I tried some unusual fermented cheese that was wrapped up in savoury pancakes with garlic & chilli and tasted like blue vein cheese - delicious! We were sharing the lodge with Russell Brice's Himalaya Experience group which was made of both clients looking to climb Mount Everest and trekker heading to EBC in support of them. Was nice to catch up with legendary Mountain Guide 'Woody' from Queenstown,NZ whom I met skiing in Gulmarg, Kashmir just a month previously! It's a small old world!

We cut across the hill, the next morning, overlooking Pheriche and a huge braided river valley which led up to views of Taweche, Cholatse and across to Lobouche Peak. Tea at Lukla and up through the Everest Memorials (in memory of past Everest climbers) and up to Lobouche, where at close to 5000m the air was beginning to thin rapidly. The next day it was all on, the push to Gorak Shep and onto the iconic Everest Base Camp. We toiled through the moraine, again with blazing sun coming down on us, sucking up as much water as possible to counter that thinning air. We were all on good form after some good sleeps and looked to be all on track! A final push and Mats, Steve and Emma and the rest of us looked in good form. We wound our way up through the moonlike landscape, undulating up and down with surreal views of the Khumbu Glacier that curves around past EBC and up into the legendary risky Khumbu Icefall. Views of Everest start (only viewed on approach to EBC nad are obscured when you are actually there) as we finally reached the 5364m cairn and start of Everest Base Camp - we'd made it and took some great celebratory photos/videos and a wee celebration ensued.

The mission wasn't quite complete with the fantastic viewpoint of Kala Pattar (5545m) yet to be tackled the next day. A lot of people get up for sunrise but I’m a fan of a little later, as it's less cold and the photos are a lot better with the sun rising over mighty Mount Everest and the huge Nuptse wall. Steve, my Aussie roomy (yes be careful of your wallet with those Aussies ;-) had a bad sleep but showed good determination to give it a crack. I was to climb Lobouche so decided to head off in front and give the body & lungs a bit of a push which proved great as I beat my 70 minute record getting to the high point in 62 minutes. The rest of the group did a great slow & steady effort reaching an hour later which was a good effort for veterans and rookie trekkers alike. The views were extremely rewarding and I would always recommend going to both EBC & KP as they each have their own unique, amazing features of mind-blowing landscapes.

Well done guys & gals what a great effort and Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar are certainly no walk in the park - just ask anyone who's completed them. It takes a tough, focused effort with many elements having to slot into place to get the result and achieve the goal. Now we just had to get down!

Thanks to all the team of Saran, Nima, Om and clients: Mats, Emma and Steve - a superb time had by all!

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