Reaching Everest Base Camp

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November 9th 2012
Published: March 24th 2013
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Lobuche 4930m - Gorak Shep 5160m - Everest Base Camp 5340m - Gorak Shep 5160m

Time taken:

Lobuche to Gorak Shep 2 hours

Gorak Shep to EBC 1 hour 40 mins

EBC to Gorak Shep 1 hour 30 mins

The trek from Lobuche to Gorak Shep is fairly easy going, taking about two hours and running mostly a gentle incline alongside the Khumbu glacier. Due to the suspected high demand on lodge rooms at Gorak Shep, Azay, our porter is sent out in front to secure rooms for us. When we reach the lodge at 10am, it is packed with trekkers chatting excitedly and having food before the trek to Everest base camp. Our plan is to arrive mid-morning, have a short break then continue on to base camp to arrive there early afternoon. We will then head back to Gorak Shep to spend the night and trek to Kala Pattar in the morning of the next day. As per usual, Suriya decides it is time for me to eat again and for some reason I order boiled potatoes. This is a mistake. I receive a large plate containing at least nine whole potatoes worth with a small portion of rock hard yak butter. At the time, I am sitting with a large group of trekkers from the UK and my mid-morning snack attracts a few amused comments! It gives a new meaning to 'carbo-loading' and I think if I had eaten this I would never make it to base camp!

After managing only a fraction of this ridiculous meal, we leave at 11.30 for Everest Base Camp. The trail is certainly stony and undulating but compared with the rest of the trek so far, is nothing too strenuous. The first half of the trek to base camp is quite 'up and down' and the altitude makes even the gentle uphills seem harder work than usual. Then we reach a section where the trail evens out onto a high ledge surrounded on both sides by a sea of glacial moraine. We follow this along a ridge of rocks until in the distance, on the right side, we see an 'island' of rocks rising above the rest where a collection of prayer flags and people are gathered. I can't believe we've almost reached it after only 1 hour 15mins, but this is indeed our first sight of base camp. As we follow the ridge down the trail becomes gradually more difficult and the last part from the ridge to base camp involves clambering over some large boulders to get to EBC. As we reach Everest Base Camp the sun is shining, the skies are clear and despite the cold winds I feel warm and glowing, my dream and ambition since 2010 is realised! The base camp itself feels as if it is situated right in the middle of the glacier surrounded and sheltered somewhat by the tall mountains around it. Suriya explains the site of EBC varies year on year as the glacier shifts slightly and of course there are no tents here now as it is prime trekking, not climbing season. Earlier this year, in May, 240 people including 195 Nepalis and 45 foreigners successfully summited Everest, or Chomolungma as the mountain is known in Tibet. The number of deaths during attempts on Everest though seem disproportionate and I guess this serves the illustrate the very real dangers of entering 'the death zone' as it is called. For me, the journey is the achievement and the pleasure and I honestly feel no desire to go further. Suriya, however, seems to have his heart set on summiting Kala Pattar, and as base camp gives no view of Everest itself, I agree we'll go on to do it. The return trek to Gorak Shep goes by in a flash as I'm digesting what we've achieved and how much easier this last day has been than I had imagined.

We arrive back to Gorak Shep at 2.40pm and buy a chocolate bar to celebrate. My room here is so small that I can touch both walls with my my arms outstretched, but this means it is between two other rooms so consequently much warmer than in Lobuche. That evening I dine with a couple from Germany who both work as hospital doctors in Hanover and are great company, the evening goes by quickly chatting with them. As we are tucking into (yet another) portion of dal bhatt around 6-6.30pm, their guide comes rushing in to tell us it is snowing outside, quite heavily and sure enough trekkers start to arrive with snow in their hair and on their down jackets. Anxious faces begin to glance out of the windows as people realise this may jeopardise their Kala Pattar treks in the morning. As we head off to bed the snow is falling fast and heavy and all we can do is pray that it is not too deep in the morning! The lodge is so full than about 20 trekkers are to sleep in the porters sleeping area and consequently the porters are to sleep in the dining hall. Suriya says we should meet at 5.30am (!) to assess the situation for trekking Kala Pattar, I hope we can!

Additional photos below
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18th April 2018

bringing back memories
I was searching for photos of yak trains and saw your EBC photo, which looks almost exactly like mine (I was also at EBC in early November 2012)! Thank you for writing down details from your trip, it brought back so many memories that I neglected to write down.
18th April 2018

Thank you! I always enjoy read blogs of other people who've gone to the same place as I forget stuff too. Nothing like happy memories to inspire another trip! :)

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