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Published: June 22nd 2013
Other than abruptly waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air again, I did essentially sleep for 10 hours off and on, so I felt good rising from bed. Klaudia awoke commenting that she too had an adequate sleep, which was good news as altitude problems typically begin with a bad night’s sleep. The only thing missing was a hot shower as I hadn’t showered for about 5 or 6 days at that point: the guesthouses lack the facilities for a hot shower, and even if they advertise that they offer hot showers, it’ll be well short of lukewarm. I was not about to jump into a cold shower in below zero temperatures. One good thing about the cold, though, is that it mitigates (but not entirely nullifies) body odor.
On the way to Lobuche, we finally had impeccable weather, revealing grand views of the giant peaks around us. We took in the crisp air as deeply as possible as we took breaks to pose for pictures, marveling at the grandness of it all. After some time, the trail cuts through a memorial and cemetery dedicated to those individuals who have lost their lives climbing
Mt. Everest. I heard many times from many people along the trail, including professional climbers, and have read it as well in books and articles, that Everest is just a piece of rock – it’s not worth killing yourself over. Well, tell that to the people found in this cemetery, people who died doing something they loved; and anytime you’re doing that, I personally think it’s always worth killing yourself over. There is nothing greater than having a deep, fiery passion for something. And that passion is intensified when it is related to the human conquest of something that is not only corporeally larger than one is, but symbolically greater, incorporating the conquest of one’s fears and physical limitations. Only then does one have the passion that embodies the “die trying” mentality. I could not try to fathom the thoughts or opinions of the loved ones of the individuals buried or memorialized there, the grief that they must have felt or still feel, perhaps even angry at the selfishness of the deceased. Yet, if I died fulfilling my passion, I’d hope that those that love me would understand and, in a way, find comfort in the fact that I died
living out my dreams.
The somberness of the area gave way to more delight in being alive as we neared Lobuche at just under 4930 m/16,200 ft. There weren’t many guesthouses to choose from, but, at that altitude, their all basically the same thin-walled, rectangular structures, built with insufficient - or I should say “no” – insulation. The windows are covered in frost (we accidentally left a water bottle by the window and the water inside froze) and my hands were especially cold, having not been properly kept warm by the gloves I’d bought in Kathmandu.
So, just a quick tangent on buying gear in Nepal… Yes, it is possible to buy everything you’ll need for your EBC trek in Kathmandu, and at Namche Bazaar - at very low prices - but don’t expect the gear to be of consummate quality. If you just require gear that you’ll utilize for a couple weeks, then dispose of, then I can recommend that you purchase everything in Kathmandu; if you’re looking for gear that you’d like to reuse after your EBC trip, you’re better off making your purchases at home. At the very least, I was
glad I purchased my hiking boots, socks, down jacket (which was half the thickness, but much warmer than anything in the shops) and base layers at home. Once you’re done with your gear, and don’t want to retain it, any Sherpa will gladly take it, or you can try to sell it back since some shops will purchase used gear.
I was also glad I had a Steripen. I used it throughout the trek, which is probably the 3rd
best product I’ve ever purchased as a general consumer: it was not only extremely helpful and convenient, but saved on plastic. I cannot accept how many people purchase water bottles along the trail, especially when higher up: I don’t know for certain where that garbage goes, but it probably ends up in a river somewhere. My advice to anyone wanting to do the hike is to set an example to the locals and be conscious of the environment surrounding you. I’d seen a purple haze (which I’d ill-fatedly confirmed as pollution from several newspaper articles in the region) in the distance of some peaks. You can help by foregoing the purchase of water and buying a Steripen or
iodine/chlorine tabs. My Steripen definitely came to good use in Lobuche when I was directed to retrieve water from a hose that led to something that would be called a “bog” somewhere else.
We arrived in Gorek Shep at 5,160m/16,929ft the next morning after a relatively leisurely 3-hour morning stroll. Just as we were nearing the three guesthouses located there, we bumped into Gosia, who was on her way down with another group. We greeted each other happily, then all three of us headed to the guesthouse when Gosia decided to stay one more night in the cold to walk down with us the next day.
We had lunch and hiked to Everest Base Camp that afternoon. The terrain from Gorek Shep is an even mixture of incline and decline for 3-hours, with the last stretch uphill. We’d made it to 5380 m/17,650 ft. The views unfortunately were again obscured by clouds, but there are no views of Mt. Everest at Base Camp. There were some striking glaciers we could see around the trail that looked like the break of a “bodacious” wave on the beach.
The next morning we awoke
early for our ascent of Kala Pattar (5643 m/18,513 ft.), even though visibility was horrible and it had snowed forcefully over the night. After breakfast, I stepped into the bathroom and serendipitously noticed a ray of light entering through the window – the sun! I swiftly jumped out and reached the dining room to stunning views outside the windows. We hurriedly got our stuff together and started our ascent of Kala Pattar, from whose summit some of the best views of Everest can be seen. Alas, if only we had started a half hour earlier. We did indeed have some great views of the surrounding peaks, including Everest, but by the time we reached the top - I did my best to reach the summit quickly and passed several groups of people who’d started more than an hour before us - the clouds had rolled in for good. No matter, we were feeling great, especially Klaudia who had nobly beat AMS ailments.
It started to snow as we headed down to our guesthouse with big smiles on our faces. We had a hearty lunch of spaghetti, fries, and garlic soup - which, incidentally, does wonders for acclimatization
– and began our return to Namche Bazaar.
Tot: 3.49s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 7; qc: 48; dbt: 0.0446s; 3; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb