The 1st time I ever saw photos of the Himalayas I thought it was a dream too big, kind of unreachable. Those were amazing photos from Everest Base Camp trek in May with mountains covered in snow and dusty roads with walls of blooming trees. Now you can imagine how thrilled I was when my bf and I bought tickets to Nepal for April-May to see the Top of the World — Everest! It was a happy time of planning and a hard time of trekking and still, it was worth every Rupiah spent, every Dal Bhat eaten and every sweat drop fallen. But let’s begin from the beginning.
There: Kathmandu – Lukla – Phakding – Namche Bazar – Tengboche – Dingboche – Lobuche – Gorak Shep
Back: Gorak Shep – Pheriche – Namche Bazar – Lukla – Kathmandu
We arrived in Kathmandu on 17/04 and spent 2 days there to get used to the climate and time. It’s not enough to see everything but you can still see a lot. Plus that stop is needed to buy tourist cards and passes to Sagarmatha zone and plane tickets to Lukla where the track starts. We bought ours in a usual Tourist «adventure» shop and then shopped for some clothes and devices we needed.
Also read What to pack for Everest Base Camp trek
Kathmandu – Lukla – Phakding – Namche Bazar
On our 3d day in Nepal we were at the airport at 5 am waiting for our little plane to Lukla. There were just about 15 people from different countries (brits won though) flying with us. The flight itself takes just 40 munites but your heart skips a beat because those views can’t let you be cool! And the landing…your hands get wet as the plane gets closer to Lukla airport — it is considered as one of the most dangerous airports in the world with its landing right in front of a high cliff…
But then we got our backpacks, passed groups of porters and went for momos — a traditional dish of Nepal like dumplings and extremely tasty almost everywhere!
We started right after our energizing breakfast and followed the path to Everest. It felt cool just to be there, to carry a backpack and imagine how beautiful the road is going to be. Our first goal was to get to Namche Bazar in 2 days which meant to ascend from 2800 m to 3400 m. It sounded quite ok till I realized how hard the walk was.
My backpack was too stuffed and my body just started acclimatizing so our 1st two days were very slow. We stopped every 20-30 minutes, sometimes more often, to take a break and, of course, look around.
The road reminded me of another version of Lord of the Rings.
We made a big mistake those days — didn’t take enough water with us and I almost fainted while climbing up to Namche through a forest. When we finished it was already dark and all covered in fog but we luckily found a great lodge with a lot of space and tasty food and coffee (not recommended on altitude but I still had mine).
In the morning the village we saw transformed into a huge one with lively rows of shops, cafes, SPAs and hundreds of people passing us by, and all that being surrounded by giants in snow.
When you deal with high altitudes it is important to let your body rest enough and get used to being in such an unusual situation. That’s what acclimatization days are made for — you stay at the same place for 2 nights but walk someplace higher in a day.
From Namche most people go to Hotel Everest View – an expensive Japanese hotel with oxygen transferred right into rooms. It is situated about 4000m high and as you guessed from the name the view is spectacular! In our case, it could be spectacular as we turned back halfway due to thick clouds and strong wind.
The evening was dedicated to buying warm socks and other special stuff and sorting off things that appeared to be useless so we could carry less. And a «damn good» dinner in a cozy room!
Namche Bazaar – Tengboche – Dingboche
We took off on a sunny morning and walked into the most blooming part of the trek. First, we walked up and down hills passing forests and pagodas, then we saw trees in flowers. Just like I wished!
Those 2 days showed us the biggest contrast on the way — from bright petals falling off on the path to thick rain falling down and hiding all the sceneries under fog, from warm beams of light and only tees on to cold nights when we slept in sweaters and pants under 2 blankets.
Do I have to say that Himalayas are beautiful whenever you see them? It doesn’t matter what’s the weather like, they are always impressive and can leave you speechless for a while.
I think Tengboche deserves a little more attention here. This little village plays an important role in expeditions to Everest from Nepal side since all the alpinists visit its temple to get blessed for a successful climb and safe road back home. And this is where the cold and some annoying headache become your companions till the end of the track.
All the way to Dingboche we walked in fog and saw not much outside our trail. Still, the road was beautiful and I’d dare to say enchanted.
The point of 4000m was crossed and the track started looking like some isolated planet with all colors desaturated, very disturbing little rain, wind and rare people that seemed to be lost.
By the time we reached Dingboche, we could barely see each other so our choice of a place to stay was completely based on the tasty smell from its kitchen.
Another acclimatization day
Here goes another fake day-off!
We went out later than others but it was more than alright. By the time we passed 1/3 of the whole way up most people decided to go down because of huge clouds that covered all the view. But we waited a couple of minutes and kept ascending and reached 5000m! We were the only people at the top so famous Ama Dablam was completely ours to enjoy!
Despite having a huge headache and starting high altitude sickness I had my bliss of ‘marking’ the top so when you get there don’t forget who that hilly side belongs to…
Btw that day marked a week as we were on the road to Everest and as we had the dirtiest time of our lives with only 2 showers taken!
P.S. We started taking special pills that help your head and heart get used to high altitudes and give you a bad feeling of desire to pee all the time.
Dingboche – Lobuche – Gorak Shep
I think it was exactly then when I felt the lack of oxygen. Every move cost so much effort even though the road was quite flat and I’ve already had a lot of stuff put on me so my backpack was light.
We spent 5 hours on the road to Lobuche and took several pauses. One stop was in a very special place – the Everest Memorial dedicated to alpinists that reached tops of Himalayan mountains where most of them died.
Maybe you’ve seen the movie «Everest» and know the name of Scott Fischer. It shows a perspective of what happened to the expedition to Everest in 1996 and how severe this mountain can be. This place can give you shivers and in some way makes you wanna be more careful in those places even if climbing to the top is not on your schedule this time.
Probably it was the atmosphere of the Memorial but nature started looking dead after that place – the colors differentiated between black, white and yellow-brown. Sometimes blue if clouds were so kind to let some sky through.
Still, the day took us to tiny Lobuche village which consisted only of 3 buildings. And — surprise — it was the most expensive night on the track! We paid 1500 rupiahs for a room while the maximum we paid before and after was only 500. But this time with a private toilet!
I won’t be specific on how we got to Gorak Shep next day but “Oh finally” sums up my feelings pretty well.
The tastiest and most desired meal in my life? – Everything I ate that evening.
The hardest thing to admit that trip? – After lunch we go to Everest Base Camp!
Should I really mention that being in EBC gave us that great feeling of accomplishment? You know, that’s where we headed. THAT’S WHAT THIS TREK IS CALLED FOR! The views actually speak for themselves.
What a day it was! I knew we still had Kala Pattar climb ahead but it didn’t seem that important for some time. All we wanted was to celebrate our little victory and how beautiful our planet is.
Kala Pattar challenge
…if I thought it was hard before, that morning was something beyond that. It was impossible to sleep thanks to the cold, the pills and the nerves. So there I laid, wrapped up in my sleeping bag and all warm clothes I had, yet still shaking. Yeah, the feeling of upcoming little failure literally sat on my bed that morning.
We left the lodge at 4.40am which appeared to be late as we walked really slow. It was so cold it felt like I was missing all of my fingers. At some point, we understood the sun was already going up and we hadn’t even reached the halfway so Anton started to hurry me up. Only 5 minutes later I burst into tears and never wanted to go anywhere. I told Anton to leave me there to wait for him because «at least one of us has to do it!»
Never had I ever felt so put together after a cup of hot tea and foot massage!
After some rest I realized this was an opportunity I’d always regret missing. I just had to find the strength to get to the final point because then I’d find the strength to do anything. Yes, it did seem that hard at the moment! But I did it and it was right at least because it was very beautiful up there.
The same day we started our journey back and I bet we’d set some speed records on the way!
Road back: Gorak Shep — Pheriche — Namche Bazar – Lukla
We made it in 3 days. We almost ran. And we were so f***ing happy!
The road was still not very easy but surely brought us some surprises like pastures with yaks, a company of cool Aussie family, fake yeti scalp, awesome sunsets, letting go to a good pair of shoes and many other things.
The last day of the trek was like a very confusing farewell to the Himalayas: it was raining almost all the time, the road looked a bit dangerous and Anton’s shoes started to literally fall into pieces. Thus, a day of completing 18 km walk turned into a day and a night… We were happy not to meet any yeties on the way and to see Lukla waiting for us under starry sky.
So tell me, would you do this trek? Or maybe you already did and have some amazing memories to share?