Everest Base Camp Trek Diary: Facing the Challenge
28 February – Arrived in Kathmandu
After 5 hours long flight from Kuala Lumpur, me and three of my friends landed at Kathmandu airport with constant feeling of excitement and nervousness; after all we were going to base camp of world’s highest mountain. As soon as we exit from airport’s terminal, I saw Mr. Hari Kumar Shrestha was waiting for us with huge smile on his face and a display board with my name printed on it. We had frequent online and telephone conversation regarding our trip and it was very nice to meet him personally at airport.
Mr. Shrestha then took us to a hotel in Thamel and soon our trekking guide Shiva joined us at afternoon. First he briefly explained about how our Everest Base Camp trek is going to be. He was a guy with good sense of humor and good at explaining too. Then after having a quick look at our luggage, he said we have to get a raincoat and sleeping bag before heading in. After having a cup of coffee at hotel, we headed to streets of Thamel and our guide ensured every checklist items is bought.
After a while we were entertained by local cultural dance with tasty dishes. Cheers to Kathmandu! As our guide told us consumption of alcohol is risky on high altitudes we had a last glass of beer and went back to our room for rest.
1 March – Sightseeing Kathmandu: Kathmandu tour
After having our breakfast at hotel we headed for exploring the capital Kathmandu city. We visited the heritage places, hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries, durbar square and stupas. And our city guide explained about the history and inside stories behind some temples and landmarks. Met few locals which gave us an idea regarding their lifestyle and by this time we had known somewhat about people, history and heritages of Kathmandu city.
The thing that I liked the most about Kathmandu was friendly people and disliked was too much people. I almost got hit by a bike while walking on streets of Thamel. Shiva came to our hotel at evening and helped us packing our duffel bags for tomorrow morning early flight to Lukla. We went to bed early as we had an early flight to catch tomorrow.
2 March – Starting of trek as we fly to Lukla
We felt lucky today as the weather was fine and there was no any delay on scheduled flight of Tara air to Lukla. At 7 am we were onboard and after 30 minutes of scenic flight we landed on Lukla airstrip. The first thing that impressed me was fresh cool breeze blowing through the mountains.
Our guide and porter helped us in arranging the loads as we had a refreshing drink at nearby hotel. We started the trekking activity to arrive at Phakding at end of the day. After walking 3 hours we arrived at Phakding, had lunch and Shiva lead us to nearby monastery for sightseeing. Getting to know the local Sherpa culture was insightful during our Everest base camp trek. It was a first day of our trek and everything was fine till today. Tomorrow we had to reach Namche bazaar, the famous Sherpa village. I had heard a lot about it and was feeling excited to be there tomorrow.
3 March – Challenging weather from Phakding to Namche
As the Everest base camp trekking trail went down and then up, images and sensations whiskered from all around – sounds of wind, chirping birds, smells of pine forest, the color of rhododendrons, children playing on the dusty streets, gardens surrounded by ancient stone walls, prayer wheels and of course our accompanies – 1 guide and 2 porters who help us at each and every step of Everest base camp trek.
Leaving Jorsale behind, a few minutes later, I guess after half an hour or so weather changed unexpectedly and it started to rain. I am thankful to our guide Shiva without whose advice we would be all wet in rain if otherwise we wouldn’t had bought raincoats before joining our Everest base camp trek. Crossing through various suspension bridges was another astonishing thing about this trip.
It started snowing and we first witnessed the snowfall after arriving at towp danda. The snowy experience was just awesome; I just can’t explain the fun that we had while playing snow with my friends. We followed our trails walking on the snow surrounded by cool atmosphere, and arrived at Namche bazaar. If we were favored by fine weather, we could get our first glimpse of Mt. Everest from Namche Bazar but due to snowy snowy weather our guide Shiva informed that we had to wait couple of days more to view highest mountain of the world. I felt like Mt. Everest was playing hide and seek with us.
4 March – Rest day at Namche bazaar
Temperatures were falling as we were at lodge in Namche. On the above it was snowing heavily and making the case even worse. I guess snow was fun only at the first encounter. Now the constant fear of extreme cold and challenging weather was striking in my mind which could cancel our trip and forbid to trek further.
In this worst case scenario the experience and knowledge of our guide Shiva acted like a boon for us. According to our itinerary we had to arrive at Tengboche next day. But Shiva insisted that we should slow down our pace, acclimatize and spend a night at Phunki Thenga. He was constantly in connection with Mr. Hari Shrestha, and received updates regarding weather forecast and other related things. We just can’t imagine what would had happened to us if had trekked independently. Today I understood the importance of trekking in Nepal with professional trekking company.
5 March – Trail leading us to Phungi Thenga
Ascending ahead while crossing through pine forests, greenery and small settlements we head towards Phunki Thenga. As the day passes by, we were trekking on as deep as 3 feet of snow. We saw many groups returning from middle of the trekking trail. And while seeing lots of people heading downwards the percentage of fear in my mind was increasing second per second.
At this point even we thought that it is impossible to go further and we should return too. But if we had returned then it would be the biggest mistake. And it was an interesting encounter with Yaks, as we saw it clearing the roads and making a way for humans to pass through.
Shiva had a good knowledge regarding all the tweaks and corners of Everest region with regular updates. All thanks to him, he lead us to Phungi Thenga. Until now all of us were fine and there was no any sign of altitude sickness and other illness even at these harsh weather conditions. We kept ourselves as warm as possible as we checked in at local tea house and wait for the weather to clear soon.
6 March— Trail leading us to Pangboche
We met Icefall doctor along our trekking route, and by the meaning of doctor, they are not medical professionals; here icefall doctor is referred to that person who clears the path blocked by snow and icefalls.
And I must say that it was three hours of steep climb to Pangboche. We had a short visit to Tengboche monastery, and finally our wait came to an end. I mean, we got to see the first glimpse of Mt. Everest. The view was spectacular as the weather was gradually improving and we could see Lhotse, Amadablam and Thamserku Himalayan peaks too.
7 March – Heading towards Dingboche
Today we head towards Dingboche, the weather became fine but Kasim, my friend and one member of our trekking group suffered with mild headache.
It might be due to altitude sickness, Shiva added. We took rest for an hour, and our guide, Shiva served garlic soup from nearby hotel to Kasim. It worked like a medicine. He said he is all fine and we continued our journey to Everest base camp at slow pace with caution. As Dingboche is at a high altitude around 4500 meters above sea level, we couldn’t see any trees over here; there were only small shrubs and rocks. As we reached Dingboche it was already dark.
8 March – Trekked through memorials and chortens to be at Lobuche
It was quite a challenging day for us as we crossed all the way nearly 1000 meters climbs from Dingboche to Lobuche. I knew that Kasim is really feeling an altitude but we are all proud that he made it so far. He was feeling pretty better on this day.
We passed through various chortens and ascend gradually to Dugla. After climbing steeply for about an hour we were told that it is the memorial place and there are memorials in the name of people those who died while summiting Everest. We saw Yaks grazing on the field and grand Himalayan peaks including Pumori, Lobuche and other neighboring peaks rising above us. Next day was very important to us as we were going to final destination of our trip. We were among few lucky that reached Everest base camp regardless harsh challenging weather. I just couldn’t sleep due to excitement and anxious feelings.
9 March – Moment of glory: Trekked from Lobuche to Gorakshep – Everest Base Camp – Gorakshep
We all were excited for that moment when we will be at Everest Base Camp. I keep on staring at the map two or three times and believe me our team was very close to our destination. It looked quite short and easy but I knew it will be testing my endurance and I was ready to take on this final challenge. It started with around two and half hours steep climb through Lobuche pass. I felt quite tired and stopped for a while at Gorakshep to get back my breath and capture some group selfies with grand Himalayas.
Further after three hours of trekking through tough rocky trails our dream finally came true as we stepped at base camp of top of the world at an altitude of 5364 meters. On these rocky trails even our guide Shiva helped us while carrying our loads along the porter which was very nice of him. Upon reaching the Everest base camp, I felt like dancing and jumping over, all of us hugged each other and congratulate for an astounding accomplishment. From the Everest base camp, there was no Everest view but we can see the notorious Everest Ice fall. We were among the luckiest people to have Everest base camp experience overcoming that harsh weather conditions. All thanks to Shiva and our porters and whole Icicles team to make our Everest base camp trek a huge success. Finally after staying and clicking pictures for around 15 – 20 minutes at Everest base camp, we traced our steps back with ecstatic feeling of happiness and accomplishment. As we were returning from base camp, the rays of sun was slowly turning into reddish color and we could see the spectacular sunset views over Nuptse, Lola himal, Pumori ,Lintring himal and other surrounding peaks. Fell asleep instantly after descending two hours at Gorakshep. It was a day to remember for rest of our lives.
10 March – Early morning Kalapathar hike and trek to Pheriche
After getting proper rest at Gorakshep, we were re-energized and ready for early morning hike to Kalapathhar. I had read lots of articles regarding magnificent views of snow capped mountains from Kalapathhar and today we were going to view it in reality. Walking two and half hours uphill we witnessed the most beautiful Himalayan scenery like never seen before. As the golden rays of sun slowly strikes snow capped mountains during sunrise; it was completely a magical experience. I just kept staring at the view for few minutes. Then Shiva pointed us and introduced us with Himalayas. It was really a rewarding experience at Kalapathhar. The wind was blowing strongly and our tummy was asking for food, therefore with unforgettable Everest experience we headed back to Gorakshep for lunch.
Ate egg noodles and potato soup. Whoa! First I asked for hot water but hot water was smelly. Shiva said that it may be because it was boiled on Yak poop as there is no firewood here. And thanks to Shiva again. No boiled water please, we ordered potato soup instead. Pheriche was our final destination for the day and by saying quick goodbye to Gorakshep, we traced our steps downhill.
11 March – Prolonged day trekking from Pheriche to Namche
It was a long day while trekking from Pheriche to Namche. After around 7 hours of downhill trekking with few ascends involved. We were approaching the tree line again which brings us lots of greenery and free oxygen. On the top of that, walking across blossoming Rhododendron forest along chirping birds like pheasants, Danfe, Himalayan faunas like goats, jopkyos were unique opportunity to get some info regarding Himalayan habitats.
The warm sunny weather was equally delightful while descending down the villages of Pangboche, Tengboche and Namche. It was nice to be here during the day to walk around and there were plenty of items made from wool to choose for souvenirs.
12 March – Final days in Everest region: Trek from Namche to Lukla and fly back to Kathmandu
It was a final day of our adventurous Everest base camp trekking. We witnessed and experienced the things that were only limited to magazines and stories before our Everest base camp trek. From challenging temperature to snowy weather, change in itineraries to avoid trip cancellation, spectacular sceneries to strenuous walks, Himalayas sunrise to sunsets, Sherpa people’s cultures to lifestyles and encountering rhododendrons to Himalayan floras and faunas; everything was conquered.
After returning to Lukla, Shiva gave us TIMS card as a souvenir and we were happy to provide some tip of our porters without whom it was impossible to make it a successful trip. With small home party with our team at Lukla, next day early morning, we returned back to Kathmandu and personally thanked Mr. Hari Shrestha for all the arrangements and making our Everest base camp trek a huge success.