Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would hike to Everest Base Camp…and honestly, I’m not sure I ever thought I would want to. However, last summer this idea popped into my head and since I was already on this side of the world, I figured it’s now or never.
I hopped on a plane and flew to Kathmandu to start this trek. When I arrived in Kathmandu, culture shock doesn’t even begin to describe what I experienced. I had never seen anything like this city with the poverty and all of the roads were covered in dirt. There were only 2 of us solo girls, so naturally we got put in a room together- thank goodness we got along! After trying to get a good nights sleep, we woke up early to catch the first flight out of Kathmandu to Lukla. This is a 30 minute flight in a puddle hopper plane. I’m not kidding, there was literally only a curtain separating the passengers from the cockpit. Needless to say, we were all a little worried about this flight.
Once we landed in Lukla, we started our trek to Pakding, where we would be staying for the night. At this point, we were introduced to “Nepali flat,” which basically means you go up up up and then down down down aka not flat at all.
Little did we know that later we would start praying for Nepali flat to come back. Pakding was our first experience staying in a tea house and they are definitely basic. Heating only exists in the dining room (common room) and they don’t turn on the fire until 5pm. The rooms consisted of 2 beds and not much else. It was everything we needed and a quick reminder that this was a trekking trip not a luxurious one.
The next day, we headed to Namche (3,440m) where we would stay for 2 days to acclimate. The walk started out nice as we stayed on the path along the river and the views were spectacular. Everywhere you looked, there were mountains towering over you.
Right before our 600m ascent to Namche, we had to cross the Hillary Suspension Bridge, which is quite high. Then we hiked and we hiked for a few hours. Because we took so many breaks, it felt like days walking up this mountain and I was wondering if I would make it to base camp. Finally the group made it and we got to our tea house for the night. Namche is the biggest town you go through on your trek so you can do some shopping if you realize you don’t have the correct clothes, which some of us didn’t.
For acclimation day, we hiked up to Everest View Hotel, and had a clear view of Everest.
Everyone usually acclimates in the same towns, so the cafes will show films in the afternoon for all of the hikers. We went into a cafe/bar and watched a documentary during the afternoon. There were about 8 of us in the group that liked card games but all we had were Uno cards, so we continued our quest of playing Uno in every city along the trail.
After Namche, it was time to climb again up to Tenngboche (3,867m). As usual, the climb up to the town was steep and long. Along the way, I met these 2 guys; one a sherpa and the other from Montana. As I was talking with them, I was completely fascinated by their stories. The guy from Montana has 3 grown boys of his own and has also adopted 3 sherpa daughters. He has been coming to Nepal for years and set up a non-profit school for girls from mountain towns to teach them English and give them an education so they can get jobs and aren’t forced to stay in their villages. The other guy was a guide and now a US citizen, but his claim to fame is that he and his wife are the only people to get married on the summit of Everest. How cool is that? I seriously could have talked to them for days.
Anyways, our tea house in Tengboche had a perfect view of Everest. From our room, we could watch the sunset over Everest-pretty neat experience!
The next day was more climbing of course. Along the path, you run into packs of yaks or ox. When you see them coming, you move to the side because they control the path and you get a much needed break. We stayed in Dingboche (4,410m) that night. At this point, we were above the tree line so the wind was strong and the clouds came in quickly. However, we got to experience some of the most impressive views of nature. Snowcapped mountains were in every direction you looked. All of it was undisturbed nature, and we were lucky enough to witness it.
We had another acclimation day here and hiked up 200m on that day. Once we got to our resting point, our guide was naming all of the mountains that we could see. One of the mountains was a holy mountain so no one is allowed to climb it. Naturally, I asked why it was holy. Nothing could have prepared me for this explanation. Himalayan culture says that Chomolungma is the Goddess Mother of the World and therefore controls the mountain. Chomolungma is a female and the holy mountain looks like a boob, believed to be Chomolungma’s boob, so people are not allowed to climb it. I’m sure you’re thinking of a follow up question, which of course I asked “Is there another holy boob mountain?” The answer is no, Chomolungma only has 1 boob 😦 My guide thought I was very weird for asking that question, but I thought it was completely normal.
Next, we headed to Lobuche (4,940m) as our last stop before finally reaching base camp. At this elevation, it was difficult to breathe and even a 10m ascent seemed tough. Finally, on day 9 we were going to Everest Base Camp! This should have been the best day but it was the most miserable day for me. We left Lobuche at 6am and walked 3 hours to Gorak Shep. Since it was early, the first hour of the trek didn’t have sunlight and it was cold. Once the sun reached us, I got a little happier but the fact that I couldn’t breathe was still an issue. We had another breakfast in Gorak Shep and then walked another 2 1/2 hours to base camp.
The trail was up and down and on loose rocks and dirt. About 10m from base camp I almost sat down and said “Nope, not going any further” because I was that miserable. Luckily, I continued and made it to Everest Base Camp! We stayed there for about 30 minutes and drank Everest Beer (because why not?) and took pictures. All 15 of us in our group made it safely to base camp, which is rare. This was probably the only part of the day that I was happy.
Once we left base camp, we had to hike up a steep, what felt like 100m. Saying we were exhausted is an understatement.
It felt great to make it to base camp, but we still had to walk back. It look us 8 days to walk up and only 3 days to walk back. As we were descending, our breathing got easier but the days got longer. I couldn’t wait to get back to Kathmandu and just relax. I won’t lie, I got a massage each of my last 3 days in Kathmandu- I felt that I had deserved it.
Well, now I have trekked to Machu Picchu and Everest Base Camp, so not sure what is next but I’m sure I can find something!