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Mountain Madness Climber

A Trekker’s World at Everest Base Camp

MM Guide Deana Zabal­do reflects on life on the trail to Ever­est Base Camp. After her many years explor­ing the Nepal coun­try­side with trekkers, there are obvi­ous rea­sons that she keeps com­ing back. The first team is arriv­ing home after a mag­i­cal expe­ri­ence among the high­est peaks of the world. Two more treks this spring and then we’ll be back for anoth­er Ever­est Base Camp trek and our Tsum Val­ley Trek in the fall. 

(All pho­tos by Deana Zabaldo)

Day hike above Dingboche

Above Lobuche, the world turns to stone and water. Miles of thick ice make up the Khum­bu Glac­i­er, and small­er glac­i­ers reach down from 6000…7000…8000 meter peaks all around. A light snow sticks atop rocks, but still allows for easy hik­ing. A tumult of boul­ders make up the glacial mor­raine that we cross into Gorak Shep before noon. The town is coat­ed in sug­ary snow. Although it was snow­ing all night and into the morn­ing as we left Lobuche, the weath­er mirac­u­lous­ly clears for after­noon views of Ever­est. Streams of thin clouds ensconce the moun­tains, open­ing and clos­ing like the cur­tains on a stage. It’s absolute­ly mag­i­cal as it con­tin­ues to clear and the views get bet­ter and better.

Hik­ing into snow-sheathed Gorak Shep

The fol­low­ing day, we cross more of the moon­scape and head out to Ever­est Base Camp, sur­round­ed by loom­ing moun­tains. Incred­i­bly dwarfed by the land­scape, the tents of EBC slow­ly grow from dots of col­or in the dis­tance to life-size domes and squares. We are one of the only trek groups to be spend­ing the night at Base Camp. That gives us the chance to relax, look around, and even sleep on the glacier!

Clear day on the way to Base Camp

After a respite of lunch in our din­ing tent, we walk down to the Ice­fall, find the Himalayan Res­cue Asso­ci­a­tion set up, learn the Ice­fall doc­tors have com­plet­ed set­ting the route through that most dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry, and find the heli­pad just com­plet­ed and ready for res­cue. It’s a cold night in the tents at a mere 3 degrees Faren­heit, and every­one is glad for their warm bags and jack­ets. The snow out­side lit­er­al­ly sparkles in moon­light, and the moun­tains are aglow. When we wake, Base Camp is a silent out­post on the edge of the world that slow­ly comes to life.

Hik­ing out onto the Khum­bu Glac­i­er to Base Camp

Final­ly we hike out to the com­fort of Pheriche where 14,000 feet feels like thick air. From there we have a few days of beau­ti­ful hik­ing through alpine val­leys, vis­it­ing a Bud­dhist nun­nery, and play­ing games with our staff at tea time. Life is great on the trail…

–Deana Zabal­do, MM Guide”

EBC 2012

EBC 2012 and the med­ical tent. 

I woke up and unzipped my tent after spend­ing the night at Ever­est Base Camp.

Heli­copter com­ing into Base Camp.

The morn­ing clears, and every­one is out.

We vis­it our guide Dawa Sher­pa’s house for tea and pota­to pancakes.