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Mountain Madness Climber

EBC Wrap-up

Mad­ness guide Mara Lar­son gives us the final update from Ever­est Base Camp Trek.

It’s just a week past Thanks­giv­ing now, and final­ly the gear is washed, the sleep­ing bags are air­ing, and the Khum­bu cough is in the dis­tant past — for all but me, Knute, and Mike, anyway.

Hap­py team accli­ma­tiz­ing above Ding­boche. Justin Bruck­el photo

How time flies post-Himalaya. And how eas­i­ly we man­age to for­get pun­gent bath­room smells at 17,000 feet and the ear­ly morn­ing deep-freeze. Our descent from Ever­est and the Khum­bu was a cel­e­bra­tion on many lev­els. For Jean, Anna, Mike, John, and Lisa, it was a buck­et list suc­cess. For Jason, main­ly the relief of escap­ing from his ever-present buff. For Josh, Justin, and Ken, it was like­ly a descent fueled with new ambi­tions and direc­tions. Our reunion’s planned for Argenti­na in a year’s time. For Ricar­do, the relief of unfin­ished busi­ness, final­ly achieved. And for Bernie, a glim­mer of what the future holds. As for me, Knute, and Michael, we’re still remind­ed of it with our dust-filled Khum­bu coughs we all wel­comed back with us, tak­ing back just a bit more of Nepal than we planned.

The Dudh Kosi riv­er along our last day’s walk. Justin Bruck­el photo

We left our last update high above 17,000 feet, climb­ing Kala Pat­tar and arriv­ing to our final des­ti­na­tion of Ever­est Base Camp. The descent was no less mem­o­rable. A swift exit from Gorak Shep had us swig­ging cof­fee and high­tail­ing it down 13 miles to the rel­a­tive com­forts of Pheriche, 3000 feet low­er. Hot show­ers, beer and wine, and a toasty tea house with a fire so warm we had to retreat to cool­er cor­ners. Sim­ple plea­sures like clean pil­lows and puffy com­forters sealed the evening. In the morn­ing, it was a heli-farewell to John and Lisa. For the rest of us, next was an escape from the beat­en Khum­bu path with one final adven­ture into the remote Gokyo Val­ley. The walk was mem­o­rable, but the night spent tucked away with our Sher­pa team and no oth­er con­tact with the out­side world will prob­a­bly be one of my all-time high­lights of the trip. Mani and Ten­z­ing final­ly showed their com­pet­i­tive chops, tak­ing on Justin, Josh, and Ken in row­dy boardgames’. The time togeth­er there, and over a relaxed few days down in Nam­che, meant a good unwind and slow meta­mor­pho­sis back to the real world.

Stone shel­ter along the path. Justin Bruck­el photo

Our last Himalayan day, Josh crushed us with the pac­ing into Luk­la. The pack of us play­ing chase were reg­u­lar­ly asked if we were part of the Ever­est Marathon also rac­ing down towards the Luk­la fin­ish line that day. It was fun feel­ing fresh legs after so many long pun­ish­ing days up high.

A farewell din­ner in Luk­la with all the Sher­pa and kitchen staff end­ed with the local team dis­ap­pear­ing with a few bot­tles of rum and the rest of us crash­ing out, dream­ing of clean show­ers and warm air down in Kath­man­du the fol­low­ing day. The rest of the return to civ­i­liza­tion was quite a blur to be hon­est. Waves of exhaus­tion, eupho­ria, and maybe even the first twinges of nos­tal­gia for a real­ly won­der­ful and shock­ing­ly strong team shar­ing this adven­ture together.

One last Namaste from all of us!

~ Moun­tain Mad­ness Guide Mara Larson