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Everest Trek Reaches Base Camp!

Every thing is going smooth­ly. Ding­boche (14, 300 ft.) is one of the beau­ti­ful Himalayan vil­lages and high­est per­ma­nent civ­i­liza­tion in Mt. Ever­est region. Trails are busy due to trekkers and many climbers head­ing up to Ever­est Base Camp. We stay one extra day in Ding­boche for acclima­ti­za­tion and hike up the val­ley towards Island Peak. 

After that we are head­ing up to Ever­est Base Camp – one of the famous adven­ture des­ti­na­tions in a life! Pre-mon­soon thun­der­storm clouds rose up in after­noon the last few days, but now we are lucky because weath­er is improv­ing every day. As we hike, we have a fan­tas­tic view of Khum­bu Val­ley and moun­tains surrounding.

(See a video of hik­ing out of Ding­boche here.)

We’re going up, but the yaks are com­ing down. An expe­di­tion runs on its stom­ach, so food is con­stant­ly being brought up to sup­port the hun­dreds of peo­ple at base camp. Climb­ing sea­son means a pletho­ra of yak car­a­vans on the trail, fer­ry­ing sup­plies and then return­ing to Nam­che for the next load.

(See the yaks here!)

(See the High Trail out of Lobuche here.)

Few peo­ple take the high trail out of Lobuche, but I like to. The short climb brings us out into the morn­ing sun while the low­er trail is still cold in the moun­tains’ shad­ow. Dra­mat­ic views of Pumori (a peak so beau­ti­ful it was named Daugh­ter of the Moun­tain”) and the upper end of the Khum­bu Val­ley lure us onward. Step by step we climb high­er and grow clos­er to the world’s high­est summit.

Reach­ing the top of Kala Patar (which, at 18,450 ft., is the clas­sic view­point for Mt. Ever­est) is an ardu­ous 2 – 3 hour climb to a rocky sum­mit strewn with prayer flags. While the moun­tains appear still and serene, the wind actu­al­ly whips and gusts against us with impos­ing force. Only 50% of the oxy­gen at sea lev­el up here – it’s like hik­ing with only one lung, but it’s worth it. As promised, Ever­est looms large, framed on either side by Lhotse and Nuptse.

(Check out a video show­ing 360 degrees of moun­tains — includ­ing Ever­est! — here.)

We are sur­round­ed 360-degrees by the mas­sive moun­tains. Peaks 23,000 ft and high­er form this jagged stretch of the Himalayas, and the 5‑mile Khum­bu glac­i­er sticks out like a tongue through the mid­dle of the val­ley. I can under­stand what dri­ves some peo­ple to climb anoth­er 10,000 feet to stand on the earth­’s peak, but for me, stand­ing at 18,450 ft feels like I’m on top of the world. Ebul­lient, inspired, and some­what exhaust­ed after 7 hours of hik­ing, we are keen for the com­forts of our lodge, sim­ple though it is.

We’re going up, but the yaks are com­ing down. Yak car­a­vans fer­ry sup­plies to Ever­est Base Camp on the same trail we hike along. Cross­ing rock­slides and step­ping out onto the glac­i­er, we are all dwarfed by con­tours of ice. EBC is not a flat space, but rather a sprawl­ing, con­vo­lut­ed array of tents amid the rock and ice. It’s a tremen­dous amount of work to clear enough flat space for camps and kitchens, so sher­pa staff are at EBC well ahead of the for­eign climb­ing teams in order to pre­pare the sites. More­over, the glac­i­er is con­tin­u­al­ly shift­ing, which means that every 2 – 3 weeks they will need to adjust the sites and clear new areas. Heavy labor at high altitude.

~ MM Guides Deana Zabal­do and Pem­ba Gyal­je Sherpa

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