29 May Everest Base Camp Trek [Part 2] – The Longest Day of Our EBC Journey
Our journey to Everest Base Camp became tougher as we departed from Namche Bazaar for Tengboche.
// If you missed out part 1, click HERE [Everest Base Camp Trek Part 1 – From Lukla to Namche Bazaar] to read.
We begin the fourth day with a cold morning because it rained the night before. I wish I could just stay in bed and hide inside my heavy-duty sleeping bag. But let’s face the reality, we have to continue our hiking journey! After we changed, packed our bags and get ready to head out, we realised our door was locked from the outside. I guess it must have been done by those playful kids. Luckily our room (located on the first floor, facing the front yard) has windows so we asked for help from one of the hikers who stands outside smoking. What a funny way to start our morning, but thank god, it’s nothing serious. 😛
The flat but dusty route along Dudh Kosi river from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3,860m).
After breakfast, we departed from the guesthouse, hiked the steep path of Namche Bazaar to a flat and easy yet dusty trail that leads towards the view of Mount Everest. The weather was rather warm with the wind blowing up fine dust into the air, hence, I have to put on my face mask to block dust from entering my mouth and nose. About 2 hours later, we descended deep into the Dudh Kosi Valley crossing pine forests and small villages.
We stopped at one of the teahouses to grab lunch before we continue our journey. Both Mike and I ordered veggie fried noodle with egg which looks really delicious! Having big appetite, I finished everything on the plate. Unfortunately, Mike started to lose his appetite, face turned pale and felt really uncomfortable. I thought it was the effect of Diamox (pills to prevent acute mountain/altitude sickness which we started taking the night before), but it wasn’t. He ate only a quarter of his food and requested to nap for half an hour.
My worry began – we are now entering day-4 of our hike, not even 50% of the journey and such unfortunate things happened. Outside the sky becomes gloomy, knowing that we still have about 2 to 3 hours hike to reach our destination, our guide – Deepak urged us to continue our journey before the rain/storm/snow. And from there, we ascended the right flank of the Dudh Kosi Valley to our destination – Tengboche.
The path to our next destination is extremely tough – dry, steep and narrow rocky path all the way. With Mike’s body weakening, we have to stop almost every 5 minutes to rest. I can feel my thigh aching as I climbed, the wind blowing up the dust and my lungs coping to catch more oxygen. About two hours later, we felt tiny raindrops on us, I turned to ask our guide, “how far are we to Tengboche?”. “About one hour,” he said, hearing that I knew we will take about two hours to reach there with our speed at the moment. All I can do is to tell myself not to be panicked, keep calm, and encourage Mike to take little steps, go slow and drink lots of water. I prayed hard that the drizzle remains and rain to come after we arrived at our guesthouse. Unfortunately, the weather changed drastically. It started to rain and then snow. Quickly, we stopped to put on our windbreaker, toughen-up ourselves to endure the dropping temperature and continue our journey.
Upon reaching our guesthouse at Tengboche (3,860m), my eyes became teary due to all the mental and physical challenges that we experienced earlier. I quickly sucked it all in and acted normal. After dropping our bags in our room, we headed down to the dining room to warm our body as the guesthouse will usually start burning wood to keep the dining room warm from 5pm onwards. It was really comfortable inside there as we sipped hot ginger tea, chatted with other hikers and enjoyed the white snowy view beside the heater.
View from our room at Tengboche overlooking the snow-covered Mount Thamserku.
That evening Mike became really sick and downed with high fever. He couldn’t even taste the tasty Sherpa Stew – local Sherpa noodle soup. To be very honest, I was really sad looking at him suffering like that 3,860m up in the mountain where there is no clinic or hospital. All I can do is give him the diarrhea pills and panadol after food, hoping he gets better the next morning.
Before bed, Mike suddenly asked if I remembered our promise before we hike EBC – one of us will continue the journey if the other one could not continue. I felt that sourish feeling in my throat when he brought that topic up and I knew what was in his mind. He was afraid that he couldn’t make it to EBC with his weak body. Acting like a steel-cold-blooded girlfriend, I immediately shut him up, asked him to sleep, assured him that he will be better the next day and refused to talk to him anymore for that night.
Tengboche Monastery, also known as Dawa Choling Gompa, was built in 1916 and is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region.
Knock knock… Our guide knocked on our door at about 6.30am to check on Mike. Fortunately, Mike slept and rested well, and his voice regained some energy. After we changed and packed up, we headed out to visit the Tengboche Monastery which is located next to our guesthouse to catch their morning praying session. It is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery of the Sherpa community and also the spiritual centre of the Khumbu region. We sat on the cold wooden floor of the praying hall as the monks chant away the Tibetan-Buddhist prayer. The interior of the monastery is beautiful as every corner of the monastery is covered with delicate carvings and graceful paintings. Sitting in there simply gave us that peaceful and zen moment.
Great view of Mount Ama Dablam as we crossed the Imja Khola river.
Day 5 of our hike was a pleasant one as we descended through a beautiful forest and caught glimpses of Mount Everest, Mount Lhotse and other peaks. The scenery is truly spectacular and my favourite scene was the one when we crossed the icy cool Imja Khola river with the great view of Mount Ama Dablam, on our way to the valley of Pangboche (3,900m). I love to hear the gushing sound of water from the river as it is really soothing, especially during the hike, and motivating as well. We started to notice less tall trees and more shrubs along the way.
On our way to Dingboche, there are lesser trees but more shrubs.
Upon reaching Dingboche, a funny incident happened. As I was busy taking photos and videos, Mike ran straight to the big rock slightly on the left slope of the route. After I am done taking photos, our guide waved towards me pointing towards the big rock where Mike was waving at me with his “hand-rolling” sign. Honestly, I couldn’t understand him at first, then suddenly I realised he was referring to “toilet paper”, hence, I quickly ran towards him, opened my backpack and passed him the toilet paper. Everything happened so fast as we knew the next big group will be crossing soon. Funny thing is the wind was so strong that one of the used-toilet-paper flew away. Feeling sorry for Mother nature, I asked Mike to use stones to prevent toilet paper from flying away. Then we continue our journey with much seriousness as if the incident never happened. LOL! 😛 (* Sorry, Mike, I know you will be mad at me when you read this, but it is a funny story to share.)
Dingboche – a village in the Khumbu region of northeastern Nepal.
After about 5 hours of hike, we reached Dingboche (4,410), also known as the summer valley, where most trekkers will spend two nights for acclimatization purposes. We checked in our guesthouse – called Hotel Good Luck. Thanks to the Nepal Hiking Team, they managed to arrange for us a basic room with attached toilet. We felt grateful to have such facility up in the mountains, especially when Mike was still downed with diarrhea and me for taking Diamox which has a side effect that involves frequent toilet trips.
That night, we have to put on our thermal layer as the temperature dropped to near/below zero after the sun sets.
The purpose of the acclimatization day at Dingboche to Nagerjun peak is to climb high and sleep low.
Day 6 is our second acclimatization day that requires about 6 hours of trekking to an altitude of 5,100m. After breakfast, we ascend the Nagerjun Hill located on the flanks of the Chukung valley directly above Dingboche by using the longer, but less steep route. The temperature was still low and windy as we ascend Nagerjun, and the footpath was steep at times, resulting in a physically challenging day.
The view from the top was breathtaking as we had a good panoramic view of various mountains, such as Lobuche, Taboche, Thamserku, Kangtega and Ama Dablam. According to our guide, on a clear day, we could even see Makalu, the world fifth highest mountain. Unfortunately, the sky was misty and foggy, hence, we had to descent back to Dingboche to grab lunch and a well-deserved rest to prepare our body for the hike to the Everest Base Camp.
// Click HERE [Everest Base Camp Trek Part 3 – The Final Push!] to read.