07 Jul Everest Base Camp Trek [Part 3] – The Final Push!

The excitement and adrenaline rush heading to the Everest Base Camp via Lobuche and Gorekshep! 

// If you missed out part 2, click HERE [Everest Base Camp Trek Part 2 – The Longest Day of Our EBC Journey] to read.

Day 7 – Dressed in our warmest clothing as the morning is pretty cold there, we started our day early (about 8am), trekked along the broad valley from Dingboche village. As there are no more tall trees, only shrubs, the view is unblocked and everything seems so small compared to the gigantic mountains surrounding us. The Nepalis consider the broad valley “flat” or “Nepali flat land” as the land is considerably flatter than the hilly terrains. Mount Tobuche and Cholache on our left stood tall and steady on our two-hour journey to our resting point – Thukla, or some call it Dughla. The beauty of place is unbelievable beautiful and breath-taking as if its beauty overwhelms you leaving you feel speechless.

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On our way from Dingboche to Thukla, crossing broad valley.

Since it’s still early and our tummy is still full from breakfast, we had milk tea and a good 15 minutes rest before we continue our journey. As the temperature is rising, we took off our fleece jacket and gloves. For trekkers who are going the same route, please do not celebrate early at Thukla thinking you have covered half of the distance for the day. The challenging part comes after Thukla where you are required to ascend an extremely steep and rocky slope.

The slope looks short and easy from the base, but I can tell you that it is not as easy as it seems. That 40 minutes hike on that slope is very challenging and tiring considering the weather is dry and extremely hot with wind blowing up the fine dust. On top of that, I felt the burn on my skin as the sun shine, making me feel dizzy and uncomfortable as well. Coping with the rising altitude is one of the biggest challenges during the journey as the higher we ascend the air contain lesser oxygen which can lead to mountain sickness. With that reason in mind, we keep reminding ourselves to go slow and stop often to drink lots of water.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-3Us- after successfully hiked the steep slope from Thukla to the memorial ground.

After pushing ourselves through the steep slope, we finally reached an open ground with many memorial stones around it. Rocks are piled shaped like a stupa in memory of sherpas and climbers who have lost their lives climbing Mount Everest. So many have lost their lives in the attempt to summit the great mountain for so many years for many reasons, I believe. My sincere admiration and salutation to all of them, regardless they have summit Mount Everest or not, it’s the effort and spirit that counts.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-4Our journey from the memorial ground to the next destination – Lobuche.

We then continue our journey to Lobuche (4,910m) crossing rocky path and broad valley. The weather became gloomy as we walked. Temperature starts to drop slowly with strong wind blowing towards us, makes the air dry and dusty. Hence, we covered our face with face mask, increased our speed and focused on walking, hoping it will not rain or snow until we reach the tea house.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-5The humble village of Lobuche.

After slight descend and upon reaching Lobuche, many yaks can be seen gracing at the shrubs. Sounds of bells from the yaks carried by the wind can be heard as we passed by the yak pastures. Lobuche is a very humble village with only a hand-full of houses and tea-houses. We dropped our bags in our room upon arrival at the Mother Earth Hotel and grabbed our lunch at the dining hall. We do not really have huge appetite as we have hiked and walked a lot today, hence, forcing ourselves to finish more than half of the food to ensure our body gets the necessary food for energy.

Once we had our lunch, we took the opportunity and free time to see the Khumbu Glacier which is just 15 to 20 minutes hike from our tea house. We have to put on our windbreaker, hat and gloves as the temperature was quite low and wind was blowing strong which gave us chills. The Khumbu Glacier is the highest glacier in the world – also a monumentally slow-moving river of ice that stretches thousands of feet from the Mount Everest. From the photo below, the glacier looks like a valley of sands and rocks, but underneath those rocks is a pool of icy glacier formed thousands of years ago. The size of the glacier is so huge which I can’t even fit into one shot with my camera.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-6The Khumbu Glacier – a monumentally slow-moving river of ice that stretches thousands of feet from the Mount Everest.

Day 8 (18 April 2016) is a momentous day for us, as we will be trekking to the Everest Base Camp. Realising THE day has come makes us really nervous and excited! We woke up very early (6.30am) to extremely cold morning as it snowed the night before. It’s going to be a long day with an estimation of 8 hours hike, which is why we departed early and made our way to Gorekshep. Considering the temperature was still low, we walked in fast and consistent pace. The route to Gorekshep is pretty flat with rocky surface, no shrubs can be seen, and with slight elevation. It gets pretty warm when the sun is up, so it’s advisable to take of your thick/warm layer of jacket and drink lots of water to keep your body hydrated.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-7The route from Lobuche heading towards Gorekshep.

Upon reaching Gorekshep (5,181m) after about 2.5 hours of walk/hike, we grabbed early lunch and rest. Since we are going to be staying the night here, we left our duffel bags in our room and brought with us only a bag of necessities which contains our down jacket, windbreaker, water, etc, and continue our journey to the Everest Base Camp.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-8Clear blue sky on our way to the Everest Base Camp (5,364m) from Gorekshep (5,181m).

We reckoned that the journey will take about 2 to 3 hours depending on our pace. There is not much elevation gain heading to our destination hiking alongside the Khumbu Glacier which is on our right, but there are a lot of ups and downs on huge rocks which requires intense focus, attention and balancing. I don’t feel good crossing the rocky glacier as creepy sounds of cracking stones from the glacier far away echoed to our ears, or flowing icy river beneath the stones can be heard as we climbed pass them. We then learnt that these are natural phenomena and not something to be worry of.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-9An hour more to Everest Base Camp… from here you could see the Khumbu Icefall. Look at the size of the hikers, it will gives you a sense of scale of the mountains and glacier.

The view heading towards the base camp is insanely beautiful. Every single corner is postcard-perfect making the whole journey a rewarding one. It is not boring at all if you allow the beauty of nature to entice you. After about an hour of hike, we could clearly see the orange dots, which are the tents at the base camp. Imagine a straight line from where we were to the Everest Base Camp, it looks very near, but it took us more than an hour to reach the base camp. The mountains and distances are so huge here!! We can never ever underestimate the distance on the mountains.

Along the way, we saw many hikers returned to Gorekshep after reaching the base camp with happy faces and the I’ve-made-it-smile hanging on their faces. Many of them cheered us too – “A little more!”, “Keep going!!”, “Don’t give up!”, some even shaked our hands congratulate us in advance “Congratulations, you’ve made it!” Those sincere encouragement made us feel the adrenaline rush to run towards the base camp. Haha!

And… after an hour of walk/hike, FINALLY, we arrived at the EVEREST BASE CAMP (EBC) (5,364m)! Can’t tell you how teary I was when I reached EBC. All the preparations, the mental and physical challenges that we faced from Day 1, coping with rising altitude, harsh weather, etc, I never regret the decision I have made to hike to the Everest Base Camp with my own legs. Everything is worth it! In fact, it is one of the most amazing things I have ever done or seen in my life so far. Nobody says it’s going to be easy, but we take it one step at a time, and here we are – standing at the base camp of the highest mountain of the world.  #liveboldly

For those climbers who are going to summit Mount Everest, also known as summiters, Everest Base Camp is just a starting point to the Mount Everest. The whole expedition to summit the mountain will take 6o-days! Yeap, you read it right … it’s SIXTY days / TWO months to reach to the Top of The World! Well, the thought of it can be very daunting.

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We spent about a good 30 minutes at EBC enjoying the view of the mountains and the Khumbu Icefall, breathing in some EBC fresh air and taking photos and videos. That’s when the sky became gloomy and strong wind began to blow, hence, we decided to pack our stuff and made our way back to Gorekshep. We felt rain drops on us as we hiked towards Gorekshep, then it started to snow heavily. It was terrible as we have to endure the drastic change of weather.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-11Our journey back to Gorekshep from EBC was a snowy and cold one.

Day 9 – Today, our plan according to the schedule is to hike up to Kalapattar (5,364m), which is located right behind Gorekshep. From there we will have the best vantage point to view the entire south face of Mount Everest and its surrounding peaks. We started our day as early as 6am, dressed in our warmest hiking attire and jacket. The weather did not do us justice as we need to walk/hike in a sub-zero temperature with terribly strong wind. Silly of me to wear my cotton gloves instead of ski gloves, I can’t feel my fingers after several minutes into the hike. That feeling was horrible! I have to keep making stops to brush my palms and fingers to make sure it’s not frost bite.

Thank god the temperature starts to rise as minutes passed and we continued our journey up. On our right, we saw the true alpenglow (/noun/: the rosy light of the setting or rising sun seen on high mountains) as the first ray of sun hits the peaks of the mountains. It’s so beautiful and breathtaking. I love that scene so much.

alpenglow-daily-nepal-ebc3-12Can you spot Mount Everest? … She is not the biggest nor the smallest in the photo. 😛

Satisfied with the spectacular view, we trekked down to Gorekshep for a warm breakfast and then made our way down to Lobuche.

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Note: We are supposed to head to Dzongla and Cho La pass, and trek to Gokyo Lakes on day-9, according to our initial plan. Due to Mike’s knee problem, we have to head back down to Namche Bazaar using a different route – via Periche and Khumjung. I personally love Periche as it is located at the low land and the view is amazing. If you happened to descend using that way, I suggest you to stay one night at Periche. The serene atmosphere of the village is a priceless one.

I have to thank Nepal Hiking Team for their unconditional care towards us. They have made the effort to secure good accommodation, always care for us during our journey and educate us a lot on the lives of the locals and even cultural and geographical knowledge about Everest Base Camp, the mountains and Nepal.  We have not only seen the beauty of the Everest Base Camp trek, but experienced sincere hospitality by them and learnt a lot about that place. We will definitely go back to Nepal in the near future. 🙂

If you have any questions related to the Everest Base Camp trek, feel free to e-mail me at jacq@alpenglowdaily.com

 

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