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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 16 – Mongia to Lukla

Our last day hiking started like many others – cold, clear and crisp with black tea and porridge.

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We were looking forward to getting back to civilisation now and talk turned to what meals people would opt for and future holidays involving sea sand and sangria.

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I think it’s been much tougher than anyone on the group expected. At times we were really stretched, mentally and physically. The exercise of waking at altitude in these mountains just takes one’s breath away – literally.
It was Friday – and our last day on the trail. We were demob crazy. So we kept up a fast pace all the way to Phakding and then had lunch further on, where we stopped on the way up.

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The assertive crow was keen to get involved but didn’t do at all well as appetites had improved and there was no food to spare and share.
A slog up to Lukla but we were feeling fitter in the thicker air and walking well, even overtaking porters on occasion as they played their sound systems, smoked and took longer breaks – not as dedicated here as those higher up.
We arrived at Lukla and stood and watched planes taking off and landing. It really is an amazingly short runway.

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We again had a private bathroom western style toilet although no hot water. We went and had beers instead of showering at the Scottish bar in the town of Lukla that was both larger and more atmospheric than I remember from our first visit.
Mannie and Arvider fell off the wagon spectacularly again today and arrived back late for our final dinner both drunk and not wanting to contribute to the team tips for the porters. They felt they could and should tip directly to the individuals rather than through the group payment.
That went down very badly with the rest of the group and was effectively the final end of any tolerance that the group had for their behaviour. It tainted the evening and I remarked to Hamish that I had been to more lively funerals than this celebration party.

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The young porters though soon threw themselves into it after the meal arrived and we were then quickly dancing wildly and getting stuck into the rum again so the evening did become a qualified success – of a sort.
We were on an early flight out – two planes. Of course no one wanted to go on the plane with Mannie and Arvinder but Andy and I think Kieran drew the short straw. Apparently the two could not pay their bar bill when they got up in the morning and had to be subsidised until they got to Kathmandu.
What was odd about their behaviour was how pleasant they were when not under the influence and how much they went out of their way to be part of the group and help to succeed in our collective aims. Then when they went on the booze, they turned into very different people. And became out of control. Sad.
Still despite all that – I had enjoyed the hike enormously – it appeared most of the others had too, although the contrast between the bright faced, optimistic and clean looking groups starting off their hikes and our own tired and worn out and slightly shabby and hairy group was very apparent.
We’d all left something up in those mountains, some energy, some tolerance and some innocence. And some weight. And some wet wipes. But surely life changing experiences are meant that be like this? Well apart from the wet wipes….
And now we had a bucket load of new memories and had made some new friends.
And the next two days in Kathmandu based in the relatively most luxurious Royal Singhi would put some weight back on those bones and spring back in those steps.

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We parted company with our three Sherpa guides Nima, Parbhu and Chandra. And our three young porters. And our yak man who had only become apparent in the last few days once we went below the yak line. We slept well having used different muscles to dance with than those tired ones we had walked with.
In the morning, we walked into the airport which was 100 metres from our tea house and milled around uncertainly with a boarding pass that had a large 5 on it and not much other info. So the fifth flight out then. We watched as the first flights came and went, returning from Kathmandu to bring the capacity back to take us out. Our twelve embarked and we were off, stomachs dropping sharply with the small plane as it lurched off the ledge at the beginning of the runway.
Marvelling at the views of the mountains again we sped across the tree lined steep slopes below, casting a small shadow over remote villages where motorised transport has never been seen and apart from expensive helicopters and small planes, everything is carried in.

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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 15 – Dembouche to Mongia

My favourite day of the trip.

We walked downhill most of the day in lovely weather with sunshine on our fronts and mountains all around us.

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We had a team photo outside the monastery. From there it was steadily downhill. It was amazing to revisit what we had managed to do coming up the other way. It was steep and relentless.

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Namche Bazaar arrived and the geocaching sub group peeled off for an unsuccessful attempt on the absent cache that had been placed in the wall surrounding the military base – unsurprisingly not there given the stupidity of the chosen location.

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We stopped off in the bakery for a pleasant lunch including a good quality coffee.

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Then more downhill including the dramatic high bridge which Patrick and Hamish criss-crossed in search of plenty of bouncy fun and fabulous photos.

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The group was spreading out a lot on these downhill days with the front to back being more than twenty minutes. I got stuck ahead of a mule train of substance – I counted 30 plus of them. At the lower altitudes mules have become the number one form of transport. We also saw a very wide load Sherpa.

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The number of older porters is apparent too at these lower levels. While one can understand the youngsters doing their ”apprenticeship” by carrying loads (although ours said they were 18 and 19 I’d be surprised if they were that old – they look 15 to 16, I feel sorry for the older porters for whom a long life of carrying has become their whole career and who wear the signs of that constant pressure on spine and posture.

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We had a bit of a party at our evening destination of Mongia, as the rooms were well located with views down the valley and we had a private bathroom with a western style toilet. The luxury! We had a few small bottles of rum after dinner and started the following day slightly delicately as a result. I blame Patrick.

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We met an older kiwi couple (in their seventies) who were doing the three pass route and next year sailing round the world. Awesome.
A good night’s sleep combining the benefits of the rum and the air relatively thick with oxygen compared to where we had been over the previous week.

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My cold contributes to the coughing cacophony – just about everyone is coughing now and Kieran and Claudia are particularly badly affected. They may need some antibiotics to clear up what sounds like chest infections to my untrained ear. Various tinctures have been offered and tried without success. The Khumbu cough has taken its toll, making it difficult for the owner and others to sleep as well as just being exhausting for the unfortunate victims.

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Still, one more day and we will be in Lukla. And I could do with a wash and a shave.

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We did 17km today ascending 606 metres and descending 1616 metres. No wonder we celebrated!

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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 14 – Pheriche to Dembouche

Andy had persuaded three of us to join him on a side mission to find a geocache which was only 809 metres away from our tea house in Pheriche. So after negotiations with Tensi it was agreed that we would set off on a fast paced route march with Chandra as our guide and join the rest of the party further down the trail, hopefully at or just before the tea break.

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So we set off steeply out of the village straight up the hill up on to the overlooking ridge, noting the water powered prayer wheel and the split steel cone British made memorial to those who died attempting to climb Everest on the way.
Once on the ridge we could see the main Everest path with lots of people on it. Beyond the path and the free roaming yaks in front of us was a memorial area with stacked stones and prayer flags.

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We headed up there, noting the trekkers who were pushing on still higher – possibly on acclimatisation walks?

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After a shortish search Hamish came up with the find – possibly not the only one available but good enough for us to claim the cache and head down at breakneck speed past Dingboche and alongside a very attractive valley with a wild river coursing through it.

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Down over a small bridge and then up to run up against a fast moving small group of Zhos which despite their burdens gave us a good run in terms of getting along the trail at speed.

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Eventually we got our noses in front and soon caught up with the rest of the group.
At the next village we went past just about every available tea stop and Nima was just about to have a revolt on his hands when we spotted Jed and Elka who had been staying in the lowest tea house in the village – sadly without much of a view of Ama Dabblam but with a sunny courtyard where we caught up on their news and had a rest.

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We pressed on and crossed the river where we saw the mangled wreck of the previous suspension bridge which had been destroyed in the last big earthquake. The new one was quite bouncy. Up, up to the top of the ridge and then further to the site of the monastery and our accommodation for the night.

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The clouds had rolled in as was often the case in the afternoons and so we made the most of the intermittent sun on our backs through the window of the Thayangboche tea house. They had arranged platters of predetermined lunch for our arrival and we enjoyed noodles, roast potatoes, momos, tomato sauce and some steamed mixed vegetables.
Patrick, Hamish and I shared a couple of lively Sherpa beers and I rested for the afternoon free period, not sleeping but managing to recharge the batteries which was very welcome.

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Dinner at 6.30 was full although the guest house is not huge and so it felt cosy rather than crowded. There were two other groups including one Swiss one whose meal seemed to consist entirely of potatoes. My cheese omelette and chips washed down with a red Sherpa was excellent.

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We stayed up chatting until about 8.30, leaving some getting stuck into the rum and honey. We headed for bed conscious that Jed and Elka had seen a rat in their room the previous night but we didn’t hear it or see it – indeed I suspect all the coughing must have frightened it away.

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We have a long day tomorrow so a good nights sleep will be a boost. Cold in the room but nothing the sleeping bag, several layers of clothes and the beenie can’t handle!
Now that the homeward section is well underway, thoughts of lasagne, red wine, hot showers and flushing toilets are starting to take front of mind. But we are still relishing the adventure and making the most of being in the moment. And I’m starting to get through lots of wet wipes – no point in taking them home!

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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 13 – Gorek Shep to Pheriche via Kala Pattar 

We were quite pleased to see the back of Gorek Shep. An obvious point for it to get busy along the EBC main route as it is the kicking off place for all of us to start both Kala Pattar and EBC – it therefore doesn’t have to try hard. And doesn’t.

We were woken at 4.30am for our ascent on Kala Pattar. Not all would go. Patrick wasn’t sure if he would but after feeling stronger in the morning he decided he would – long trousers being the compromise and the first time he had worn them on the trip so far.

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At first we couldn’t get into the dining room for porridge so we were going to get straight off but after an assault on the door by Tensi they let us in for drinks and porridge.
It was bitterly cold. We think around -5 degrees but around -15 degrees with windchill.
The expression “my feet are like blocks of ice” was so apt.

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My gloves were sub standard. Hamish tried very kindly several times to get me to wear his but I just felt we would end up with both of us having cold hands. I can understand how on Everest itself it is every man for themselves. I was cross with myself that I wasn’t better equipped, but determined that only I should be suffering the consequences.

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Not quite as hard as Gokyo Ri but a really good test of endurance. Uphill steadily and relentlessly again. In the cold. Bitter cold. With the altitude making each step a real strain. It wasn’t that I was badly out of breath so I must be fairly fit, but the legs just have no strength in them.

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Eventually the nine of us that started this part of the trek reached the top. As did the sun. In fact the timing was almost ideal. With hands so frozen I couldn’t operate the iPhone I did my best to take a shot or two of Everest, which was the main reason for making this Climb. But I was so tired I didn’t have the motivation.

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I sat in the shelter out of the wind waiting for my extremities to thaw out in the welcome sunshine.

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The surroundings were truly spectacular. I had a snickers and felt better and the longer the sun continued to shine the stronger I felt.
We went back downhill at a much faster pace and I started to feel my toes. Three or so hours after we started we were back at the tea house joining the others for the balance of breakfast.

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We watched on as the Australian rugby league with accurate mountain sickness got put on a helicopter at around 9.30am – hope he is ok.

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I’ve developed a cold and associated bad cough.
Unavoidable I suspect in the bacteria breeding grounds of the communal dining rooms, where the heat is cranked up from the yak poo burning stove and the cacophony of coughing bears witness to the potential spread of germs.

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My nose streams. It doesn’t gush as much as the glacier fed rivers that are now going to be constant companions on the way back down to Lukla, but it’s close. I regret giving away four packs of tissues as I’m now down to my last two.
Tissues are unfortunately also ever present on the trails as they are discarded regularly and litter the landscape. I look after mine as they have become valuable.
We didn’t sleep very well at Gorek Shep as the altitude meant as someone put it: “ I can either breathe or sleep, not both at once.” So we set off downhill with a bit of a spring in our steps as we knew every metre downhill would improve our chance of a good night’s rest.

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We had another six hours to go although this was almost all downhill as we only ascended 157 metres and went down 1045 metres over 12km of walking. Of course that doesn’t include the nearly 500 metres ascent and descent of Kala Pattar. So we we ended up in our nicest tea house of the trek in Pheriche.

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A windy settlement at the bottom of another very steep sided valley alongside a major river.
Kieran was there to greet us, having used it as his base the night before and was looking much better.

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Our hosts really looked after us nicely at Pheriche. The toilets were clean. They gave us hot towels. The heating was on in the main room both in the evening and again in the morning unusually. We were of course now allowed beer and we had a couple of those and then were introduced to rum honey and hot water. I had a pizza – which although tasty at the time I regretted later with nasty heartburn.
Five of us played a game of “oh hell”.
We went to sleep and the rooms weren’t as cold as normal. We chain coughed from one end of the corridor to the other. But still got a much better rest as a result of the lower altitude.
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I tried to shower in the morning but no water. I’ll have to keep my beanie on another day. It is starting to become indistinguishable from me. And I’m hairy – very hairy. But not smelly thankfully. Merino is an absolute must to avoid that.

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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 12 – Lebouche to EBC to Gorek Shep

4.30 am I was up and ready for the knock on the door. I was definitely noticing the lack of oxygen in the air and that was giving me wild dreams and disjointed sleep.

The communal room had been unusually cold last night as they didn’t feed the fire after about 7pm. It was therefore still very cold this morning – we estimated -3 Celsius.

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After porridge and omelette we set of at around 6am. Again the weather was incredibly clear and the ground and streams were frozen. Toes have been getting cold this trip and as I’m not wearing sock liners due to them giving me a rash, it takes an hour or so of walking and for the sun to start shining on us for my toes to thaw.
After about that hour Kieran decided to return to our tea house as he didn’t feel mentally or physically able to complete the day. Fully understandable and he gave it everything. Not sleeping well the night before was probably the final nail.

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So Chandra accompanied him and we were now down to two guides, Tensi and Nima.
It was quite a long walk up to Gorek Shep – up and down along a lateral moraine and some three and a half hours later we were there – and ordering lunch!

9.30 is quite early for that but we were surprisingly hungry and the Sherpa stew went down well, although Ray did find a teabag in his. We also took with us a toasted peanut butter sandwich to eat later at Base Camp.

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The trail to EBC was unsurprisingly busy. If 30,000 people a year walk this route and there are about 120 days when it is good enough weather to do so, then that means 250 people a day visiting EBC. Indeed Tensi says that they can get up to 400 a day.
So there is a lot of juggling along the path as people and the occasional horse and rider make way for each other. No yaks though fortunately. We went through rockfall areas and followed the route along the top of yet another enormous lateral moraine.

There is also quite a lot of scrambling over rocks and boulders and it’s quite tough on the feet.

The cumulative effect of all the walking is starting to catch up on me and I felt lethargic despite snacks being offered by Hamish and others.

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Three hours after we set off from Gorek Shep we were at Base Camp.

Some have said that we might find it anticlimactic as it is essentially a set of prayer flags and a sign we can hold to the photographed.

We couldn’t see any camps for climbers although we thought that their base might be another half an hour walk across the glacier.

That would make sense as they could then see clearly up the narrow valley that leads across the Khumbu ice fields to Camp One.

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We took the obligatory pictures and had our sandwiches. One can see the tip of Everest but it isn’t the most impressive view hence Kala Pattar tomorrow.


We did however see a number of snow avalanches on Nuptse across the valley about half a mile or so from us. They gave a real sense of the power of these mountains. And a very clear perception of how dangerous it is to carry on from Base Camp to try and climb the mountain.  One would need to be brave, selfish and perhaps also not have any dependents.  Or at least those who were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.

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I was full of admiration on the way back when Hamish managed to call Gina (it is their wedding anniversary) and had enough puff to both walk up a steep hill and also have a conversation with her.

I needed to concentrate on keeping enough oxygen in my lungs on the uphill stretches and so became very taciturn on those bits.

Well – we had done it! An amazing feeling of satisfaction came later, but on the day, energy preservation was the key.

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Going back was easier as it was mostly downhill and it took us roughly 2hrs to get back to Gorek Shep.

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We headed for our room after drinks (again the porters kindly brought a welcome hot drink out on to the trail for us) and I slept for a couple of hours – hopefully enough to reduce the deficit without affecting tonight although this will be the highest place we sleep on the trip at 5180 metres so I’m not expecting the easiest of nights.

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We went down for our dinner to discover that the communal dining room was packed. To the extent that there were no chairs for us.

I managed to find one that was broken and eventually another was found ahead of our meal. It was very hot in the room – quite a contrast to the previous evening. A large group of Australian rugby league players had been helicoptered in and were going back the same way tomorrow – sponsored by a large corporate and raining money for brain cancer. A worthy cause but one couldn’t help feeling that the £20k spend on helicopter journeys could have been better utilised?
One of their party got AMS badly and was being sick and staggering around. Fitness is no substitute for acclimatisation clearly. He will be put on oxygen overnight and on the first chopper out in the morning. Hopefully he will survive the process.

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We retired to bed fairly early with another long day tomorrow.
We did 8 hours today covering 13.7 km and 637 metres ascent and 392 metres descent. Our high point was EBC at 5360 metres. Success!!!!
Tomorrow is another 8-8.5 hour day but after getting Kala Pattar out of the way (400 metres ascent to 5545 metres) then it’s all downhill to Pheriche!

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EBC Day 11 – Dzongla to Lebouche

An easy day today which was only a few hours walking along some relatively flat terrain.

And I think the group needed it when the prospect of a twelve hour day to EBC beckons tomorrow.

I woke at 4 but managed to doze until 6. It was so cold in our room that there was a layer of ice on the inside.

After breakfast we gradually declined alongside the river until crossing it about an hour short of Lebouche. We had great views of Ama Dabblam along the way and stopped regularly for rest and photos.

We set off at around 8.45 and walked 7.3 km in 3 1/2 hours.

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We had brilliant weather again and the views were again extremely fine. This could end up being one of my favourite days of the trip.

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I’m hoping the sore throat and early morning headache doesn’t develop into a cold. Patrick is in a similar condition.


Kiran, Claudia, Ray and Graeme all seem better today so the group is a bit fitter.
Once we arrived at Lebouche we had lunch and not surprisingly no one volunteered to walk up the ridge in the afternoon, all deciding that recharging the batteries ahead of two tough days was the first priority.

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Total distance 7.3km in 3 hours 30. Ascent 271 metres descent 175m. Easy-peasy!

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At around 3pm a few of us went to assist Hamish with his project to help celebrate his anniversary tomorrow .IMG_4135

We then repaired to the tea house for a well earned hot chocolate and then I had a shower and did some emails before meeting the group at 5pm for a chance to have a chat and order dinner (tomato soup and egg spring rolls).

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Dinner arrived at 6.30 and we managed to call my mum afterwards which was a surprising bonus. Heather and I chatted via Skype and I hope that storm Brian hasn’t caused too much damage in Wales.

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Steripen treated some water – must read the instructions when I get back as I always struggle to get it going. Also lost the oximeter as I probably left it behind at breakfast.
Expecting a really cold night tonight so might get the thermals out again – a huge day tomorrow so need my beauty sleep!

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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC day 10 – Thagnak to Dzongla via the Cho La pass

4.30 am and the knock on the door. Not just the outside door but once I opened that, Chandra pushed past to knock on the neighbours door as well. This layout is quite common now – two adjoining twin bedrooms with their own entrance door and a shared Asian style toilet in between them.

The walls are made of plywood – so you can hear everything from next door and indeed several doors away.

At 4.30am I was awake anyhow as the people in the room above had been up for at least 30 minutes.

Another exciting day ahead!

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After porridge, toast (traded with Hamish for a boiled egg) the 14 of us and 3 guides set off on the steep path immediately behind our tea house to tackle the notorious Cho La pass. We had split our luggage and only the bare essentials were going with us courtesy of the four young porters.

We climbed and climbed, first through dusty moraine, then over rock and then scrambled over boulders and large rocks.

We took our time and rested frequently. Hamish kindly stayed at the back to support and encourage Kieran who had struggled on the previous day and was now finding today day’s climb extremely tough. Hamish and I had a shared invested in a pack of magic digestive biscuits and Hamish’s constant gentle encouragement and occasional magic biscuit and mint imperial got Kieran to the top.

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For an Australian man in good health and above average fitness in his early fifties Kieran was totally out of his normal environment.  He had never been so high and in such cold mountains and on such a strenuous hike and understandably burst into relieved tears at the top of the pass, nearly three hours after we started.

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The view over the top of the pass down into the valley the other side was totally worth the climb. A shining white glacier slid downhill away from us, framed by spiky and snow covered mountains on all sides.

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After our packed lunch and multiple photos we set off to cross the glacier, putting our yaktrax on as soon as we reached the ice. For those that don’t know what these devices are, and I was unaware of their existence before this trip, they are lightweight crampons that fit on the bottom of ones boots. They are made up of rubber surrounds that stretch all round the side and bottom of the boot and hold steel discs that dig into the ice.

They are highly effective and I felt totally stable and safe crossing the ice, which was lumpy, watery at times and of variable depth.

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We didn’t have long on the glacier but it was enough to enjoy the experience and with dramatic high mountains all around, a clear blue sky above and white ice underfoot it was an out of world moment.

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We reached the edge of a plateau and could see our destination in the distance, framed by mountains like Aba Dablam. Whilst marvelling at the surroundings the cloud came sweeping in and ten minutes later the views were obscured. How lucky were we!

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We then tracked downhill scrambling across rocks and then descending the biggest lateral moraine I had ever seen. Some two hundred metres high above the valley floor with a river running through it and with a steep drop off on both sides it was another dramatic time on this trip that has been so full of drama already.

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We dropped down to the valley floor and walked pleasantly along one of the first flattish stretches we have had and certainly the first of the day.

Down the path we are met by the young porters who came out from the tea house where they had dropped our bags to greet us with a welcoming lemon drink. A really nice touch and that gave us the energy boost we needed to complete the days walk.

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We had climbed 843 metres and descended 262 over a long nine hour stretch.

On reaching the tea house I lay down for an hour and slept for most of that. I had built up a bit of a sleep deficit over the last few days.

So it was with a cheer that we we heard in our briefing for the day ahead that a 7am wake up and 8am breakfast was the plan for the following day. And a relatively short 4 hour day ahead of two tough days thereafter.

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We had a good dinner in a warm communal room and most went to bed at 7.30pm to 8pm with Hamish and I staying up to 8.30pm.

It was freezing in the room and thermal leggings and the silk inner to the sleeping bag were essential.

We woke to a sheet of ice on the inside of our window – double glazing of a different kind!

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Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC day 9 –  Gokyo to Thagnak (via Gokyo Ri)

Wow – what a day! We were woken at 5 and after porridge for breakfast we were heading off to climb Gokyo Ri at 6.15am. The sun was just lighting up the tops of some of the nearby sentinels and the lakes were eerily still.

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Suffice to say this was the toughest walk I can remember for a very long time. It was relentlessly uphill. Those who had gone up early to catch the sunrise were cheerily encouraging as they past us on their way down.

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We saw some snowcocks on the way up – funny little birds with interesting plumage and the character of the road runner.

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Walking up Gokyo Ri was tough. Very tough. 2 and 3/4 hours later I was at the top. Once I can get a decent Wi-fi access I’ll let the pictures do the talking. I felt dizzy on the way up although no headache or other signs of AMS.

 

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And so I arrived at 5360 metres – higher than I had ever been before. Exhausted but exhilarated – we felt on top of the world – literally. The views of Everest and a number of other 8000m plus mountains were exceptional and again we were so lucky with the weather with a clear sky that provided warmth in the sun and out of the windchill it was very pleasant.

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We must have been nearly an hour at the summit. IMG_3983

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Much quicker down of course and I used the walking pole that Hamish had lent me to great effect. An hour later we were back at the bottom and crossing the stepping stones back to the Fitzroy Tea House to pack our bags and have lunch. (Spaghetti and tomato sauce).

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We set off after lunch to our next stop just at the bottom of the Cho La pass. A five km walk mostly across the Ngozumba glacier. 36 miles long it is one of the longest on the planet. But the mental picture most of us have of glaciers is a long way from the reality of this one. It is covered in dirty moraine – dusty and rocky in equal measure. So it looks grey instead of white.

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We walked down into it on a very narrow dusty path with steep drop on the left and the occasional landslide to cross.

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One of our party said that it was the most dangerous walk he had ever made.

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That might be an exaggeration as the path looked well used and we hadn’t heard of anyone being injured or killed in rockslides. However you could see that it has the potential to be dangerous. This glacier is in my humble opinion dying. It doesn’t appear to be moving and there are no crevasses, instead just pools of water appearing at regular intervals as the ice melts. We heard it cracking the previous evening on our walk but not today.

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We were all really tired by the time we got to the tea house just at the start of the pass and knowing we had a 9 hour next day most went to bed even earlier than usual to get in the required sleep before the 4.30am wake up call.

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I showered before dinner (fried noodles with vegetables and a fried egg) and we settled up before checking that all the essentials are in one bag and non-essentials are in another. We will see the yaks (and the non-essential bag) in 48 hours.

Jed and Elka have decided to join us again in 4 days time as neither of them has been well and the next few days will just be too difficult. So we will be down to 14 and 3 guides.
I’m hoping the weather will stay fine as the forecast is for snow in a few days time.

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But tomorrow I get to use my yaktrax as we cross an icy patch at the top of the pass – exciting times ahead!

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Categories
Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 8 – Machhermo to Gokyo.

We woke to the most wonderfully sunny day with a heavy frost on the ground and not a cloud in the sky.

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The food had been good at the tea house but the toilets were lousy and there wasn’t a sink anywhere to wash in or brush teeth. I tried the outside hose but that wasn’t working and the container of water had frozen.

So I cracked open one of the large sports wet wipes that Heather had got me from Costco and that was both shower, bath and towel.
We set off after a breakfast of porridge and Tibetan bread and were soon up on top of the ridge with the path to Gokyo stretching out before us and my pocket full of juniper berries.

This was a great day’s walking, mostly fairly flat after the initial steep start and with the fast slowing river vertiginously winding its ways on one side and steep snowy mountains towering up on the other.

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The village where we stopped for tea (well a small settlement of a couple of buildings) had suffered casualties in the 2015 avalanche and we could see all the stone walls had been largely rebuilt.

We pressed on in the warm sun and every time we stopped for frequent rests it was lovely to soak up the warmth and the scenery. We felt very lucky to be enjoying such a stunning day.

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Claudia’s wide brimmed hat decided to jump into the river following a gust of wind and the force of the water made it difficult to retrieve. Eventually two of the guides managed to rescue it.

The solar panel on the back of my day pack was charging mine and others’ phones very effectively and I got used to the pinging noise that went with the panel either starting or stopping charging. The panels have worked a treat and were definitely worth bringing.

Around 11am we arrived at the first of the three Gokyo Lakes.

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I’m not sure our photos will do justice to the intense blue colour of the lakes but we took plenty of them!

We had ordered lunch at our tea stop and the porters chased on to Gokyo and then came back along the trail to greet us with a warm drink and biscuits alongside the second lake. It was lovely to sit down behind a sheltering rock in the warm sun admiring the scenery and I must admit I dozed off for five minutes.

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The last of the three lakes is the largest and the trail to the Gokyo Ri summit that we are attempting the following day runs clearly down to the lake edge.

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Our tea house is well placed to enjoy great views over the third lake and after lunch of Sherpa stew we took advantage by sitting outside in the sun before doing our afternoon acclimatisation walk.

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This time we walked up 60 metres or so behind the tea house to a ridge overlooking the Ngumba glacier – the longest in Nepal at 36 miles.

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It is covered in grey crunchy moraine dirt and rocks and looks slightly less dramatic than a pure white one would do, but the longer one stays and watches one can hear the ice cracking and moving.

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We retreated back downhill and headed to the 4800m high bakery (apparently the worlds first highest one until some other bakery must have stolen the honour) and had a hot mango and chocolate chip cake.

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We then unnecessarily packed our belongings into two bags having misunderstood when we were losing the services of the yaks for a couple of days, (the yaks can’t get over the Cho La pass) which we thought started tomorrow. In fact we didn’t need to, as it would be another day until that was the case but it was an interesting exercise and good practice for the next day.

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Dinner was good – Dal Bhat. No alcohol now at this altitude!

Most of the group are now taking Diomoxin although I’m trying to hang on to not use it if I don’t need to. My oxygen levels are fine at 91% and I’m feeling 100%.

Tomorrow will be the sternest test of that so far though as we hike the 560 meters to 5360m at the summit of Gokyo Ri. IMG_3964

A 5am start so early to bed!

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Categories
Everest Base Camp 2017 General

EBC Day 7 – Lole to Machhermo

After a cold night I was looking forward to a warming shower but there was no one about at 5.15 am apart from kitchen staff who didn’t have the key and so I just washed my hair in the one sink available and wet wiped myself.

It was very cold and the cloud was still low. Some thought it had rained in the night although it could have been hard to hear over the river.

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We set off just before 8am after a breakfast of porridge and Tibetan bread and honey, climbing up the steep slope that we had gone up the previous evening for our acclimatisation walk. It looked like it had rained as the ground was damp underfoot.

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We quickly gained about 300 metres in height and then walked along a level stretch alongside a lovely steep valley with the cloud clearing all the while before winding up towards our tea stop.

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The views were spectacular again all around us and cameras were clicking everywhere. We started to warm up in the bright sun and layers were peeled off.

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After a short uphill stretch that took us to 4450 metres we then strolled downhill to our evening destination of machumbe and crossed the river to the Manchul Lodge where we had welcome hot mango drink, checking in to our rooms and then the bags arrived just in time to do some washing before lunch.

After lunch we had an acclimatisation walk 125 metres up to the flags out of the valley to the north which we would take again the following day on our way to Gokyo.

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From the prayer flags on the top of the ridge at 4500 metres we could see the path we were going to take alongside the river the following day including our tea stop which would come early.

We stayed up on the ridge out of the wind admiring the views for a while to help us acclimatise.

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On the way down we picked some juniper berries to take back home for Himalayan home made gin. Or at least that’s the plan. But maybe washing clothes is the first priority.

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We then walked over to the local hospital, Red Cross centre and porter support charity – all in the same building, where two young doctors gave us an interesting talk on the symptoms and dangers of acute mountain sickness.

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Suitably warned and informed we headed back for dinner (Swiss rosti, cheese and vegetables) with a beer and then four of us played “oh hell” for an hour or so before heading for bed.

We had rescued the damp washing from the outside line earlier and hung them up on chairs in the main dining room after the diners had finished eating and warned them around the yak dung stove.

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It was chilly in the bedroom (understatement) but the sleeping bag worked a treat.

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