Everest Base Camp Days 7, 8 & 9

Day 7

The trek continued in to day 7 waking up at 5 am after a sleep full of odd and uncomfortable dreaming that I couldn’t remember.  I still don’t remember what they were, just that they weren’t happy at all. I dream all the time, but it’s rare that they aren’t happy. When I looked out my frosty window, I saw that 2 inches of fresh snow had fallen outside, and a thick layer of frost covered my sleeping bag and gear inside. Thrilled about the snow, however, I layered up, grabbed my camera, and set off up the same hill I had hiked the day prior for a better view of the sunrise. My toes and fingers tingling from the cold, I resolved to get the hike in before breakfast to warm myself up and loosen up for the longer trek later that morning.

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As I write this post, my journaling started to ramble a bit off topic.  The most prevalent memory I have of my days in the higher elevation is not just the view, but the people on my mind as I took it all in. I left certain people back home when I started this journey, and at moments high in the mountains, shivering in the bitter cold, I think about how it could have been shared. The sun rising behind me sent a brilliant pink and purple alpenglow across the entire valley.  Herds of yaks shuffled down the pathways to carry supplies to base camp, the wind picked up bits of frost that made the morning seem to glitter as I walked, and air held a peace that only comes in the hours of the morning before everyone wakes up.  This was the peace I looked for in this trek, that I constantly kept waking up early for, before the crowds and masses of tourists rose to trek down the busy trails.  It wasn’t present as often as I liked, but it helped me keep my sanity across the frustrations and hurdles that had occurred thus far.

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The trek over Lobuche Pass was easy-peasy. At about 4800 meters, I stopped for a tea break next to the river at the base of the final push over Lobuche Pass. The entire trek in to Lobuche took 40 minutes from there and once again my hike was finished for the day before noon ever came around.

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After a quick lunch and settling in to my room, I ran in to my friend Kelsey! We had already been adventuring through the San Fransisco Airport, 20 hours of sketchy chaotic events in China, and a plane ride in to Kathmandu that we will never forget.  Running in to her the day before the journey to Everest Base Camp was PERFECT! I met up with her friends that she was trekking with and we all hiked around the area, including to the Italian Pyramid.  Hiking through these mountains is still taking my breath away… every single second of it. As we returned from the pyramid, the snow started to flurry and storm, bringing in the cold front and a few inches to start tomorrow’s trek on.

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Day 8

Today started with getting farted on by a yak. Only in Nepal, eh? The trek in was short and easy getting in to Gorak Shep.  It was absolutely frigid, but watching the sunrise from a hike through the passes was well worth it. After only an hour and a half, we rolled in to Gorak Shep by 8:30 am.

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Surprisingly enough (not really), my guide insisted that we stop for lunch.  He claimed that the weather would be terrible and lots of ice and wind if we went right away. I finally decided to say something, as I was SO tired of missing out.  Every day, he had insisted we start later and later so that he could sleep in. I watched the beautiful, sunny hours of the morning drift away rather than hike.  Today, it was incredibly sunny, no wind, and a great temperature.  I looked over at my guide and informed him that I was going to hike to Base Camp right away.  Rather than hike in with the hundreds of people heading there in a few hours, I had, in fact, gotten up early because I liked the peaceful hikes in the morning with no people.  He argued with me for ten minutes, even ordered some tea while insisting we not do it. He also insisted we do Kallapatar today as well and not for sunrise.  After hearing the legends of the best sunrise in the world, he was trying to avoid it. I was baffled, irritated, and refusing to let anything steal the happy and amazing memories of the Himalayas I wanted to have.  So I stopped arguing, turned to the door, and started to walk. I was heading to Base Camp.

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The hike in to Base Camp was an incredible journey.  I got to hike along the Khumbu Glacier, watching the tiny colorful tents of base camp get closer and closer in the distance. When I got there, I walked through base camp for about a half hour, chatting with people rising for the day after camping.  It was magical to see! There were giant ice spikes that came straight up out of the ground, rising even taller than me. The ice fall glittered in the morning sun and yaks wandered around camp with loads of supplies for the climbers. I lost track of my guide and so I sat at the helipad and chatted with some fellow backpackers from Denmark.  I had run in to them in each site where we camped and stayed along the trek, so it was a perfect time to chill out and swap stories of the happenings along the trail. They whipped out a 18 year aged bottle of whiskey and passed it around.  The sips of whiskey offset the cold quite well! 😉
The trek to base camp had PERFECT WEATHER, no wind, no clouds, and no people! I finally stood up for myself and hiking early instead of late, in solitude rather than crowds, and it was certainly worth it! This trek was unlike anything I could have expected. It was full of crazy weather, odd events, and some of the most beautiful people I have met this trip.  Best of all, standing at the base of Everest left me in awe, inspired, and utterly amazed.  These mountains are a special place and I understand why everyone keeps coming back again and again…

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Day 9

5555 meters! I summited Kallapatar this morning bright and early after a looooong trek in the dark.  Woo!
I got up at 5 am and started making my way up the mountain, solo. My guide insisted he didn’t feel good the night before and thus wouldn’t be trekking with me if I wanted to go for sunrise. All good, though! Of the top 5 coldest mornings I have ever hiked, this one easily topped the list.  By the summit, I couldn’t feel my toes… or fingers…  Most of the hikers sat on the rocks surrounding the summit because of the sheer drop on the edge of the summit.  The Kallapatar sunrise was the most difficult part of the entire trek.  I was really happy with finally challenging myself a bit, as the trek overall was fairly easy.

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Sunrise view from Kallapatar, looking over Everest



That never stops me! 😉 I crawled right up to the top and sat on the flags next to a rad Croatian guy named Vlado. He sat there with a mug of hot tea AND THEN SHARED IT! Bless him, it warmed me back up to the core! After watching one of the most stunning sunrises I have ever seen, I was back down the mountain by seven for some breakfast.  But, the day was only just beginning…

The trek to Pheriche from Gorak Shep was 12 kilometers, rounding out the day’s total to 16k before lunch.  Before leaving Gorak Shep, there were 11 heli-evacs back to Lukla with a total of 30+ rescues.  One poor man had woken up that morning with his O2 levels at 40%.  It was crazy seeing the effects that the altitude takes on people as the go higher.
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It was an absolutely incredible hike back down.  I trekked through the valley rather than the ridgeline for a different view, leading me to some baby yaks. Now, we all know cute animals have been my forte and complete distraction everywhere I go, so this was no exception.  As I stood and took some photos of the cute little guy I was hoping to bring home with me, it’s not so welcoming mama proceeded to charge me.  Cute baby yaks AND a sprint through a valley in the Himalayas!

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After a stop for lunch, it’s a quick walk to Pangboche, rounding the day out at 22 kilometers.  At the hostel, I sat around the fire with a gal from Finland and an Australian family as we swapped stories of our journeys through Nepal. I had my first form of sweets (a snickers bar) and I don’t think I stopped smiling after that.

Ahhhh, what a trek so far!

But…

I seriously need a shower…

From somewhere new,
Jess

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