I’m finally getting around to writing a post about trekking to the base camp of Mount Everest! It’s a long post, but hopefully the incredible pictures will be worth the read. 🙂
The day following the tour in Kathmandu, we had a 6am flight to the town of Lukla, at just over 9,000 feet. Lukla is the starting off point for all treks to Base Camp and Mount Everest. We took a little 14 passenger plane – thankfully it was only 25 minutes and we had clear weather. We got a great view of Mt. Everest on the flight in. The landing strip is between two mountain ranges and is only 1,500 feet.
Once arriving in Lukla, we met up with our porter, who would carry our bags for the entire trek. I certainly didn’t bring many clothes, but it was still nice to not have the extra weight. Our porter was only 20 – he walked from his village for two days to Lukla to start the trek. He works for a few months during the busy season, and then takes the money he earns and goes to college for a few months during the off season. The Nepalese are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met!
The first day was a short hike, as we were trying to adjust to the high elevation. We walked about 3 hours to the town of Phakding, at 8,563 feet, so we ended up sleeping at a lower elevation. One of the sayings you hear all the time in the mountains is “climb high, sleep low.”
We reached our guest house relatively early, but then went to explore the nearby river and views for a bit. After a dinner and chatting with our guide, we decided to go to bed early. On the entire trek, we went to bed around 8pm – it got cold and we were exhausted from hiking!
The next day was a longer trek, and supposedly was the hardest day of the entire hike. We climbed a ton, ending in the town of Namche Bazaar, at 11,452 feet. We hiked about 6 hours, stopping for lunch along the way. The trail was absolutely gorgeous – full of swing bridges, mountain views, pine trees and the rushing river.
The swing bridges are covered in prayer flags, which are tied on by various hikers. They’re actually a little scary to go over – they swing a ton in the wind, and a little trick to navigate when mules and ox’s are crossing them too!
Namche Bazaar is the biggest town we stayed at the entire trek, and is filled with little cafes, tons of tourist shops, art stores and clothing stores. It’s on the side of a mountain, in an amphitheater shape, with colorful buildings and stone walkways. We stayed in Namche for two nights; the second day was an acclimation day to adjust to the altitude.
On our acclimation day, we took a short trek to get our first view point of Mt. Everest. Unfortunately it was pretty cloudy, but we did get to see a bit of the mountain!
After our rest day, we were up early to head to our next little village of Debouche. The trek was about 5 hours, and absolutely stunning. Now that we’re climbing higher, we are starting to be surrounded by stunning mountains. We had great weather this day too – I ended up wearing shorts and a tank top! Below is a picture of my guide, Ram, and I.
Following Debouche, we had a 5 hour trek to Dingbouche, which is at almost 15,000 feet! This is definitely the highest I’ve been and was pretty nervous about getting altitude sickness. The weather was pretty lousy for us – really foggy/cloudy and it drizzled most of the day, so we couldn’t see much.
We stayed in Dingbouche for two nights as well, for another rest/acclimation day. When we arrived there, it was still really cloudy, so we were super surprised to wake up the next morning to find the views we had been missing the day before!
We took a short hike to try to acclimate, where we were surrounded by the snow capped Himalaya’s. I could definitely feel the air thinning, and I got tired a bit easier, but I still felt great!
The next day was a pretty hard climb – the town we ended up staying in, Lobouche, was over 16,000 feet. We’re now above the tree line, so the trail is all rocky paths and mountain views. The views made the climb that much better though, knowing what we had to look forward to at the top! It’s a lot colder now too – I finally wore my fleece pants and down jacket.
We got to Lobouche around 1pm, so I just read my book until dinner, then got an early sleep as tomorrow is Base Camp day! Definitely read a lot on the trip – they suggest not napping during the day, as it’s already hard to sleep due to the altitude. The last two nights I didn’t sleep much at all. I felt fine walking and it wasn’t hard to breath, but once I laid down in my sleeping bag, it was certainly harder to catch my breath.
Our trek to Base Camp was by far the longest day – we had a two and a half hour walk to our next town, Gorakshep. From there, it’s another two hours to Base Camp, each way. We had an early morning, leaving around 6:30am to start our trek! Thankfully we woke up to crystal clear weather!
Once we got to Gorakshep, we had an early lunch, rested for about 30 minutes and then started off towards Base Camp. At this point, the entire trail is rocks, and it was up and down to Base Camp. I still felt great – the altitude really didn’t affect me at all. I’m not sure if it’s because I took Diamox early, so it helped prevent altitude sickness, or I just lucked out!
Heading to Base Camp, the views are incredible. You can’t actually see Everest from BC, but we were able to see glimpses of it on the hike there. You’re surrounded by the Himalaya’s and can see the massive Khumbu icefall and glacier the entire way.
Eventually we made it and got the obligatory EBC photo with all the prayer flags and stone marker!
It was absolutely incredible to see all the tents spread out – there were at least 100 tents for different teams/people summitting Mt. Everest. They use BC as their “home base” – it’s where the doctors often stay, while the rest of the team heads up Everest. You can only climb Mt. Everest certain times of the year, and we were there peak season – I believe the permits only last until May 18th this year, and then monsoon season starts.
We walked around a bit, checking out all the tents, glaciers and trying to figure out the path these people take to climb up Everest! We really lucked out with the weather – there were a few clouds in the sky, but we saw pictures that other groups took on different days, and you couldn’t see any of the mountains. The views were absolutely stunning – I can’t imagine hiking all that way and not getting a view!
After about an hour at BC, we headed back to Gorakshep. The next day we were supposed to hike to the top of a ridge/mountain called Kala Pathaar, for views of Everest. Our guide suggesting going for sunset though, so we actually only rested for about an hour and then headed back out!
It was starting to get pretty chilly and the windy was definitely picking up, but I didn’t want to miss the views. About 15 minutes in, the Australian guy in my group really started to feel the altitude, so he turned back around, and just my guide and I headed up. We finally reached the top – 18,208 feet! We got clear views of “smoky” Mount Everest – it’s so windy at the top, that all the snow blowing off looks like smoke. We took some pictures and headed down quickly – it was getting pretty chilly! I couldn’t feel my fingers and my entire water bottle was frozen.
The next morning, the Australia guy decided to take a helicopter back to Kathmandu (to the hospital), as he didn’t feel good from the altitude and his knee was bothering him. It’s actually really common – we saw helicopters in almost every village getting passengers, mostly due to altitude sickness.
It usually takes 4 days to get down back to Lukla, but my guide, porter and I made it in 2 days! We were walking pretty fast, but decided that we might as well keep going to the next town, rather than stop at 1 or 2 pm. We eventually made it back down to Lukla and got on a flight to Kathmandu that same afternoon. The flight back was way worse than the arrival – it was raining and really windy, but we made it and got back to a warm hotel in Kathmandu!
The entire trek was so incredible; I still can’t believe I completed it, with no injuries, altitude sickness, food poisoning, etc. I absolutely loved Nepal, and the entire country is gorgeous. I would love to go back and do more trekking – adding it to the bucket list!
Nepal was the last country on my 7 month journey – thank you for following along!!