Friday 14 April 2017
I started writing this post sitting on a beach in Nicaragua in 30 degree heat and high humidity. The environment here is completely the opposite to that halfway up a mountain in Nepal, but the weather was not too dissimilar to what we experienced on Base Camp day (minus the humidity).
The snow the night before was just a light dusting so it had gone by the time we set off in the morning. It was a lovely day, the sun was shining and as it was so hot I had stripped down to my base layer within about 10mins! It’s not actually that far to Everest Base Camp (EBC) from Gorak Shep but you have to go quite slow because of the altitude. Out of Gorak Shep it’s quite flat and then you ascend onto a ridge and follow it until you can see the entrance to EBC on the other side of the river. You cross the river and then you are there. I thought I’d be really emotional when I arrived but I think it was one of those moments when you’ve strived for something for so long that when you achieve it you have to come to terms with it and it takes time to sink in! We took some pictures and then found out we had a further 45min walk to get to the Gurkha camp. This was a bit of a blow, but the promise of food got us going.
The terrain at EBC is a bit like very large gravel and is slippery in places as it is actually on the glacier, so to me this felt like the hardest part of the walk that day! When we got to the Gurkha tents I did at this point feel quite emotional and stood to one side hiding behind my sunglasses while everyone walked past. The Camp was at the furthest end of EBC close to the Ice Fall, the sky was a beautiful blue and we had great views while waiting for our lunch to be prepared. It really does feel like you are at the end of the earth. The whole trek has always had something in front of us, a path going onwards, the next place to aim for, but this is the end; there there is no way forward apart from up the Ice Fall or back the way you’ve come. We were quite disappointed not to actually be having lunch with the Gurkhas. They had reached EBC a few minutes behind us (they were the ones we had met when we did the acclimatisation walk at Namche), and as they’d just arrived they were preoccupied with sorting out their tents and settling in. They would be attempting the summit mid-May, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for them.
Lunch itself was not quite what we expected – spam, baked beans, potatoes and a cinnamon roll! But it was very welcome nevertheless and we were really grateful to the Gurkhas to use their supplies on us. Usually people walk to EBC, take some photos and then turn round and walk back, we were so lucky!
The walk back was a bit of a trudge and at the very end we were going so slowly that it took my little group ages to do the last bit up to the Lodge, it was like we were walking but not getting anywhere! It was also beginning to snow so I was glad to get back and rest before dinner. I’m not sure what I expected that evening e.g. a party because we had made it, but everyone was so exhausted that we ate a bit of dinner and went to bed. Tomorrow in one day we will trek the distance that we covered on the last two days on the way up, and would stay the night in Dingboche (which was over the ridge from Pheriche).
Despite my tiredness that night I reflected that EBC and the trek was truly amazing and I’m so glad that I have done this. I know that lots of people do it, but for the majority of my friends and family who won’t have the chance I’m glad I can share my experiences and enable people to live it through me.
N.B. A total of 13 Gurkhas made it to the summit on 15 & 16 May 2017, I’m so proud of them!