Mount Everest Base Camp Trek

mount everest

My hike to the Mount Everest Base camp was unplanned, which is also one of the most rewarding time of life.

I was on my 2-week hiking expedition in Uttarakhand.  After reaching the summit of Pangarchulla Peak (4700m) give me an overwhelming experience and boosted my confidence like never. Soon after finishing my second trek, I took a flight to Kathmandu, and within an hour I was on the beautiful land of Nepal. I was composed enough with a notion of hiking EBC all by myself. But, a lot of friends recommended hiring a guide or Sherpa as I had plans of visiting Gokyo vi Chola pass.

Lukla_Flight

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1334m.)

My first day stay was at famous Thamel Road. I grabbed some good food and beers, as I will not be able to have that privilege for the next 15 days during my hiking trip. I did spend some good time and the thrilling thoughts of the hike and mountains were dancing around in my head.

I was fortunate enough to get a friendly and enthusiastic guide for the next 15 days of my hiking trip. He also was helpful in getting all my permits and fight tickets to Lukla (often considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world)

lukla_airport

Day 2: Flight to Lukla (2834m) (45 minutes) and trek to Phakding (2,652m.) 4-5 hours trekking/ 8km approx.

We took an early morning flight from Kathmandu to Lukla the very next day and was in one of the smallest aircraft I have ever been. It was a 45-minute flight and trust me, it has been one of the most curious flight journeys of my life. Everyone in the fight had a window seat with a pleasuring view of mountains covered in clouds and snow.

The next stop after Lukla was Phakding and was also the start of my EBC trek. We had to walk for 8 km following Dudh Koshi River which is also called as “River of Milk”. I spent that night at a Tea House in Phadking which were a new and delightful experience to me. The first day of the hike was easy as most of the time it was a descending hike.

I also met fellow hikers who were coming back from their trip. They seemed tired, but their faces were covered in warmth and happiness, with a sense of accomplishment which could is a rare scenario in our daily life. The same evening, I visited a small Thaktul Monastery which was damaged during the 2015 Nepal earthquake but was still holding up its grace.

lukla_to_phakding

 

Day 3: Trek to Namche Bazar (3,440m) 5-6 hours trekking/ 10 km approx.

We started early morning for our next day hike. 2 hours walk, and I crossed my first big hanging bridge (Suspension Bridge) of EBC trek, which every hiker dreams to cross at least once in a lifetime. I did cross-crossing strings of prayers flags, ancient Buddhist Chortens, and Mani Stones throughout my hike for this day.

It’s was a challenging 5 to 6 hours hike on the second day because of consistent steep incline uphill. Had no option but to head up and keep moving.

Situated at 11,300 feet above sea level Namche Bazar is the commercial and social hub of Khumbu geography and Sherpa society.  City shape looks like a half-moon and situated dramatically on a big rocky slope. Namche Bazar has been developed better in competition to host climber and trekker community. There are pretty lodges and tea houses across the town. You can enjoy free WIFI services also in a couple of tea houses on a bottle of beers.

It is strongly recommended for trekkers to have one acclimatization day at Namche Bazar. As I was already acclimatized quite well because of my last two hikes I decided to continue the hike on next day to Tengboche.  In the evening I took a small hike to an upper helipad, Namche Monastery, and museum.

Later that day, my guide suggested me to stay at a tea house which was away from the main town.  And it turned to be the good decision as I got a chance to stay at one of the oldest tea house and chance to interact with the women who started first tea House in Namche Bazar.

Namche also gives you the stunning view and huge backlit spike of Ama Dablam, just hidden behind Nuptse.

Note – Chorten (A Stupa): A religious monument, usually made of rock and often containing sacred relics.

Mani Stones – Small, flat rocks that have been meticulously carved with Sanskrit symbols denoting the Tibetan Buddhist invocation Om Mani Padme Hum

Day 4: Trek to Tengboche (3870m) 5-6 hours trekking/ 10 km approx.

Setting Tengboche as the destination, we started our trek on trial with few ups and downs which included the magnificent views of Himalayan ranges including Mt. Everest, Mt. Lhotse, Mt Nuptse, closeup of Thamserku and Mt. Amadablam.  As you come close to Tengboche trail become narrow and less paved.

After 6 long hours of walking, we finally reach Tengboche-a holy place and the place of biggest and the most important Buddhist Monastery of the Khumbu region.

Tengboche is one of the best panoramic viewpoints in the Region.

As I reach there, the temperature was quite harsh on us. In the night temperature falls till 1 degree Celsius. Coping up with this drastic change in temperature was a challenging part.

Day 5: Trek to Dingboche (4360m) 5-6 hours trekking/ 8 km approx.

We started our 5th day at 5 O’clock in the morning with delicious Apple Pie from the World’s highest bakery and a magnificent view of Tengboche. That day was a challenge of walking for 6 hours passing Pangboche village to Dingboche.  On the 5th day of the trek, I was quite tired but thundering waterfalls, Blue Pines, Rhododendrons, enchanting boulders and burbling streams was pushing me towards our goal.

With 15kg bag on shoulder, 2kg tripod in left hand and DSLR in right hand, I fell into a kind of trance. It was quite a fun day with the downhill in the beginning.

Day 6: Trek to Lobuche (4940m.) 5-6 hours trekking/ 7 km approx.

The trek to Lobuche is about five hours, bringing us closer to our goal. I experienced the Khumbu Icefall for the first time, and it pushed me even harder to unearth the beauty that lies ahead. We passed frozen rivers where stone houses sit in an icy wilderness of stunning beauty.  I was just one day away from witnessing the closest view of the tallest mountain in the world and notorious Khumbu Icefall.

Day 7: Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5170m.)- Everest Base Camp (5364 m.) and trek back to Gorak Shep (7-8 hours trekking. /15 km approx.

It was an ultimate Day to get to Everest Base Camp. It was a long day with 8 to 9 hours walk. We started early morning from Lobuche with the goal of reaching Gorakshep for an early lunch and then head towards Everest base camp.  We reached to the lower end of Khumbu Glacier – A twelve-mile glacier which starts from the south flank of Everest. The route is slightly challenging with ups and down through the unsettled rock of glacier.

During the main climbing season, you will be able to see the encampments of expeditions from all over the world whose common aim is to make successful ascents of the world’s highest mountain.

It was 5 PM in the evening, 7 days of walk and struggle and I was at the Everest Base Camp. It was a huge personal achievement for me. From a family of doctors and engineers, nobody ever had imagined that I will be attempting something like this.  It was almost 7 days I didn’t speak to anyone from my family. Decided to call my family first as soon as I get back to Gorakshep.  After spending some time at basecamp and some insane poses for pictured we headed back down to Gorak Shep.

 

Day 8: Gorak Shep to Kala Pathar (5545m.) and trek to Dzongla (4846m.) 6-7 hours trek/ 15km trekking

Kalapathar was the highest point of our trek. Today, there is an opportunity to make the steady climb to the lofty summit of Kalapathar (5550m). Most people who are fit and have acclimatized without problems (generally at least half the group) make this ascent. The views of Mount Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse and lot of other peaks from Kalapathar are breathtaking – far better than Basecamp itself.

I remember it was the coldest night of the week. Last night temperature fell down to -10 degrees Celsius. We had a plan to wake at 3 Am and start our climb to Kala Pathar.  It took 2 hours for us to reach the summit point. It was one of the most memorable hike of my life. I still can’t believe myself that I managed to reach on top in -10-degree temperature. We spend 1 good hour on the summit and experienced the unforgettable sunrise of my life.

It took halftime for us to walk down to Gorak Shep. Quick breakfast with lemon tea and we were ready to continue our journey toward Gokyo Lake. It was decent hike till Dzongla as weather were a clear and steady trail.  It took 7 hours for us to reach Dzongla as it was the long hiking day. We stayed overnight in Tea House and went to bed early as next day was the most challenging day as we were to cross Chola Pass (One of the most dangerous and beautiful).

Day 9: Dzongla to Gokyo (4798m.) Via Chola Pass(5365m) (10-11 hours trekking/ 12 km approx.)

Ohhh Sahabji …. Ohhhh Sahabji…. Piche Bhago Piche Bhago……. he was running towards me and screaming like a hell.  It took a couple of seconds for me to know that it was a landslide or avalanche. We both ran and hide below the big boulder. Even till this day, I get Goosebumps with those sounds resonating in my ear.

Never experienced the landslide or avalanche in my life so closely. I thought that it was our last day. It took one hour for us to come out of that trauma.  Luckily weather got better, and we thought to start the journey again to reach our final destination Gokyo Lake.  We stopped at Thangna for a lunch which is situated at the foot of Chola Pass. Descent from Chola pass was also challenging because of slippery rocks

It also taught me a good lesson that life is a journey filled with unexpected encounters and we have to be ready to face anything at any time.

That night was also cold. Next day, we started our hike at 4 am in the morning as we wanted to cross Chola pass before 12 pm as snow starts melting in afternoon and it makes difficult to cross the glacier. It was not our day; it was extremely cold with heavy snowfall and zero visibility. As we already had hiked for 5 hours we couldn’t go back to the Dzongala. We had only one way and that was to cross the Chola Pass with Zero Visibility.

We were walking through glaciers and boulders in Chola Pass.

Note: You will not get any water resource on this pass so it’s highly recommended to carry minimum 2 ltr of water. You need to stick to the route and follow your guide on this route.

As it was the snowy day we were not able to identify the route properly.  There was no sign of any hikers that time. I was a bit slow on this day as walking through fresh snow exhausted all my energy and it was also new to me.

A couple of hours more walk and we were at Gokyo Lake. All the efforts, hard work, landslides were worth reaching this place. I was amazed by the beauty and serene view of that place.

From the top, you will see the largest glacier of Himalaya, Ngozumpa. It is also the best place to get a view of Gokyo Lake and Mount Everest.  Decent to Gokyo and spend time on Lake.

Day 10: Gokyo to Gokyo Ri (5356m.) and back to Gokyo. Start Hike to Phortse Thanga (3657m.) Via Dole 11 to 12 hours trekking/ 15 km approx.

We were supposed to wake up in the morning to hike Gokyo Ri, but that night I was not in a position to wake up early morning and hike as last day was quite hectic for me.  As next day we were supposed to walk for 12 to 13 hours again I dropped the plan to hike Gokyo RI.

They say when you walk on mountains you never walk alone, I met beautiful people on my journey and made a lot of friends. I met Alex and Anna from Canda at Gokyo Lake, 2 girls, 18 years old and were doing Gokyo lake trek alone, and that was fascinating for me. They had completed Annapurna Circuit by themselves before coming to Gokyo.  We started together from Gokyo to Phortse Thanga.

It was the longest walk of my entire trek, but it was easy when compared to past days as there were no high assents. You will experience scenic view of high mountains and small lakes on the path.

Here, you will encounter dense rhododendron forests. And if you like rhododendrons then you will definitely enjoy this walk. You will see world’s Sixth highest mountain Cho Oyu on the path.

 

Day 11: Phortse Thanga to Phakding (2652m) 10-11 hours trekking/ 18 km approx.

As I was short on my schedule we decided to cover maximum distance while going back. So instead of staying at Namche we stressed our self and decided to walk till Phakding. It was a long walk of 11 hours.

If I remember correctly it was a decent walk of 4 to 5 hours in beginning and assent for one hour till Namche Bazar.

After buying some souvenirs and lunch in Namche we started for Phakding. The path descends steeply down to the Dudh Kosi river which we cross via a high bridge. Through Jorsale and Monjo, where the national park entrance gate is, we walk for again 5 hours.

Day 12: Phakding to Lukla (2834m) 4-5 hours trekking/ 8 km approx.

It was a final walking day of our trekking. We took the liberty to sleep extra two hours on that day than usual days. We started trekking down to Lukla after our breakfast. It only takes 3-4 hours to reach Lukla.  As I had a flight booking on next day I decided to stay in Lukla and enjoy the local market, where Alex and Anna continued their journey to next destination. My guide also decided to stay back at Lukla.

Day 13: Scenic Flight back to Kathmandu (45 minutes flight).

Today was my last day in Khumbu region. I got morning flight for Kathmandu. I had a whole day to Rome around and explore the Kathmandu City. I visited Pashupatinath & Monkey temple in afternoon. In the night I got to know that Indian movie Bahubali 2 got released 3 days back and it’s running house-full all across Nepal, so decided to watch the movie on the same night. Chicken Biryani + Chilled beer + Bahubali 2, what better treat you can give yourself after these 12 days of extensive hiking.

Day 14: Departure – Kathmandu to Delhi to Hyderabad

It was an amazing journey and I had a great time in Nepal. Hiking in Nepal is completely different than hiking in India. Specially EBC and Annapurna Trails are more commercialized and developed well so you will have all the facilities all across the hike.

If I were to describe my trekking in Nepal, I would say it is the Holy Grail of Mother Earth.

Thank you, Nepal, for being so Beautiful.

Published by

Atul Khandar

From Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand to the mighty Himalayan Range, from the Glaciers of Gangotri to standing at 18,500 ft face to face with the revered Sagarmatha, I have travelled the length and breadth of the mountains exploring them on foot. But I am not finished yet, there is still much to see and experience. Photographer | Avid hiker | Budding Film Maker | Entrepreneur

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