This is the first time we are making an exception and writing about A’s mom’s fantabulous  trek to the Everest Base Camp in October 2017.

The mountain was calling and it was difficult to resist the allure of the Himalayas for a group of 41 marathoners.So we packed our bags, strapped on our mountain boots and out we went to climb the Everest Base Camp, which is situated at an altitude of 5365 mts.

We boarded the flight to Kathmandu from Mumbai on 1st October 2017 to start our journey to the mighty Himalayas. If you are missing any essentials for your trek , like hiking poles, jackets, raincoats etc.you can purchase them from the Thamel Market located in Kathmandu.

From Kathmandu, one has to take a flight to Lukla. Lukla is the Gateway to the Khumbu Glacier. From here, one begins the journey to EBC. The Lukla Airport is possibly among the most dangerous airports in the world. A small airstrip surrounded by the Himalayas and a wall of fog too. It is the incredible skill of the pilots that takes you in and out of Lukla alive.

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Our route to EBC from Lukla.

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Tiny Lukla Airport.

October 3rd – Kathmandu

Early in the morning, all 41 of us went to the Kathmandu airport to board the plane. But the weather gods had another plan. Lukla was enveloped by completely thick fog and the visibility was near zero, so all the flights to Lukla were cancelled. We could only pray until evening and returned to the hotel around 5pm.

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The crowded Kathmandu  Domestic Airport with passengers waiting to board their flights.

October 4th/October 5th – Kathmandu – Phakding

The next  day again was a repeat of the previous day. The unpredictable mountain weather is an important factor which makes such treks difficult. The fog rises as the sun rises and leads to near zero visibility. On the third day, we decided to take helicopters to Phakding which is beyond Lukla. Phakding is situated at a height of 2852 mts. Some time has to be given to acclimatize, since high altitude puts a lot of stress on our bodies.  Breathing issues and mountain sickness are common ailments and it is important to get used to the height, before one takes up any activity in the high mountains. However, we had already lost two days , so we decided to trek to Namche Bazaar via Phakding and Monjo without rest. Luckily, none of us fell sick.

Phakding and Monjo are both situated on the banks of the Dudh Koshi(Milky White) river which drains the whole Kumbh region. We started our trek from Phakding(2652 mts) and continued up the banks of the Dudh Koshi , crossing twice by small suspension bridges before reaching the village of Monjo(2850 mts/9350 ft).This is the entry point of SagarMatha National Park, a world heritage site and also a check point and one has to take a permit here.

 

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Prayer Wheel along the way.

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Suspension Bridge over the DudhKoshi River.

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Gushing Dudh Koshi River

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Beautiful waterfalls on the way.

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Fall colors seen along the way

After lunching at Monjo, we crossed the confluence of Dudhkoshi and BhoteKoshi on a high suspension bridge.Then we climbed steeply up for about two hours  up the Namche  hill  to reach Namche Bazaar (3440 mts/11286 feet)This is the capital of the Khumbu region.The temp at Namche Bazaar was around 12 degree celsius.Generally trekkers acclimatize there for day or two to adjust to the low level of oxygen .But as we were pressed for time, we started our climb the next day.

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October 6th  – Trek to Tengboche (3900 mts/12800 ft)

From Namche, the Everest trail contours around the side of the valley high above the Dudh Koshi. As we followed the path, we got our first good view of the great peaks of the Khumbu region : Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Amma Damblam. We descend down to our lunch stop passing small villages and numerous tea shops. The hike from our lunch point to Tengboche is 600 mts elevation gain which took around 2-3 hours. It was a long climb on a dusty zig zag trail. We crossed the Dudh koshi river again . Next morning , the view was amazing. The view of the sunrise on Mt Everest and Amma Dablam was unbelievable and mesmerizing.

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First view of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Damblam

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Gorgeous views of the Himalayas.

October 7th –  Trek to Dingboche(4410 mts/14465 feet)

Our trek to Dingboche started with an initial descent down the rhododendron trees. We crossed another phenomenal, newly built suspension bridge just beyond Deboche. We reached Pangboche after an hour’s walk (an excellent view-point for Amma Dablam). We stopped for lunch at Somare(4040 mts). We crossed the river and turned up the Inja valley to reach the picturesque farming village of Dingboche . As you gain altitude, it is extremely important  to keep yourself hydrated and relax for the rest of the day.

October 8th – Acclimatization at Dingboche
The acclimatization hike  upto 300+ mts gave us great views of Amma Dablam, Island peak and Tabuche. After  the descent to Dingboche we spent  the whole afternoon and evening in the dining room playing cards.
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Majestic Amma Dablam(Pregnant Mother)

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South Side of Everest on the left and Amma Dablam on the right.

October 7th – Trek to Lobuche(4940 mts/16207 feet))
Trekking to Lobuche starts of easy. The trail up on the platform above the valley floor led us towards Dugla. After around 3 hours of trek we reached Dugla (4620mts/15153 ft)and we continued the walk up to the steep hill to the Sherpa Memorials which honor the Sherpas who lost their lives on the peak. From Dugla the trail starts steeply up towards the glacier moraine. We took lunch at Kala Patthar lodge at Thukla. And after a few hours, the trail eventually led us to a small cluster of tea houses situated at Lobuche. The Everest base  camp lies exactly 1000 ft above this point.
October 10th  – The final trek to EBC(5365 mts)
Today we all woke up early with a sense  of excitement and started the trek from Lobuche early. We reached Gorakshep in about 3 hours. Gorakshep was the site of  the Everest Expedition  Base Camp in 1953. (5180 mts/17126 ft). The temp was freezing to -3 degree Celsius. We continued on and finally reach the Everest Base Camp situated in the Khumbu glacier region.
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The feeling of reaching EBC cannot be described in words. The mighty mountains towering all around you in all shades of brown and white. Rocks rocks and rocks all around. A sense of disbelief that you are just 3500 mts away from the top of the highest mountain peak. You feel pretty insignificant in front of nature.
We returned to Gorakshep by 530 pm. The weather was getting colder. It snowed that entire night and the temp fell below minus 15 degree Celsius.
October 11th –  Gorakshep to Periche (The descent begins)
It was snowing when we started the descent from Gorakshep, .It was a magical experience. You feel the white fluffy snow falling all over you.  We trekked down almost 20 kms in one day to Periche. The  next day, we trekked from Periche to Namche Bazaar and reached  Lukla on the third day.  We flew back to Kathmandu and toured Kathmandu for a day before returning home.

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Overall experience: 
Brushing your teeth and doing morning chores was very uncomfortable in the freezing weather. You only encounter common bathrooms during the entire trek.  
Day by day we made our way from Namche Bazaar to EBC . Everyday we climbed around 10-13 kms. The days would start early and end around 4-5 pm. And once you are in the tea house (rest house) there is nothing much to do . The trick is to not hit the bed until night fall so we played cards or board games and moved around. You avoided lying down, else you would doze off quickly .  
For vegetarians,  breakfast consisted of  toast and potatoes and tea (mint, lemon or ginger)Those who ate eggs had a few more choices . Lunch was during the trek and confined to fried rice, potatoes and Nepali dal rice. The dinner menu was a repeat of lunch. In any case due to the altitude the intake was reduced and the options too. It was a blessing in disguise. The environment around was unforgiving. Strong cold winds blew from the snow peaks and invited freezing temperatures. You wouldn’t  want to eat or drink anything. But one has to drink adequate amount of water, the only vital source of oxygen . Running and training for the marathons really helped us. It trained us for endurance and mental strength. But nothing can really prepare you for this unique and different experience. Only mental willpower can get you through. 
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Teahouses

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Himalayan Sunrise!

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