Everest: Part I

Okay, so I trekked to Everest Base Camp in the beginning of October.

ebcsign
The beginning of the path to Base Camp.

Part I (you’re on it!)
Part II
Part III
Part IV 

I thought it would be fun to do a few entries on it! I took approximately 23984728374^23 pictures, so I’m going to split them into separate entries (and I’ll do a separate entry for Kathmandu at the very end). Let’s skip to the fun trekking part! And as always, click on any picture to make it bigger!

To begin the ascent to Everest Base Camp, you usually take a small plane from Kathmandu (capital of Nepal) to Lukla.

nepalairport
This is the hot mess that is the local flights part of the Kathmandu airport.

You can do it the Hillary and Tenzing way and ascend from Kathmandu, but that’s just silly. …I, however, briefly considered it when I saw the plane.

planeoutside

I am frightened of planes. I get scared inside of a jumbo Boeing 777. This plane was tiny and was going to land on a short landing strip on the side of a mountain. There is very little room for error in that kind of situation.


insideairplane
Pictured: tiny inside.

That the flight attendant ran up the aisle during the short flight to hand the pilot a barf bag did not assuage my fears. But after a short flight with breathtaking views, we landed safely in Lukla, and I loosened my death grip on my seat’s armrest.

luklaairport
It’s Lukla Airport!

So after grabbing our bags and drinking some tea, we were off on the beginning of our trek! We first passed through the town of Lukla, with its multitude of tourist shops.

lukla2 lukla
…Because every town needs an Irish pub, I guess?

After walking through Lukla, the trek began in earnest.

thestart
On the road!

I should have known to really appreciate that stone path. It would be the last one I would see the entire trip.

On the first day, we traveled from Lukla to Phakding. A word of explanation on the trekking: we each carried our own backpack and our duffel bag was carried by a dzopkyo.

dzopkyo
The one in the back looks embarrassed by this behavior…

The elegant animal you see here is a dzopkyo, which is a cross between a cow and a yak. Although yaks are usually what come to mind when you think about Everest, dzopkyo are generally the preferred method of baggage handling because yaks cannot descend too far down and donkeys cannot ascend too far up. And that’s how we came to have our bags carried by these weirdos.   

Once we reached Phadking, we tented down for the night and enjoyed the success of our first day.
insideoftent
The inside of my tent before I ejected everything from my bag.

The first day trek was quite pleasant and not very difficult. …Which lulled me into a horribly false sense of security. Day two was much, much worse. On day two, we made the trek from Phakding to Namche Bazaar. And to make things more challenging, I was slowly developing a lung infection! My lungs had been bothering me after the first day in Kathmandu, and I had (perhaps foolishly) hoped it would clear up quickly. Day two quashed all hopes of that and breathing became harder and more painful.

The scenery, however, was worth it. The route to Namche was lush and absolutely beautiful.

waterfall2
Waterfall!

flowers prayerwheel
In the picture to the right, you can see the omnipresent prayer wheel.

cabbagefield
Women tending to a cabbage field.

mountainview waterfall

To the left you can see a snow-capped peak in the background with conifer trees in the foreground. And to the right, a beautiful waterfall decorated with prayer flags!

We also met some animal friends along the way…

beggardog
This adorable little beggar really wanted a bite of chocolate bar.

donkey donkey2
Working donkeys carrying loads on the trail.

We then officially entered Sagarmatha National Park:

parkentrance
The entrance gate we used.


startofpark
The sight that greets you when you enter the park.

It is much more forested than I expected.

river viewoftown
Views of a river. Look at the mountain peaking out in the background of the picture to the left!

We trekked around the river for a while and then found ourselves stepping on stones in the shallow water to cross part of it. And then we came to the most terrifying bridge. A word about bridges on this trip: there are a lot of them and they sway. Up to this point, we had been over several already. But this bridge was high. Very, very high.

bridgeuphigh viewofbridge

See that red arrow? That upper bridge is the one that must be crossed on the way to Namche (the lower bridge was the original bridge but is no longer safe/functional). It is a looong way down. And a long way up. I took the picture on the left during the break before the ascent to reach the bridge. What followed was a very challenging and brisk 30 minute ascent. If you go on this trip, for the love of god, make sure you get your cardio in. On the right you can see the view from the bridge.

After what felt like hours (and probably was hours) of zig-zagging ascent, we trekked through a very beautiful forest.

forest porterforest

I couldn’t believe how much it resembled the decidedly deciduous forests back home! In the photo to the right, you can see a Nepalese porter carrying what looks like a heavy load up to Namche.

After what felt like an eternity, we reached Namche. My lungs felt about ready to jump out of my body in protest, but we made it!

namchepanorama

What is Namche? It is the largest Sherpa village (really, the largest village in general) on the trail to Base Camp. And it was the most beautiful sight in the world after all the ascending that we did that day.

namchesunset

And thus the second (and hardest) day ended with the moon coming out over the mountains above Namche and me starting a course of antibiotics for my lung infection that would prove to be totally ineffectual.

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4 thoughts on “Everest: Part I

  1. What an exhilarating trip this must’ve been. Thank you for taking us on this journey with you. The sunset pic at the end. That’s one helluva mountain oasis. It’s hard to believe all that exists…amazing. I’m looking forward to reading the 2nd part…right now.

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