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Everest Base Camp Trek in 30 Photos !

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#01 The journey starts with a flight from Kathmandu to Lukla.  The weather at Lukla is extremely unpredictable and volatile. I had to wait for four days to reach Lukla due to bad weather. Most of the aircrafts are 16 seater, you can literally watch the pilots controlling this complicated machinery  if sitting  at front row. It’s preferable to sit at left side to get a glance of the Himalayas. The thrill while landing at Lukla can’t be explained in words, but can only be experienced.

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#02 Lukla Tenzing – Hillary Airport (2860 m). Lukla is one of the most dangerous and deadliest airport in the world with a very short airstrip abruptly ending to the valleys.

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#03 Prayer wheels en-route Lukla – Phakding. You’ll come across a few small villages and chortans during this 3 hr journey.

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#04 A suspension bridge en-route Lukla-Phakding. There are total seven suspension bridges in EBC route.

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#05 Phakding (2651 m) First stop in EBC trek.

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#06 A small village en-route Phakding – Namche Bazaar. This is the toughest of all with steep ascent most of the route.

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#07 Lunch point ! EBC route is extremely commercialized with tea-houses, lodges and restaurants throughout the way. Dal-bhat is one of the most common food item. Wi-fi is available at most of these restaurants on chargeable basis.

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#08 After this point, there is steep ascent till Namche Bazaar. You need to move onto the next mountain through the upper suspension bridge. Crossing the bridge was an amazing experience in itself.

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#09 Namche Bazaar (3438 m), second stop in EBC trek. Most of the trekkers stay here one day for acclimatization.

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#10 First glimpse of Mt. Everest and Ama Dablam. Trekkers climb till Everest view lodge for a better view.

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#11 Namche Bazaar market. This is the last major market in EBC route. All trekking gears can be found here, but with a higher price tag.

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#12 A Chortan en-route Namche Bazaar – Tengbonche

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#13 The Split ! One to Gokyo-Ri and the other to Tengbonche. EBC through Gokyo-Ri is a more difficult, but scenic trek.

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#14 Tengbonche (3870 m), third stop in EBC trek. There is a monastery of Lord Rinpoche. To the right, there is a small hike to get a better view.

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#15 View from Tengbonche

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#16 Sun-set view of Ama Dablam(6812 m). Though it is around 2000m shorter than Mt. Everest, but it is lot more difficult to climb due to its steep ascent and treacherous trail.

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#17 The landscape takes a drastic change after Somaroi and the height of trees get reduced to shrubs. It looks like green patches.

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#18 A mesmerizing view en-route Tengbonche – Dingboche.

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#19 Dingboche (4360 m), fourth stop in EBC trek. Most trekkers stay here one day for acclimatization and either hike till Nagarjuna Peak or till Ama Dablam base camp.

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#20 Nagarjuna Peak (5088 m) This is a 2.5 hr hike from Dingboche. Ama dablam, Lhotse, Peak 38 can be seen from here.

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#21 View of Ama Dablam from Nagarjuna Peak.

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#22 Valley to the left (way to Pheriche) en-route Dingboche – Lobuche.

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#23 Lobuche (4940 m), fifth stop in EBC trek. Mt. Pumouri can be seen in the background.

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#24 Gorakshep (5170 m), the last stop in EBC trek. The no. of lodges is very limited here.

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#25 Kala pathar (5545 m), a 2 hr hike from Gorakshep. It’s around 700 ft higher in altitude than EBC. The route is extremely steep, rocky and windy. One can see the best view of Mt. Everest, EBC, Everest summit last trail, Lhotse and Mt. Pumouri from its peak on a clear sunny day.

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#26 View of Everest Base camp, Mt. Everest, Khumbu Glacier from Kala Patthar peak.

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#27 South-side view from Kala Patthar peak.

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#28 Everest Base Camp (5364 m), the Final Destination.

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#29 A close-look of Everest base camp and Khumbu glacier.

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#30 The prayer flags, the devotee and the mountain (EBC). Smell of accomplishment and sweetness of satisfaction was in the air.


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Everest Base Camp Trek: Living The Dream ! [ Part-II ]

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“I think that drive and mental strength are the factors that distinguish ordinary for extraordinary achievements. In competition, it is not the physically strongest climbers who win, but rather the mentally strongest.”   – Jibé Tribout

Click here to read the Part-I of the post if you haven’t yet.

Next morning when the golden ray of the sun kissed my forehead, I woke up to this magnificent view from the window.

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I ran outside to get a glance of the sunrise and the view out there left me spellbound. I stood there for quite some time and tried to soak this marvelous sight of nature to my heart’s content, watched the sun-ray slide down from the peak of the mountains slowly and gradually. It seemed like someone removing the blanket of darkness from the mountains. Tengboche is an excellent spot for some splendid photos of the mountains.

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Tengboche to Dingboche  (5 hr / 14,300 ft)  :

We set off for Dingboche around 8AM. There was a short, but steep descend at the start passing through a small jungle. The route was full of rhodendron trees.

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There were a couple of tiny villages on the way. We walked down till we came across the stream.The bridge was broken, but there was a temporary one.

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From that point, there was a small steep ascend and mostly flat-road after that. As we were moving slow, I was getting plenty of time to enjoy the scenic beauty on the way. We stopped at Somaroi for lunch. The landscape changed drastically after that, so did the height of the trees. It was shrubs all around the ground looking like green patches.

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The sky was clear enough to gift us some magnificent views on the way.

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Ama Dablam

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A porter-cum-kid taking rest. It was his first assignment with a 30+ Kg weight.

The sight of Ama Dablam was getting larger as we were approaching Dingboche. This stretch was the easiest of all. We reached Dingboche before we could know. We checked-into Everest Resort where we had a nice stay.

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Dingboche

The wind there was freezing cold. We were safe inside the wall of the resort, basking beside the heater in the dining hall. In the evening when I went out to take some sunset shots, my hands were trembling at such rate that I would have to take 3-4 clicks to get a stable shot. At night, cards was keeping us busy.

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Mt. Everest in clouds

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It was a full moon night !

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Next day was an acclimatization day. We were supposed to climb up a little bit and to come down. I like these acclimatization days more because you don’t have to slow your pace or wait. You can go at your own pace or may be faster; explore the most you can and then come back to the hotel. The guide had told us to go till the flag-post point, the route after that was tricky and treacherous. There was a peak named Nagarjuna peak (16,669 ft)up there; 2.5 hr of steep ascend in not so easy path. I had made up mind to try my best to reach the top, least would stop if the path would cross its safety-limit. I reached the flag post in an hour and moved ahead for the top.

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The First Stop !

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A trekker catching her breath with the view of the mountains

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The route got narrower, steep and bumpy. It was so steep that I would have to stop after every 15-20 steps to catch my breath. As I didn’t have day-pack, I hadn’t taken water-bottle with me. Luckily, I had some dry-fruits with me. That helped me a lot. After one more hour of climb, I was on the verge of breaking. The sight below was scarier, I would have to climb all the way down !

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Can you spot Dingboche here ? There was still 1 hr to climb.

Someone coming down told me that it’s just 30 mins more to the top and it’s worth it. So I continued. The last stretch was bit tricky with no clear route in sight. One needed to cross some large rocks, boulders and make way to reach the top. Once you reach there, the marvelous picturesque sight will make all your pain fade away.

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@ Nagarjuna Peak – 16,699 ft

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Ama Dablam view from Nagarjuna Peak (16,699 ft)

 I just sat there for a couple of minutes till I was full with this gorgeous and beautiful sight of nature. Descending is always easier, but more dangerous. It took me 1 hr to climb down that mighty mountain. I was literally running down. By the time, I hit ground it was around 1:30 PM and my knee was pleading before me to give it a break. Everyone already had his/her lunch when I reached hotel. I did some stretch-up and had my lunch. We were mostly surviving on Dal-Bhat. I tried so hard to stay awake in the afternoon, but the tiredness was so much that I couldn’t. There is also another alternative for day hiking at Dingboche: to Ama Dablam base camp.

As we had one day less, we had to make up for it anyhow. So next day, we planned to go to Gorakshep directly in-stead of Lobuche. But the issue was there was only one guide and he had to stay with the other group. Still we took the risk. “Great things in life never happen the easy way.”  We had only one thing in mind: to reach EBC.

Dingboche to Lobuche  ( 5 hr / 16,207 ft ):

So next morning, we(Swayam, Barsha & I ) left early for Gorakshep. The porter was with us, but he wasn’t much of help. He was a kid studying in 8th Std who could neither speak nor understand hindi or English. Just after moving for a short distance, Barsha felt ill. She was struggling from day-2, still she managed to reach this point; that was an achievement for a first time trekker itself. She told not to take risk and wait for us at Dingboche. It was a matter of one day only, we were scheduled to come back there next day itself. As there wasn’t any guide with us, so I also didn’t force her. Because in those unknown territory and hostile conditions, getting medical help in case of emergency would be uncertain and very difficult. Moreover, we were covering two days’ distance in one day. And if the illness was due to AMS, it could be fatal. So we sent her back to the hotel at Dingboche with the porter and we continued the journey.

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A view of the valley towards left

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Thukla

The initial stretch till Thukla was an easy one: long stretched, but  mostly flat green terrain. One could see the village Pheruche down to the left valley. We were moving fast as we had to reach Gorakshep anyhow. After an hour of walk, there came a stream just before Thukla. There was a small bridge to cross it. The water near the bridge was frozen and iced. From Thukla, there was a long steep ascend. Just the sight of that gave us Goosebumps. The wind was getting colder and unbearable.   The wind was so chilled that we had to look for big rocks and took shelter there in opposite direction of wind in between. The other route via Gokyo was visible from there. Group of trekkers were coming from that route. That was a longer, tougher but more scenic route. That route met this one at Lobuche. Once we passed the steep ascend, there was a little descend afterwards. That was the best descent I had ever come across, because that saved us from the super chilled wind. The path to Lobuche seemed like never ending. There was a flat stretch before Lobuche. After 3.5 hrs, we finally reached Lobuche. Just then the porter also joined us. We went to a hotel and had lunch. After a short rest, we set out for Gorakshep around 12 noon.

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Lobuche to Gorakshep ( 5 hr / 16,961 ft ) :

We were just at the edge of Lobuche that we saw a trekker who was returning from Gorakshep fell flat on ground. He must be in his 50s. He had lost his sense. We had some Glucose with us, that we offered the group attending him. Someone took out his jacket, two held upon his face to give him some shade. After around 5 mins, he regained back his senses and told that he had to kala pathar in the morning and was coming back directly. As Lobuche was just at a stone’s throw way, they carried him to a hotel and we moved on. The path was mostly flat, but the burning sun above and the super chilled wind were adding to the misery. After a 40-mins walk, there came a short but steep and tricky ascend. As the porter was going bit ahead, we missed the actual route and got stuck at the wrong one. A local returning that way helped us and showed us the path. The terrain had changed totally. No trees, no shrubs, but only stone and rocks all around; surrounded by mighty mountains both side. Then we got the glimpse of Khumbu glacier, one of the biggest in the world. There was hardly any energy left in the body, still we were pushing ourselves. Finally around 3 PM, we reached Gorakshep, our last stop.

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First glimpse of Gorakshep

It wasn’t the end of our misery, but the start. We were supposed to stay at Buddha Lodge. But as we reached late, the owner had sold the rooms to foreigners with some good money. As it’s the last stop, so very few hotels and lodges are there. There is scarcity of place most of the time. He offered us a tent to stay, but we hadn’t brought any sleeping bags with us. Finally, he allotted us a tiny room with two tiny beds and a broken window. The room was just big enough to fit two bodies in that. There wasn’t any electric bulb in that. We first approached the owner to change the room, but it only felt in deaf’s ear. We then tried contacting XLanc members to get another hotel, but all in vain. EBC was our priority, so we decided to adjust one night anyhow. It wasn’t that easy though. We had patched the broken window with tapes to prevent the chilled wind, but the room was so suffocating that we opened it. There was -25 deg C temperature outside with chilled wind. We slipped under the blanket and waited for the sunrise.

Gorakshep to Kala Pathar ( 4 hr / 18,200 ft) :

Next morning, we were supposed to go to EBC with the porter. We woke up around 5 AM, got freshened up, but the porter-guy was nowhere in sight. We looked for him everywhere, but only got disappointed. It was nearly 7AM, we couldn’t spare any more time. We were about to leave for EBC that a passer-by told it would be extremely cold at this early morning hour at EBC. So I thought of going to Kala Pathar first and then to EBC. But my friend was skeptical about going to Kala Pathar keeping in view the last day’s fainting scene. So I alone went. The look of the Kala Pathar route was scary. It was extremely steep and slippery. Though there wasn’t much wind at that time, but the temp was so low that even after wearing two gloves I felt like my hands will burst in cold. I was changing my hand holding trekking pole each 2 min and was tucking the other hand inside the jacket. After one hour of climb, I still was left with 90 mins of climb with no sight of the destination. I was in a dwindling situation whether to continue or to return back.  The returning trekkers were motivating me to make it till the top. After around another 15 mins of climb, I got the glimpse of the peak.

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Route to Kala Pathar peak with Mt. Pumouri in background

Only that one glimpse fueled my body and there was no turning back. I climbed up slowly and steadily and made it to the top in less than 1 hr. That last stretch went through boulders and big black rocks. Once I reached the top, the mesmerizing sight of surrounding mountains faded away all tiredness. The might Mt. Everest was right in my front. The Everest base camp and Everest glacier were also clearly visible from Kala Pathar. This was my highest point climbed so far, 18,200 ft. At back, Mt Pumouri was standing tall. At south-side, 3-4 small lakes with crystal blue water were visible. I was 360 degree surrounded by tall, mighty mountains.

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@ Kala Pathar – 18,200 ft

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View of Everest and Everest Base camp from Kala Pathar

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EBC & Everest Glacier view from Kala Pathar

It is moment like this that makes all pain, effort and fatigue worthwhile. I sat there for some time and tried to imprint each and every sight in my mind. In front of those gigantic mountains, the philosopher in me realized how small we are. Though I wanted to wait a little bit and to drink the sweet elixir of nature bit more, but I had “miles to go before I sleep.” In just 45 mins, I climbed down and reached Gorakshep around 9:45 AM.

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Gorakshep top-view

Swayam had already left for EBC by that time. Our guide had also arrived by then who informed me that the porter had left last evening only due to some emergency.  I quickly had my breakfast and started for EBC.

Gorakshep to EBC ( 3 hr / 17,600 ft) :

Around 10AM, I started my journey for the final lap. The road to EBC seemed like a cake walk after doing Kala Pathar. The path was mostly flat with little bit of ups and downs through rocks and boulders. But the body had started showing signs of tiredness and fatigue by then. After around 1 hour of walk, I got the glimpse of Everest Base Camp. With each further step, the sight got clearer. Towards right, there was this big glacier. Some party was going on at EBC, I could hear the loud music far before. That electric music helped  me walk those last few steps. Around 11:45 AM, I put my foot steps on the heavenly land of Everest Base camp.

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To the left, some party was on: dance, music and crowd. To the right, there were a lot of yellow tents pitched. And up above was this mighty mountain. I explored the base camp area in and out. Each 5 min, a helicopter was landing there with some luxurious tourists. The snow on the mountain was bit bluish and was dazzling in sun.

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 But it was nothing like Kala Pathar. One could see happiness and accomplishment in the face of the trekkers. Everyone was in a rejoice and cheerful mood. They were congratulating each other on the success of 11-days long trek. I started back my journey around 12:15 PM and reached Gorakshep around 1:45 PM. I had egg- fried-rice in lunch and immediately set out for Pheriche.

Gorakshep to Pheriche ( 6 hr / 14,100 ft ):  

This was the toughest day for me. Kala Pathar, Everest Base Camp and journey back till Pheriche, all in a single day ! That too without a guide 😀 There was another challenge in front of me: to reach Pheriche before it gets dark. The same route had taken around 7 hrs in fast pace from Dingboche while coming. It was already 2:25 PM, when I left Gorakshep. That means expected time of reach at Pheriche around 9:30 PM. In no way, I could afford that. I had to double the pace, but the body had already faced enough for the day. There wasn’t any alternative, but to make it happen. The initial 30 mins path was bit tricky, the rest I literally ran, jogged would be more appropriate though. I crossed Lobuche before 4PM and reached Thukla around 5:30 PM. I climbed down that last stretch before Thukla so hurriedly that my right ankle was almost worn out. But this much of progress gave me a feeling that I would make it to Pheriche before dark. After crossing the bridge, there were three roads: the middle one leading to Pheriche. I followed that only, but after a few meters ahead I had had to take right and had climbed all the way down. But I went straight as there wasn’t any route visible that way. So I was going towards Dingboche. Though I knew this, I thought there would be a way down to Pheriche as it was visible while we came that way. And there wasn’t a single passer-by to ask or verify. It was starting to get darker and fear was getting a grip over me. After walking for some time, I got the glimpse of Pheriche; but it was down in the valley. And no route was in sight to climb down till there. I was high, very high than Pheriche’s level. It was getting darker. Then suddenly, I saw someone coming on a horse, like a savior. He guided me a way to climb down that humongous height. In those prevailing darkness, I made my way to Pheriche before it was too dark. I stayed at White Yak Lodge. Barsha also had moved there by then. This was the best stay during the trek: with no crowd and over friendly hotel staffs.

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Flora & Fauna in EBC route

Pheriche to Namche Bazaar ( 6 hr / 11,280 ft ):

We left early next day, moved steadily to Tengboche. We had lunch there and moved to Namche Bazaar. As Barsha’s knees were in bad shape, we were moving very slowly. It was almost dark when we reached Namche. We checked into the same hotel

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Hotel Komal dining area

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Natural Set-up: Where the sun cooks a cup of tea for you !

Namche Bazaar to Lukhla ( 6 hr / 9,200 ft ):

Finally, here we were: last day of the trek. We followed the same rule: ”Slow & Steady”.  We reached Phakding around 2 PM, had lunch there and continued till Lukhla. The last stretch seemed like never ending. It got dark while we were still at a 40 mins distance from Lukhla. Barsha was in bad shape, hardly able to lift her leg.  In those darkness and gloomy forest, She literally limped, jumped, but never stopped and made her way to Lukhla. It was around 7:30PM when we reached Lukhla. The sight of first street lamp of Lukhla gave me more happiness that day than EBC or Kala Pathar. Next morning we flew back to Kathmandu.

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Lukhla Airport

It was truly a journey of a lifetime. Three days back to back flight cancellations, one day short in time, no guide support, knee injury: nothing could stop us in making it to EBC or Kala Pathar. We were destined to make this happen. It may sound like bragging, but it is well deserved. Each three of us had pushed his/her limits and had went through hell lot of obstacles and difficulties.

“To those who have struggled with them, the mountains reveal beauties that they will not disclose to those who make no effort. That is the reward the mountains give to effort. And it is because they have so much to give and give it so lavishly to those who will wrestle with them that men love the mountains and go back to them again and again. The mountains reserve their choice gifts for those who stand upon their summits.”  -Sir Francis Younghusband

“Alok! You should go for Everest Base camp once, you’re good.” Prakash, a fellow trekker, a journalist by profession, had told me this during my first trek to Har ki Dun in 2015. I had laughed hard on him that day. And today it is history: done n dusted. Everest base camp through Gokyo-Ri route is also in my bucket list and only mountain knows when it will be echoed.

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Tips of the Trek:

  • Book Kathmandu to Lukhla flight in Tara Air either in first or second or third slot. After 12 noon, the weather at Lukhla is susceptible and more prone to change. Do NOT ever go for Sita Air.
  • Take TCell sim. Up above, Tcell has better coverage than Ncell though is bit costly. At EBC, both works that too with 3G. At Dingboche, you may get network at Nagarjuna peak.
  • Take some energy bars or dry fruits; but don’t add much of weight. Travel as light as possible.
  • Fix your lunch or dinner menu before leaving Lukhla, otherwise you’ll have to survive on Daal-Bhaat only throughout 11 days. Though there aren’t much options, but talk to your organizer & keep two-three alternatives handy.
  • Make sure hotel rooms are confirmed for Gorakshep well in advance.
  • The golden rule: Not to sleep in the evening and to do some stretch-out after a day’s trek.
  • If you’re new to trekking, do the insurance. It’ll cost around 1500 IC(Indian Currency) for 11 days.
  • Keep enough INR 100 rupees notes with you. INR 500 or 2000 rupee note will be difficult to exchange up there.
  • If you’re going in April or afterwards, you can skip the sleeping back. There will be enough blankets at tea-houses. This depends on weather also.
  • If you’re thinking of taking porter, take from Lukhla only. At higher the cost is more plus getting a porter is also uncertain.
  • Take some good quality gloves or make sure it’ll keep you warm in those chilly wind.
  • Go out once at night at Tengboche or Dingboche and enjoy the night sky. Up ahead i.e. at Lobuche or Gorakshep , it’ll get difficult due to extreme low temperature. Plan the trek keeping in view of moon’s status for better result.
  • There is a day-hike from Tengboche to a high spot from where you’ll get an excellent view: a bird’s eye view of the monestary with the mountains in the background. Apart from Nagarjuna peak, there is another alternative of day-hike to Ama dablam base camp from Dingboche.

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PS: I know the post was very long, but hope you had a good read. FYI it was just  half the story, the rest we’ll talk over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer 😀

All photos used here are clicked by me only. Some of the photos have been clicked without intimating the person in the photo. Write to tektriphy@gmail.com or info@tektriphy.com for any issue or suggestions.


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Everest Base Camp : The Dream of Every Trekker ! [Part – I]

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The times demand that we not settle for climbing ordinary mountains; we must hoist ourselves up and climb extraordinary ones. – David Gergren

This year has been legendary so far to quench the thirst of my eyes. In last two months, I had completed three International trips: a not-so luxurious but lot of activities based trip to Dubai- The city of Skyscrapers, a fascinating snow-filled trip to Bhutan- The city of Happiness and a toilsome and knee-jerking trekking trip to Nepal – The gateway to heaven. I’ll start with the last one. Not only because everything is fresh in my mind as it’s just got over, but also because this one demanded maximum effort both physically and mentally. Yeah… it’s trek to Everest Base Camp(EBC) and Kala Pathar.. an altitude of 18,600 feet !

EBC is in each trekker’s To-Do-List and so was mine. But I had planned to go for EBC  after 2-3 more high altitude treks. But they say, “You don’t decide, but the mountain calls for you”. And the mountain echoed… the best one in the lot this time.. I got an offer I couldn’t refuse. I just grabbed the opportunity and started my preparation. I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy one and I needed to work on my fitness. But I had only a week time after my convocation. That too I slept like a child. Now there is just three days left for the journey to start. Everything is settled, except one: fitness. I hadn’t started my fitness preparation till then. It was 7PM. I thought “Now or Never”;I put on my running shoes and went out. Started with a 2.5km running stretch, by third day it was 3.2km. Something is better than nothing. I packed my backpack making sure not to miss any essentials. I was going by road to Kathmandu. Puri to Howrah and then to Raxaul. After crossing the border at Raxaul-Birganj and then by bus to Kathmandu. Seems hectic, huh !! When you’ve budget constraints, you need to set your priorities clear: Comfort or Experience.

Kathmandu by Road:

Howrah to Raxaul : Train No 13043 :Howrah – Raxaul Express
Raxaul to Kathmandu : By Bus
PS: Best option is to catch a flight from Delhi

This time I was doing the trek with XLANC(An adventure club by XLRI students), not Indiahikes. So I was bit skeptical about it. Rahul was our ground coordinator. We were four members from XIMB: Swayam, Shaz, Barsha and Myself. We were given accommodation at Alobal1000 hostel. The atmosphere was very lively and happening at this hostel.

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Rooftop Restaurant of Alobar

Rahul briefed us about the trek and other essentials like porter, insurance, lodging, route , amenities etc. As I had prior high altitude trekking experience, I was selected as the Group Leader. We packed our backpack and went for a sound sleep. Here goes the itinerary.

Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,350m/4,428ft) : before 3 pm
Day 02: Fly to Lukla, trek to Phakding (2,651m/8,700ft): 40 minutes flight, 3 hours trek
Day 03: Phakding to Namche Bazaar (3,438m/11,280 ft): 5 hours
Day 04: Acclimatization Day/Rest Day – Namche Bazaar
Day 05: Namche Bazaar to Tengboche (3,870m/12,694ft): 5 hours
Day 06: Tengboche to Dingboche (4,360 m/14,300 ft): 5 hours
Day 07:  Acclimatization Day/Rest Day – Dingboche
Day 08: Dingboche to Lobuche (4940 m/16,207 ft): 5hours
Day 09: Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5170 m/16,961ft), visit Everest Base Camp (5364 m/17,594 ft): 6 hours
Day 10: Gorak Shep to Kala Patthar (5,545m/18,192ft) to Dingboche (4,360 m/14,300 ft) 6 hours
Day 11:  Dingboche to Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,280 ft): 6 hours
Day 12: Namche Bazaar to Lukla (2,800m/9,186ft): 6 hours
Day 13: Fly to Kathmandu in morning. Sightseeing (Buffer Day)
Day 14: Kathmandu: Sightseeing (Buffer Day). Possible Bungee Jumping (3rd highest in the world)
Day 15: Go back to India

EBCmap

EBC Route #1 (Source: TrekkingMart)

Next day, we had a flight to catch to Lukhla which is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable airport in the world.

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@Kathmandu Airport

 We checked-in to Kathmandu domestic airport, but after waiting for around 2 hrs, we got to know that it had started raining at Lukhla. All flights to Lukhla got cancelled that day. We waited till 3PM, but after no positive reply from airlines, we returned to Alobar. The same thing continued for next two days also: though sometime for weather, sometime for airlines’ irresponsibility. Most of the airlines to Lukhla are pvt. owned and they gives priority to foreigners(other than Indian) to get high value for ticket. They can do anything.. I mean anything. Sita Air was the worst airlines, seemed like a family run business :p On third day, we boarded the bus four times which was supposed to take us near the flight and got off due to sudden change in weather at Luklha. After three days of continuous cancellation, we didn’t have any buffer day left, on top of that we had one day short. Shaz backed out and went for Annapurna Base camp trek. But somewhere in my mind, it was still EBC. I wanted to give one last try, but we would have to make for this one day short as others had scheduled international flight to catch. I made myself clear, “Let’s split (as getting a single early flight for all was difficult and after noon the weather was keep on changing at Lukhla) and move to Lukhla in whatever way (1+1+1 or 2+1 or 1+2) possible. But whoever will reach there, there is no backing out. He/She’ll have to complete the trek or at least try his/her best.” Rest agreed on the plan. Next day, we splited and tried to get early flight to Lukhla. This was the fourth day. It’s Now or Never situation. Luckily, there was a vacancy for three and we all got in same flight. But we weren’t that lucky , were we ? There was some technical issue(hydraulic leak) in the flight and it got delayed. Finally Tara Air moved us to another plane and it took off. Finally, we were all in air, on our way to Lukhla. The flight landed at Lukhla after 45 mins and we all knew EBC was happening: this year and this time only. Nothing could come between us and EBC now.  The journey to Lukhla seemed way more difficult than journey to EBC!

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Finally, we landed at Lukhla 🙂

We had our lunch at Lukhla and got introduced to our guide Lakhpa. As we were already three days behind our schedule, so we got clubbed with the next batch who were from IIM-A. There were four of them: Sidharth, Nikhil, Preet & Pallavi. We waited for them. After around 3 hours, they finally landed at Lukhla. We started for Phakding once everyone was done with lunch.

Lukhla to Phakding (3 hour / 8700 ft):

We started around 3:30 PM from Lukhla. At the check-post, we entered our details and the belongings details and hit the road.

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The Group : XIMB + IIM-A !

The route was scenic and passed through a couple of villages; little bit of descend but easy going. Most of us were first time trekkers, so we were moving slow n steady. On the way, there were a few hanging bridges.

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One could see the tired, fatigued but accomplished souls returning to Lukhla on the way. It seemed like a very commercialized and structured route. There were coffee shops and refreshment corners throughout the route. And it was full of lodges, restaurants and tea-houses; mostly made up of wood. We reached Phakding before it was too dark around 6:40 PM.

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Phakding

After a short rest, we had our dinner – Sherpa Soup and went to our room. The water was freezing cold. One had to think thrice before even washing his/her face :p It was too early to sleep and to our surprise the other group had brought cards 😀 Sid taught us a new game that 6 can play at a time and the time just flew away.

Next morning, we had breakfast – Bread toast with Omelet and set out for Namche Bazaar.

Phakding to Naamche Bazaar (6 hour / 11,280 ft):

This was the toughest of all with ascend and steep climb most of the route. We started around 7:45 AM. There was a hanging bridge just at the start. After little bit of up and down and passing through a few villages, we reached the 2nd check-post.

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The first timers were having a tough time, but they were keeping pace with. To ease the load, a few decided to go for porter from Namche.  Porter normally charges 1500 NC/day (avg load 25 kg), but the higher you will go, the higher will be the charges : NC 2000/day from Naamche. So I told the guide to call a porter from down there Lukhla on base charge and he will get some extra for coming up till Naamche. This way, there will be some saving for those who were opting for porter. At around 12 noon, we reached our lunch point.

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The place was so refreshing and awesome for a break: at one side glimpse of gigantic mountains and just below  a stream with crystal clear bluish water flowing through lush greenery. After lunch, we moved by the side of stream for some distance.

We didn’t know that we yet had to face the steepest climb until we reached this point.

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Just the sight of hanging bridge up above is enough to get the fear a grip over your mind. We took a quick halt, gathered our energy and went for it. And after crossing the bridge, we were told that it’s just the start, another 3 hr of steep climb is up ahead. A few were on the verge of breaking, but they pulled themselves up and gave their best. The picturesque scenic sight was more than enough to reenergize and to motivate. After that steep ascend, there came a rest point where one could get the glimpse of Mt Everest for the first time. But we didn’t get any as that day it was cloudy.  We came across 3rd Check post after around 2 hour and finally reached Naamche around 6 PM. Yeah… too slow 😦 but this is bound to happen when someone starts trekking career with EBC ! If it’d have been that easy, everyone would have been doing. What I mean is though it wasn’t that difficult, it wasn’t that easy either. After such a toilsome episode, when we reached hotel, the rooms weren’t good and on top of that the owner was at his worst behavior. After much deliberation and a phone-call session of 1 hr with XLanc members, finally we shifted to another hotel: Hotel Komal, a good stay. Too much of cost cutting had been done by XLanc for which we had to pay the price: in both physically and mentally. We had our dinner with a cup of black tea and went to sleep.

Next day was an acclimatization day. We went to nearby Everest view point and clicked some pictures. Here we got the first glance of Everest:The mighty.  One can see a couple of peaks from there: Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Peak 38, Nuptse

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Naamche Bazaar

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First glance of Mt. Everest

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Museum

There was a museum there depicting the history of Everest trek and its flora and fauna. Then we climbed up a small ascend for a better view, spent some time there and came down.

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 We had our lunch and took a short rest( but No Sleep in daytime). In the evening, we explored nearby market area.

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Naamche Bazaar

Pubs, Cafes, bakeries:  one can find everything up there; just that your wallet will get lighter bit faster there. Tengboche was our next stop on route.

Namche to Tengboche (6 hour / 12,694 ft):

The initial trail was an easy one : concrete road and mostly flat. There were a few ‘Chortans’ on the way.

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After crossing AmaDablam restaurant, there came a split : one leading to Tengboche and the other to Gokyo route.

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Then there was a descend till the bridge and a sharp ascend from there. We were supposed to have lunch at Tengboche, but as were moving bit slow so it was already noon at the the bridge.

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We had our lunch there : Egg Fried Rice and moved ahead. There came the 4th and last check-post. The next stretch was bit tricky and steep. On top of that, the scorching heat of sun adding icing on top. There wasn’t any water-source till Tengboche except one which was just around 15 mins before Tengboche. The journey was like walk 20-30 steps, find a tree(some shade), catch your breath and move ahead. At around 2:40 PM, I reached Tengboche and the group being little behind. The view up there was marvelous. The sight did away with all the pain. I clicked some pics till other members reached there.

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We stayed at Trekkers’ Lodge just by the side of the monastery. After a short break, we paid a visit to the monastery. The atmosphere was awesome in there : peace, calm and serene.

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We watched the sunset till the last ray of sun vanished up in the sky. I got some good clicks also.

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In the evening, the temperature was below 0 deg C. Everyone piled up in the dining room where there was a heater. After we had our dinner, the other four had this plan of campfire, but the old way i.e. lighting fire by cracking stone to stone 😀 They had also brought FireStone that makes it easy to spark. But the weather was hostile, windy and cold. The tissues were getting wet too quick, even deo-spray didn’t help. After an hour of trial, finally we decided to go for the match-stick and the fire was on. It was bliss to get some heat in those freezing zero degree and cold wind. After absorbing some of the heat, I clicked some photos and we went to bed.

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Next day, we were scheduled to leave for Dingboche, our next stop.

This already has been a very long post. I’ll pen down the rest  in my next post. Stay tuned and keep travelling….

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