Our Everest Base Camp Challenge Part Two
When we left you at the end of part one we had just survived our hair raising 11 hour jeep drive from Kathmandu to Salleri on our Everest-Base-Camp challenge.
Salleri is a bustling village where the road from Kathmandu stops and the trail into the Himalaya starts.
There’s an airstrip for cargo being flown up into the mountains and it’s where all the supplies get carried by donkey trains into the higher mountain regions.
After a couple of days we were ready to set out for Everest-Base-Camp.
The route we’d selected would take us over four 3,000 meter passes so that we could acclimatise and get strong for the tough trek up to base camp.
The weather overcast but dry and good to walk in as we set off
We saw no other trekkers for those first few days as this route is not often used and it was quite early in the season.
In fact we were the only people staying in the tea houses for the first three nights of our route.
The upside of not being to many trekked around is that the trail is lovely and quiet and we saw large monkeys on two occasions.
Our route would take us over high passes and down in to valleys, which is a bit demoralising as for every down you know there is an up but that would help us get used to the altitudes and get us nice and fit.
It also meant that we would take about five days to reach Lukla which is where most trekkers fly into for the start of their walks.
The weather was good and we loved walking through the forests of rhododendrons and seeing local life going on around us.
One down point of the trek in from Salleri is that, as I mentioned earlier it’s the way the donkey trains come so you guessed it, the trail is not only covered in donkey poop and pee but ends up just being a mass of mud in certain places.
These donkey trains can be made up of hundreds of donkeys so it means a lot of waiting around for them to go past as the trail isn’t wide enough for all of us.
You get used to it but sometimes you just want to get on and you end up waiting watching the poor donkeys being badly treated by the donkey boys who ply this trail day in day out.
After days of tiptoeing along muddy trails we connected with the main Everest Trail from Lukla and immediately the atmosphere changed.
Until now we’d only come in to contact with individual trekkers or pairs but now there were big groups fresh off the aircraft and gasping for air.
The advantage of walking the extra distance in was that we were now acclimatised and trail fit to give us more chance of reaching our goal.
Higher and higher the trail rose as we climbed up to Namche Bazaar, the famous Himalayan village that has become a teeming small town with cafes, shops, lodges all packed on to the side of the mountain.
There is nowhere quite like it and the atmosphere is one of excitement, exhaustion and nervousness as trekkers and climbers prepare for the adventure before them.
This is where things get a bit more serious and the altitude becomes a real concern.
It was also our chance to take couple of days away from the main trail and do some day walks and visit the area around Namche.
As luck would have it we discovered the British Gurhka Everest Expedition Team were sharing our lodge and we chat with some of the members and shared the rest of the trail with them as they were on the same schedule as us.
After leaving Namche we headed further North toward our objective witnessing the changing landscape as we went.
Through forests of pine and alongside raging rivers and up to high points with views North to Mount Everest in the distance.
The beauty of this whole area is staggering and the local people are so friendly with the their welcoming smiles.
Up high the donkeys are replaced by Yaks carrying supplies to villages and camps as well as other trekkers gear.
You have to learn to stay out of the way of approaching yaks as they won’t think anything of impaling you on their huge horns.
As we trekked higher so the terrain changed and above the tree line the trail is dry and dusty with rocks and boulders littering the landscape as the snowy peaks loom high overhead.
After another couple of days rest at a village to acclimatise further we headed higher all the time feeling the effects of the altitude on our bodies.
We were now only a couple of days walking away from Everest-Base-Camp but we were halted by pounding headaches so we decided to take an extra days rest before setting off again.
At last our prize loomed and just one days more walk brought us exhausted and tired to the foot of the tallest mountain on earth.
Everest-Base-Camp is a collection of tents on the rocks if you’re lucky enough to be there in the climbing season but otherwise there is nothing there but a collection of rocks and prayer flags to mark your accomplishment.
It was so cold and Sue especially felt so terrible that we didn’t spend to much time before turning around to back track.
We had reached our prize but the adventure was not over as we wanted to trek on to see Gokyo Lakes in the next valley.
You can read all about that and what surprises the Everest region had in store for us in part three.