Everest Base Camp Trek : One Step at a Time
Mt Everest Base Camp trek is the highest trekking route available to outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. It is not only one of the most challenging, but also, one of the most beautiful treks in the Himalayas. I had the opportunity to do the Everest Base Camp Trek in May 2019 with Adventure Pulse, Pune. This is my story:
Day 1 Arrival at Kathmandu, Nepal
I boarded my flight from IGI airport in New Delhi on the 9th of May, 2019 with Royal Nepal Airlines. It was an evening flight and had got delayed by an hour. The flight was a short one, made shorter with the excitement of this amazing experience. After we landed, I made my way towards the exit to the Ncell counter and bought myself a prepaid Nepali sim card. The total process was pretty simple. I then made my way to our hotel in a place called Thamel. It was at the heart of the city where the Adventure Pulse team greeted me. I was very excited about the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Day 2 Exploring Thamel and Kathmandu
This was the second day of Everest Base Camp Trek. After a good night’s rest, I prepared to roam around Thamel. It is a tourist district in Kathmandu. Where you can find the equipment stores, pubs, and great restaurants. A bustling area with amazing pizza and a whole variety of equipment shops like official North Face, Mountain hard gear stores. Also stores with knockoffs which are pretty decent for the price and if you only have to use once. In the evening I made my way to Swayambhunath stupa which was a half hour’s walk from Thamel. It is a good warm-up for the trek to come.
Day 3 D Day
Today was the day we would officially start the Everest Base Camp Trek or EBC Trek. The journey begins with a grueling 4-hour drive to a place named Raamechhap. This was where we would board our 17-seater propeller flight to Lukla. Pre May-2019, all the flights to Lukla would depart from Kathmandu itself. However, due to some reason, the government shifted the domestic flights to Raamechhap. The drive started at 12:30 am something which I was not looking forward to. The journey was pretty hard as the roads weren’t the best but I persisted and tried to get some sleep.
Once we reached Raamechhap at 5:30 am, still a little shaken up, our bags were frisked (scanners aren’t the norm here). We got our boarding passes and grabbed a seat while we waited for our flight. At around 6:15 am we boarded what I would say as the most interesting plane in the world. I was boarding a 17-seater dual propeller aircraft for the first time. It was a truly remarkable experience. And I was very happy that I have experienced it on my Everest Base Camp trek. After a pretty short takeoff procedure, we were up above the mountains. It was a breathtaking experience.
Tenzing Hillary Airport ( Lukla Airport )
Lukla, one of the highest airports in the world is a mere 25-minute flight from Raamechhap. After satisfying my appetite for pictures we were in sight of Lukla. After we landed, we took our bags and headed to our breakfast location. Lukla is a beautiful place and a perfect start to the Everest Base Camp trek. Surrounded by amazing mountains it sits nested at the start of the Khumbu valley.
After a hearty breakfast and a briefing by the Adventure Pulse trek leaders, they loaded our main bags on Yaks or djopgyoks. They told us to carry a small day pack. By around 9:00 am we began our Everest Base Camp trek journey and headed to Phakding our stay for the night. The trek to Phakding is around 3 hours and the terrain is mostly downhill. On the way, we would cross a couple of settlements but overall the trek is pretty simple. We took it slowly as we were getting to pace with the area.
After reaching Phakding we settled for the night. Phakding is a beautiful village on the banks of the Dudh Kosi. It is the river we would be following the entire journey. Post dinner, our Adventure Pulse team, briefed us about the next day’s journey and what to expect.
Day 4 Phakding and Namche Bazar
The resort at Phakding was a well-designed resort with amazing food and great rooms. We had got double sharing rooms and each couple of rooms had a clean common bathroom. After a hearty breakfast and some tea, they assigned us guides to trek with, around 1 guide for every 4. The trek to Namche Bazar is a longish trek with some steep sections to test your preparation. After heading off from Phakding we crossed a suspension bridge. It was an amazing experience. We made our way through fir and rhododendron forests.
After around 2.5 hours we stopped for tea at Monjo, the village on the entry to the Sagarmatha National Park. The trek to Monjo was on the easy to a moderate level. It began with a gradual uphill and downhill (Nepali flats) and was a moderate uphill to Monjo. After showing our permits at the entry of the National Park we headed towards Namche. One point I would like to point out was the placement of dustbins on the way. It went a long way in keeping the area clean. The trek became a little steeper at and we slowly made our way up to Namche. We began our trek at 8:00 am and were at Namche by 3:00 pm. Tired, we had some lunch and gathered our belongings. Some members went to explore Namche.
I would describe Namche as the “Eden” of the Himalayas. It is surrounded by the mountains Khongde, Thamserku, and Khumbela. Here, we would have our first acclimatization day.
Day 5 Acclimatization for Everest Base Camp Trek
Acclimatization- the process of adapting to a change in altitude. This is an important step in any high altitude trek. During this rest/acclimatization day, we have a small trek to aide the process. After having breakfast, we started our acclimatization trek first to Namche Museum. Our Adventure Pulse Leaders told us more about Mt Everest and its history. Adventure Pulse Leaders themselves had summited the Everest mountain. We also saw our first glimpse of the famed mountain from Namche Museum. After taking a picture In-front of the statue of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, we started towards Syangboche Airfield. They drop supplies at this airfield. The journey to the museum is around 15 minutes and from there to the airfield is around 45 minutes.
Our team leader told us to take small steps and deep breathes as our bodies are still acclimating to the altitude. After reaching the airfield, most of us started to trek towards Everest View Hotel. It is a Japanese built hotel with amazing views of Mt Everest. After tea at the hotel, we started to head back to Namche. Namche is a beautiful place. It has pubs like the Irish Pub, stores like the North face store and a whole range of amazing bakeries and cafes. The day was well used as we grabbed a couple of beers at the pub and called it an early night.
Day 6 Namche to Tengboche and Deboche
The next morning, we started our journey to Tengboche. The route starts easily with a relatively flat route for around 1.5 hours. This is where you get amazing views of Lhotse and Everest. From the route, you get a view of the valley below and is an amazing view (Something which this trek has no shortage of). After reaching the end of the flat trail we stopped for tea. After tea we started to descend to our next stop would be lunch at Phukitanga. From Namche to tea was about 1.5 hours and from tea to Lunch was around 2 hours. The trail continued down through the forest and was a beautiful spectacle. Our next challenge would begin after lunch.
After crossing over another bridge was the start of the climb. A longish climb for about 2 hours would get us to Tengboche. This was a hard climb but our leaders and guides motivated us and we made it up. After reaching Tengboche we grabbed a cup of coffee at the bakery. Also, we attended a powerful prayer ceremony at the Tengboche monastery. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the Khumbu region. The ceremony came recommended by the Adventure Pulse team and was worth the visit. At around 5 am the ceremony began with the monks chanting. It was a swift ceremony by a couple of monks with chanting and drums.
After it had concluded we, made our way to Deboche a 20-minute downhill walk from the monastery. Our lodge was situated in the middle of beautiful rhododendron forest and was truly spectacular. After our briefing by our trek leaders, I called it a day and fell asleep.
Day 7 Dingboche
At around 8:00 am we left Deboche and started our journey towards Dingboche. It was a place where we would have our second acclimatization day of our Everest Base Camp Trek. The first half of the trek continues through the forest and is a Nepali flat terrain. We reached our tea stop- Pangboche by 11 am (a long time as I was walking slowly). There was a collection of many pictures at the tea house. We saw the wonderful collection of oxygen cylinders and trunks used by the 1953 expedition.
Then, we head off towards Shomare where we would stop for lunch. The route gives us our first close up view of Ama Dablam a 6000m peak. Lunch was around 2 hours away and the gradient is steep but an easy to moderate steep. Our lunch stop was confirmation that we had crossed the tree line and out of the rhododendron and fir forests. From here on there were only small juniper bushes.
After lunch, it’s a steady trek over flat terrain to reach the confluence of a tributary of the Dudh Kosi. After crossing the bridge over it there is another climb over a hill but not as bad as the day earlier. It took us around 2.5 hours after the confluence to get to Dingboche. Since there are no trees you can see your destination from quite a distance which boosted morale. Overall this day’s trek is not too bad. Dingboche is located at the base of the Imja Khola Valley. It has its fair share of beautiful views of Lhotse and of course Ama Dablam.
Day 8 Acclimatizing at Dingboche
The next morning, we headed off for our next acclimatization trek. Our destination was variable and they gave us an option of two places depending on how we felt. And the final goal was to make our way up Mt Nangakarshang. Our first destination is a couple of prayer flags one-third of the way up. The trek to that point was around 45 minutes. After a quick break, all those who were up for it started their journey up the mountain. The journey to the top is a good 2 hours up. But the summit has views to die for. With views of Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu the 3 8000m peaks. Also, you have views of Mt Lobuche, Ama Dablam, and Kangtega. I would recommend the journey up if you are feeling fine that day.
Day 9 Dingboche to Lobuche
Our next destination on Everest Base Camp Trek is Lobuche, a village at the base of a 6000m peak – Lobuche. The first half is a journey to Thukla which is over flat terrain and is around 2 hours away; an easy start. After crossing a stream, we reach Thukla where we grab a cup of tea. In front of us stands the approach to Thukla-Dughla pass.
After tea, we start our trek up to the pass which is around 45 minutes to an hour. The distance isn’t much but due to the rarified atmosphere progress is slow. Once we reach the top, we witness the memorials of climbers. These climbers attempted to climb Mt Everest and have lost their lives. This beautiful place is scattered with mounds. They dedicated it to climbers from all over the world. It includes Scott Fischer who died shy of the summit in the infamous 1996 disaster.
After paying our respects we made our way to Lobuche. The trail is pretty flat with a slight incline. It takes us through a beautiful valley/flat area and after 1.5 hours we reach Lobuche. This settlement is shadowed by the mighty Nuptse and you are dwarfed by the magnificence of the area.
Day 10 Lobuche to Gorakshep and Everest Base Camp
Early morning at Lobuche and we start our journey to Gorakshep. It is the last settlement before Everest Base Camp. As compared to the previous days, the journey is short one distance-wise. Due to the lack of oxygen, progress is slow. The initial part is walking through the same terrain we passed through post Thukla-Dughla pass. The terrain scattered with huge boulders. It flattened due to the presence of a glacier thousands of years ago. After around an hour and a half, we are faced with another climb which is around 25 minutes.
After crossing the climb, we reach the moraine from the glacier and get our first view of Everest Base Camp in the distance. This is one of the highlights of the trek as we come face to face with the Khumbu glacier. From here, we can see Everest Valley, surrounded by massive peaks. Also, you can witness the scale of mother nature. After another 1.5 hours through the moraine, we reach Gorakshep, have a quick lunch and head towards EBC. The Everest Base Camp trek isn’t very long but the excitement of reaching your goal kicks in and its pure euphoria. After reaching EBC, I burst into some manly tears due to emotional reasons.
Everest Base Camp is something that summarizes the entire journey. A place with so little yet so much. On May 19th, 2019 I had reached Everest Base Camp. It stands as a testament to the will of exploration of mankind. After spending some time here, we make our way back to Gorakshep to spend the night.
Day 11 Gorakshep to Kalapathar and Pheriche
At 4:00 am, all the people who want to trek up to Kalapathar make their way up. It is a km trek up which gives you access to breathtaking views of Everest. By the time you reach the summit, the sun hits the summit of Everest. After making our way down we start our journey to Pheriche. This is the sister village of Dingboche known for rearing yaks. The journey down is a long one as you are covering the same distance you took two days to cover in one. The moraine from Gorakshep to the climb took the same time as coming up and Lobuche took us around 3 hours.
We then started our way down the same path. Walking with our slowest member, I reached Thukla pass by 5. I spent a couple of minutes watching the clouds move around. We then started our descent to Thukla which was a breeze compared to the time it took to come up. After crossing Thukla we hit a stream which we followed down to the base of the small valley. The sun had begun to set. We had reached the base by 6:30 pm. It took us another 1.5 hours to get to Pheriche. The terrain through flat was scattered with a couple of rocks. We took our time and were in awe of the beautiful sky with all the stars.
Day 12 Pheriche to Namche
After a good night’s rest, we began heading to Namche. The journey crossed over the same Nepali flat terrain to Pangboche. We said bye to the magnificent desolation behind us and welcomed the trees and the rhododendrons. The terrain was downhill with a climb up to Tengboche. It was significant but nothing compared to the climbs we had done earlier. After lunch at Phukitanga, we began the climb up through the forests that we had walked down on Day 7. This took a while around 1.5 hours.
We then reached the flat trail that marked that we were close to Namche. It took us 3 hours to get to Namche from the flat trail and 5 hours from lunch. We took our time with this day’s trek as were taking loads of pictures and enjoying the scenery. We reached Namche before the sun had set and had enough time to grab a beer.
Day 13 Namche Bazar to Lukla
This day was long but pretty manageable. The journey started with the majority of the journey downhill. It passed through the breathtaking forests, remarkable bridges, and mesmerizing surroundings. The path was pretty much downhill to Monjo and then Phakding as we exited the national park. Having left Namche at 7:30 am we reached Phakding by 1:00 pm. Then we continued through the Nepali flat terrain up through the same path to Lukla. We reached Lukla by around 6:00 pm just in time for the party to start.
Day 14 Head back to Raamechhap
After saying goodbye to our Sherpa guides and loading our bags we made our way to the Lukla airport. We checked in, right in time for the Indian election results to get out. After the flight out we said bye to the Khumbu valley and thanked it for the amazing experiences. After landing at Raamechhap we took a cab back to Kathmandu. I slept for most of it so an exact estimate of the time is not possible. After reaching Kathmandu and a hot shower later I was ready to go party. Thamel being Thamel led me to a Metallica cover band. After enjoying some amazing music, I called it a day and slept.
Overall, the Everest Base Camp trek is amazing and is a one and a lifetime opportunity. The whole place, the energy, the people are one in a million. I would recommend it to everyone. I would also like to thank Adventure Pulse and the entire team who made my Everest Base Camp trek an unforgettable one.