EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIARY DAY 11
GORAKSHEP TO EVEREST BASE CAMP
Starting Point: Gorakshep (3,440m/11,300ft)
Finishing Point: Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,600ft)
Trekking Time: 2 Hours
If your idea of an awesome holiday is hitting the trails, exploring the world’s mountains and testing yourself both physically and mentally, then you have probably imagined yourself at Everest Base Camp. Trekking to Everest Base Camp is THE ultimate adventure – and today was the day I was finally going to make it happen. Day 11 of our trek in the Everest Region saw us making our way from Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp – where we would be joining an expedition team for an unforgettable night.
The route from Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp continues to meander further into the Khumbu Valley across undulating moraines. Even though today’s trek is only a couple hours long, the constant ups and downs combined with the high altitude made it seem very taxing. It’s only when you look up at the surrounding mountains and see the peak of Everest that you are reminded why you are putting your body through its paces.
It’s the majestic Nupste (7,861m) that eclipses Everest as you make your final approach. It’s at this point that the views of the treacherous Khumbu Icefall take over. The Icefall is the section of the Everest Summit route that separates Everest Base Camp (5,364m) from Camp 1 (5,943m). From afar, the jagged ice and crevasses appear to be larger than houses. To be honest, it looks even scarier than I had imagined. To think that so many people risk their lives crossing this very dangerous stretch of mountain to get towards the summit is insane.
We made our way to “Trekkers Rock” and took the obligatory Everest Base Camp shots. The pile of rocks was adorned with traditional prayer flags and multiple national flags from trekkers who had made their way here from around the world. Our guide told us that an expedition company had set these up ages ago as a decoy to help keep trekkers away from the actual campsite. It’s not that they don’t like trekkers, its more to keep those who are on actual expeditions separated and protected from illness. Imagine training for months and spending thousands to summit Everest, only to have it ruined by one snotty-nosed trekker bringing in a random bug to Base Camp. Clearly not ideal – so after a few snaps at the rocks and munching down a cereal bar, most trekkers turn around and made their way back to Gorakshep.
If you have been following along, then you know there were some key elements I wanted when originally booking this adventure. I wanted to see more of the Everest Region, follow a remote, challenging route and was keen to limit overall backtracking on the same trails. The result? Our itinerary combined the tougher Three Pass Trek with the main Everest Base Camp Trek route. That wasn’t all that we were looking to accomplish. The other key requirement was to arrive and overnight at Everest Base Camp on Rob’s 40th birthday. Talk about one heck of a way to celebrate this milestone birthday, right?
OutAdventures coordinated with local expedition outfitter TAG Nepal and we scored special permits to stay overnight with them at Base Camp. It’s important to note that most of the expedition team members were not due to arrive for a couple more days, so our overlap with the actual summiteers (and ability to impact their summit attempts) was very minimal.
It was a mind trip. Even though we were at Base Camp, it took us almost an hour to get to where our expedition team’s camp was set up. This is no nice and neat campsite. No defined campgrounds. No signs directing us to our allotment. We were on the Khumbu Glacier – camp is wherever there was a space that could be cleared out and set up on. Ice picks were being used to flatten the ground, tents were sprouting up all over the place and there was a hustle and bustle that we hadn’t really experienced in days.
In April 2014, sixteen Sherpas lost their lives in the Ice Fall as an avalanche came ripping through Base Camp. Just over a year later, a massive earthquake outside of Kathmandu triggered another avalanche. It’s in the very spot that we were resting that the ice from Pumori and Lingtren came pummeling through and decimated Base Camp taking with it the lives of nineteen people. The reality of what we were doing by being at Base Camp was a sobering experience. Much respect for those who put their lives in danger each year to support and make the climbing season happen.
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Check out the day as recorded by Stava. See the trails taken, overall elevation gains, trekking times and how fast (or slow) we made it from Point A to Point B.