Destinations // Everest Base Camp Trek Day 11: Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp

EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIARY DAY 11

GORAKSHEP TO EVEREST BASE CAMP

KEY STATS

Starting Point: Gorakshep (3,440m/11,300ft)

Finishing Point: Everest Base Camp (5,364m/17,600ft)

Distance: 5km/3.1mi

Trekking Time: 2 Hours

Accommodation: Tent

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.

Before leaving Gorakshep, we packed only what we needed for the evening. As is the case for a lot of trekkers that make their way through this Sherpa village, our tea house allowed us to store our gear as we made our way to Base Camp. Getting from point A to point B in this altitude is hard work, let alone when you carry heavy packs and gear. The less we needed to carry the better.

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.

Over the course of the trek we have had a multitude of views of these peaks from different angles. It was a great feeling knowing that we were getting as close a view of Everest as we could get (of course, unless we decided to summit – which was not in the cards). The irony of the whole trek is that the closer to Everest Base Camp you get, the less of Mt. Everest you actually get to see.

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.

After navigating a few tricky, steep pathways and dodging some moody yaks we finally made it to Everest Base Camp. It’s been days of trekking through remote regions of the world, testing ourselves physically and pushing ourselves mentally – and we were here. Our goal was set and through perseverance – we accomplished it. It’s moments like these that emotions flood in, and while you are ecstatic about the achievement you are also humbled by the experience. This is why I adventure.

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.

So, while others turned around and made their way back to Gorakshep, we continued along the path and began heading towards the hustle and bustle of Everest Base Camp.

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.

An hour into our walk across the glacier, we finally made it to the TagNepal team Base Camp HQ – which was literally at the base of the Khumbu Icefall. We plopped our stuff into our tent and meandered curiously around camp. Every direction you looked, expedition workers were getting their camps set up for the arrival of their climbing teams. For the next month and a half, these areas would serve as the base for what will inevitably one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences for many mountaineers looking to summit the world tallest mountain.
There was a steady stream of gear-carrying yaks heading in and out of camp and sherpas were putting the final touches on their camp sites. We could also see the Khumbu ice doctors making their way up and down the ice fall preparing the ladders and fixed ropes along the route. Helicopters carrying scenic flight passengers were also hovering about. Everest Base Camp was open for business.
Later that afternoon we decided to head to our tent and relax a bit. I left the zipper on the door open and gazed out at the Ice Fall and surrounding peaks of Nuptse and Lhotse. It felt unreal. This is literally where it happens. It’s in this place that some of the most extraordinary adventurers have physically and mentally prepared for their expeditions and even where many have lost their lives in pursuit of adventure.

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.

Before heading to bed that evening the chef at Base Camp prepared a three-course meal for us in our very own private mess tent. In the tent with us were all the supplies that the teams would be using over the season. It’s almost as if we were the guinea pigs for their first few runs at Base Camp. Before we headed off to bed the team brought in a birthday cake for Rob. Yes – a real icing-rich cake that had been baked at base camp complete with a burning candle. It was a very nice touch by the team to make this experience a memorable one.
I attempted to do some night time photography before heading to bed but my body and camera couldn’t really stand the drop-in temperature. Evenings at Base Camp during early April tend to drop down to -25C! This is as good as it got for me before I had to layer jump into my sleeping bag and layer up in the tent.
It’s safe to say that we didn’t get much rest that evening. While it’s common for those at high altitude to have difficulty sleeping, we were attempting to do so on a glacier. There were sounds of the creaking ice slowly moving under and around us. I kept having visions of the ice opening below the tent and us plummeting into a deep crevasse. The scariest thing we experienced that evening was the intermittent sounds of avalanches in the distance. With each crack, I found myself listening for echoes that would indicate whether anything was heading our way. Sometimes the winds would pummel against the tent causing my heart to pound out of my chest – but luckily for us is always fizzled out.
Overnighting at Everest Base Camp is an experience I will never forget – and one that I would do again in a heartbeat.

WATCH THE ADVENTURE UNFOLD

LOOKING FOR NITTY GRITTY DETAILS?

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.

ENJOY GORAKSHEP TO EVEREST BASE CAMP? CHECK OUT MORE OF THE EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK AT DESTINATIONS // EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK.

23 comments

  • What an absolutely engrossing read! I’ve had a long-time fascination with mountains, and am looking at three bookshelves of climbing books while I’m typing this comment. The experience is very vivid in your writing and pictures. I love what you say about the responsibility of ensuring you don’t carry infection to people who have spent months and more likely years training and preparing for their climb. The Khumbu icefall has always looked mighty scary (as indeed its reputation confirms), and I can imagine that the noises of the glacier made for that unsettled night.

  • Amazing article! I really love when someone shares the story backed with amazing pictures. During my stay in Thailand, I was talking to one women who went to Base Camp and she had the very similar experience like yours. Keep up and wish you many happy and safe expeditions and travels in the next years!

  • What a fantastic adventure! I am very envious! It must have been an unforgettable experience, and your pictures are amazing. This deep blue sky over the mountains… I already have trouble to sleep at sea level so I can’t even imagine how it would be on a cracking glacier, but then it makes a nice story to tell 🙂
    Well done with your article and thanks for sharing this great experience!

  • This looks so cool! My 13 year old son is currently reading ‘No Summit out of Sight’ by the youngest person to climb the seven summits, and he is just getting to the part of the book that covers Everest. Based on his level of interest, we may be checking out climbing soon, which which would be new for both of us, so I will be showing him this article. Such awesome photos!

  • Wow. That’s quite an experience – and that’s just from reading you looking at your pictures… Definitely must may you feel alive…

  • As always: Great article 🙂 I’m always fascinated about the extreme blue sky when you get to a place at a certain altitude – everything seems so much clearer… I see you tried some lightpainting at night – did you also manage to get some shots of the milkyway? Must be quite easy up there w/o any light pollution (if it isn’t cloudy)

  • My dream. My dream. I love reading posts about people’s treks to base camp and I so hope ot do this one day. Fantastic blog and loving oyur photos.

  • What a great post! I absolutley loved this, your pictures are breathtaking. I am sure this is going to inspire anyone who had the seed in their head to go and have this awsome experience. Its not something I could do so I really admire you, I really love this part of the world, great read thanks!

  • What an adventure and such gorgeous pics as well. Using ice picks to flatten the ground at the Khumbu Glacier camp sounds a bit hectic for me, but your climb sounds amazing.

  • This is something I would love to do, hike to Everest base camp. However I feel it would be too difficult. I don’t seem to do well in high altitudes. It looks rough, and eleven days of hiking…woof. Your photos are stunning, though, with those clouds, blue skies, and mountain peaks.

  • wow what a wonderful adventure! Climbing Everest Base is definitely a dream for many people although I am not sure if I could handle the cold! Its so great you got to get there and get nice meal and cake too 🙂 Your night photography still looks pretty great even tho you didn’t spend too much time on it!

  • I’ve already read the some of your other posts, but it gets even better! The trekking with these beautiful creatures (I’m talking ’bout the animals here, not your fellow trekkers 😉 ) and especially the prayer flags and national flags as colorful dots in this breathtaking landscape….just wonderful!

  • What an incredible journey you are on. Your over night at Everest was truly amazing. I can only imagine the sounds you heard with the ice, wind, and avalanches. What an amazing time that must have been.

  • It’s crazy to think what these Sherpa’s do on a daily basis – literally as strong as an ox. Sounds like a genuinely inspiring trek. I love anything related to camping or wilderness but of course, Everest holds a special place in the hearts of most outdoors lovers! Thanks too for the outstanding photographs, they really set this post apart from what I have read elsewhere on the Basecamp trek.

  • I’m already in awe staring at your photos (that one with the yaks is my favorite) and I couldn’t imagine how much more amazement I would feel to see the mountain ranges up close and personal. I bet this climb has positively changed you as a person after going through all those physical and mental stress, and yet surviving those. 🙂

  • What an adventure!! I’d never thought about having to worry about trekkers bringing sickness up and ruining a summit attempt, but it makes complete sense. I love your photos and the story – but I doubt I’ll ever make it there. I think the creaking sounds would have done me in! hah thank you so much for sharing this, though!! It was a pleasure to read 🙂

  • This must probably be one of the most adventurous and thrilling experience. The excitement of the trek and the experience of The Everest Base Camp comes across so vividly in your post. I could almost hear the chilling sounds of approaching avalanches and feel the chill air of the Himalayas on my face. Definitely an experience that will linger long.

  • Wow, what an epic way to celebrate birthday! Although I would love to visit the Everest Base Camp Site, I don’t think I have it in me to actually do this. This is definitely a proud moment for every traveller. You penned down your experience very nicely, the probability of an avalanche while enjoying the rugged snow landscapes is indeed scary.

  • Amazing!!! What a incredible journey – hope I get to do this too one day! Such otherworldly scenery, it looks amazing!

  • Thanks for sharing. This seems like such an amazing expedition to experience. I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal, but not for Everest, maybe I’ll look into heading to the base camp. By the way, these were some beautiful photos.

  • Fascinating and fabulous! Congrats on making the trek! Nepal is so beautiful. I was actually invited a few months ago but couldn’t make the dates, nor do I think I could have physically endured. Loved your photos, especially of the obligatory photo spot. 😉

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