EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIARY DAY 2
PHAKDING TO NAMCHE BAZAAR
Starting Point: Phakding (2,800m/9,200ft)
Finishing Point: Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,300ft)
Trekking Time: 6 Hours
Accommodation: Yeti Mountain Home
Waking up in the Himalayas with the warmth of an electric blanket is a great way to start day two of a trek to Everest Base Camp. As we will inevitably see over the course of the next couple of days – all good things come to an end. After a hot shower and light breakfast, we were on our way from Phakding to Namche Bazaar.
Not long after departing Phakding we crossed over the Dudh Kosi River and followed the steady, undulating path on the west side. The route to Namche is slightly longer and more challenging than the trail from Lukla to Phakding. The earlier portion of the trail takes you through mountainside forests and the small villages of Zamfute and Tok Tok. As the stretch of the trek is still on the main EBC trail, there are tons of tea houses, bakeries and restaurants to stop off at along the way. Perfect for Rob as his stomach bug was only getting worse…
During one of the pit stops we stopped for a bite to eat at a local restaurant in the town on Benkar. It’s always great when you can see the kitchen of the restaurant you are eating. In this case, the brick oven in the corner of the room that had god-knows-what kind of meat hanging just above. Rob opted for some dry biscuits while I went all out with a veggie stir fry. It (and the kit kats we had stashed in our bags) was enough to tide us over until dinner.
As we passed back over the Dudh Kosi towards little village of Chomoa our guide introduced us to a celebrity – Sano Babu Sunuwar. In 2012 he and his climbing partner Lakpa Tsheri Sherpa of Ultimate Descent were awarded with the National Geographic Adventurer Of The Year Award. What did they do to deserve this honor? They were the crazy ones who summited Everest, paraglided from the summit, kayaked to where the Dudh Kosi river meets the Ganges river and made their out to the Indian Ocean via the Bay of Bengal This feat along with all that happened to them along the way is insane. It was cool sharing the trail with him as he too was making his way to Base Camp. Makes you think about all the other people you pass throughout the day – and how each have their own story (regardless of whether or not they are famous on the mountaineering scene). Here’s a video by National Geographic highlighting thier adventure.
After we passed through the village of Monjo we made our way to the entry point of Sagarmatha National Park. It’s here where all your climbing passes are checked and verified. One of the perks of having a guide on the trail is that they help sort all of this out before you even arrive. No waiting around for us – we just picked up our passes and made our way through the entry gates of the national park. Crossing through the little hut we gave the prayer wheels a spin and away went into the Khumbu Valley. It was here that we began to get more glimpses of the snow-capped mountains we were heading towards.
One of the highlights of the trek to Namche was the numerous suspension bridges you get to cross adorned with tattered prayer flags hammered by the wind. The bridges themselves are various lengths and heights. May favorite was the very last one crossed on our ascent. It was impressive. This bad boy was not only the longest, but also the highest. Getting to it required you to huff and puff your way up quite a steep incline and voila – there it is. The only way across this massive ravine is the suspension bridge in front of you.
Crossing it there’s a strange calm in the air that is juxtaposed with the sounds of the rushing glacial river below. You around you but you are in the middle of nowhere.
If you are lucky you may even be crossing with a herd of Yaks along the way. That, of course, depends on how you define lucky. The more people on the bridge as you cross the more it moves and sways with each step.
After the obligatory selfie we continue onward through to the next village of Jorsale. It’s worth noting that once you make your way across the last suspension bridge, the trek gets a bit tougher. From there the path is sometimes very steep and zig zags its way up. You must get those elevation gains at some point, right? We often stopped every fifty footsteps as Rob’s sickness was reaching its worse. Stomach problems on a challenging stretch of trek sprinkled with first real gains in altitude aren’t really the best combination. I’d say even if you aren’t sick, take the time to pace yourself. Trekkers who go too fast through this segment are often the ones that start to develop effects of altitude sickness.
Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the view as you make your way further into the valley. If your lucky and have clear weather, it will be a sight to behold. Along the route, we got our first view of Taboche (6,542m). Massive. Dramatic. Snowcapped. It’s along this stretch of trail that you are offered your first couple glimpses of Everest as well. While we had fantastic weather, the rolling clouds in the distance blocked our views. Such is life. I knew that as we continued along the trail we would only be blessed with more of these and even better, more spectacular views.
It’s along this stretch of trail that you are offered your first glimpses of Everest as well. While we had fantastic weather, the rolling clouds in the distance blocked our views. Oh well. I knew that as we continued along the trail we would only be blessed with more of these and even better, more spectacular views.
You are close to the end of day 2 when you get to the Namche Bazaar Check Point.
Namche Bazaar (3440m) is a proper town in the middle of the mountains. I’ve always seen it in photos and wondered how there could be so much development in such a remote place. As we entered town a little kid asked me to take his picture. I didn’t but after a smile and a high five I was on my way. It was that little push I needed to continue the last 20 minutes through town to get to Yeti Mountain Home – Namche.
Passing through town you can’t help notice how bustling it is. Laundry was being down in the streams, yaks crossing the small alley ways lined with outdoor gear shops and pharmacies, fellow trekkers sitting in the cafes resting their feet.
Namche Bazaar tends to be the first acclimatization stop on most people’s route to Base Camp. Ensuring your body has time to naturally adjust to the lower oxygen levels as you make your way along the path is key to success. Push yourself too hard and the results can be fatal. As we experienced weather delays on day one, we made a choice to only stay here one night so the rest of our itinerary would get back in track. We are not new to high altitude trekking so felt confident that we could take an acclimatisation day further along the path without risk.
Knowing that we were going to deviate from the standard EBC route the following day, we made arrangements for a doctor to come visit the tea house. Considering Rob’s stomach issues were only getting worse (and the trek was only going to get more difficult), it was important that we were doing whatever we could to ensure we made it to Base Camp. Meds in hand and exhausted from the more challenging than expected day, it was time for snoozeville (with electric blankets of course).
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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.
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