EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIARY DAY 6
LUMDENG TO GOKYO
Starting Point: Lumdeng (4,600m/14,450ft)
Finishing Point: Gokyo (4,790m/15,700ft)
Trekking Time: 6 Hours
Accommodation: Yeti Mountain Home
The sound of an alarm at 4:30am is probably the last thing anyone ever wants to hear. Imagine you are bundled up in a super warm sleeping bag, in a building that hardly passes as a shack, temperatures are sub-zero and you are exhausted from five days of trekking through the Himalayas. Layer in the fact that the day ahead is said to be one of the longest and toughest of your trip and that alarm is looking even worse now, right? Welcomes to day 6 of our trek to Everest Base Camp as we head from Lumdeng to Gokyo via one heck of a mountain pass – Renjo La Pass (5100m).
Days like the one ahead require a boost and some proper energy. After fumbling about packing up and getting ready, we met in the communal room of the tea house for a hot cup of coffee and a heaping bowl of porridge. And just like that, we were off to Gokyo.
No lies, the initial part of the trail from Lumdeng to Gokyo was three hours of a steep ascent. It was as if the never-ending trail was putting purposely trying to put us in our paces. Luckily there were a few plateaus that allowed us to catch our breath. It was at these that we were rewarded with fantastic views of the parts of the valley we were travelling from and those that we were heading towards.
Looking up the river valley there were clear paths carved out of the mountain. These were the continuation of those we had seen in prior days that led to Tibet. We began to move away from the river valley and heard further inward towards the jagged mountains. I’ll never forget the moment that it donned on me that we meant to trekking up and over that daunting wall.
It took us three solid hours to get from our tea house to the base of the mountains. We passed through rolling hills and walked on the banks of the Renjo Lakes. As finally arrived and we stood at the base of the rocky wall, I tried hard to make out the path that would lead us to the top. There were parts of the route that zig zagged up scree pathways as well as winding stone staircases that never seemed to go anywhere. Our Sherpa flew up the mountain and left us in the dust. We on the other hands needed to pace ourselves.
The steep ascent was made that much more difficult due to the increase in altitude. It’s true what they say, every step forward feels like hard work. Combine it with the fact that you are schlepping yourself up steep staircases and trying not to slip on the scree moving under your feet – and you, my friend, have yourself a challenge. The route was unforgiving. I prefer to tackle these parts of treks with slow, steady and consistent steps. It got to the point where every twenty steps forward saw us stopping to catch our breath. It was these moments that allowed us to regain focus to push for the next batch of steps towards the high pass.
The Renjo La Pass (5,345m/17,536ft) has a white flag planted there to allow trekkers from both sides to ensure they are heading in the right direction. Over the course of our hour ascent, that white flag was getting closer and closer. I knew what waiting for us once we arrived at the top of Renjo La Pass. I used this as motivation to push through the last few flights of stairs and made my way to the top of the Renjo La Pass.
And man – what a sight to behold. There she was. Mt. Everest – the majestic and powerful.
I struggle to put into words exactly what I felt in that moment. Combine exhaustion from the four-hour ascent (the last of which whooped my butt), the fact that I’ve never seen a more beautiful snap shot of nature in my life, along with my obsession for all things Everest and I was overcome with emotion. It’s one of those moments where your brain has no clue what’s going on and doesn’t know how to process what it is you are experiencing. While it has only happened a couple times in my life, my brain responds by pressing the cry button. Tears of elation streamed down my face.
You would have thought I actually summited Everest based on my response. In that moment, that may just have been what I felt. It was a moment that will forever be etched in my mind and heart (and Rob captured it on video – see below).
Mt. Everest and the surrounding Everest Range is THE panorama of all panoramas. She sits at the center at staggering 8,850m. Looking to the left you see the likes of Cho Oyo (8,201m), Hungchi (7,036m), Pumo Ri (7,165m) and Gokyo Ri (5,375m). To the right lies Nuptse (7,879m), Lhotse (8,516m), Chomolonzo (7,790m), Makalu (8,485m), Cholatse (6,440m) and Taboche (6,501m). At the base of panorama, sits the turquoise glacial lake of Dudh Pokhari and our resting spot for the evening – the village of Gokyo.
We were very blessed to have been able to see the panorama as clear as day with limited clouds blocking the views. The sun was out, the pass wasn’t full of people and we were happy campers. Seeing heavier clouds rolling in from Pharilapche Peak (6,073m) we knew that it was time to make our way to the village of Gokyo before the weather turned. You definitely don’t want to be on these stretches of the trail with inclement weather.
Suffice it to say that the walk down was easier than the trek up. There were a lot of people passing us making their way to the top of the pass. I felt bad for them considering from the top we could also see the clouds that were rolling in from the distance. This meant that after all of the work to tackle the high pass, these trekkers wouldn’t get the Everest panorama view by the time they got there. That 4:30am alarm didn’t end up being so bad after all. We stopped a couple times to admire the changing view and even propped ourselves up on the boulders to have a bite for lunch.
As we neared Gokyo, we passed the paths leading to the famous Everest viewing point of Gokyo Ri (5,375m). Most people who make their way to the top do so before sunrise – as it’s the best time to get a clear view of Everest before the afternoon clouds roll in. There are also many trekkers who make their way up the Gokyo Valley to these trails as an alternative trek in the region. It’s an opportunity to get panoramic views of verest without going through the High Passes.
After an additional three-hour descent, we made it from Lumdeng to Gokyo and checked into Himalayan Eco Lodge (4,790m/15,700ft). As we sat in the communal area of the tea house to relax and warm up, the clouds rolled in bringing with them significantly cooler air and snow flurries. In the blink of an eye the snow flurries turned into full on snow storm and dropped a fresh load of snow on Gokyo. We all made jokes about being snowed in, but in the back of my mind I was nervous. Heavy snow on these trails would make the upcoming days more difficult. We were set to cross glaciers, traverse on hard, blue ice and haul ourselves over another high pass. All of these are very difficult and dangerous when the weather gods do not behave.
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.