Continued from Part Four

After scarfing down a quick lunch we three set back off on the trail to the highest and Northernmost point of our trek: Everest Base Camp at 5340m (17.5k ft). The trail traverses a rocky moraine with fantastic views of the adjacent Khumbu glacier and the huge Khumbu cirque rimmed by the giants of Nuptse, Everest, Khumbutse and Pumo Ri. Soon we find ourselves winding around on the dirty glacier itself, marveling at the 15m seracs all around us. Before we know it, the jumble of tents seemingly strewn over the glacier appears and we are there.

Base Camp
Everest Base Camp

To be honest, it was a bit anticlimactic: Base Camp isn’t really a set place but wherever each expedition decides to plop a bunch of tents near the foot of the Khumbu Icefall. In this case, three expeditions had just kicked off for the post-monsoon season, from Italy, France, and Korea. The French camp happened to be the closest so we struck up a conversation with a rather entertaining Parisian dude, probably in his late 20s. He mentioned that he had competed in (won?) the Everest Marathon a few years ago, and that they were being sponsored by a French television station and were focusing on recording medical data during the ascent. The expedition was already about a month in and we could spot some climbing Sherpas descending the icefall through the binoculars — pretty cool stuff. After some gabbing we take off back to Gorak Shep, arriving near dusk.

That night is horrendous — I wake up at midnight or so with by far the most splitting headache of my life — it literally feels like my head is wedged in an ever-tightening vise. I pop some more (magic) ibuprofen and grovel to the toilet, expecting to hurl my guts out. It never comes, so I go back to bed and lay in agony til the Vitamin I kicks in and I fade back to dreamland.

We had planned to wake early for the steep slog up to Kala Patthar at 5650 m (18.5k ft), and end up setting out at 7am or so. The timing is excellent — we are behind most of the crowds and have a decent amount of time after sunset to enjoy the views in relative solitude. I wake up feeling fantastic and manage to book it up the hill in under an hour! The Brits meet me up a bit later and we (they) celebrate with Marmite (*vomit*) and crackers. We take pictures of one another and I bask in a heavenly panorama of the entire Khumbu region. I am quite content.

Khumbu Glacier
On the Khumbu Glacier

Later in the day I stumble on Cameron and the posse of Australians he had been traveling with. We agree to meet in Lobuche tomorrow so he has time to go to base camp and Kala Patthar. Tanya, Darren and I depart Gorak Shep in the mid-morning and make our way back down to the nicely low-lying (or not) Lobuche, where we hang out, read and nap for the rest of the day. The next day I meet up with Cam and a couple other Brits, while Tanya and Darren take off on a different path to make their way over Cho La and eventually Gokyo, a supposedly spectacular adjacent valley. The four of us instead descend back to Pheriche and the Himalayan Hotel, where we happen upon Simon and Andy again. I jokingly ask if they ever left the hotel at all and we have a tame evening of cards.

The next day we take eight hours or so (an exceptionally long day by lazy Nepal standards) to get back to Namche Bazaar, where we had pledged to support the fledgling alcoholic merchandising industry as best we can. About twenty beers later (at 11.5k feet mind you) we are drunkenly carrying on in the hotel restaurant about football, politics and god knows what else. Good times.

The next and last day is pretty typical, save the random rendezvous at an Irish Pub in Lukla (wait, what? Yes, an Irish Pub. They even served Guinness.) before we fly out bright and early the next morning. We are the very first flight out and by 9am are checked into a Kathmandu hotel for the next leg of our journey…

This was to be continued, but I unfortunately lost motivation. Contact me and I just may write up the rest…