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Everest Base Camp 2017 – Part 2

Day 3 – Acclimatisation in Namche Bazaar

Best breakfast ever: rice pudding. A great start to the day. Now a few people were confused and thought this was supposed to be a rest day. Sorry but no. The point of acclimatisation days are to hike to a higher altitude during the day and then go back down lower again to sleep.

So no rest day for my aching legs. And they were definitely aching, I don’t know what I had done but I was experiencing some unbelievable pain in my hamstring that felt like I was being stabbed every time I moved. Yay.

Our first view of Everest, very very far in the distance.

In more exciting news, once we walked out of Namche (3440m) we had our first view of Mount Everest! It was actually a little bit underwhelming because all the mountains around it that we could see were closer to us so it didn’t really look that impressive. It was, however, so strange to see it so far away and know that we were walking basically to the foot of it over the next few days. It seemed unbelievable, ridiculous even.

During our hike up to the Everest View Hotel (3880m and our highest point of the day) some of us began to feel the effects of the altitude when breathing. We all hoped it wouldn’t get worse as we got higher and our guides encouraged us to take it easy and go slow.

Khumjung.

Our lunch place was in Khumjung (3790m), where you can see a medical centre and a school both started by Edmund Hillary, and also a monastery that displays a “yeti skull”, if you’re interested. Nearby there is also a place where large helicopters land with supplies. Besides helicopter, everything else is carried up the mountains by yak, donkey or human. We had to wait many times for long lines of yaks and donkeys to pass, and in the peak season (April-May) you can wait for a whole hour at a time for the path to be clear of animals. It may have been very cold at night but I was grateful to be there in February-March for the clear paths and also the fact that we had the tea houses basically to ourselves in most places. It added to the family spirit of our trek.

Leaving Khumjung after lunch. The days were often warm and sunny in the mornings but in the afternoon the clouds would come over and the temperature drops very quickly.

Day 4 – Namche Bazaar-Deboche

This was the first morning I woke up and was able to drink from my water bottle without freezing my insides. The temperature drops so low overnight that even in Namche our water was already icy in the mornings. It’s not exactly pleasant drinking water that cold straight after waking up so for nearly the entire trek I would sleep with my drink bottle in my sleeping bag. It gave me something nice to drink in the morning and it gave me something to cuddle through the night.

The sun rising over the mountains as we left Namche.

One member of our group was very sick all night from food poisoning, and in the morning it was decided that he would start walking later and two of our guides would stay back with him. That day he made it only half the distance we did, staying in the town where we’d had lunch, but everyone was supportive and he remained determined to catch us in the coming days.

That day we had a view of Everest for several hours while we were walking, and for the first half of the day the path was quite pleasant, Nepali flat. The worst part was that in many places there were no hiding spots for toilet stops. Exercising that much and at high altitude we were drinking 4 litres of water a day each, so naturally there were lots of pee breaks but no toilets except in towns. This resulted in an abundance of funny and awkward moments that only increased the higher we went.

Me in my hiking finest, with Ama Dablam looming in the background. 

After lunch the path changed and we went UP about 400m in altitude until we arrived in Tengboche (3860m) where there is a large monastery and some amazing views. After taking some selfies we headed down to Deboche (3820m) and enjoyed some well deserved R and R after a day of six and a half hours of walking. It was here that we met a fellow Australian who was on his way back down to Lukla and he gave us the tip to keep our phones in our sleeping bags at night because the cold air drains the battery very quickly. More things to cuddle I guess.

View of Everest from Tengboche.

Day 5 – Deboche-Dingboche

Our night in Deboche was the first night of five in a row where I hardly slept, had super weird but realistic dreams when I did manage to sleep, and spent half the night gasping for breath because whenever I relaxed for sleep I couldn’t get enough oxygen in. Fun times at high altitude.

Today we said goodbye to trees for a while.

I wasn’t the only person feeling a bit under the weather that morning. One of the girls was feeling tipsy, another symptom of altitude, and from that day I was one of only two people from the six of us who wasn’t taking Diamox, an altitude sickness preventative. Michael, who was half a day behind us still recovering from the food poisoning, wasn’t taking it because it thins your blood and he gets nose bleeds. I didn’t take it because I didn’t want to, pure stubbornness. The other four were already taking it or started taking it in Deboche.

I spent a large chunk of the day walking ahead of the others with Sujan, our main guide. I wasn’t actually walking any faster than they were but once I got going with my steady, comfortable pace I found it difficult to stop and have breaks except to have a quick drink. The others would stop for longer periods of time and it was hard for me to start walking again after stopping for that long, so I just powered on ahead.

Sujan contemplates the path ahead.

After lunch we said goodbye to trees for a few days. And we said a reluctant hello to strong, bitter wind. When Sujan and I arrived in Dingboche (4410m and officially new territory for me, having been to 4200m on the Inca Trail a year before) we had to wait 20 minutes for the others to arrive because he wasn’t sure which lodge we were staying in. I actually thought I would lose my fingers it was so cold.

The path on the central hill in this photo shows the path up to Dingboche.

When we finally arrived at the lodge I had a hot chocolate, a wet wipe wash, changed into my bed clothes, sat in my sleeping bag, and ate a tiny chocolate bar. The perfect way to wrap up seven hours of trekking.

If you missed the first instalment of the trek you can find it here, and the remaining days are coming soon!

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