Everest Basecamp Challenge – April 2019
BeyulTreks received yet another great opportunity to host 12 guests from neighboring country Srilanka on April 2019. We have been hosting big groups from all over the world, but this was the first time we were getting this wonderful opportunity to know these participants from Srilanka and share culture with each other. Our trek day was about to start on 29th. Beyul team were more than excited.
Every participant arrived on the 28th and went on to Thamel for last minute shopping. Some of the participants had to buy gloves, while others had to get some hiking boots. After shopping, we went for dinner at an Indian restaurant with live music. There we get to bond with every participant and made ourselves familiar with each other.
First Few Unpredictable Though Exciting Days
We had to sleep early, cause we had to leave at 2 am in the morning (or midnight ). Thanks to Airport maintenance undergoing at Domestic airport at Tribhuvan International Airport, as preparation for Visit Nepal 2020 campaign. Hence we had to drive for 5 hours to the Ramechhap airport, with the packed breakfast. Most of us slept on the bus. We arrived at the airport at 7 am and could see the mess inside the airport. As soon as we arrived, trekkers from the earlier day were queuing up for the flight ticket because the flight was canceled due to the weather condition.
Our flight was at 7:30 am, but the “Pushed” flight from the previous day had affected our flight time. However, we were hoping to fly on the same day. We could see the tension and rush in the airport staff due to the surging number of people at the airport. But the calmness that they were showing for all the hurrying passengers was awesome. The hot weather and undecided flight timing were making the participants worry. But, the excitement to be at Everest Basecamp was keeping everyone’s mood on. At 2 in the afternoon, it had started raining at Lukla Airport, the world’s most dangerous airports with the most unpredictable weather. Then we were informed that our flight has been canceled. We then had to book the hotel at Ramechhap. Since it is very rare that hotels at Ramechhap get tourists, the hotels were not that comfortable. However, all of us shared a few beers on that day and accepted the unforeseen natures call.
Next day, as promised, we were lucky to get an early morning flight. We were very happy to cross the airport line, towards the plane. And, everyone was thrilled and ready to board on that small plane landing on the world’s most dangerous airport, Lukla Airport.
We arrived at Lukla in 20 minutes. Right after we landed, we could see the Himalayas ready to welcome us for the challenge we had signed up for. It was already getting cold there, and Beyul local staffs were already there ready to welcome us, and help us with our baggage. We had our breakfast. And there it started, our first day of trekking. We could see the excitement and that charm in everyone’s face.
We started to walk from Lukla, a small but sophisticated town and gateway to Everest Trekking and Expedition. The hike was easy downhill. We stopped after an hour for the tea and took a look around the serene village. We started to walk again. The green forests alongside, and the sound of a flowing river with herds of yaks and mules, the real trekking had started. On the other hand, all of us were excited to cross the famous suspension bridge over the mighty Dukh-Koshi river and took many pictures. Adjoined by those bridged were not only the river bank but also the edge of hills sometimes.
We stopped at Phakding for lunch. We were greeted by a locally made juice, and black tea. Although most of us used to walk in a different group due to individual walking pace, we used to get very good bonding time at the break spots. Sharing laughs, and sometimes giving a hard time to each other, we had already bonded like good long time friends. Rohan, one of the participants played guitar with some Srilankan and English songs.
We then started to walk again, and as expected we were a bit slow after lunch. However, the Himalayan peaks that were peeking at us and the clear blue sky with green forest were welcoming us. We had to cross a few other suspension bridges along with herds of Yaks and mules while passing a smile to fellow trekkers. Nevertheless, the story shared by some trekkers coming back from Gokyo or Everest Basecamp was keeping us more motivated. Everyone in the trekking we met were very friendly and pleasant to speak to.
We got the very close glimpse of Mount Ama-Dablam from Monjo, where we were supposed to stay for the night. The hotel was very clean, with friendly staffs along with a beautiful garden. We slept pretty early after dinner.
Next day, we could see that we are getting very lucky with the pleasant weather and being guarded by Ama-Dablam most of the time. After getting the permits, we started walking. We could see the number of trekkers were increasing and also see the familiar faces that we saw from Ramechhap Airport. Sharing stories among the participants, and among random fellow trekkers, unknown energy was dragging every trekker with a big smile on their face.
After an hour, it felt the real trekking has now started, thanks to unkind uphill. But the idyllic villages that we had to pass along the way used to give us hope, the friendly smile the locals used to pass helped us to overcome the pain. Every turning used to feel like the last one, but untrue. After 5 hours, we arrived at Namche. Namche felt like a stunning town in the middle of nowhere. The beauty and the rich architecture of Namche could be felt right from the entrance gate. Big stupa with a clean water fountain and similar houses built at the edge of the hill, Namche looked like living heaven.
We stopped at the Hungry Yak Restaurant for lunch, a live music bar at the highest altitude in the world. We were well served with Nepali Dal-bhat. Every one of us was starving, and that dal-bhat felt like a treat to our belly. We then went to our hotel and planned for short village excursion after resting for a few hours.
Village excursion we took not only helped us to acclimatize with the altitude, but also to explore the Sherpa culture. Beyul’s staff, Lhakpa Sherpa a local from that area looked very proud while sharing the story of Sherpa. Similarly, the Museum of Sherpa artifacts and the showcase of Everest Expeditioners was very inspiring. We also saw the statue of Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, the brave man who stepped foot on Everest for the first time with Sir Edmund Hillary on 29th May 1953.
Post Namche high altitude yet high hope days
We left Namche at 8, after breakfast. We could see that we were now surrounded by high mountains. The easy walk with the well-maintained trail was very helpful for every trekker to keep up the pace. However, the trail was so crowded that our group used to get lost sometimes. But our experienced guides were smart enough to keep the group together. Gradual downhill along with spring flowers, and the picturesque Himalayas view all the time, we were having the best time of our life.
We could see the number of Blue Sheeps along the way.
After lunch and 3 hours of painstaking uphill, we arrived at Tengboche Monastery. From there we could see our first view of the Mount Everest. Tengboche is a small village with numbers of hotels and bakeries with grazing horses and yaks. The monastery was very big but was already closed as it gets closed at 5 PM, according to the monk who was hesitant to open it for us. We then headed down to Debuche, 10 minutes downhill from Tengboche, and stayed there for the night.
We started the next day at 8 again, after having breakfast at the hotel. The weather was not that clear, and we could see that there were chances of rain. However, we started with the same joyful faces and the same excitement. But, we had to be more careful because after this day we will be crossing 4000 meters. After half an hour of easy trail, then started uphill, one of the most difficult days on the trek. On the other hand, Ama-Dablam just watches you all the time accompanied by other mountains. After 4 hours of harsh uphill, we stopped for lunch at Pangboche.
We could see that most of the trekkers were kind of exhausted now. That was the highest altitude of their lifetime, but the determination from each participant was inspiring. The group bonding, the laughs, and the excitement, none of them were deteriorated.
We left the lunch place and started hiking up again. Weather again was foggy and terrain was getting dryer. We arrived at Dingboche at around 6 in the evening. Dingboche was also a small town, with lots of amenities like wifi, snooker and bakery house. We played some cards with the team, bonded with trekkers from other groups and had our nice dinner, spaghetti after a long time. Since the next day, we were having acclimatization day, a lot of us were feeling relaxed about the rest day. Following day, we had a lazy day by choice and for acclimatization, we were about to hike at the nearby hill which would take around 1:30 hours. It was raining on that day. Along with that mountain, we hiked around the town, checked some local areas, and again, went back, played cards, had some fun, and just slept.
4000m+ and fear of sickness days
We were ready for more trek and more altitude now. And, the weather was very clear that we could see we were surrounded by mountains all over. The clear blue sky, picturesque highest mountains in the world, and a big flat land just above Dengboche, we could not stop from taking more snaps and videos. We could see the trekkers all around, until very far. I lack words to explain that view, that moment and those mountains.
The walk was getting harder and harder now. All we could see were stones, mountains but were blessed with clement weather. After lunch, there was an uphill, which was the hardest part of the day. Though it seemed just right there, we had to take it slow so that we have enough time to breathe and drink water. We arrived at Lobuche at 5, and it was getting colder. We could see the snow on the doorstep of our hotel. After reflecting the day, and planning for the next day, we went to bed and getting mentally ready for another tough day.
Lobuche-pass day, this was another hardest day. We took it slowly, but steadily with enough water breaks. Hard rocks, big mountains, and no vegetation at all, we were able to cross the pass without any problem. The walk was a bit tough though, as there were big rocks with very narrow space to walk. On the other hand, we were aware that we signed up for the challenge and they don’t call it a challenge for no reason. It’s not easy to hike the Everest Base camp, which remains in the bucket list for most of the trekking enthusiasts all over the world.
We arrived at Gorakshep at around 2 PM. Few of us were feeling nauseated and having a bit of a headache. The high altitude does this, and the ginger tea was giving better hope for most of us. We planned for the Kalapatthar trek late evening, but only until the first camp only. Altitude could be the problem and no one wanted to miss the Base Camp trek next day. From Gorakshep, we could see Everest right above us. This gigantic mountain seemed so beautiful from the first camp. We were there at the perfect timing.
BASECAMP and walk-back days
Finally, the day came. All the hard work, painstaking uphill, highs and lows, all thirsty/hungry moments was for this day. The day we walk to EVEREST BASE CAMP. We started a bit early and started walking towards the camp. We could see the camps set up from distance and listen to the avalanches over the Himalayas. We saw one small avalanche with our eyes.
All of us were so determined to walk until Basecamp. The trail was again filled with huge rocks, narrow passage, and no vegetation, but could feel all mountains watching at us with a clear blue sky. Finally, after 3 hours of walk, we arrived at the Basecamp.
All of us were expressing our joy and achievement to the fullest. We passed hi-fives to everyone we met on the trail. One pleasant weather, surrounded by top mountains in the world, and nature’s wonderful gift, we all felt that how worthy were all of those hard work, how our perseverance paid off finally. We could see many climbers camping there. We took time there and did not care about the return. Took loads of videos and photos, made lots of memory there and everyone was busy calling back home expressing their proud moment to their family and friends. We could see the happiness in everyone’s eyes, feel that achievement.
Now, it was time to return. We walked back to the same Lobuche pass and walked until Pheriche, the longest walk. This might be because we took much time at the basecamp, however, none of the participants were worried about getting late, cause Beyul staff were handling everything so professionally, and made them feel safe. Everyone was feeling proud to check off the EVEREST BASE CAMP bucket list.
Walking back and celebrating the achievement
Next day, we walked until Namche and returned to Lukla the day after along the same trail. We had some good time there at Lukla and shared lots of stories along with some Nepali local wines followed by Nepali Khukuri Rum. We made lots of memory at Lukla and finally said goodbye to our lead guides and porters the next day before we caught the early flight to Ramechap. Finally had to say goodbye to Lukla.
We then drove back to Kathmandu and shared stories with our loved ones. After dinner, we said goodbye to good times and promised to meet next time. Beyul got another great companion that will stay in our hearts forever. Ciao to all friendly smiling people.