Thukla (4620 m) to Lobuche (4940 m): 3 hrs.
The morning was rough, my stomach was churning, my nose was running, my throat was aching and it’s been 3 days since I last showered. We were all pretty miserable. Even my husband who had been our cheeriest member was starting to show signs of misery.
Our hike started with a straight up-hill to Thukla pass. I had some peppermint oil that I applied generously to my buff. It helped keep me alert and cleared up my nasal passages. We navigated our way slowly through the rocks and boulders. It was painful for our guide to see how slowly we were going. He made this clear as he often commented on how slow we were. I wondered if he was just joking, and then I wondered if I was capable of pushing him down the hill.
One eternity later we made it to the top, where there was a memorial for Everest climbers that had passed away. I couldn’t even imagine the struggles that those climbers faced. It was an eerie but beautiful spot, we were surrounded by prayer flags, monuments and mountains.
The remaining path to Lobuche was relatively flat. At this point we were close to 5000 m above sea level, helicopters flew passed us at eye level. I felt alright except for a little headache. We reached Lobuche and stayed at Oxygen Altitude tea-house. Our porters were there already, and they secured us a room with a great view. The bathroom was also nice, it was a western toilet and had a running tap.
Our guide advised us not to take a nap, so my husband and I decided to take a little walk. We bought some electrolytes and toilet paper, and meandered towards the river. Some of the locals were washing bed sheets in the cold river. Right across was Lobuche a giant mountain standing over the small village. The bright sun and thin air made it feel like was walking in a daydream.
The electrolytes helped to bring my headache to a dull pain. I was able to have my veg rara for dinner. We asked our guide what the plan was for the next day. He ominously said we’ll see how you feel.
It was another cold night. Our sleeping bag was rated for -20, and I still wore my t-shirt, two sweaters and coat, I also had on my hat, buff and thermal pants. It was important for me to dress warm since I had to visit the bathroom every 2 hours. The upside was the bathroom was much nicer here than in Thukla.
Lobuche (4940 m) to Gorakshep (5164 m): 4 hrs to Everest Base Camp (5380 m): 6 hrs
My husband wasn’t doing so well, he was thinking and moving very slowly. His cold had also gotten worst, and he was totally stuffed up. Nevertheless, we decided to push on. At 6:30 a.m.we were in the kitchen having some warm tea. There were still people sleeping in the dining area, but other trekkers were ready to start the day.
I was wearing my shirt, 2 sweaters, down jacket, thermal pants, hiking pants, 2 pairs of wool socks, mittens, hat, buff and hoodie. It was so cold outside. I could feel the wind right through all my layers. The little streams we had seen yesterday were all frozen. My toes felt like stumps. I walked continuously to try and thaw them out.
The path started of easy . My vision was slightly obstructed by a bright light, it gave the landscape a dream like quality. I slowed down my breathing, counting to 4 as I breath in and counting to 4 as I breathe out. Each breath was one step. I drank my water, and sniffed my peppermint oil. It seemed to work, and the bright light gave way to a crispier view of the mountains.
Finally we started to see patches of sunlight. I moved in and out of the path chasing the sun.
Soon we made our way out of the shadow of the mountains, and headed up hill. The hike up was easier than I thought it would be. But the biggest challenge was still ahead of us.
The final obstacle to Gorakshep was a rocky moraine. From here we caught glimpses of Everest, and a stunning view of the Khumbu glacier. We were surrounded by giants! Mountains, and blocks of ice lay ahead of us, with the a background of the bluest sky I have ever seen. It was an overwhelming experience. I was tired and fed up with the rocky path. At the same time I was in awe of the landscape. I didn’t know whether I felt miserable or happy.
We made it to the top of the moraine, and finally saw Gorakshep. We had walked so slowly that it didn’t leave us much time to decided whether or not we would continue to base camp. After a quick lunch, my sister decided that she would stay and rest at the tea-house. We asked the guide if it was possible to head to base-camp tomorrow instead, just in case my sister was feeling better. But he said it wasn’t possible. So my husband and I decided to just go for it.
It was 12 p.m. when we started the 3 km walk to base camp. The path started off flat, with the iconic sign “Way to Everest B.C.” After that we had to navigate up and down large rocks and boulders. It was mostly up-hill until we hit a ridge and the path flattened out again. This was my favourite part of the hike. In the distance I could see a long line of trekkers. To our side the mountains towered over us. Every now and then we would see and hear the crackling sound from an avalanche. Behind us there were clouds resting below the mountains.
Eventually the path turned downhill. It made me nervous knowing that later we would have to climb up that hill. The other trekkers encouraged us. They told us we were really close, and it’s worth all the effort. One hiker even gave us a Toblerone bar.
I felt strange as we neared our final goal. I wished I could’ve ran to the end point, victorious and shouting triumphantly . But instead I walked slowly counting each breath. After 8 days of trekking I was in disbelief as we finally reached basecamp. I felt like I just won an Oscar. We took our pictures and tied our prayer flags. It was all a blur to me. I thought it was a miracle that I actually reached base camp, and I was so grateful.
We were probably there only 15 min. before our guide said we had to head back. He felt it necessary to once again remind us of how slow we were. Scraping up our last bit of energy, we reached Gorakshep around 5:30 p.m. The sun was setting behind the mountains and the yaks were heading home.
We made it back to our tea-house completely drained. My husband didn’t look so well. I knew it was serious when he asked our guide to check his insurance coverage for a helicopter rescue. After having our garlic soup and toast for dinner, he crashed in his sleeping bag.
I had another sleepless night, frequenting the bathroom. It was the coldest night of our trek. The past couple of nights I filled my Nalgene with hot water and kept it in my sleeping bag to stay warm. But in Gorakshep, the water turned cold after an hour. On the other hand I could feel my husband beside me burning up. He definitely had a fever, and I could hear him wheezing all night. It was good to know that at least he was still breathing.
Gorakshep to Lobuche:
It was a very slow morning, my husband usually took care of packing up the sleeping bags. But today it took all his energy just to get himself up to the washroom. I packed up our stuff, and was out of breath by the time we finished.
Our guide suggested we have garlic soup again and toast. It was suppose to help with altitude sickness. He also told us that the insurance would cover a helicopter rescue. But we weren’t quite ready to give up yet. We decided to head to Lobuche and make our decision there.
It was a long and silent walk. I think we were all disappointed, we all knew we weren’t healthy enough to make it back to Lukla. After hours of walking we made it to Lobuche, and decided to call the helicopter. We thanked our porters and gave them their tips. Our guide came with us on the helicopter.
The ride on the helicopter was pretty awesome, and it was great to see the path that we had walked. It had taken us 8 day of trekking to hike from Lukla to base camp. Just 15 min. on the helicopter, and we were back in Lukla.
I was mostly disappointed, I really wanted to finish the whole trek. It took so much effort to make it to base camp, I couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t get to complete the whole trek. There were so many things I didn’t take a picture of, thinking I could do it on the way back.
But safety first. We made it back to Kathmandu, stinking after 5 days of not showering. My husband was sent to emergency and I stayed with him, while my sister went with our guide to buy some diarrhea pills for me. After he was released we spent 6 days resting. We barely left the hotel. Our room looked like a pharmacy, we all needed antibiotics, cough syrup and tons of water. My husband had a collection of pills. Most of the days were spent watching movies and ordering room service.
It was a humbling experience, and a perfect example of how things don’t always go as planned. But that’s what makes travel so exciting. Everest Base Camp Trek pushed me past where I had drawn my physical limits. Unsure of whether or not I would make it to my destination, I was forced to live one step at a time. I felt uncomfortable, dirty, cold and in the end I came out just fine. It’s safe to say my little bit of struggle gave me some enlightenment in the Himalayas.
Everest Trek Diaries:
- Everest Packing List
- Day 1 & 2 – Lukla to Phakding & Phakding to Namche
- Day 3 & 4 – Namche Acclimatization & Namche to Tengboche
- Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche & Day 6: Dingboche to Thukla