MM Collection
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
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April 28, 2010

Everest Trek Reaches Base Camp!

Every thing is going smoothly. Dingboche (14, 300 ft.) is one of the beautiful Himalayan villages and highest permanent civilization in Mt. Everest region. Trails are busy due to trekkers and many climbers heading up to Everest Base Camp. We stay one extra day in Dingboche for acclimatization and hike up the valley towards Island Peak. 

After that we are heading up to Everest Base Camp--one of the famous adventure destinations in a life! Pre-monsoon thunderstorm clouds rose up in afternoon the last few days, but now we are lucky because weather is improving every day. As we hike, we have a fantastic view of Khumbu Valley and mountains surrounding.

(See a video of hiking out of Dingboche here.)

We're going up, but the yaks are coming down. An expedition runs on its stomach, so food is constantly being brought up to support the hundreds of people at base camp. Climbing season means a plethora of yak caravans on the trail, ferrying supplies and then returning to Namche for the next load.

(See the yaks here!)

(See the High Trail out of Lobuche here.)

Few people take the high trail out of Lobuche, but I like to. The short climb brings us out into the morning sun while the lower trail is still cold in the mountains' shadow. Dramatic views of Pumori (a peak so beautiful it was named "Daughter of the Mountain") and the upper end of the Khumbu Valley lure us onward. Step by step we climb higher and grow closer to the world's highest summit.

Reaching the top of Kala Patar (which, at 18,450 ft., is the classic viewpoint for Mt. Everest) is an arduous 2-3 hour climb to a rocky summit strewn with prayer flags. While the mountains appear still and serene, the wind actually whips and gusts against us with imposing force. Only 50% of the oxygen at sea level up here--it's like hiking with only one lung, but it's worth it. As promised, Everest looms large, framed on either side by Lhotse and Nuptse.

(Check out a video showing 360 degrees of mountains -- including Everest! -- here.)

We are surrounded 360-degrees by the massive mountains. Peaks 23,000 ft and higher form this jagged stretch of the Himalayas, and the 5-mile Khumbu glacier sticks out like a tongue through the middle of the valley. I can understand what drives some people to climb another 10,000 feet to stand on the earth's peak, but for me, standing at 18,450 ft feels like I'm on top of the world. Ebullient, inspired, and somewhat exhausted after 7 hours of hiking, we are keen for the comforts of our lodge, simple though it is.

We're going up, but the yaks are coming down. Yak caravans ferry supplies to Everest Base Camp on the same trail we hike along. Crossing rockslides and stepping out onto the glacier, we are all dwarfed by contours of ice. EBC is not a flat space, but rather a sprawling, convoluted array of tents amid the rock and ice. It's a tremendous amount of work to clear enough flat space for camps and kitchens, so sherpa staff are at EBC well ahead of the foreign climbing teams in order to prepare the sites. Moreover, the glacier is continually shifting, which means that every 2-3 weeks they will need to adjust the sites and clear new areas. Heavy labor at high altitude.

~ MM Guides Deana Zabaldo and Pemba Gyalje Sherpa

 

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