One Hell of a Walk – Base Camp Day

The wonderful guys who got us there.

The wonderful guys who got us there.

I know I’m jumping all over the place with my posts on my trek to Everest Base Camp and this one is totally out of sequence, but I’m writing them as they come to me, if I had to do it in order it may never happen. So today, maybe, is the one you’ve been waiting for.

Today was the day we had all been anticipating for months, the day that all thirteen of us  had been training for and the day that we expected great things from. Did it deliver? Overwhelmingly, yes.

Everest Base Camp had been my focus for the last eleven months, the planning and training had taken over my life for almost a year, every step I’d climbed, every track I’d walked, every kilo I’d carried in my backpack, were all aimed squarely at this day. I’d spent hours researching the clothing and the gear that I’d need, talking to others who had done the trek and sales people who knew the technical stuff about boots and hiking poles and water bottles. I’d agonized over how many t-shirts I should take and whether I’d be able to cope with the toilet facilities (or lack thereof) and I’d worried that my training wouldn’t be enough. I probably knew more than was good for me about Lukla airport and altitude sickness and those who had died on the mountain and  now here I was, only a couple of hours away from my goal.

The altitude had made me restless during the night, actually I had lain awake worrying about the lack of oxygen at nearly five and a half thousand metres and the possibility of breathing problems and the fact that I was alone with no one to keep an eye on me – not good thoughts in the middle of the night, and then I was awake before dawn listening to the sounds of other trekkers setting off early so I was a touch tired this morning. But then, this was nothing new. I was tired most mornings.

It was a glorious Sunday morning as we set off with the sun reflecting off the high peaks above Gorak Shep.

It was one hell of a walk along the ridge from Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp but this day gave us some of the most stunning scenery and views of the most majestic mountains that we had experienced. It was difficult to watch where our feet were going when our heads were continually veering to the right to gaze at the continuous panorama.

How did I feel when I finally achieved my goal?


Arriving at Base Camp was a very emotional moment for me and inevitably the tears flowed. It had been hard, at times more than hard. I’d struggled, I’d cried and I’d laughed but I’d also been determined. Determined to achieve the goal I set myself almost a year ago. I wasn’t going to give in.

Here’s just a part of what we saw that day and what I think probably had a deep effect on all of us.









Something Special

The day we headed for Base Camp the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Blue skies with whispy clouds and warm enough not to trouble us too much. The mountains reached up to the sky particularly on our right and before too long Everest came into sight.

About an hour before we reached Base Camp we were presented with an awesome sight, although everything we’d seen so far was awesome this was right up there with the awesomeist.


As I’ve since found out it was a circumzenithal arc. A what you ask – well, to those of us who are scientifically challenged it was an inverted rainbow. But apparently (according to Wikipedia, so correct me if I’m wrong) it has nothing to do with rain but is caused by the refraction of sunlight through horizontally-oriented ice crystals.

Pretty cool huh – thought you might like to see it.

Help to save Langtang’s cultural heritage – we need your help!

Saving the history of a place is crucial in maintaining the culture of the people, help Suzi out here in her efforts to help the people of Langtang in Nepal save their cultural heritage.

Suzi Richer

Can you spare £6? The price of a bottle of wine?

We’re asking 2666 people to give just £6 to help repair this 600 year-old monastery in Nepal. Please help us if you are able to.

We need your help to raise £16,000 in 60 days to save the Langtang monastery in this remote Himalayan village in Nepal, near the Tibetan border.

This historic monastery is the heart of the whole community. It is now in need of emergency repair and restoration. The Langtang community have raised a staggering £20,000 so far (the average annual income in the village is only £825) – they need our help to raise the final £16,000.

Please share this poster/link/blog post – the more people we can reach, the better our chances of reaching our goal.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting more information about the work needed and the Tamang…

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Pashupatinath Temple – a cultural jolt.

Pashupatinath Hindu temple in Kathmandu, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a contradiction and a challenge to western sensibilities.

The temple, open only to those born into the Hindu faith, is set on the banks of the Bagmati River and is one of the major tourist attractions in Kathmandu, but along with a visit to the most sacred temple of Hindu Lord Shiva in the world comes a cultural  jolt.

The two main roofs of the temple are embellished with gold, the four main doors are adorned with silver and the temple houses the sacred phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. It is not the history of this temple, that dates back to 400AD, nor the awe inspiring architecture, that holds the focus of most tour groups though, but rather the cremations taking place in front of the temple.

In Hindu religion fire is seen as a sacred gateway to the spiritual world and, although there are indoor crematoriums in most cities, there are still areas where the Hindus cremate their dead in the open air.

Raised concrete slabs by the Bagmati River in front of the PashupatinathTemple is one such area. The bodies are cremated and the ashes then brushed into the river.

These cremations are undertaken in full view of the gawking tourists with cameras at the ready.

Personally I was more intrigued than upset. Mortuary archaeology of Roman Britain was the topic of my PhD thesis, so I was able to relate this custom to very similar ancient customs, but understandably it can be quite disconcerting and even upsetting for some people.

Around the area you also have the inevitable sellers of jewellery and trinkets, constantly pushing for a sale and the Sadhus, holy men or wandering monks who have renounced everyday concerns to live a life on the edges of society.

One cannot help but be sceptical though when those who have renounced society require payment before a photo of them is taken.

Pashupatinath Temple

Pashupatinath Temple

A Sadhu

A Sadhu

And another

And another

The hillside where the Sadhus reportedly live.

The hillside where the Sadhus reportedly live.

Playing about with my camera settings

Playing about with my camera settings

A row of small temples

A row of small temples


I have given serious consideration to as to whether I should include the following photo of a cremation pyre. I decided it should be included as this ritual is part of the culture of the place I visited. If you don’t wish to see it please stop here.

A Hindu cremation taking place at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

A Hindu cremation taking place at Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

A Journey Of Epic Proportions

DSCN1251Epic – that’s the only way to describe the journey I just took, no other adjective can possibly do it justice.

This trip required more of me than I’ve ever been called upon to give. Physically I’m shattered, mentally, I’m still trying to catch up. But how do I explain it to you? How do I put into words something so momentous?

Over a number of posts I’ll at least try.

This was one amazing place. Here in the Himalayas, the earth has pushed up these mountains creating valleys and peaks, green on the lower slopes and a moonscape once above the tree line.

A population has infiltrated this landscape and adapted to its guidelines. There are no roads, no vehicles, no wheels. If you’re going somewhere you walk, often days to visit relatives, if you need something it’s carried there, by people or yaks. Building and roofing materials, food, gas canisters, furniture, it’s all taken up manually.

Some of the tracks are in a reasonable and easily negotiated condition, more often than not you’re scrambling over boulders, climbing hillsides of loose gravel, slippery beneath your feet, or ascending hundreds of roughly made steps running with mud and yak poo.

As we got higher the altitude began to grapple with our bodies. Mainly sea level beings some began to feel the effects and need medication, all of us felt the lack of oxygen and understood that the only way to do anything up here was slowly.

The weather at this time of year is tempremental at best. The beginning of the monsoon season saw the clouds beginning to roll in during the mid afternoon and obscure our surroundings, by the time we reached camp the air was damp and the view generally non existent.

But then most mornings we would wake to a crisp, clear sky with the mountains overseeing our campsite. They surrounded us, they dominated, they were simply breathtaking. Our cameras clicked as we were struck by the beauty and the sheer awesomeness of what we were seeing.

How do you wake in a morning, in these surroundings and not be changed in some way?

Our whole group made it to Base Camp, a major feat in itself as approximately 30% of those that set off don’t make it that far.

That I’d made it overwhelmed me and it took a while, sitting on a rock gazing across the Khumbu Icefall that I’d seen so many times in pictures, for me to compose myself, dry the tears and actually be able to join in the celebrations and the photo opportunity.

Here’s just a sample of the squillions of photos I took, more to follow.





Lukla - streets of mud!

Lukla – streets of mud!





And THIS is Mt Everest!

And THIS is Mt Everest!



Transmission resumes – Mission Accomplished!

DSCN1239I’m thinking that somewhere along the line my brain has lost its connection to my power of reasoning, to that department that says, hang on a minute, think this through. Otherwise, why would I have just spent the last couple of weeks playing adventure woman?

Feet firmly encased in a pair of boots that have, to this point, travelled no more than 10 kms at a time and donning her back pack, grown to twice its normal size with the addition of wet weather gear, camera gear, sugary snacks and notebooks, adventure woman boards the tiny aircraft that will traverse mountains and fend off inclement weather to deposit her several thousand feet up in the earth’s atmosphere where she can marvel at the scenery, take several deep breaths and plunge into a hazard strewn voyage of discovery.

Avoiding the onslaught of marauding yaks and the lethal tips of the hiking poles being thrust outwards by other adventurers, she traverses suspension bridges slung high above the raging Dudh Khosi, she ascends the steep uphill sections of the track undaunted by the sheer drop to her right  and, refusing to be put off by the mud, the yak poo and the less than salubrious toilet facilities (basic doesn’t cover it) she forges her way onwards and upwards.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Adventure Woman as she scrambles, clambers and lurches her way up a hill called Everest.

I’m back!

Give me a moment to collect my thoughts and process what just happened and more details will follow 🙂