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?

Overwhelmed.

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.

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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.

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Lukla - streets of mud!

Lukla – streets of mud!

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And THIS is Mt Everest!

And THIS is Mt Everest!

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