Welcome to our second post! I can happily tell you that we both made it to Everest Base Camp on the 30th September and are now safely back in Kathmandu writing this post and uploading photos.
So I'll carry on from our last blog on the 25th September in Namche Bazaar. After our acclimatization day in Namche, we carried on the trek and made our way to Tengboche at 3867m altitude. This involved going downhill alot at the start only to end the day with a tough 600m climb up to village in the afternoon. In Tengboche we visited the local monastery and observed a service performed by the monks. This was interesting to start with....but got very repetitive after they had been chanting what sounded like the same thing for about half and hour.
The next day we trekked from Tengboche to Dhingboche, up to 4358m altitude. We were both feeling fine at this height...just the standard shortness of breath when climbing with oxygen levels down to 57%. We went for a little walk into Dhingboche after we arrived but there was very little to see and the temperature soon dropped so we retired to the tea house to have dinner and play cards with the group. The following day was another rest day. This involved an acclimatization trek up to Nagarjung at 4700m altitude. This was a short but steep climb that gave us some amazing views of the valley and surrounding mountains. We returned at about midday and had lunch. With this being the sixth day of our trek, Helen and I decided it would be a good time to have our first and only hot shower of the trip....costing us $4.50 each....outrageous!
Following our hot shower, we trekked up to Labuche. This walk was the last day before we would reach Everest Base Camp. At an altitude of 4940m and oxygen levels now down to 53%, I was feeling abit rough when we arrived. Helen had a tough days walking but was feeling fine once we arrived and settled in...ready to hit base camp the next day! We had dinner and soon got into our sleeping bags.
Base camp day commenced at 5AM. We got up feeling good and tucked into our muesli with hot milk....disgusting! We left wondering why we had changed from our usual porridge and apple. Oh well onwards and upwards (literally!!). We trekked about 6km to Gorakshep and had our lunch at half past 9/10. I made sure to have a much more filling meal....hash brown with tuna egg cheese and veg. Helen went for the noodles. We stocked up our energy and departed on our final walk to base camp....5km away. This was a tough walk, feeling very tired and desperate to get there. We made it after about 3 hours, the whole group came in eventually and we all congratulated each other and got our photos. Base camp wasn't what we imagined, theres no sign to say youve made it or anything else around at all! just a mound of rocks with prayer flags and messages. There was one camp set up, looking liket there was only one team currently attempting the summit. The views of the Khumbu Icefall were very impressive however. We left after an hour or so and started the long walk back to Gorakshep, arriving after 2/3 hours. When we got back I had a splitting headache from the altitude and felt abit sick....Helen however was fine so she looked after me! We ate dinner and went to bed soon after knowing the hard part wasn't over yet.
We got up at 4AM the day after for our climb up Kalapathar. This climb is included in the itinerary as it offers amazing views of Everest and the surrounding mountains....however we were told when we got up that it was very cloudy. Nevertheless we decided to continue and left at 5AM with our headtorches guiding the way. Halfway up the tough ascent half the group decided to return as the clouds were not going to clear. I decided to try and make the summit of 5550m and so set off with a few others in the group. After a couple of hours I made it to the top to be rewarded with a view of....still nothing. I descended back to the teahouse for breakfast and another splitting headache. After breakfast we descended to Pheruche, had dinner, and went straight to bed.
Over the next three days we trekked back down to Lukla; it was a tough three days as our legs were very tired and there was still a fair amount of uphill. We arrrived back in Lukla just after midday on the 4th October overjoyed to be finished. That night we had our first meat of the trip - a chicken burger, and a few beers in the bar downstairs, followed by a few beers in the Irish Bar down the road. The next day we got up at 5AM and made our way to Lukla airport for our flight home. The valley was lovely and clear, perfect flying conditions! We checked in, waited about 20 mins, the planes were on their way, and then all the clouds flooded in and ruined our day. We waited and waited but they weren't clearing and planes were eventaully grounded by mid-afternoon. All the group apart from ourselves had booked their onward flights the following day, and so were forced into paying for a helicopter to take them back down to Kathmandu; leaving Helen and I on our own with our guides Dawa and Krishna. We ended up having dinner and going out with Krishna, looking for a bar showing the premier league, but ESPN was broken everywhere because of the weather. So we had an 8 month out of date San Miguel and played pool on the World's worst pool table in Lukla's empty Scottish Bar
Up again at 5AM, and made our way to the airport. Clearer weather today but the clouds were scheduled to come in so pretty unsure if we'll make it or be stranded for another day. Theres no messing about today and two flights have come in, unloaded, loaded up and gone within 10 minutes. We get on the fourth flight and speed off down the short runway and take off into the valley. We're on our way back to Kathmandu! We manage to see most of the group off before the leave which is good.
In the afternoon we walked half an hour to the post office to see about posting things back home, and soon remember how stressfull Kathmandu can be and how we can't wait to get out! We went out for dinner with two of our group and have the best meal we've had for a while. Thai curry and pork curry. Helen and I then went to a bar and watched the second half of Norwich vs Chelsea and had a couple of Gorkha Beers....glad to be back in Kathmandu....but ready to leave for Southern India.