So the final two weeks of our trip began, a trip to Everest and back!
We began the journey by flying into the most dangerous airport in the world on a plane little bigger than a bus. It was a little nerve racking to say the least, but we landed safely in lukla ready for our journey to begin. We were greeted with an unexpected 25 degree heat as we walked towards our first destination of phakding only 3 hours away. As we approached the tea house, images of bunk beds in a room full of smelly walkers filled out heads. We were pleasantly surprised when we were greeted with practically a hotel, and this could be said for all of our stays along the way.
The next day we began our walk to namche bazar almost 1000m higher than the point we were currently at. It was another amazing day crossing many bridges over the khumbu river including the second highest suspension bridge in the world, named after Edmund Hillary. By the time we reached namche we all realized the effects of altitude, our pace up the hill feeling comically slow, as anything faster would leave us panting for breath. We were relieved to find out our next day would be an acclimatisation day, with hopefully our first view of Everest!
I woke with a slight headache which remained with me the entire trip, but was pleased to see clear skies as we trekked to our view point of Everest. Our first view of Everest left us in shock, Haley said “is that it?!”, Mary said “amazing, incredible…”Dan had a tear in his eye and Sophie was dumbfounded, unable to speak. It dominated the skyline, towering above the other gigantic peaks.
Our walk the next day was a tough one, going down to the river before escalating 800m up a steep slope. When reaching tengboche, I was dizzy and confused, unable to concentrate on the smallest task, Alex (who had joined us for the trek) felt similar symptoms. Luckily, after a few minutes of sitting we both felt a lot better.
Over the next few days we continued to get closer to our goal of Everest. We passed the impressive peak of Ama dablam and found the perfect picture consisted of prayer flags with mountains in the background. We also got used to passing any religious monuments to the left as passing to the right was suggested to give you bad karma.
After trekking for a number of days we reached Lobuche, the next day we were heading to Gorak Shep and heading onto Everest base camp that afternoon. A few of us were suffering from the lack of sleep that the altitude had given us, but so far altitude sickness hadn’t hit anyone too badly so we were confident of reaching out goal.
The next day was tough, we passed over 5000m and our pace slowed even further. At Gorak Shep we looked out of the windows to find mount Nuptse with a rainbow over it, even the Sherpas outside were amazed and taking pictures. We then continued our trek to base camp. As we walked alongside the khumbu glacier we came face to face with the closest view of Everest we had seen, this time a dark imposing figure amongst the prettier mountain scenery surrounding it. Base camp was in sight and only a few hundred metres away, and after slipping precariously on the ice, feeling dizzy, tired and short of breath the “six pack” had made it. We went through the ritual of pictures, selfies, hugs and even a game of fives in honour of Henry Walpole.
The journey back from base camp left us freezing cold as snow started to fall, forcing us all into down jackets and sleeping bags with extra blankets as soon as we got back to Gorak shep.
Our return journey was plagued with heavy rainfall, leaving us all pleading for a hot shower. Sophie had no problem with no showers at all, as she managed to do the entire trek without exactly that! The rest of our return to lukla was relatively uneventful, with the exception of a yak attack. One day whilst innocently walking onto the path, a yak with a murderous look in its eyes appeared from out of nowhere, it’s razor sharp horns inches from impaling me. In panic I jumped backwards and fell over scrambling for safety. Unfortunately the others impression of that turn of events was far different, and subsequently found much amusement in warning me of every yak that passed near me for the remainder of the journey.
When we finally reached lukla we all were shattered but in agreement that the past two weeks had given us some of the most beautiful views in our life time accompanied by achieving the bucket list moment of reaching Everest base camp. Without doubt the highlight of the trip.