everest base camp trek hiking to gokyo ri

Gokyo Ri Summit – Day 9 – Trek to Everest Base Camp

On Day 9 of our trek to Everest Base Camp we’re walking up a hill – Gokyo Ri – to walk back down it again.  I’d never heard of tis summit before we booked this trip.  Actually, when we booked the trip, we wanted this route, because we wanted more of a circular route.  But now that we’re here, I really want to make this summit.  It’s not just about getting a photo, or the altitude, its about personal accomplishment.

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Read a Day by Day Guide to Trekking to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp via Cho La Pass Route Map

Our planned route to Everest Base Camp is via the Cho La Pass.  Here’s the route we plan on taking.

Everst Base Camp Route via Cho La Pass

Gokyo Ri Rest Day Altitude Gain

Climbing up Gokyo Ri will not only get us to an altitude of 5360 meters, – so we’ll be climbing high and sleeping low back in Gokyo at 4,790 meters, but there’s the promise of spectacular views of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu from the top.

A reminder that you should have good comprehensive travel and medical insurance to do this trek, a medical evacuation by helicopter will cost at least US$5,000. Get a price for instant coverage from World Nomads here – they even cover you after you’ve left home. Get a quote here.

The Weather Pattern on Everest Base Camp

The weather pattern here is pretty much the same each day.  It’s bright and clear most mornings, by lunchtime the wind picks up, the clouds come down and we might see a little snow or rain in the afternoon.  The skies clear again overnight and the pattern begins again.

Hiking to the Summit of Gokyo Ri

The weather pattern in Nepal, and especially for summiting Gokyo Ri means it’s an early start.  Black tea arrives at 0530.  I can barely swallow the breakfast in the chilly dining room and then, gaiters on, we set off – in a slow and determined way of course – around the top of Gokyo lake.

Gokyo Lakes

What looked like a trail from the lodge was an optical illusion.  Or at least it was a trail in a different direction, not to the top.

Everest View from Gokyo Lakes

Instead, we find half-tracks, that peter out, clamber over and up rocks and attempt to follow our Sherpa guides.

Trail up Gokyo Ri

Hiking above the snow line on Gokyo Ri

That was the easy part.  The spring sun had melted the snow and dried the hill.  When we hit the snow line part of me wonders if I actually want to see the views from the top.  I can check out someone’s photos.

Hiking up Gokyo Ri

Even stepping in old footprints proves difficult.  At points, I sink up to my knees.  It’s a good job we are doing this in the morning, the afternoon, when this snow is much wetter and heavier must be unbearable.

One, two, (breathe) three, four (breathe). That’s as much as I can manage. Counting to four steps and breathing. I can’t count to more than four because I lose track. It crushes me to have to start again, so that’s how I put one foot in front of the other for day after day.

Gokyo Ri looking down to Gokyo Lakes

The Mental Attitude of the Altitude Hiker

Think positive is an adage of our leader, Ramesh.  Think short-term.  Think of the here and now.  If I can just take the next four steps, it’s a win.   So that’s how I get up the hill.  Although to describe it as a hill seems to be a massive injustice.  Ri means “peak” so we’ll stick with that.  This is the first peak that we’ve bagged here in Nepal.

Landscape view from Gokyo Ri

Today we’ve made it up 590 meters in altitude this morning.  Some of us more slowly than others.   There have been photos all the way up – because there really are stunning views from just a few meters higher than Gokyo – just in case, we don’t make it all the way to the top.

Trekking at altitude carries risks. We insured ourselves through World Nomads – buying specific altitude coverage in case of altitude sickness. We were also able to renew our policy while out of our home country. Get a price for your travel and health insurance now.

View of Ngozumba Glacier from Gokyo Ri

Views from the summit of Gokyo Ri

And that view we had of the Ngozumpa Glacier yesterday when we hiked from Machhermo to Gokyo?  It’s nothing on today’s vista, which provides a foreground of the Himalaya’s longest glacier and the backdrop of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu, and Cho Oyu.

View from Gokyo Ri

This is why you should trek in Nepal

This is why you should come to Nepal.  This moment in time when you’re able to say to yourself.  I did this.  Me.  I walked up that hill.

No one carried me.  I carried my own pack.  I walked each step by myself.  Although I did have help – my trekking poles, my sunnies, you know what I mean.  You can check out the trek gear list of things that we brought with us.  There wasn’t anything we didn’t use, and thinking on it, nothing else that I thought I needed but hadn’t brought with us!

I’m finding it hard to describe how difficult it is, this constant internal battle with yourself, just breathing and the fact that for step after step I have no idea where to put my next one.

Prayer Flags at Gokyo Ri

At the Summit of Gokyo Ri

It’s hard also to describe the euphoria – the rush when you get to the top – when you see this view, from the top of Gokyo Ri – that doesn’t look real.  When you pinch yourself and say – that is EVEREST OVER THERE who the hell cares what my hair looks like.

asocialnomad at the summit of Gokyo Ri

Much of the beauty of this heaven on earth is that it is so difficult to get here, yet so incredible – most likely because of that reason.

We’ll let the mountains speak for themselves.  Here are the views from Gokyo Ri.  This is renowned as the best view of the Himalayas unless you go up higher, to perhaps a 7,000m peak and we won’t be doing that anytime soon, if ever.

Team photo at Gokyo Ri
Ngoumba and Peaks at the summit of Gokyo Ri
Cairn and Prayer Flags at Gokyo Ri
Gokyo Ri
At the summit of Gokyo Ri
 
Gokyo Ri Summit
 
Gokyi Ri Summit Prayer Flags and Cairn

This is day 9.  We have another 9 days to go on our trek to Everest Base Camp.  Tomorrow we’ll be heading from Gokyo to Thangnak, down alongside the Ngozumba Glacier.   Today, though I think has been a marvelous day, even though I wasn’t absolutely sure I would make it before dark!!

Essentials for an Everest Base Camp Trek

And… the most important thing…

Travel Tips for Exploring Nepal

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