There is an effervescence in my stomach, bubbling excitement that threatens to erupt. It’s a distinct physical feeling. Better that than the persistent gastro that’s plaguing me. After fourteen and a half days of walking, I am just two hours from Everest Base Camp. We’re leaving to go from Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp soon.
Despite the altitude – we’re at 5164 meters – I’m walking on air. I feel as though I could run the rest of the way.
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER
Gorakshep to Everest Base Camp Map
There should be no doubt in my mind that I’ll get there now. But there’s a niggle. There’s a little doubting Thomas sitting on my shoulder. He’s saying that I shouldn’t count my chickens before they hatch. Two hours is still two hours.
It helps that it’s slightly downhill from the lodge at Gorakshep. Then flat. But oh so muddy. This is an open field. Or open water. Caution automatically slows me to ensure that I don’t just trudge straight on and get my boots and trousers wetter.
Then, of course, routine takes over. The pace slows and the incline rises.
I’ve left behind glorious azure skies and jagged, snow-covered peaks of the eastern Himalayas. It’s monochromatically desolate here. Stark. Empty. Featureless. Boulders the size of small cars litter an alien landscape, where there’s hardly a sign of life. Disappointment cuts my excitement like the acid roiling in my stomach. It sours the excitement, it’s not what I envisaged.
I’m shivering. I have five layers on. Two hats. I’m clutching my trekking pole like a lifeline. I hold on tight to the fact that I’m so close. I didn’t check my watch before we set off. I wonder absent-mindedly how many times I can count to four in two hours. And how many plods of my leaden feet that will take.
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.
We walk along a ridge, listening to rockfalls off to our left. We watch the sun play on the ice falls to our right.
Huff up a slight rise and comedically screech to a halt. There’s a jam. When we try to get past, there’s an indignant solo trekker with his guide. He is “JUST TRYING TO TAKE A PHOTO” . We share smirks and chastise Marty who so clearly and deliberately got IN HIS WAY.
Then, we’re walking on a track designed for goats, not humans, on the side of a face of shale and rocks. There’s a constant ominous rattle and yells of “rockfall”, the anxiety is intense. More oxygen disappears with the collective holding of breath – but what am I going to do? I can’t run to get out of the way and there is a yak train to negotiate. And believe me, they win. My negotiation involves stepping up onto the shale. I hope I won’t slither down. (Read about Travel Insurance in Nepal here.., because slipping happens! ) Brandishing my trekking pole like a ninja yak fighter, I’m met with baleful stares and the train passes.
Magically the cloud dissolves, the sun brightens the moonscape, and right there is the Khumbu glacier. It stretches as far as I can see. It’s grey and dirty in one moment. Sparkling pristine white another. Translucent, alien blue the next. And seemingly endless. I’m breathless for a different reason. Mesmerized.
Then, when the wind drops, I still, and, there’s the heart-stopping sound of a resounding crack as she continues her sorrowful inexorably slow journey.
We’re here. This is Base Camp. Here now are the prayer flags. The Buddhist chotan. The hundreds of enigmatic beetle like bright yellow tents clinging desperately to the ice of the Khumbu, here near the top of the world.
There is no one here who isn’t grinning. Guide or trekker. As I look at the sheer joy on the faces of Ramesh, Lapka, Meg, and Moni, it’s hard to imagine having a better view from the office than this.
My effervescence is replaced with complete and utter elation. There have been times when I really thought I wouldn’t make it. Stumbling to the toilet at 1, 2, 3am wondering what the hell I was doing. Climbing those bloody steps as we hiked the final stretch from Monjo to Namche. Blindly following Lapka back down Gokyo Ri.
6 weeks ago we weren’t even contemplating coming here. And as I stand here, my back to Base Camp, a wide grin on my face, I am thankful for many things. That I had the strength of body and mind to get here. That I got to share this triumph with Nigel right by my side. That the group I came with was such fun and easy-going.
I am thankful too, that Jim Petty was – for a short time, part of my life. I am so very sad that it is only his memory that will make us all smile. I am sorrowful that it took Jim’s death to push me to this adventure. To remind me that life is too short not to grab all it offers with both hands.
This place that we’ve been stood at is known as Trekkers Base Camp. Its a hundred or so meters away from THE Base Camp. A few of us take a wander further down, under the supervision of Lapka, to the entrance proper. We’re close now to some of the communications tents. To the Chotan that’s built by the Sherpa each year and where offerings are made.
It’s s short walk, then Ramesh reminds us that we have to retrace our steps to Gorakshep for this night. And I fairly skip up the hill. It’s chilly, so we set a fast pace. We pause only briefly to perform a mountain rescue for Darryl’s glove, which took a slide down the slope.
If we needed a further reminder of what is possible, as we’re heading down, we pass a blind climber, en route to Everest Base Camp for this season’s attempt on the summit.
That downhill slope I enjoyed as we left Gorakshep has turned into an uphill. It feels as if I have no energy as we trudge up it, the final hurdle and we’re done. This is the top of my world and it is incredible.
Essentials for an Everest Base Camp Trek
- You NEED good comprehensive travel and medical insurance to do this trek, a medical evacuation by helicopter will cost at least US$5,000. The fittest member of our group was evacuated from Macchermo with altitude sickness. Get a quote here.
- Hiking Poles – these are lightweight, packable, and a great aid.
- Good layering thermals
- Great sunglasses – the glare here is amazing- my Maui Jim sunnies have been to Everest Base Camp, Macchu Picchu, they’ve sailed the Atlantic, and been to the Galapagos & Easter Island.
- Amazing socks – I’ve hiked in Bridgedale Socks for 8 years now and they’re amazing.
And… the most important thing…
- A great team to trek with – you can check options here.
Travel Tips for Exploring Nepal
- Read about Nepal in these incredible books
- Get insurance for all your adventure Nepal Travel with WorldNomads
- Book the best Nepal tours and guides on GetYourGuide, Klook, and Civitatis
- Book fabulous Nepal Foodie experiences with locals through Eatwith
- Save money in Nepal with a Wise debit card
- Book accommodation in Nepal with Booking.com and Hostelworld
ASocialNomad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, and amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.