It’s day fifteen of our trek to Everest Base Camp. We’ve been there. Now we just need to get back. But first, we’re taking a climb up ANOTHER mountain, to get an incredible look at Everest. This is Kalapathar and we’re going to the summit. Hopefully.
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The weather is a constant here. It’s (usually) clear in the morning and then overcast and the clouds roll in in the afternoon. At tea yesterday, the clouds rolled back, and the Himalaya put on the show of shows for us. I feel saddened by the response of the folks on the table next to us, who declared that they’d “seen Everest” before turning back to their game of cards.
We’re clearly too new to this and also despite also having seen Everest before couldn’t help ourselves from racing outside just to look. And marvel at yet another glorious Nepalese view. I hope I never grow tired of this. Ever.
To the Summit of Kalapathar
This morning, however, was tough. I woke energy-less. We were saved from a 0430 call by the fact that the kitchen folks wouldn’t be around, so 0500 it was. Breakfast this morning will be later.
Just forcing down breakfast was hard work. I was convinced I didn’t have the energy to get back down the mountain, let alone go further up. It’s a constant battle – the internal one – the can you / can’t you discussion that goes on. I have the discussion with the folks who are heading down the mountain from here at Gorakshep to Dingboche where we’ll spend the night.
But if I don’t try, I’ll never know wins out. Actually, I also can’t possibly let Nigel do this without me. He’d never let me forget it. And so I go out with the group that’s heading to summit Kalapathar.
The Plan to Summit Kalapathar
Today’s plan is to summit Kalapathar – at 5643 meters, from our current 5140 here at Gorakshep, then stopping briefly back at Gorakshep, we’ll head back down to Lobuche (where we stayed previously) for lunch and then onto Dingboche at 4410 meters, which is our stop for the night.
Gorakshep to Dingboche Map
Three of the group, our Grannies – so named, because they are, have decided that they’ll head straight down, without going up Kalapathar, they’ll take lunch when they arrive at Lobuche and meet us tonight at Dingboche. For the rest of us, it’s onwards and upwards.
I can’t do more than trudge across the semi frozen field and stream outside Gorakshep. The slope of Kalapathar looks immense. Almost impenetrable.
And it is tough. We’re no longer a group. We’re a series of inividuals each doing battle with ourselves. With our breathing and with our personal doubts.
It’s misty on the way up, there’s a hint of sun behind it, and there’s a collective crossing of fingers that it will clear so that we’ll get the views that we’re hoping for at the top. Still, that doesn’t stop us taking photos all the way up, just in case.
The Stunning Views over the Khumbu Glacier
It’s another glorious Nepali day, and we get to see the Khumbu Glacier like never before.
It’s never really steep, just constantly sloping. There’s a scramble over rocks in some places, and then a clamber up to the rocky outcrop at the top, where there’s a small crowd gathered.
We meet “the German dude” again. We’ve either been tracking him or he’s been tracking us for days now. We’ll be sat resting and he’ll saunter past. Or we’ll turn a corner and he’ll be there, smoking.
There’s also another couple of Germans, they’re celebrating or dehydrating with a can of Everest beer. I like beer. In fact we’ll end up having a pub crawl on our final day when we head from Monjo to Lukla, but now. No thanks.
Yesterday, getting to Base Camp was THE bucket list item. It was incredible. But this is staggeringly beautiful.
We’re at 5643 meters – or 18, 000 + feet above sea level. As Marty – our rescue helicopter pilot – points out to fly at this level in the USA you’ve got to have an instruments rating!
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.
It’s hard to drag ourselves away, but we have a long walk in store and so, legs lightened by the sheer beauty of our surroundings we head down.
En route we pass a few folks on the way up, encouraging them as we go. Then there’s the mysterious women with long immaculate blonde hair that we’ve seen several days in a row. She’s sitting on a rock preening in the sun. We never see her walking anywhere, there’s never a sign of sweat, or anything other than serenity. And perfect hair. I’m doing something wrong (and keeping my hat on to protect everyone!).
Although, when we get to Gorakshep it feels like we’ve already done a days trekking this is just the start. Now we have to head off to Dingboche, although we’ll have a lunch stop at Lobuche.
Gorakshep to Lobuche
We arrive at Lobuche after a short drink stop at Gorakshep. The grannies have gone, heading onto Dingboche, so we hustle eating and get going again.
Lobuche to Dingboche
Down past the monuments at the top of Thukla, down the slope that brought me to a halt on the way up, left before the tea house and then we start to head across what I’d call the moors if I were home in Teesdale.
And then it starts to snow. Well, first it starts to drizzle and then it quickly turns to sleet and then snow. Before long, we join up with the fast group, as we’d be lost here without a guide and it’s hard to tell how far behind the others are.
It’s a cold, miserable trudge for the next hour or so. There’s no landmarks to indicate where we are. Meg must have a homing beacon somewhere, as he doesn’t stumble once directionally taking us home for the night.
It is a huge relief to make it into the dining room, where good to their word, the grannies have ensured that the yak poo stove is fired up and it’s toasty.
There’s laughter, as Ramesh arrives delivering Rod (who is still getting over the worst cold in the world) complete with frozen white beard and declares he’s Santa Claus with frozen snot. There are no photos to protect your innocent minds.
We’re on our way home now, and the mood seems lighter, the steps easier as we work out what our schedule will be for the coming days.
Tomorrow we’ll head to Deboche and spend the night there, then we’ll – after a lunch stop at Namche, be back where we spent our first night, Monjo and then finally we’ll overnight in Lukla and pray to the gods of fine weather than our plane will arrive for us the following morning.
They’ll be long days, but you know what? It’s all downhill from here. Apart from when it’s uphill of course, this is after all Nepal.