It’s Day 4 of our trek to Everest Base Camp and we’re heading from Namche to Phortse Tenga. We’re leaving our home of the last 2 nights, Namche Bazaar, behind and gaining altitude again. The trail will be easier and the views spectacular.
What's in This Article?
- Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga Logistics
- The Practice of Hydrating
- Sickness in the Group
- Namche to Phortse Tenga Trail Conditions
- Nepalese Porters
- Namche to Phortse Tenga Trail Maintenance
- Namche to Phortse Tenga Lunch Stop
- Learning about Acute Mountain Sickness
Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga Logistics
If you’re interested in the details of how far we trekked each day and what the altitude gain is, here are those details.
Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga Distance
The distance between Namche Bazaar and Phortse Tenga is 3.5 miles or 5.7 kilometres.
Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga Altitude Gain
We’re leaving behind the comparative metropolis that is Namche at 3340 meters, and ascending 220 meters to a simple campsite and dining room in Phortse Tenga at 3680 meters. Our leader, Ramesh reminds us that on our rest day yesterday we gained altitude, so it should be easy.
Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga Time Trekking
It took us 5.5 hours to walk from Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga.
Namche Bazaar to Phortse Tenga Trail Map
The Practice of Hydrating
Morning, noon and night we fill up our water bottles. World Expeditions asks that you bring two one liter bottles. They fill them with boiled water three times a day. The trick is to hydrate enough for the altitude while retaining enough cold water that you don’t need to drink hot water on the trail. It will take most of us over a week to get this right. Overnight the bottles are a welcome hot water bottle. By the morning, I’m not sure if it’s the water keeping me warm or the other way round. The water filter bottles that we use to drink tap water in the rest of the world wouldn’t work as well here, so we have different onces.
It’s not cold though. Along with the down sleeping bag that WEX provides, there’s also a fleece inner. I’d thought about bringing my “silk” liner, but didn’t in the end. Check out our list of what we did bring on this trek in our Trek Gear list.
By now I’m sleeping in my thermal top, bottoms, socks, beanie AND gloves. This means I can manage reading at least 2% of the kindle without freezing before I fall asleep.
Sickness in the Group
This morning Darryl is sick. He’s a pasty grey, the latest prey to the stomach bug that’s already taken out Marty and Tim. Nigel is energy-less and succumbs to the ministrations of Ramesh, who is now a familiar figure at meal times. He watches us more closely than our mothers ever did as we eat, or just look at the food that arrives.
We head up again. Despite what you might think, there is no down in Nepal. It’s all just a version of up.
Namche to Phortse Tenga Trail Conditions
It’s an easy trail today between Namche and Phortse Tenga.
There’s a regular stream of porters plying this route – this is the main trail to Base Camp after all.
There’s a steady stream of faster groups too and up ahead we spot what looks like half a tree of finished timber walking slowly.
This timber had made it up to the trail from about 100 meters down the valley, where there’s a small mill finishing fallen trees. It made it up on the back of a boy. For here, everything travels on donkeys, yaks or backs. There’s no road. No motorized transport, just Dhal Bhat – the traditional Nepalese meal of rice and lentil curry – power.
Nepali Porters Begin at a Young Age
Over our time in Nepal we’ll see porters as young as 8. Yes. 8. Plying their trade and carrying loads of up to 100 kilos up and down.
Nepali Porter Wages
In a country where the last reported average annual salary was US$724 per year, the going rate for porters is US 45 cents a kilo. For a 1-2 days work. I wonder how many years they can continue this. Or how they do this in bad weather, most that we see wear a cheap plimsoll, or flip flop thongs. Not many have sun glasses and its rare to see them carrying water to drink.
Our trekking company World Expeditions promotes it’s ethical and responsible travel policies. They provide clothing, food and lodging for all its porters. Our porters in their red WEX jackets and trousers, blue and white knitted beanies become a regular smiling sight for us.
Today’s trail is not as spectacular, but the first part is relatively easy.
(Darryl, going slow and talking only to ask for water I’m sure disagrees).
Namche to Phortse Tenga Trail Maintenance
The trail is well maintained, but its by private endeavour not government intervention, as we stop to donate to continue to the good cause and marvel at the fact that every Nepali is photogenic.
Namche to Phortse Tenga Lunch Stop
At lunch we sit in the sun. We’re at 3793 meters now. Or 3795 depending which signpost you believe. Two watches with altimeters also differ, so we agree to not worry about two meters.
It’s downhill all the way after lunch (until it’s uphill of course) – we walk for a while with a tubby Monk, who’s walking from his house to the monastery at Tengboche. It’s “just five hours” he says as he leaves us in his wake.
Then the trail splits, – we’ll be heading to Dhole tomorrow, but for now, we take the other route. It’s down to the river, a short crossing, then a scramble up through the woods to this gloriously desolate campsite. There’s a cozy dining room where we’ll need our headlamps to see the food.
It’s also where we’ll celebrate the second birthday of our trip. Margaret gets chocolate and wishes to celebrate 62.
Learning about Acute Mountain Sickness
After dinner its demonstration time. One of the reasons we elected to spend more than we anticipated on this trip was for the safety aspects of trekking with a well recognized company. As well as the medical chest that the Sherpa guides carry with us, they also carry this portable oxygen chamber.
Acute Mountain Sickness, or altitude sickness, is a big problem here. Carrying this portable chamber can help deal with it. The sufferer is put inside and air is pumped into the chamber, allowing the interior to simulate a lower altitude. It’s a simple device that saves carrying oxygen and that in the short term can save lives.
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.
This chamber will come with us all the way to Base Camp and back. And while we hope that none of us need it, it’s reassuring that not only do we have this with us, but that the team look proficient and confident in its use.
Its spectacular again, as we all head off to our tents – 8pm seems late not to be heading to bed, but it will be another night broken with the trips to the toilet that indicate our hydration efforts are going well.
It’s been a relatively easy day of trekking – certainly easier than the killer steps we encountered at the end of the day when we came up from Monjo to Namche. Tomorrow we’re heading from here in Phortse Tenga to Dhole.