everest base camp trek phortse tenga to dingboche

Phortse Tenga to Dingboche – Day 12 -Trek to Everest Base Camp

It’s Day 12 of our trek to Everest Base Camp.  Today we head up the main route to Everest Base Camp -from Phortse Tenga to  Dingboche.  It’s a long day, a big altitude gain of 730 meters, but necessary if we’re to get back on schedule to make it to Everest Base Camp.


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

Phortse Tenga to Dingboche 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.

Phortse Tenga to Dingboche Altitude Gain

The altitude of Phortse Tenga is 3680m, and the altitude of Dingboche is 4410 m.  Today we have an altitude gain of 730 meters.

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Phortse Tenga to Dingboche Time Trekking

We took 8 hours to trek from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche plus an hour stop for lunch

Phortse Tenga to Dingboche Map

Phortse Tenga to Dingboche Map

Setting off from Phortse Tenga

We left Phortse Tenga this morning, after another 630 wakeup, 730 breakfast, and 830 set off.  There are few ill effects, apart from tiredness after yesterday’s snow day from Thangnak to Phortse Tenga.   It’s my last day on antibiotics but even my stomach is too tired to bother with being upset.

Phortse Tenga Camp. Again.

Altitude Change – Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

Yesterday we dropped from an altitude of 4700 meters and came back down to 3700.  An even kilometer that was anything but.  Today, to even have a hope – and this is our only hope of getting to Everest Base Camp, we need to get to Dingboche, at an altitude of 4410 meters.   It’s another “4 hours until lunch” and “4 hours until the end of the day”.  On paper at least.

My mindset has got into “I’ll just walk until we’re there”.  And I’ll keep counting ” one, two, three, four” when it gets tough.  And I’ll stop and take photos if the weather is nice because I need to consider that every day might be my last day of trekking and I can’t rely on getting a shot on the return – look at yesterday’s slog!

We’re all motivated again

So, today, the retreated defeat is beaten from my mind and I’m positive.  Positive that I’ll get there, positive that it won’t be easy, but you know, one, two, three, four.

Marty, our rescue helicopter pilot from Denver has gone on ahead with Meg. (pronounced Mek) Meg’s not just one of our guides, but also our cook, so he tries to get ahead and make sure our lunch is ready by the time we stagger in.  From now on we’ll be calling Marty “Man who runs with Sherpa”.  That’s apparently what he does to keep up with Meg.

It’s a brighter day today, thank goodness as we set off.  Upwards.  Like you couldn’t guess that part of it eh?

Stupa on the Trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

At least it’s not a scramble.  There’s a fairly decent trail up through the woods, a little muddy, somewhat frozen at the moment, and not a huge amount of snow.  There’s enough for the local kids to find some traction for their homemade skis.

Starting the trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

Trekking Groups have different speeds

I know that if I can make the first 10 minutes after breakfast or lunch then I’m ok, but boy that first 10 minutes makes me almost picture the lactic acid running through my legs.  I’ve been relying on the single trekking pole for a few days now.

Trekking Poles Make a Difference

We’d bought one each as Andy from Shona’s Alpine had suggested that “you might need it on some downhills – or on the ice over the Cho La”.    The past few days I’ve been experimenting – changing hands (I’m left-handed, so naturally feel more comfortable with it in that hand) – and checking on the effect that it has on swelling in my hands.  It’s seriously noticeable – my hands swell when I walk, even at sea level, so there will be trekking poles in my future trekking and hiking activities.

Looking for hiking poles? My guide to the best budget hiking and trekking poles is here.

Heading towards Phortse from Phortse Tenga

We walk up through the “resort” of Phortse, a narrow trail between the now familiar round dry stone walls.  These are the mountains that brought us up from the lower reaches.

Phortse Village entrance

It feels familiar, almost homely. , but there are nasty-looking clouds down the valley that keeps us moving.

Phortse on the trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

We have no desire for more snow.

Phortse Village

It might be grey and brown and white, but it’s somehow beautiful again.  And when the sun comes out, it’s hard not to smile.  Of course, Lapka never stops smiling – it’s like yesterday never happened and I wouldn’t stop smiling if this was my home and my workplace.

Taking a break on the trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

The Trail is Quiet Here

The trail is quiet, even the yaks we pass behind a wall, and in the distance, on the other side of the valley, we can see Tengboche Monastery, built in 1916 and rebuilt after the 1934 earthquake.  1989 saw a fire and another rebuild.  This is the largest monastery in the area, a UNESCO world heritage site that climbers visit on their way to base camp.  They light candles and seek the blessings of the gods for good health and safe mountaineering.

Tengboche Monastery from the Phortse Tenga to Dingboche trail

The schedule has us visiting the Tengboche Monastery, as we trek from Dingboche to Deboche on the return from Base Camp.

Trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche
Trail conditions Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

Lunch in Pangboche

Today we’re heading to Pangboche for our lunch stop.  4 hours from when we started in Phortse Tenga – and it’s warm enough (although no one takes anything off) to sit outside.  Actually, it’s warmer outside than it is inside, so we catch up with Marty, who’s been here for an hour after this morning’s “Run with Sherpa”.

Pangboche lunch stop from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

There’s hot mango juice as we arrive, our usual soup – to keep us drinking fluid and our now usual carb-loaded plate.

Lunch at Pangboche

Potatoes seem to be a universally difficult item to shovel down.  Unless they come in the form of chips, which is a magical format, appealing to all.

While we slump in plastic chairs around the table, our Sherpa guides serve us and our team of porters eat sitting on the ground.    We’re amazed at the mounds and mounds of rice on their plates.  The standard Nepali dish is Dhal Bat – a lentil-based curry sauce with rice.   It’s the staple diet in Nepal.

Porters Lunch break Pangboche

Pangboche Monastery and Yeti Skull

There’s time for a quick monastery visit – we leave our boots outside and – for a small donation (50 NPR) have the “Yeti Skull” box unlocked.  Unlike the monastery that we tried to visit in the Khumbu Valley, this one is open for business.

Pangboche Monastery

No photos are allowed inside, but the lighting is so bad it’s hard to figure out what we’re looking at.   It seems pretty small for a Yeti.  And there’s what looks like a hand as well.

Pangboche Monastery doors

A New Low.  The Toilet in Pangboche

Then, before we set off.  A toilet break.  There’s a single toilet here.  It’s outside.  It’s a shed with a hole in the ground.

Toilet at Pangboche

More like a slot in the middle of the toilet.  And perhaps for structural reasons a bar runs right across the hole.  It’s hard not to look.  No matter how much you don’t want to. Once you’ve seen it, it’s hard to forget.  I’m considering while writing this is if it’s worse than the one in Gorakshep, you know the one that I’ve seen and you’ve yet to read about.

Pangboche to Dingboche

Clearly, we look as though we know what we’re doing, as we’re asked which way to Dingboche, as we head off after lunch.  I wing it, pointing up through the woods, the way that the fast group has set off – I can still see the dust swirls left by their passing, so it must be right.

Cairns and Stupas from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

Nigel, Darryl, and I fall into an easy rhythm.  Nige keeps an eye out for the fast group, trying to keep them in sight and we dodge the yak trains trying to overtake us.

Yaks on the trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

We end up going on a lower track and scrambling up the hill to join what appears to be the right track.

The trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

Everyone on the trail is probably going to the same place, but there’s an anxiety of being in the middle, in between guides.

Prayer Flags Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

It becomes stark again as we ascend.  Huge boulders and a glorious clear glacial river.  The cloud moves lower, oppressive almost, and still, we continue upwards.

Phortse Tenga to Dingboche Trail

There’s a small hop down to cross the river and then up once again.

Trail from Phortse Tenga to Dingboche

Sherpa Guides Have Secret Powers

I’m starting to feel as though it’s never-ending when we stop for a water break.  Lapka promises it’s no more than 20 minutes to go.  He’s caught up with us.  We never see him catching us, he’s just there.  He must fly.  Or know secret trails, I think.

Valley enroute to Dingboche

If it’s more than 20 minutes, I tell him, he’ll be carrying me.  He looks at me trying to figure out if I’m joking.


Arriving in Dingboche

We make it in 18 minutes.    And this is Dingboche.  It seems positively huge after the last few days.  Our campsite is on the outskirts of “town”.  There’s not just one loo with a view but two sets of toilets.  It feels luxurious.

Toilet View in Dingboche Campsite

There’s wifi here for those who want it – 300 rupees (US$3) for an hour, or 1000 rupees for unlimited, which you can also use when we revisit on our return from Base Camp.  Charging is 600 for a full charge and 300 for an hour.   Our solar charger bought for US$30 in Kathmandu is holding up well, but the power pack that we’ve also brought with us is also essential.   We just need to keep the camera and my iPhone – which I use for my camera – charged until we get back to Kathmandu.  I’m not using the light on my Kindle anymore, reading needs a head torch to save power.

Dingboche Campsite

And so we retire to bed.  The tents really are cozy and after the last couple of days of walking, I have no desire to read more about climbing Everest, so it’s an early night.

Essentials for an Everest Base Camp Trek

And… the most important thing…

Travel Tips for Exploring Nepal

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