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Top of the World – Well almost

Lobouche to Gorak Shep and Everest Base Camp

We got an hour’s lie in and set off up the Khumbu valley at the relatively civilised time of 7 am. We awoke to a light covering of snow changing the dusty world into a carpet of white. Our first destination was Gorak Shep the highest settlement in the Himalayas. It’s also advertised as having the highest internet café in the world but the signal was so intermittent that had to give up doing a blog entry from there. We had chance for lunch at Gorak and then we set out for Everest Base Camp (EBC). The exact spot for EBC has changed over the years because it subject to the varying moods and movements of the Khumbu Glacier on which it sits. Gorak is 5140m while EBC is at 5364 so we had a modest 200m climb. Again nothing is simple in the Himilayas, up and down we went on quite a tough two hours of scrambling up and down rocky paths until we viewed the bright tents erected as the climbing season started to get into gear. We shared the path with hundreds of Yaks and porters carrying supplies up for the teams who will attempt to summit within the next few months. Tables, chairs, climbing ladders, cooking utensils, tons of food, we even saw a television on the way up and every Yak coming back was unladen.
Two hours into the trek with EBC a stone’s throw away we had the most difficult and dangerous section of the path to overcome. The last 400m down to the glacier surface is across a steep scree slope were rock falls are a daily occurrence. Sallis told us to move quickly, not to stop for anything and look above us being prepared to move at the slightest movement of rocks however small initially. We didn’t in fact see anything on the way down but coming back as the snow was melting we did see some rocks falling in front of us, but far enough away to be of no danger.
You are not permitted to go across to the climber’s tents, I must admit if I was a potential Everest Summiteer I wouldn’t want trekkers pestering me every minute of the day. The focus for trekkers is an area where a large rock states that you have reached Everest Base Camp and once again is covered with prayer flags and international graffiti. We spent half an hour taking pictures, soaking up the atmosphere and thinking about all those who had lost their lives trying to get to the top of the world. Pouba came armed with a felt tip to record our accomplishment, as you will see from the Photo his spelling is not quite right, but it’s far far superior to my command of anything I could accomplish in Nepali.
Coming back we had to wait for half an hour as the longest train of Yaks we have yet encountered trudged past carrying more and more kit. You have to wonder how much is spent on Everest attempts and whether it is really worth the money and risk. It does clearly help to improve the economy of the local area which can be no bad thing in very poor country.
It was probably following on from the previous day but we arrived at our lodge in Gorak Shep quite wasted both physically and mentally. The freezing temperatures at night and a toilet with the most horrendous smell added to the feeling, we also knew we had a climb to our highest point of the trip on the following day – Kala Patthar. I must admit I felt quite homesick.

Posted by DJBen 02:15 Archived in Nepal

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