I posted another story of my trek to Everest Base Camp over at Gadling today. This one offers some thoughts on the final leg of the trek from Gorakshep up to BC itself. That portion of the trail is very rocky, as the Khumbu Glacier drags all kinds of rubble down the valley. That rock doesn’t make that last hike very easy, and your already tired legs will feel the burn all the way up to Base Camp itself.
Walking in the Khumbu Valley is quite an interesting experience. You wander on and off the glacier, which has plenty of ice visible through the rock and dirt that litters the surface. There are also large gaping holes in the glacier that are filled with icy cold water and form beautiful lakes.
The water also creates interesting formations in in the glacier as well, and more than once I spotted what appeared to be ice caves that looked like they could go on for a distance under the ice. Of course, with the number of times we saw some of that ice collapse upon itself, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who would actually go inside those caves for any distance.
While hiking up to BC, we also saw several avalanches. Throughout the day we heard the rumblings high above us, but didn’t really see much, but we did see a large avalanche occur on the far side of the Khumbu Icefall, just above Base Camp.
It was an impressive and scary sight, and definitely gave you sense of the power that those snow slides could produce. Later we would see two or three more that were much closer to our position, but not quite as large as the first. All of them looked plenty strong enough to sweep an entire team of climbers off the mountain if they were to get caught in them.
Reaching Base Camp itself was a bit of a confounding experience. On the one hand, you feel a nice sense of accomplishment that you’ve done what you came to do. You’re also quite tired and standing at 17,600 feet, the air is thin and breathing is labored. Generally, our group was very excited to be there, and it was an awesome experience sitting in the shadow of the tallest mountain on Earth.
But then it dawns on you that you’re only “just” at Base Camp. For the climbers, there is still a hell of a long way to go. Most of they would spend another 6+ weeks on the mountain as they acclimatize and make their push for the summit. It is then that you really gain a respect for what they are doing, and you realize that making it to BC is rather inconsequential compared to what they have to go through.
Still, the trek is an amazing experience, and I’d encourage anyone who has an interest to go. Nepal is a beautiful country, and the hike is everything you’d expect and more. If you’ve ever wanted to travel in the Himalaya, or have a desire to see Everest first hand, then you’ll find this to be an adventure worthy of your dreams.
The most recent story on the trek over at Gadling has us up in Base Camp, but I’m far from finished writing about the experience. Next I’ll talk about the descent back down the Khumbu Valley, the gear that you should take along, the advantages of going independently vs. on a guided trip, and so on. Stay tuned, there is a lot more to share.
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