Trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp

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3L3A1913Perfect view of Everest.  Having a view of Everest this clear seemed very uncommon at this time of the year.  I took this photo from Kalla Phattar (18,373 feet).  This is a day hike from Gorak Shep which is the last village before Everest Base Camp.  The lip on the right side is the famous Hillary step.  It is a precarious exposed ridge that when the mountain was first being summited by Hillary and Tenzing they sat at the top scratching their head on which way to go.  Hillary then said I think we can go over that ledge which is now known as the famous Hillary’s Step.  It is actually where the climbers get bottlenecked and have to wait sometimes using valuable oxygen.

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Everest Base Camp 17,598 feet

3L3A1847Gorak Shep (16,942 feet) – The last village before Everest Base Camp.  I took this photo while climbing up Kala Phattar.

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3L3A1691Loboche (16,210 feet) – This is where I had slight symptoms of altitude sickness and injested the sherpa remedy of garlic soup and ginger lemon honey tea.  I have to say it worked really well but I decided to stay an extra night anyways to acclimatize.  I saw a lot of people being airlifted out from this destination.

wpid-20150416_135302.jpgA garlic lovers dish!

Altitude is also known to give people a serious hack.  Many of the locals especially the guy cooking the food would have these 5 minute enthusiastic hacks that you would think they were being scored on.  I had the pleasurable experience of hearing a 10 plus hack coming from the kitchen where my food was being prepared.  Eager to see who was doing this impressive hack, I noticed it was the guy preparing my food.  After his stomach churning hack, he blew his nose by pressing one finger to the nostril and shooting what is known as a snot rocket with crazy force out.  He then proceeded to wipe his nose with his fingers.  It gets even better.  I then watched him literally stir my stir-fry with those same filthy fingers and realized there is nothing I can do about it.  On the mountain you can’t send anything back and you are more hungry than you can imagine. Food is precious resource up when it has to be carried in.  I was absolutely starving I did my best to get it out of my mind. Needless to say I never looked into the kitchen again. Lesson learned!

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Here a rescue helicopter is shuttling a person off of the mountain.  I saw a lot of people in bad shape up there.  Often times these people were with tour groups and that had strict itineraries.  One of the advantages I had traveling solo with no guide is that I could stop anytime I wanted and acclimatize. It is important to listen to the body  My extra day for acclimatization in Lobuche made me miss a blizzard and get sunny views of Everest.  So I lucked out there!

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DSC00674The memorial for Scott Fischer who died on Everest.  His sad story was documented in John Krakuaer’s “Into Thin Air”.  Unfortunately there are lot of bodies up on Everest.  Even the hike to Everest Base Camp had signs of missing hikers that never showed up to their next destination.

DSC00683DSC00705DSC00757Prayer wheels.  When you passed them by you were suppose to spin them to keep the prayers going.

DSC00450The yaks and porters carried a majority of supplies up the mountain.  A porter can carry up to 100 kilos which is over 200 pounds on their neck/back.  The sherpas are strong people but you could still see the pain on their face. I heard there were talks of building a road to everest but the sherpa union kiboshed it, saying they would be out of work.

The yaks, mules, and any other pack animal always had these chimes on their necks.  You would hear a beautiful percussion of friendly wind chimes singing around a corner followed by a sherpa driving his herd with the most ferocious yell I have ever heard.  “HEY AY YA YA YA AHAH YA HAAA YEHAAAW!!!”  These sherpas are the most friendly laid back people but they drive their animals with militant force.  I had the pleasure of being on a hanging suspension bridge 1000s of feet high once when I heard the chimes and the sherpa.  He sent his army of yaks across the suspension bridge with his dominating commands right at me.  I was left in the middle of the bridge using my hiking poles to defend each pointy horn from goring me. Thankfully at this time, I was over my fear of heights and wasn’t worried about the bridge supporting all of our weight.

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Here the sherpas are juggling down hundreds of pounds of rebar on the steep mountain slope to Namche Bazaar.  Notice the sandals.

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I absolutely loved these suspension bridges.  At first they were a little nerve wracking until you see herds of yaks going across.  I got over my fear of heights and felt pretty safe on them.  On my way down, I would see some person walking across their first one and I would start jumping up and down which made the whole thing bounce.  They would immediately grab the cables with both hands to prepare for fall down.  hahaha I’m so immature.  They would then laugh and be like “don’t do that…”

3L3A1818These yaks would give you these crazy stares and felt very humanlike.

DSC00540Who needs power bars when there were bakeries along the way.  I always stopped and grabbed a chocolate donut while hiking.

DSC00499This was the typical store while on the trek.  A mountain 7-11.

 

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