The Trek to Mount Everest Base Camp
From cloud covered mountains to blue sky vistas of Kala Patthar and the remaining trail to Everest Base camp. The morning proved that in areas like the roof of the world things can change in an instant.
Narayan and I crunched through the snow out of Gorak Shep. My broken boots were already sodden, cold and icily wet from the mornings dance with the Yak. But this was little distraction to the pristine untouched beauty that surrounded us.
Trekking on snow covered rocks to base camp
While climbing up rocky frozen hills and walking along snowy horizontal trails was nice. The view to the right was legendary. Giant white mountains tore majestically out of the dark ground.
Their age and presence was what hit me more than where I was. Thousands have been before and seen them. Billions more have seen the photographs.
It is something else to walk the walk to Everest.
Yeti foot prints in the snow
Well, that was what we joked. In truth, even today, no one can tell me what these foot prints are from. Snow leopard tracks they are not. Neither are they mountain sheep. Something else was having a trek around Everest with us today. Musk deer or Goral?
You can click any of the photographs to enlarge them for a closer look!
If you know what they are, let me know in the comments! Please leave a link to state your evidence! I can only think they are a little rabbits fresh tracks!
Climbing down to Khumbu glacier
Khumbu glacier is that long winding stretch of rock, rubble and ice you see under these majestic mountains. Millions of years old it is like the artery of life that joins this section of the Himalayas together.
Standing on it you nearly expect to feel something move. But it’s as solid as the earth itself. Taking a trek along it is not so easy though as the terrain is fraught with craters, heavy rocks, ice and deep holes. Up ahead is the basin that is the deserted camp. But look behind and be awestruck by the view of Khumbu glacier.
Avalanche on Everest!
Trekking back to the edge of the glacier and a distant crack. Up a little and straight across from us there is silence as a slice of mountain falls away in surreal motion.
Then echoing all around us we hear the heavy pounding of the avalanche. Almost as if losing part of its body the mountain bares a thick blueish scar where the snow broke away. Beneath it a plume of snow rises up.
Almost like deja vu we’d witnessed an avalanche near Throng La Pass on the Annapurna trek years before. It’s an incredible sight to behold. Scary, powerful and a reminder of what’s happening to our ice caps.
Making the final trek to Everest Base Camp
Base camp itself is covered in snow and ice at this time of year. During peak season the glacier where Everest summiteers camp is filled with brightly colored tents. Today, in the midst of the off-peak winter season, it’s a vacant spot of tundra. Not a person is to be seen.
Those trekking here will not see a wonderful vista. The glacier is magnificent. But if you come here to see Everest, you will be disappointed. I knew this before setting off. Hence the trek up Kala Patthar to get a great view of the Mount Everest Himalayan range. Gokyo also beholds another incredible vista.
The mindset of “Everest”
Strangely when you tell people that you’ve been to Nepal. They will always ask. Have you been to Everest?
If you answer that you’ve seen it from Kala Patthar they will look a little confused at the strange name and a little disappointed. Yet if you tell them you’ve been to Everest Base Camp they will be full of bells and whistles for you. Even if you only get to see Everest’s tip.
My advise: go to both. You’ll get the views for yourself on Kala Patthar, and the story for everyone else by going to Everest Base Camp.
The return to Gorak Shep
For me it’s true, thousands of people have made the trek to Everest base camp. In peak conditions it’s not that hard if you do some preparation for the Everest Base Camp Trek and do not get altitude sickness.
The weather challenges you differently in the off-season. And broken boots can make it a whole different experience.
After all is said and done I can now leave my mark behind on the Everest Base Camp trek. This journal of my winter trek to Everest Base Camp and a single sticker among many others on a door at Gorak Shep.
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 8 part III (The journey back brings along some new adventures)
Note this trek took place in late December/early January in the off-peak winter season
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