A night at Gorak Shep by Everest Base Camp
I slept well considering the altitude. Perhaps the physical battle with the wind yesterday while climbing Kala Patthar helped. During the evening I stayed seated by the wood stove. A bottle of boiled water accompanied me to bed and that was all as I dreamed of completing the Everest Base Camp Trek in the morning.
Waking up to the thought of making it to Everest Base camp was not as exciting as I would have hoped. Kala Patthar offers the real visual spectacle. Everest Base Camp barely offers a view of the world’s tallest mountain.
Mount Everest lies hidden behind nearer mountains with only it’s very tip exposed when looking from below.
No, Base Camp itself is more about the human element of accomplishment than a dazzling visual display. Or rather it’s about the people who first climbed the world’s tallest mountain. Back in the day.
When people say there is no golden age of travel or exploration I think of the first people to climb Mount Everest, or of Scott, Fiennes, or Shackleton.
Many of the super equipped mountaineers or explorers of today seemed limited on gimmicks to make a name for themselves. While some will say there’s still something to be said for accomplishing such feats. I say there’s a reason why such feats don’t conjure up the passion that the original pioneers do. Have we run out of challenges?
Snow on Everest, the silent dream killer
“You don’t know?” stated Narayan in mild shock as I opened my bedroom door. “It snowed heavily last night. We need to get out of here before we are trapped!”
And with that the morning flew into the unexpected. Peaking out my tiny window I could see nothing but a white blanket of pristine snow. Clothes on I walked out into a winter wonderland scene.
Yesterday the whole area was an earthy brown color. Dry, dusty and very windy. Today everything was covered in white snow, and more snow was falling.
Visibility was low as thick cloud hung low over the camp. Anything above 30 feet was lost in the soupy white cotton wool like sky. A sky that was letting loose silent fluttering snow. The ground below thick and carpeted in its new white coating.
“If we’d been a day late, we wouldn’t have made it as far as we did. Now it seemed like the final destination would be denied to us.”
Real Yak’s don’t like the snow
I am like a kid when it comes to snow. I can’t get enough of it. Crunching through the fresh powder I won’t pretend the people huddled inside looking out must have been thinking I was crazy.
So too did the herd of Yak’s who were hunkered down behind a snowy drift. Huge damp carpeted creatures with mini drifts of snow covering their backs. I approached hoping for a photo of this impressive sight.
I managed a few before one hairy mammoth Yak rose up. Unlike regular animals in damp conditions he did not shake off his extra white coat of snow. He snorted. Peered at the rest of his herd, then looked at me.
A big hairy Yak looking for warm love
I stood there shooting away as the Yak moved closer. A generally docile creature I was not worried. Then a few others began to follow. I stepped back a little. They weren’t merely having a morning stroll. They were pretty much on a direct path towards me.
I backed up to the steps leading up to the lodge. The “Alpha” yak continued towards me. A tapping at the window revealed a few people waving at me to come in. A good warning if ever there was one.
Stepping up to the first level above the steps I waited a little. The yak kept coming. He was on a slow steady path towards me, unrelenting.
I climbed up the next set of steps. And, much to my amazement the yak did the same thing.
A man started shouting from across the snowy plain. The yak took a look at him in recognition, then snorted before continuing on towards me.
Walking towards the lodge door the man finally arrived just in time to shout some orders at the yak who, begrudgingly, obeyed and turned about.
Inside I was told the Yak was just looking to “get warm”.
I hope it was by the fire and not with me.
Too much snow on Everest, we need to leave
Narayan was packed and ready to go.
“We need to leave,” he was serious. “If we get cut off then we could be trapped up here for weeks. Your shoes are no good to get out if it gets any thicker out there. We need to leave now.”
I trust Narayan. He also knew me well enough to repeat his opinion, and add in some more for my next round of questions.
My packing was slow, very slow. I couldn’t believe we’d come this far just to turn around on the last day.
I won’t lie, a part of me wanted to turn this into a trapped on Everest Base Camp story.
It took an hour for me to pack in total.
Breakfast in the clouds
I came downstairs to see my breakfast waiting for me. Narayan was looking bemused. He pointed outside.
The clouds had lifted. And in true high altitude fashion the weather had changed dramatically. There were blue skies. We were going to base camp!
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 8 Part II (Giant glacier walking, Yeti tracks and an avalanche)
Note this trek took place in late December/early January during the off-peak winter season
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