April 10, 2010 - Trek to Everest Base Camp The [6-day] trek up the Khumbu was amazing! Gyanendra was the porter assigned to carry the one duffel bag that made it on the plane. The other two duffels will be sent cargo as second priority.
The first day we made it to Manju at the entrance of Sagarmatha National Park. There is a fire burning down the valley that is making the air thick with a haze of smoke. The elevation is about 10,000 ft.
Tuesday we set off at 8 am and pass through the park entrance checkpoint. Gyanandra has a heavy load so we stop frequently and check out the sights. The path winds up a steep section of trail and suddenly we can get a glimpse of Everest in the distance. We pass through two more police checkpoints between the park entrance and Namche Bazaar. According to the statistics there will be more than 4,000 visitors to the park in the month of April! We find a nice hotel in the thriving town of Namche called the Yak Hotel. My friend Matt Fioretti has a stash of gear here so I track it down to get 5 snow anchors for my tent at camp 2 and 3 on Everest.
Namche has grown vertically since I was here last in 1998. All of the guest houses have grown two stories to be a minimum of three or four stories now. The amenities have also become much more expensive. I am spending $60 USD per day for food and lodging. The lodging is about $5 per day and they make the money on the food. You are required to eat at the lodge you stay at or the cost goes up to $20 per night. I am pleased with the gluten free menu items though. There are always eggs, dal bat, potatoes and yak meat available. I get a rough night sleep at 11,400 ft but still feel healthy.
We leisurely start at 8:30 am for the five hour walk to Tengboche. Tengboche Monastery is a destination I am looking forward to visiting. I have made contact with Lama Pasang Sherpa through my friend Brittney Buckingham. When we arrive at Tengboche I get one of the last rooms in the tea houses. After a good meal I.. find Lama Pasang... on the front steps of the monastery and takes me for a tour. There are three main figures in the temple: Atisa, Shakyamuni Buddha and Manjushri. I get to go upstairs to an inner temple where the original statues that survived the fire in 1989 are kept. All the texts are housed here for learning and advanced teachings from the head Lama. This was a very special experience.
Following the tour we go to Lama Pasangs quarters and have some tea. He has some gifts for me to take to Everest; a protection chord, a traditional silk kata, a special kata of Green Tara and some auspicious prayer flags. I am supposed to fly the Green Tara kata from my tent before I begin my climb for protection from danger. In addition, I am invited for morning prayers with the Sangha at 7 am the following morning.
I woke early, ate breakfast [and] went to the monastery and enjoyed the morning session in my own way. My focus is very good and I feel very positive as we head out to Dinboche. On the way I met the Columbian Everest Expedition. Over the course of the hike we pass Ama Dablam and arrive to Dinboche after 6 hours. In view are Peak 38, Island Peak and Lhotse. We stay at the Hotel Arizona and are the only guests in the entire tea house. The elevation is 14,000 ft.
The following morning I have an enormous breakfast and get a late start at 9 am. We can see Baruntse, Makalu, Tawoche and Cholatse on the hike up the ridge out of town. The weather is blue skies and light wind. We begin to pass hordes of trekkers and porters on the way to Lobuche. My porter Gyanandra is concerned there are only 6 tea houses in Lobuche. We decide not to take lunch, but to pass as many folks as possible so we will have a bed that night.
I get the second to last room in town. The sheets and pillow covers have not been changed in a long time judging by the hair and dirt. Glad I have my sleeping bag. Trekkers arrive to find out that there are no beds and they will have to sleep in the dining area or head on two hours to Gorak Shep. We are sleeping at nearly 16,000 ft. The dining area is packed with so many people I eat a quick meal and stay away from all the sick folks coughing.
We get an early start with the plan to eat breakfast in Gorak Shep. At 7 am we are on the trail. Today we will reach Base Camp! I am extremely hungry when we arrive to the Buddha Restaurant. I order several plates of food. Across the room I recognize Lhakpa Gelu Sherpa. He has the speed record on Everest and works for American Alpine Institute. I say hello and we make plans to meet up in base camp later. Following breakfast we get up on an overlook where we can see the town that is over 600 people in tents on the Khumbu Glacier.
Slowly we work our way up the valley and onto the glacier. I find the High Altitude Dreams camp and am invited to sit while lunch is served. I tip Gyanandra well and he heads back down towards Lukla to pick up his next load. By the time lunch is finished my tent is set up. Home sweet home, I have arrived to Everest Base Camp for the first time.