Everest Base Camp Trek by Shaun O'Boyle

Dugla, 15,158 ft. 3 stone huts huddled in a bleak valley with yaks grazing on the sparse vegetation. A necessary acclimatization stop I would rather not have done. I only hiked 1 hour up the valley from Pheriche. No headaches or other signs of altitude sickness. But better safe than sorry so I spent a rather claustrophobic night in this smoky cramped lodge here. Got up to get a cup of tea and smacked my head on a hunk of dried yak meat hanging from a rope. Woke up struggling for breath a couple times during the night. Not a lot of air up here at 15,158 ft. Especially when there is a smoky yak dung fire smoldering in a hut with no chimney!

Monuments built for Sherpas who have fallen on Everest

From Dugla I trekked to Lobuche (16,173 ft) and spent a night there. I was up at 4 am to start the trek to this place, the goal of all my labors. Kala Patar, 18,221 ft. The views from Kala Pattar are beyond words, simply the most spectacular mountain scenery I have ever taken in. Since I had started so early I was alone on Kala Patar for 3 hours before anyone else made it up. It was breathtaking. I saw the sun rise over Everest. A huge avalanche on the side of Lhotse rumbled like a long thunder roll. I just sat, ate some granola, shot lots of photographs and took it all in.

 View back toward Ama Dablam

After 17 days of hard trekking, sitting on Kala Patar in the warm morning sun taking in the view of Everest and the Khumbu glacier, I think I understood what mountaineers and explorers look for when on expeditions. It's a sense of independence, achievement, and self sufficiency, a oneness with the environment, and a sense of strength and power that seems to come from the mountains themselves into the limbs. I couldn't remember ever being happier than that morning sitting there among the worlds highest peaks.

Ama Dablam from Kala Patar

 

Everest with the Khumbu Glacier. Base camp is more or less hidden behind me next to the Khumbu Glacier which flows over the steep ice fall and then turns sharply and heads down the valley toward the right.

 Pumori in the background

Everest Summit with the ever present snow plum from the jet stream.  This view shows the main summit and to the right the bump known as the south summit.  This is the traditional route that Hillary and Tenzing first climbed and the route that most climber from the Nepal side of Everest follow.

From Everest I trekked back down through Namche and on to Lukla to catch a flight back to Kathmandu. It took me 17 days to reach Kala Pattar and another 3 day to reach Lukla with a night at Phereche and Namche. I think it is one of the greatest trips anyone could do and would like to go again.

Photographs from this story are for sale, please look here for details about purchasing any of the photographs on this site.

From Nepal I traveled across Tibet by bus, truck and plane. 

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