Trek to Everest Base Camp

It has been really hard for me to write this post as looking back on this trip is bittersweet. Many of you know that I did not actually make it all the way to Everest Base Camp and as amazing as the trek was, it was still hard to look back knowing I didn’t make it. I have made peace with it, but even now, it is easy to think back and ask myself of all the what ifs. What if I had taken it easier the day before I got sick? What if I had taken that extra rest day that I was offered? What if I had flown from Colorado altitude instead of Australia? The fact of the matter is, I just got sick. I work medical for Ironmans all the time and people come into the medical tent who have done a million and one of these and for some reason that day, their body tells them no. They are crushed and sad and don’t understand why this is happening to them. They are in incredible shape and they are so experienced, but that day was just not their day. That is how I got to this point of being at peace with not making it. For whatever reason, it was just not meant to be and I am a huge believer in everything happens for a reason. I know without a doubt that I will be back and will make this trek again and I WILL make it to base camp. To clarify one thing though, we were actually doing a loop and base camp is just a trail that comes off that loop…

…I did make the full loop, I just had to sit at the next town (in Dingboche) and recuperate while I waited for my guide and trekking partner to do it. It took me a long time to get to this place of being okay and realizing that what we did was still a huge accomplishment.

Okay, let me start from the beginning. My trekking partner was Zach, who I actually didn’t know going into this trip. I was originally going to do this trek with my friend Anna who had also invited her friend Zach. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Anna was unable to come on the trip. Now, me and Zach could have easily decided not to go, but we agreed that we both still were up for the adventure with a complete stranger. It could have gone one of two ways, but lucky for us we got along so well and had a lot in common. We had our ups and downs for sure as is expected when you go from not knowing each other to fast friends to spending every waking moment together on the trek. I usually pride myself on how I love to travel alone, but I was very happy I had him there for me as I tried to wrap my head around not making it to base camp. Zach, thank you for putting up with me throughout this whole journey. You have seen me at my best and seen me at my worst. We had an amazing time and I could not have asked for a better trekking partner. I experienced a whirlwind of emotions all at once that I didn’t know what to do with: being sad, then happy, then not wanting to be alone, then wanting to be alone, and despite these weird mood swings after the trek, I can say we are still amazing friends and I am happy to have had you by my side. I realize this could have been a very different experience without you there. They say Everest does weird things to your emotions and moods and they (whoever they are) would be correct. Honestly, it is probably due to the lack of oxygen. Someone randomly had a pulse ox at 17,500 feet and my oxygen was reading 72%!

Now to the actual trek! It was probably one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in my entire life. The views we got to see were incredible and unreal and I still cannot believe that we got to experience it.

DAY 1 (April 12, 2019)

Ramechhap-Lukla

Ramechhap airport getting ready to fly to Lukla

The only way into and out of Lukla is either by plane or by foot. Lukla is the most dangerous airport in the world due to its short runway and dangerous terrain on either side of the runway.

Lukla-Phakding

4.29 miles, 722 feet elevation gain

After arriving in Luka, we wasted no time and started out trek. Pictured in the left photo is Om (our guide) and on the right, Kul (our porter).

DAY 2 (April 13, 2019): Phadking-Namche Bizzare

8.00 Miles, 3,776 feet elevation gain

Made it to Namche Bizzare today. This is the last “big town”. Little did we know, this was also the last time we were warm for a while.

DAY 3 (April 14, 2019): Acclimatization Day in Namche Bizzare

2.86 Miles, 1,364 ft elevation gain

Day hike around Namche to the Panoramic View Point. There was a possibility to see Everest today, but sadly it was too cloudy.

DAY 4 (April 15, 2019): Namche Bizzare-Thame

5.92 miles, 2,088 feet elevation gain

We were able to see some pretty spectacular views on today’s hike. Zach of course, being an engineer, was fascinated with all the suspension bridges. I have to admit they were very cool.

DAY 5 (April 16, 2019): Thame-Lumde

6.12 miles, 2,156 feet elevation gain

Today was my birthday! I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to get to spend my birthday in such an incredible place.

DAY 6 (April 17, 2019): Lumde-over Renjo La Pass-Gokyo

7.82 miles, 3,547 feet elevation gain

Renjo La Pass (Elevation: 17, 550 feet) was our first mountain pass of the trek. It was incredibly hard, but so beautiful.

DAY 7 (April 18, 2019): Gokyo-Thange

5.32 miles, 2,501 feet elevation gain

Hike to the top of Gokyo Ri (Elevation: 17,575 feet) where we were finally able to see Everest! It is the tallest mountain directly behind us with the wind blowing off it.

After we summited Gokyo Ri, we went on to Thange. Unfortunately, this was where I started to feel like I was catching a cold. I was starting to cough and get some sinus pressure. I was also hiking slower than usual.

DAY 8 (April 19, 2019): Thange-Chola Pass-Dzongla

3.40 miles, 2,562 feet elevation gain

I woke up today feeling fairly awful. I felt the worst sinus pressure of my life and had zero appetite. We thought we were going to have to hang out here for a day given how I felt, but I managed to stomach an RX bar and muster up the energy to hike. Now, it is debatable if this was a good idea, given we had our second mountain pass today. However, I don’t regret it. I think if I had stayed a day, I would have been full blown sick the next day and would have never made it over Chola Pass and therefore would have had to turn back instead of getting to complete the loop. It was still amazingly beautiful, but I was moving at a slow pace. We ended up getting hit by a snowstorm near the top. Zach had made it to the top before me and put down his backpack then came down, grabbed my backpack and helped me the rest of the way up. I will be honest, I threw a bit of a fit as I don’t like admitting I could use the help (I am stubborn as we all know), but I was very thankful for the help since I was struggling pretty hard.

Zach was a bit cold this morning so he decided to put every single layer on.
We summited Chola Pass (Elevation: 17,782 feet), our second mountain pass of the trek.

DAY 9 (April 20, 2019): Dzongla-Dughla-Dingboche

3.08 miles, 474 feet elevation gain

At this point, I was so sick that it took me nearly 5 hours to walk the 3.08 miles to the next town. I had to stop every minute to rest even though we were barely gaining any elevation. Zach and our porter, Kul, went ahead to the next town before Everest Base Camp and our guide stayed with me. He would carry all our stuff ahead and set it down, then run back to help me walk to our bags, then do it again. I was so thankful to have him as a guide. To be honest, I was questioning whether or not I was going to have to be evacuated at this point.

After finally making it to Dughla, I was able to pay for a horse ride to Dingboche. I was too weak to
walk, so I was so thankful a horse was an option.

DAY 10 (April 21, 2019)

Today was miserable. I laid in bed all day, barely able to get up to go to the bathroom.

DAY 11 (April 22, 2019)

I actually woke up feeling a lot better (health wise), and was able to eat a good breakfast and sit in the sun for a bit. I waited till Zach and Om got back. All morning, I was anxious about seeing Zach. I didn’t know how I was going to feel knowing he made it and I didn’t. We had discussed before the trip even started what we would do if one of us couldn’t continue, and ultimately, we decided we wouldn’t hold the other back and would be happy for the other. I stand by this and I wasn’t mad at him, I was mad at my body, but I was taking it out on him. However, even though it didn’t seem like it, I was so overjoyed to see Zach after being alone in my room for the last 2 days. I was also very relieved that he made it safely.

DAY 12 (April 23, 2019): Dingboche-Namche Bizzare

13.00 miles, 2,275 feet elevation gain

We started our journey back to Lukla today. Even though, we ended up lower in elevation in Namche, we still gained a significant amount of altitude. I was still hiking a little slow, but I was doing much better.

DAY 13 (April 24, 2019): Namche Bizzare-Lukla

11.14 miles, 2,515 feet elevation gain

We finally made it back to Lukla and had ourselves a well deserved beer (or 3).

DAY 14: Travel back to Kathmandu

We were so tired and drained, this day was kind of a blur. We were not even sure we were going to make it out of Lukla given the weather, but we managed to. We then had an 8 hour bus ride back to Kathmandu. We were both so thankful for a warm shower and a bed and we passed out so fast.

The rest of the trip was a lot of fun. We ended up doing a few days in Pokhara. We enjoyed our literal vacation from our vacation. I was still dealing with a lot of emotions from the trek, but was working through them day by day. But traveling is like that, it is not always sunshine and rainbows, but they are life experiences and looking back, I am so thankful for this one.

We were greeted on our last day in Katmandu by Om, who brought us a gift.

It is a tradition amongst Nepalese people to offer this scarf, or Khata, as a symbol of good fortune.

Until next time, Nepal.

Namaste.