November 14, 2022
Start: Lobuche 4910m (16,105ft)
Via: Gorak Shep 5164m (16,938ft)
Via: Everest Base Camp 5364m (17,594ft)
Stop: Gorak Shep 5164m (16,938ft)
Distance: 13km (8 miles)
Sleep is a little like a roller coaster ride. It seems like I’m sleeping well but I keep waking up because it sounds like every dog in Lobuche is barking and howling. And it’s not just once or twice. Literally all night long the soulful dogs of Lobuche are singing their song, or so it seems. Another challenge to my sleep is that I start off a little cold and eventually end up overheating. I wake up at 5am flushed in the face and feeling really hot.
I can still feel the heat in my cheeks as I eat a plain omelet breakfast. After waiting for the group to convene we finally leave Lobuche. The towering lateral moraine of the Khumbu Glacier is on our right and will guide us all the way to Everest Base Camp today. I don’t get very far and immediately I’m struggling. I’m way too hot and the sun feels so intense. I stop to remove a layer and my buff and give that a try. Still too hot. I remove another layer and gloves and now I’m down to just a single sun shirt layer on my core. This is better but puts me on the verge on being chilly. Better to be on the cold side than to have my body trying to shut down because of feeling cookin’ hot. All this stopping, shedding layers and slow pace has Caspar worried that we’re getting far behind the group. Tiger is with us and tells us not to worry.
As soon as we get moving at a better pace, an ox supply train comes up from behind. We pause as porters sling shot by just as fast as the oxen. Watch the VIDEO HERE! About 15 minutes later, coming towards us is Thomas, another guide from Tanzania. The mountain guiding community of Tanzania is small, so of course Caspar and Clearance know Thomas well. Thomas, who also does guiding in Nepal, is stoked to jump in a picture with Caspar and Clearance.
Ok, it’s time to move. As fast as I can at this elevation anyway. The trail, which is teeming with tourists heading in both directions, weaves its way through mountains of boulders. Because of the boulder terrain, the main pathway is forced into a pretty narrow corridor. Everyone seems to jockey for position in order to make forward progress. Between the yaks, and oxen and horses and people, it’s all a bit intense. We come to a standstill several times and then Tiger starts to pull out the moves. There’s no time for hesitation and I stick right with him. We start rock hoping, zipping in and out of the lines of people. Perhaps this is a bit rude, but there’s no time to question it. Tiger looks back occasionally to make sure he hasn’t lost me and I tell him, “I’m with you.” Tiger, Caspar and I make quick work of the endless jam of people all the way to Gorak Shep.
We arrive at Gorak Shep about 10:45am. We have tea and order lunch at our home for the night, Everest Inn. My stomach has been feeling pretty good so I order veggie chow mein for lunch. We check out our room which is on the top floor of the three story building. I huff and puff my way up the stairs to our slanted-ceiling corner room that has two little windows. We have lunch before leaving at 12:15pm for Everest Base Camp. The first part of the trail leaving Gorak Shep is like moon dust. Just think of all the people over all the years who have tread this trail to powder in their quest for making dreams come true. Almost immediately my stomach is in agony. I’m in so much gastric pain that I can barely walk. Ummm, this was not part of the dream! I stumble along, not even really present to my surroundings. Did someone take my backpack from me? I can’t even remember.
The clouds have moved in, and without the warmth of the sun it’s pretty chilly. We hike the rocky trail for about an hour before taking a right turn down into the Khumbu Glacier. There’s a line of people coming and going. We pick our way through the glacier around pockets of ice and little crevasses. Up and over and down and around and then we arrive.
There’s lots of people circling as one by one everyone scrambles to get their EBC photo. People try to get into position for pictures below and above the rock at the same time which makes for a chaotic scene. Jeremy and Clearance ham it up with celebration coca colas and matching Everest t-shirts. Caspar has to give me a boost onto the top of the rock for our photo. Silke hops up and joins us too. We take a group picture at the end with Sophie’s camera. Many of the peaks in this region like Mt. Everest and Cho Oyu, sit on the border of Nepal and Tibet (China). The peak that is catching the sun in the distance behind us is in Tibet.
After spending 30 minutes at EBC, we prepare to leave about 2:20pm. The clench in my stomach and digestive tract has nearly subsided and the fog of pain is finally rolling away. We point ourselves back in the direction of Gorak Shep and there is a blast of steady wind in our faces. My wind breaker flaps wildly as my face turns to leather in the wind. We get back to Everest Inn by 4pm and celebrate with some hot chocolate.
Caspar and I hang in our little 3rd story palace tower and get our room set for the evening. Wow, the beds are equipped with electric blankets! Usually you have to pay for power in the rooms but miraculously the power to the blankets is working. We click them on when we head down to dinner. I’m back to the safety of eating boiled potatoes. Apple wedges for dessert. The dinning room is packed with people and guides as the community chatter spills out of the room. It’s not that I’m inspecting people but I can’t help but notice a young woman that I’ve seen before and she just looks unwell. Tiger checks in with us and we agree that we don’t need to do the 4am morning ascent of Kala Patthar. Also, because the Gorak Shep water is very silty, there is no water resupply tonight. We have what was brought from Lobuche but otherwise you have to buy bottled if you need extra.
Upon return to our room, there is a heavy smoke smell in the hallway. Is someone smoking? Actually, I just think it’s the smoke from the yak dung stove sucking in the open window at the end of the hallway. Given that the walls are paper thin, I know that our neighbors are pissed about it and want to change rooms. Good luck with that!