The final slog.
The first “Starks’ Epic Adventure” Bucket List item was in reach now.
Everest Base Camp.
But before that, there was another achievement to reach first. Kala Patthar. At 5545m, it is the highest point on the trek. Since we had summited Gokyo Ri at sunrise, we decided this time we would see sunset.
It did not disappoint.
The climb is quite long, but the actual summit is not very spacious. The final climb is over large rocky boulders, and we were not the only ones up here so it can get fairly crowded. We parked ourselves in a good viewing spot and waited for the sun to go down, casting brilliant colours across the sky and mountain peaks. We were lucky enough that the moon added something extra as it slowly creeped across the tip of Everest itself.
The last stop before reaching the ultimate trekking climax is Gorak Shep at 5164m. Nighttime temperatures would plummet to minus 14 degrees C. Oxygen pretty thin.
But you wouldn’t find anyone complaining here.
As we huddled around the central heater burning dried yak manure (which smells as unpleasant as it sounds), we drank vegetable soup and clapped along with a hairy Canadian bellowing out his own country song on the guitar he carried with him. What an unreal experience.
Inside the many trekking lodges here, there are flags, t-shirts and photos pinned to the walls and ceilings, bearing messages of tour groups, friends and solo travellers who had reached this point on the trek. All announcing their grand achievement of reaching Everest Base Camp and summiting Kala Patthar. Most would never reach higher than that ever again.
Now it was our turn.
Morning broke, and we headed out along the rocky, undulating 2-3 hour trek to Base Camp. Just like every other day on our trek, the sky was crystal clear and the sun beat down, warming us up quite quickly. We honestly only needed our down jackets for the first hour or so each day of our trek before stripping down to much less. And obviously at night.
Everest Base Camp is empty for the majority of the year (except during the short climbing seasons). A large pile of rocks inscribed with messages and colourful prayer flags mark the spot. We etched our own name and date into a flat stone, then added it to the trophy pile.
Our guide pointed out the rocky clearing that is used for the climber’s tents. The infamous ‘icefall’ that begins the trek to the summit. In fact, you can only see the tip of Everest poking out from behind another peak, when standing at the base.
And so we sat around and soaked it all in.
Everest Base Camp.
Starks’ Epic Adventure Bucket List #1.
Alright, turn around and go back now.
TREK SO FAR:
Day 10: Dzongla to Gorak Shep & Kala Patthar (5545m)
Day 11: Everest Base Camp & Gorak Shep to Dingboche
Visited 14th & 16th November 2013.