This is one in a series of posts about my recent Trek to Everest Basecamp (EBC). If you wish to read the previous posts you can access them at #EBC2017
March 26. The days we spent in Dingboche were helpful. I managed to recover from the strenuous trek we completed two days ago, and I had plenty of “me time” to recollect my thoughts and chat with some of the other trekkers that stayed in the hotel. Two of these trekkers were from Iran, and it was wonderful to chat with them and make friends. We were so genuinely connected, that we, in fact, walked the rest of the trek to EBC together, and shared all meals together in the coming days (I will post a photo in a later post).
Our climb started early around 7am. The air was still cold (around -6c), which made breathing a bit tough on top of the high altitude. The plan today was to cross the 5,000 meters mark, which to me personally was very exciting. The only pressing concern I kept having was about altitude sickness. The higher we climbed, the more pressing the thought has become.
The first part of our climb was not steep, but it was long and rocky. We were covering a vast land surrounded by sand, rocks, beautiful mountains, and plenty of open space. Our first stop was a town called Tukla. It was the main stop before a very steep one hour climb, which was the toughest part of today’s journey. The climb was strenuous and required a lot of mental focus. My general feeling in Tukla was good. I didn’t have lunch there (Tip: you don’t want to have a big meal before a steep climb as it will slow you down), but I did sit there for 20 minutes or so to get some water and a cliff bar. I was also fighting a minor headache (probably because of the high altitude), so this was a good chance for me to pop one of my headache pills.
The one hour climb was tough. We were very close to 5,000 meters above sea level by now, and my body needed to adjust to a new level of thin air. As far as the climb itself, it was pretty much close to vertical. There were plenty of stairs (imagine rocks instead of stairs), and big rocks to climb on. At times it seemed as if there was no designated road to follow, but that was clearly a misperception of the terrain on my end. The trick was to simply follow everyone else, and the yaks, and not look up. I say not to look up because the destination was high above us and looking up was demoralizing.
When we finally arrived at the destination point, the view was absolutely astonishing! The Himalayas around us were absolutely magnificent in size, beauty, and shape. I picked a secluded corner away from the other climbers and chose this time to meditate. It felt to me like the right moment to do so.
The next part of our journey was relatively easier than what we experienced before. We had one more hour to climb, but nothing as steep as what we climbed earlier in the day. We have reached Lobuche after four and half hours of trekking, of which one hour was a vertical climb from Tukla. On a personal level, I felt good mentally during the climb. I have learned to embrace the mental challenges the Himalayas threw at me, and once I did embrace things were much easier to handle.
Lobuche itself was quite small. We stayed the night here before we marched to Gorakshep, which will be our last stop before getting to Everest Basecamp. In Lobuche, I took the risk of eating a chocolate cake (people rave about the baked goods in the Himalayas), and I must say that I wasn’t really impressed. It was ok, but nothing that threw me off my chair. It was, however, a nice change from the lentils and fried rice that I have been consuming in the past 10 days.
The next day I woke up ready to trek to Gorakshep. I didn’t sleep much as I kept waking up every 2 hours or so. I later learned that this is a common phenomenon in high altitudes. This, of course, made today’s climb a bit challenging…
To be continued.