…contd from Part 3
DAY 8 DINGBOCHE TO LOBUCHE
We were up the next morning almost at day break. It was getting increasingly harder to manage my morning cuppa. Though I was carrying my own sachets of Girnar Masala Tea, even a cup of hot water was at a premium here! Well, like I said earlier, this was high altitude & one couldn’t complain!
After an early breakfast we commenced our further ascent towards Lobuche. We were to head back southwards in the direction of the junction of the Imja & Pheriche rivers & then follow the latter to reach our destination. Here is the map of the Khumbu region again just to brush up the geography & put things in perspective 🙂
We had to stop frequently to catch our breaths & I caught the opportunity to make a video of the panorama & the various peaks that were visible from there.
A little further into the trek I looked back to see this stunning scenery which was best captured in black & white!
We were now entering serious high altitude terrain. The landscape lent itself to beautiful photography with clouds forming a stunning backdrop!
Passing through stark landscape over non- existent tracks, rickety bridges & resting spots, the only colour in this black & white world was provided by the trekkers’ clothes & the Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind.
The march to Lobuche continued past Pheriche village overlooked by the majestic Thamserku, Kangtega & Axe peaks. Around 11.30 a.m. we reached a place where memorials to fallen Everesteers were made, a rather poignant spot. We stopped, rested & prayed for the departed souls while thinking of their hardships & icy ends. I also came across one memorial dedicated to Late Babu Chiri Sherpa, holder of 3 world records!!
The yaks continued to provide company with even their load carrying capacity having reduced at these altitudes.
The trek continued passing over an increasingly difficult terrain of rocks & boulders.
And finally we reached Lobuche, a small settlement of a few lodges which, it appeared, owed its existence on the map solely because of its proximity to the Everest & use as a possible night halt. The conical peak of Pumori was distinctly visible in the background like a giant craning its neck to see what was happening on this side of the world!
We checked into our lodge & made a semblance of settling down. After lunch we climbed the neighbouring hill to catch the first glimpse of the massive Khumbu glacier, a view of the general area of the Everest Base Camp from a distance & of the adventure that awaited us the next day!
Here’s a video of what I saw from there.
It was but necessary to leave a mark in stone for posterity!
After spending about an hour at the hill we returned to our lodge. During dinner I came across this interesting piece of information showing the effect of altitude on the Oxygen content in the human body. We were now in the 5000 m zone!
By 8 p.m. we declared ‘lights out’ to get good rest for the further push to Gorakshep & finally to the Base Camp the next day.
DAY 9 LOBUCHE – GORAKSHEP – EBC – GORAKSHEP
We started early today. There was a lot of ground to cover. It was already snowing lightly & the view outside my room at 5.52 a.m. looked definitely intimidating!
Not to be cowed down, we stepped out into the sub-zero temperatures again.
We were now almost at 17000 ft & the landscape resembled an otherworldly terrain!
It was really cold & I could feel my goosepimples in spite of the multiple layers of clothing & two pairs of socks & gloves that I was wearing! Freezing cold & icy winds didn’t break our morale though & the trekkers & animals alike continued their relentless march towards their goal.
By almost 10 o’ clock we hit Gorakshep & checked into our lodge. We were now just a step away from the Base Camp & the excitement was palpable! The restaurant was brimming with excited trekkers hearing stories from the ones who had already been to the Base Camp the previous day.
But we couldn’t afford to waste much time. The weather wasn’t looking too good & dark clouds were building up all around. We had to hurry. Getting caught out in the cold, rain & snow at this altitude would have been terrible. Emptying out our day packs in the room & keeping just the bare essentials like a poncho, an extra pair of socks, some eatables etc we headed out into the cold again.
I had been looking out for the iconic Everest Base Camp direction board which I had seen earlier in so many trek videos, pictures & blog posts & came across it now at the outskirts of Gorakshep.
We were now about half an hour short of our destination.
By about 11 a.m. we had reached the general area of the Base Camp. The landscape was surreal & we could see gaping crevasses in the ice.
Stepping carefully & skirting around the crevasses we wound our way to that coveted piece of earth known as the Everest Base Camp. The place was already swarming with trekkers in a state of partial hysteria excitedly taking pictures, making videos, some praying & thanking their respective Gods, others marking their presence there with little spithuks! We had made it! This was the culmination of all our efforts, the pinnacle of our trek, fulfillment of a dream which I had nurtured for 2 years!! An elevated pile of stones & rocks was the grand stage for everyone to take pictures & I waited for my turn.
Emotions overwhelmed us as we pecked our guide, friend, philosopher, doctor & God…Lokendra for making this happen for us.
A video of those moments was definitely required!
A couple emerging out from behind the rocks in wedding attire (& trekking shoes :)) to tie the knot at the Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 17600 ft was the surprise cherry on the cake!! We all gathered around them while they read their vows & cheered as they pronounced themselves ‘man & wife’ & kissed.
We hung around & soaked the environment in. I took some more pictures. EBC would probably never happen in my life again.
After spending about an hour & a half there we had to say goodbye to EBC. With a heavy but fulfilled heart I took one last picture of the Everest Base Camp as we started our trek back for Gorakshep at about 1.15 p.m.
We reached Gorakshep & hit the restaurant for a well deserved lunch & stories to exchange with other fellow trekkers. Today Lokendra allowed us to rest a while in the afternoon. Probably there wasn’t any other option – it was snowing lightly outside & we were thus confined to the lodge!
After an early dinner we packed off for the day. EBC had been conquered. But we still had Kala Pathar (literally meaning Black Rock) to climb the next morning!
To be contd…