EBC Day 7, Lobuche to Everest Base Camp to Gorak Shep
We are on our way with first sign of daylight, braving the hostile morning of the Khumbu Region. The frigid air burns in my nostrils. My fingers freeze each time I take my heavy mittens off to snap a shot.
The world around consists of rock and ice. From the barren landscape some of the highest peaks in the world loom above us. In just few hours we are to reach Everest Base Camp. The path is relentless. Up and down, up and down. Even the down becomes a workout.
It takes us 3 hours to cover the approximately 2.75 miles (800 ft el. gain) between Lobuche and Gorak Shep, the last village en route. After a brief and much welcome stop for lunch we head to the base of the tallest mountain. The scenery takes my breath away (so does the altitude).
Our path leads us through the valley atop glacial moraine. We follow the rugged contours of Khumbu Glacier, admiring the mass of ice beneath the rock. To our West Pumori proudly rises to the sky, Nuptse dominates the East.
Should this ridge be some 10,000 feet lower, it would be so much fun to negotiate. Here in altitude every step is a chore, and any larger move – as simple as a step over a boulder – requires one to pause for a few seconds to catch a breath. But we are making progress. The Khumbu Ice Fall is getting closer, and finally about 2 hours after leaving Gorak Shep we touch the ground of Everest Base camp.
The conditions are fabulous it is clear yet warm with no wind. We face a choice here – either to continue to the true camp which is about 1/4 mile away, and the effort would require additional couple hundred feet of elevation gain on the way back, or be content with the “tourist” spot where the camp once used to be. Given our condition we chose the latter, even though we are kicking our buts for not even trying.
On the other hand we are really happy to have made it here. We were prepared to see and maybe even deal with altitude sickness but the magnitude hits us hard. There is not a day gone by we don’t meet somebody who is being evacuated to lower grounds. Some can barely walk, some are carried on stretchers. Two casualties are reported.
Back in Gorak Shep our rooms are ready. They are small, furnished with two squeaky beds. The thin cardboard walls leak voices from several adjoining units. We have no reason to hover. As soon as we drop off our bags, we retreat to the dining room, which is now full of people, good atmosphere, and warmth.
While my headache is under diamox control, my cold is getting worse. We’re over 5000 meters high. I don’t blame my body for not having the strength to fight it. Dave starts feeling queasy too. He chooses to rest while I try to get some writing done but my brain is not acclimatized enough to come up with anything of higher quality so instead I enjoy an interesting conversation with a fellow trekker from Czech Republic, before I too, feel like it’s a good time to hit the sack.