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Everest via Gokyo - my day by day account
Here’s my account on the Everest Gokyo Lakes Trek, March 2010.
On arrival at Kathmandu it was the chaos I expected, both at the airport and on the streets.
(Take a pen with you so you can easily complete the Visa Application and Landing Card on arrival.)
Hotel Tibet, our base in KTM is a breath of fresh air, relaxed and comfortable and a 15 minute walk from Thamel, the centre of the city. We enjoyed our first group meal here and tucked into a few Everest beers. All I’d say is watch how carried away you get on the first night party!
Early days on the trek
After waking at 6am we transferred to the airport for the flight to Lukla. We waited around for the obligatory 80 minutes (I am unsure how flight allocation works) but then we were flying to Lukla. Sit at the front to get great views of the memorable landing.
On arrival we met our team of porters and deputy guides and set off the Khumbu Valley.
Day Four (6-8hrs)
This was a long day’s trek to Namche Bazar. We set off with jackets and hats on, within one hour we are in t-shirts and lapping on the sun tan lotion. It was a beautiful walk – we were surrounded by pines, traversed spectacular white water rivers on long suspension bridges and wondered through a succession of small villages.
After a few hours of ‘Nepali flat’ we entered Sagamartha National Park and began the steep ascent to Namche Bazar. This was the last point of ‘civilisation’ until our return – there are kit shops, bars and money exchanges here.
Day Five (5hrs)
Having made 700m yesterday, this was a gentle acclimatisation day. We took a short walk onto the Everest View Hotel (3880m) for a tea and view of … It was then back to Namche to relax.
Day Six (6-8h)
After relaxing yesterday this was a tough. The morning was again Nepalese flat (up and down). We then left the main Everest trail and ventured onto the quieter path to Gokyo.
Day Seven (4-5h)
An easy walk along the valley to Machherma. Once we had lunch to help acclimatise the guides took us on a short walk. By going a little higher and then returning down to the height you’re sleeping at, it helps you settle overnight, we did this on most days.
Day Eight (5hrs)
Today we gained around 300m, following the Dudh Koshi River, which carriers the melt water from the Ngozumba Glacier. Once at Gokyo Lake One, on the high plateau you’ll feel like you’ve arrived in a different world. It’s really remote and you can see why this region is sinominous with the yeti. You pass the three beautiful and vast lakes on the way to Gokyo with the snowy mountains completing the backdrop reflecting into the turquoise waters. Here you’ll be able to charge your camera and if the wind is blowing in the right direction there’s the internet and a phone.
Day Nine (3-4 hrs)
This is another acclimatisation day, you can choose to stay in Gokyo or get up early (6am) and walk to the top of Gokyo Ri. It’s a steep ascent but once at the summit (5360m) you’ll have stunning views across the Himalaya including Everest itself. The views of Everest were the best on the whole trip.
Day 10 (4-5hrs)
Leaving Gokyo you go back down the valley and cross the Ngozumba Glacier. This traverse takes around hour, then once on the other side there’s a shot walk to Thangna where we rested for the night. It snowed overnight leaving a fresh 5 inches making the following day’s trek a lot harder.
Day 11 (8-10hrs)
The toughest day of the trip – it was a long walk, including Cho La, a 5368m pass, with a steep ascent and descent either side, which involved some scrambling.
Due to the length of the day we started early, around 5am, crossed a high mountain plateau to the foot of Cho La. It was then around a 90 minute ascent up. The day ended with around a one hour walk on the flat to Dzongla teahouse.
Day 12 (5hrs)
This is the last day you’ll be in the remote Himalayan wilderness. Today was easy after yesterday’s efforts, we followed the valley side and rejoined the Khumbu Valley and the main trail towards Everest Base Camp.
Day 13 (9 – 10hrs)
This is the summit day so to speak, and it’s another long, challenging day. Again it was an early start with a three hour walk up to Gorakshep, your destination for the night. After a quick cup of tea, it’s another 3 hours onto Everest Base Camp. Here we had lunch and soaked up the fact that I was at Everest Base Camp!
The Everest Base Camp we went to is marked by a sign and prayer flags and a selection of other trekkers. The expedition base camp, set up during the summit season, April–May and Oct-Nov, is further up the glacier. Due to it’s proximity to the mountain and the weather conditions you’re not likely to get your best shot of Sagamartha (Everest) from here, but was a great sense of achievement reaching it and a truly memorable highlight.
Day 14 (6-8hrs)
This morning was the last sizable ascent of the trip. You could stay in bed and rest, however for those with the energy go summit Kala Patar. It’s not a snowy peak, it’s a rocky outcrop, but it offers great views of Nuptse and Everest. We started at 5pm and following a sharp ascent for around 90 minutes reached the top for some unique views of Everest and the rising sun. Warning though, it’s cold and it gets colder as you near the top as you’re exposed to the winds. It can reach -20oc at the summit. As a result your time at the top is limited. It’s also the highest point on the trek (5500m). On return to Gorakshep you’ll enjoy breakfast and then start your descent.
On these days we followed the Everest trail all the way down to Lukla. These days were relatively easy as you were losing height and it’s warming up.
The main highlight of the descent was the afternoon at Tengboche. It offers a few attractions including a bakery and the famous monastery.
We left Lukla back to KTM for my first warm shower in sometime and a celebration meal Rum Doodle. It was a tough trip, not without incident, but the fact I had completed the harder route to EBC is something I’m proud of.
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