Everest Base Camp Trek: Part 3

Everest Base Camp. The name seems monumental. The entire trek has been aiming at this goal. Seven days of putting one foot in front of the other, breathing air that cannot even support plant life, and looking at the peak of Mount Everest in the distance. Six nights of sub-zero temperatures, dirty clothes, and no showers. Incredible landscapes, endearing locals, new friends and lasting memories.

Everest Base Camp itself is a small field of sharp rocks at the bottom of a landslide at the end of a glacier. There is no view of Everest. Just rocks, and ice. We knew this before we got there because we could see it from the top of Kala Pattar the day before. We even jokingly discussed not making the three hour trip to the camp. Jokingly.

The day started at 6:00am when we shivered out of bed and jumped into our warmest clothes. Everything I owned was dirty at this point, and I had not even taken my thermals off in two days. It was so cold out at night that I was forced to sleep in them if I wanted to stay warm in the miserable sleeping bag I had rented. I smelled like a cross between an old foot, and a football locker. Everyone smelled this way, so we didn’t really notice.

Udept, the guide the Germans had hired, was feeling very sick that morning, and opted not to go along with us to base camp. He was going to quickly depart to lower altitude, and told the Germans he would meet up with them back in Pereche, a small village about 1000 feet lower.

We packed some biscuits and chocolate to eat for breakfast at base camp, and left the relative warmth of the lodge.


This was the first time in my life that I have ever seen a glacier, and it was pretty cool. Most of it was covered in rocks and debris, but every so often there was a section of exposed ice that made little 30 foot blue -white cliffs in the otherwise brown surface. Walking on this glacier was an experience, and the sounds of ice on rock would echo throughout the canyon at intervals. This thing was moving, slowly enough that it was imperceptible, but it was moving. Pasang-Dawa was chanting during the beginning of the trip, and we were panting for the whole thing. Walk, break, rest. Finally Pasang-Dawa called us to a halt and said that we were there.


Huh? Really? We scouted out the area, and finally found a small pile of rock that had been tagged with prayer flags. This signified the actual Base Camp. As I had said, we were not expecting anything great, but not even knowing when we were there shocked us all. We set up the camera and grabbed some shots quickly to prove we had made it, them we started playing around with the landscape. We were on a relativity flat area full of sharp rocks and large boulders. There was just enough room to set up a few tents, but they would be right on top of the sharp rocks.

At Base Camp

We were more interested in the ice flows and frozen patches. We found a frozen patch at the bottom of a hill, and began rolling large boulders down onto it to try to break the ice. No luck, this stuff was thick! After playing around for a while, we decided to head back, since we were going to hike part of the way home and wanted to do it as early as possible.

USA! USA! USA! – That one is for you Kerley…

On the way back to the lodge, Pasang-Dawa and I decided that if we could, we would make it all the way to Deboche today, which is about half way back to the airport. We told the German’s our plan and they said go ahead. So we took off, Pasang-Dawa with my bag and me with his. We flew down the mountain. We paused only a few times, but I spent most of the rest of that day in a half run after him. Once he knew that he would be able to be back home the next day, he got the energy of the gods under his feet.

Bouldering around base camp

We slept in Deboche that night, after arriving sometime around 3:00pm. 3-4 is generally the latest you can trek because the fog rolls in and the weather turns miserable after this. The only food I had eaten all day was biscuts and chocolate, so I order a plate of fried ric with eggs right away. I was craving anything besides Dal Batt, the rice with lentils I had been eating for the past week. I was so tired and brain dead that I curled up in my fleece liner and tried to read, but ended up falling asleep for a while. When I woke up, dinner was over and people were getting ready for bed. I sat with a couple form New Zeland for a while next to the stove before calling it a night myself and returning to my sleeping bag.

I wanted to make it all the way back to the airport that day, so we woke up bright and early again (around 5:30am) and started walking. We had three hours to Namche, then six more to the airport in Luklah. Long day. We made it to Namche a little early, and we stopped here for an hour. Pasang-dawa had hurt his ankle, and needed to rest, and I needed to get some money so I could pay him and breakfast.

The town of Namche was at least twice as busy as it had been the week before when I stayed there. There were now large tour groups of up to 20 people sitting around, waiting for their guides to tell them what to do. Many groups had Yaks and teams of porters. I am so glad I did not book through a normal tour group. I talked to some of them, and they were paying around $1,500 USD to be treated like cattle and herded up the mountain. No thank you, I learned my lesson about booking tour groups in Halong Bay.

We spent the rest of the day jumping down the mountain on our way to the airport. The whole time we had been walking, Pasang-Dawa kept going out of the way to go around these large carved rocks. Apparently you have to go around them clockwise or it is bad luck. Sometimes I would not even see the rocks coming, and Pasang would whistle to let me know I missed the path around them, so I would backtrack and climb up and around the rocks to make sure we had good luck. About halfway down the path both of our knees started hurting quite a bit from the rapid descent. We decided to start rotating the bag and I took some ibuprofen so that I could continue to walk.

The way back took us very near to Pasang’s house, and he really wanted me to see his place and meet his mother, so I went along behind him up the side of a mountain on a little back woods trail to his house. We passed through a school on the side of the hill where little girls were playing hopscotch and other games and the children ran out to see this foreigner who was coming through their town. His house was set in the middle of a field of green grass, with some potatoes growing behind and prayer flag poles flying in front. I finally realized how poor Pasang’s family was.

Pasang and mother
Pasang and his mother – Pasang in his best jacket for the photo.

His house was one room, with a little partition separating the area where he slept form the main room where his mother sleeps. She cooked me some food to eat and gave me some tea. I paid Pasang, and gave him my fake Marmut waterproof jacket and pants. He greatly appreciated it because he didn’t have anything that was waterproof. As we were leaving his mother gave me a silk scarf that was supposed to be good luck.

Pasang’s Mother

I ended up carrying the bag the last half hour uphill and realized that without Pasang-Dawa, I never would have made this trip. After half an hour of carrying the bag uphill I was red faced, sweating, and ready to die. Whew. We ran into a monk that Pasang knew and were told that Lakbah and Sue (The Australian who was bringing medicine in on the plane) were in one of the lodges getting ready to leave the next day as well. We went to this lodge and checked in. I had lost my towel, so I went out and bought a new one, and a washcloth, and took the best shower of my life. They had hot water and I stayed in for about 20 minutes scrubbing myself of a week of dirt and trekking sweat. I met a couple form England in my lodge, and they had met a few girls from Ireland, so we all went to the one pub in the town, which happened to be an Irish pub, and enjoyed a few Everest Beers. We had all just finished the trek to base camp and back, so the mood was festive and it was a great ending to the trip.

The next morning at the airport, Sue, Lakbah, and myself got ready to head out, as we were on the same flight. I checked in a bag for them (of potatoes) because they were over their carry limit, and ended up getting another scarf from one of the monks that was with them because I had helped them on the way in and on the way out.

I slept most of the flight back, which was good because we had to circle for an hour before we could land, but I had no idea and thought the flight was normal length. I finally would get to experience Kathmandu for the first time.