A trek to everest2
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A trek to everest2 Document Transcript

  • 1. A Diary of A Trek To Everest Base Camp By Jayant DoshiPart II . It is from Everest Base Camp that every expedition to climb Mount Everest begins. The mountaineers, porters, sherpas and guides, and yaks who bring the supplies, set up their camp here with all the supplies and communications. After settling down in the base camp, and acclimatising with the height, the mountaineers and some sherpas begin their climb on Mount Everest. A space has been cleared to allow helicopters to land and bring some of the supplies. As such, Everest base camp has obtained international fame and a site thatmust be visited, even though there is not really much to see. Even Mount Everest peak cannotbe seen from this point. But having been to Everest Base Camp has immediate recognition as agreat achievement. Every trekker who comes tothe Everest region aims to visit the base camp.Climbing Gokyo Ri and Kala Patthar might begreater achievements then visiting the EverestBase Camp – but to the outside world, a visitto the Everest Base Camp is a greatachievement which has immediate recognitionand acclaim. We had the satisfaction that we hadmade to the Everest Base Camp. Because itwas very cold, quite a few trekkers in GorakShep had given up the idea of coming here.But we had come, we did not consider givingup and we had completed second of our three targets. We could not see Mount Everest fromhere, and we were not on top of the Mount Everest either, but we felt as if we were on top ofthe world. It was cold, but the feeling of being here was wonderful. We had glaciers, and iceformations surrounding us. We could see snow covered peaks all around us. We could seesome mountaineers climbing one of the peaks At this point, I was reminded of the great Indian epic of Mahabharata. The Pandav brothers, having won the war against Kauravs, but disgusted by the killing of cousins, friends and relations to win that war, decide to hand over the kingdom to their children, and seek solace in heaven. They all proceed up the Himalayas to reach the gates of heaven. But every one has to account for their Karmas (deeds) during their lifetime, and Pandav brothers started to drop on their way to the gates of heaven. Yudhister, the upholder of truth who never lied, fell at the very gates of
  • 2. heaven because he lied once during the great Mahabharata war. While our trek may not have shown the path to heaven as described in that great epic, our trek in the Himalayas felt as if we were as near to heaven as one could possibly be. The atmosphere here is such that any human being would feel that proximity with spirituality and heaven, if one exists. Living in nature, as we did for the last few weeks, was akin to being close to the Supreme Being. All thoughts of lust, wealth and worldly vices have no place in the mind when one is here in the Himalayas. We sat there on the rocks admiring the beauty of the place. We ate somesnacks and took some photos. We left at 2.00. The walk back was as interesting andchallenging. Walking over the rocks needs alot of concentration and good balancingtechniques. After walking for so long, it is tobe expected that the concentration wouldstart to falter. I lost balance a few times butgot hold of myself in time. We reached theteahouse at about 5.00. We had been on ourfeet for almost twelve hours. Ganesh told usthat we would have even longer day ofwalking the next day also. I felt tired, but mylegs were not aching, and feet did not feelsquashed. Having woken up early, andhaving walked for this long time, sometiredness was to be expected, but it was notsevere, and if I had been asked to walk a fewmore hours then my legs would not have refused. We had not had any lunch. I had poor sleep the night before, and then I had woken upearly. I was feeling sleepy and uneasy. By the time our dinner came, I almost did not feel likeeating. The desire to sleep had literally robbed my appetite. We had to wake up early next daytoo, and we crashed into our beds at the earliest opportunity.14th Day – Monday : We were awake by 5.00. I had good sleep and felt fresh, though still littleuneasy. It was very cold. We had to leave as soon as possible to climb Kala Patthar (18750 ft).We put on our clothes and rushed to the dining hall. As we were coming back, we did not haveto pack our bags or sleeping bags. In the dining hall, some one had ordered hot lemon tea the previous night, and left the mug without drinking any tea. When we went for our tea at 5.30 the tea in the mug had become solid ice. This gave a good indication of the cold we were to face outside. After our experience the day before, we wrapped our water bottle tube with scarf to stop it from freezing. But as soon as we took a sip of water, the tube was blocked by the formation of ice. A river passing nearby was solid ice - a stone thrown on the bed of the river would bounce back showing how hard the surface was. We left at 6.00. At first, the walk was gradual
  • 3. slope. However, my thighs seemed stiff, and itfelt as if they were resisting and stopping mefrom walking. I knew it was going to be difficult,but I kept pushing myself. I set targets to stop,and forced myself not to stop before that. After awhile the stiffness disappeared, and walkingeased. But then the steepness of the slope madewalking harder. Kala Patthar (or literally Black Rock)seemed less steep then Gokyo Ri. Kala Patthar ishigher than Gokyo Ri, but here we were startingat a higher altitude. At Gokyo Ri we had to climbalmost 600 metres while here we were to climbjust under 500 metres. The dawn was still to set, and I got a chance to capture somewonderful pictures showing the sun rays just peeping out from behind the snow coveredpeaks. Then I had a view of golden rays from the sun lighting only the top of the peak, whilerest of the mountain was in shade. It was cold but refreshing; the scenery around us wasbreathtaking. The plain slope and scattered rocks, came to an end, and we were faced with a steeppeak totally covered with black rocks – and I guess that is what gave the name to the mountain. It was difficult walking over those rocks. I ultimately reached the top in just two and half hours. For many younger climbers, one and half hours was standard, but for some one like me this was a good achievement and I was proud of it. I struggled, I was puffing from breathlessness, I felt uneasy at times, but still I made it and that was the important fact. The sun and the walking had generated heat in my body. My hands were covered with thick skiing gloves so they should be well protected from the cold. However, when I reached the top, and sat on a big rock, and when I removed the gloves, my hands had gone numb with the cold.All my fingers and thumbs were bent and the skin had gone hard. I could not feel my hands. Iwas keen to remove the camera from the strap and take some pictures. While undoing a plasticbuckle, harmless at any time, I cut my thumb and some blood came out. I took the camera inmy hand but I could not use my fingers. I had to spend a few minutes to warm up my hand. Ihad never experienced so much cold in my life. After a while, Dhiru and Ganesh came to the top of Kala Patthar. Dhiru was incelebratory mood, and over the moon forcompleting all the targets on our trek. Thiswas the most difficult walk so far, but we bothmade it and that is what mattered most. Wewalked all these days in very cold conditions,but we did not suffer from any sickness,injury or tiredness. We felt proud andrightfully too. Without any trekking experiencebehind us, we had attempted and succeededin completing one of the most difficult treks ofNepal. From the top of Kala Patthar we couldsee lots of trekkers struggling to walk up, andsaw quite a few quitting and turning back. We
  • 4. felt proud that we did not consider quitting and turning back at any point. We had a wonderful sighting of the famous Himalayan peaks, including Mount Everest, Amadabalam, Lhotse and Nuptse. It was clear blue sky, and the sun was shining on us all. We both took pictures of the wonderful views all around us. We had a long day ahead as we were reminded again and again by Ganesh. We started our descent. We still had to be careful walking down. But we did not have to stop for breathlessness. I reached the teahouse in one and half hours. We packed our bags, and sleeping bags. We had some porridge forbreakfast, and started our trek at 11.30. Ganesh warned us that we had at least six hours ofwalk ahead, and that we must walk faster if we are not to be delayed. We had completed the difficult part of the trek. Now we were descending to go back toLukla. But it was not downhill all the way,and we faced some difficult climbs, andslopes. Also some downhill slopes wereslippery and difficult, and we had to useboth the walking sticks to keep control. Thebeginning part of our walk was difficult. Wehad to walk over rocky path, and at timeshad to manoeuvre round some tricky rocks.Dusty paths with small rocks posed athreat, as shoes tend to slip on those tinystones. We were soon on the flat valleywhich made walking much easier. This wasour second day of walking for long hours.Both days we had woken up very early, andtoday we had climbed a difficult mountain.Our legs did not hurt; our feet were not tired of the shoes; but there was some resistance fromthe legs when walking. Dhiru and I are reasonably quite fit for our age, but we had never done such a longtrek in the past. The maximum that I had done was trekking around Mount Kailas, which wasfor three days and I did not have to carry anything. I was worried that such long walking mightcause blisters in the feet, or the aged legs and thighs would ache, and that tiredness willdemand more rest. But none of this happened. We felt tiredness but nothing serious to needlong rest. After a long days walk, sitting down was enough to refresh us. At no time did we feel that we had to rest. I never felt aches and pains. I never had to take pain killer tablets or rub balm on my calf muscles. However, I was certain that my knee would give me problem. Last year I climbed Girnar in Gujarat, and coming down those steps gave me acute knee pain. I had prepared myself with some good knee supports; but I never needed to use them. Perhaps our fitness, and the mountain atmosphere gave us that extra strength. Perhaps breathing clean mountain air made us feel so fresh and fit all these days, in spite of all the walking we were doing. For all those days on the mountain, I felt wonderful. There were no headaches, or feeling
  • 5. of tiredness, or yawning. I felt energetic andfresh all the time. Perhaps this had to do withthe fresh and clean mountain air, air which wasnot polluted or spoilt by our chemicals andpollution. This feeling stayed with me a fewweeks after the completion of the trek, but thenthe modern life and pollution caught up withme. The morning climb of Kala Pattharshowed up in our walking, and we had to take abreak after two hours. Later we stopped inLabouche for lunch. It was 3.15 by the time wewere ready to start our trek. Ganesh warned usthat we were running late, and that we should speed up. Ganesh was right. By 5.30 sun had set, and it was getting dark. We had difficulty in seeing the paths and we had to be extra careful in walking. I had put my head torch in the big bag thinking that it will not be needed. Dhiru was not sure where he had kept his torch. Ganesh had his torch but that was not enough for us to see the path in the dark. The porters normally walked fast and reached the destination much before us, and ensured that a room was available for us. Rajen, the younger porter, had formed the habit of walking towards us to meet us, and he would normally help Dhiru with his rucksack. Today, to our sighs of relief, Rajen appeared when it was getting pitch dark and walking was getting difficult. We were walking on a narrow path witha valley on one side, with some thick growth on the other side. But Rajen came and he had atorch. He took Dhiru’s and my rucksacks and made our walking easier. It was dark now; eventhe full moon day had passed a few days back. We had to be extra vigilant to ensure that wedid not stumble against a hidden rock, or put our foot in a hole, or twisted our ankle in theprocess. Normally, the afternoons were cold and windy; but today, luckily, it had been a clearday with no winds. The sky was clear, and there were thousands of stars in the sky. It wasafter 7.00 that we reached our teahouse in Dingbouche (14700 ft). We had been walking forthirteen hours, with two short breaks, and the lasttwo hours was in darkness at slow speed. Our walkhad included climbing a steep mountain, whichwould have tested our legs to the maximum. Thelast hour of the trek in the dark would count as themost dangerous, but also the most adventurousand memorable of our entire trek. Dhiru wasshaken too, because the next day he insisted thatwe should never take a chance on timing, and wedo not want to walk in the dark again. It was a day that we will remember for along time – perhaps every time we think of thistrekking trip, this day will be uppermost in ourthoughts. It was the longest and most difficult day
  • 6. of trekking. We walked for thirteen hours, which included almost two hours of walking in the dark. We climbed Kala Patthar, difficult on its own, and on the same day we walked down to Dingbouche, a descent of almost a thousand metres, and after thirteen hours of walking we were still on our feet, which was an achievement to be proud of. 15th Day – Tuesday : We had the option to go and visit Chungkung Valley or to rest at Dingbouche teahouse or start our trek to the next stop. I was not tired. But I was keen on going down and spending an extra day in Namchi Bazaar, rather than walk one more day to see that valley. I felt that I had seen enough; I felt that I had walked enough; but more important I had that fear, or a sixth sense feeling, that so far I had been lucky in that I did not injure my knee or ankle, and that I will end up with such aninjury if I went today. The fear or the thoughtcame to mind at night and I decided that Iwould stay here and take it easy rather thenlet that imaginary fear come true. Dhiru wasvery keen on going. I did not try to change his mind.Ganesh and Dhiru left after breakfast. Idecided to relax. I went in the room andsorted out my bags. I repacked everythingproperly, and arranged things in a systematicway. The sky was blue, the sun was shiningand the tea house was surrounded by somewonderful snow covered peaks. It was still very cold, but the strong sunrays made it lovely andwarm. I brought my diary and sat in the sun, and wrote my diary. I ordered some lemon teaand took lots of pictures. I felt relaxed and relieved. But my thoughts were interrupted when I saw Dhiru and Ganesh climbing the steps.This was at 10.30, when I had hardly started writing my diary. Dhiru had injured his ankle inthe previous days – he did not say when it had happened. Today, while going for the trek, herealised that his ankle was troubling him. It was nothing serious, but walking down couldaggravate the pain. My fear, my sixth sense, seemed to have come true but in a different way.The choice was that we stay here for the day and let him rest his ankle. However, if the painstill subsisted the next day, and we had a long day ahead, then we might have a problem. So itwas decided that we start our trek this afternoon and stop at Pangbouche instead of Tengbouche as per the plan. This would give Dhiru an idea of how bad the pain was, or whether he could walk for that long or not. If the pain persisted, and if walking became difficult, then helicopter rescue service would have to be called for him Dhiru applied some homely medicines to his ankle, put on the support, and we left at 1.00 for our trek. Pangbouche was three hours walk, but as Dhiru was in pain, we had to walk slower then normal. We walked through territory we had passed before. But now we were
  • 7. more relaxed and had more time toappreciate and enjoy the nature aroundus. I felt the great satisfaction that we hadcompleted the trek without any mishaps. Itdawned on me that we were coming to theend of this wonderful trek. We hadcompleted fourteen days, and had fourdays to complete our trip. I had mixedfeelings and thoughts. In a way, I was gladand happy that it was all going to be over.After two weeks I will be able to contact myfamily whom I miss a lot. I was glad thatsoon I would be using all the conveniencesand comforts of modern life, which we didnot have for the last two weeks. I was glad it was almost over because I miss my routine life ofgolf, badminton and bridge, and some valuable time I spend with my lovely grand children. I will not miss the chilly winds that tore through my body, and I will not miss quicklywashing my face with a small bowl of slightly warm water. I will not miss the ice cold bedroomwhere I want to get immediately inside the sleeping bag, and not try to clean my teeth, or sortout my bags, or write or read. I will be glad that I will be away from those sleepless nights dreading to be woken up in the middle of the night to relieve my bladders outside in the dark and very cold night. I will be glad to get my daily shower, and use a proper toilet. But then a gloom pervaded in my heart. It had been a wonderful trekking holiday. The trek was a test of our stamina and our ability to walk for hours at a time, and for day after day for eighteen days, especially at our age, and we came through the test with flying colours. The satisfaction in that thought was immense. I knew that I will miss the pure mountain air, not polluted nor spoilt by human ingenuity or greed. I will miss the rockymountain slopes, the slopes covered with trees, snow covered peaks, the valleys, the glaciersand rivers, the waterfalls and the lakes. I will miss the musical sound of roaring waters of theriver. I will miss the clouds descending on to the earth, the lovely blue skies and the coldsunshine. I will miss the beautiful snow capped peaks gleaming in the sunrays, and thenwatch the clouds moving in and covering those peaks. I will miss the waterfalls and thestreams sliding along the face of the slopes. And I will miss the nice people of Nepal, and theirwelcoming Namaste with a smile. But time stops for no one; life has to goon. All good things come to an end. I have thewonderful memories of this trek to cling to. Atleast we know that we have done it and that wecan do it. We have acquired the courage to trysuch a trek again. I saw the beauty of themountains and the nature, and I know that thereis nothing to compare with that on this world. Ifcircumstances permit, then my aim will be tocome in this region again.16th Day – Wednesday : While we completed ourtargets, we still had two days of trekking to do. It
  • 8. still was not time to relax. We woke up at 6.00 and were out by 7.30. While temperatures were rising from the extreme cold of Kala Patthar, it was still quite cold. We reached Tengboche (12600 ft). Tengboche is the highest sherpa settlement in Nepal, and has a famous historical Buddhist monastery. Tengboche is a well-known settlement in the Solu-Khumbhu region for nature and culture. The views of the Himalayan range seen from here are among the best in the nature’s creation. The surrounding panorama consisting of magnificient peaks such as Thamserku,Everest, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse, Kwangde, Kantega, Tawachee and Khymbila contributeto make this settlement highly spectacular, a must destination for an adventurer. We visited the impressive, well maintained and decorated monastery. Prayers were inprogress inside. We sat for a while but wereunable to take any photos. We continued our walk to NamchiBazaar. We stopped for lunch at a restaurantalong the route. We reached Namchee Bazaarat 5.00, and after nine and half hours ofwalking, this became another long day forus. After sixteen days of walking, andwithout a shower for most of those days, asoothing, relaxing massage was mostwelcome, followed by a hot shower refreshedus after all these days. We at last got the opportunity tocontact our families. But we both got a voicemail on the other side and had no option but to leave a message on the voice mail.17th Day – Thursday : We were supposed to wake up at leisure as there was no rush to reachour next stop. However, we had got the habit of waking up early, and having gone to bed early,it was not possible to sleep till late hour. We got up, packed our bags, had our breakfast andthen we went into an internet café. We sent out emails to inform our successful completion ofthe great trek. We left at 12.20 for Phakding. It was a downward descent for quite some time, making our walking easy going. But I found that on dry soil, and small stones, it was easy to slip. Realising this, after a few slips, I became more cautious in my steps. However the main problem was the scores of yaks, laden with big loads, and hundreds of trekkers and their guides who were coming from the opposite direction. These were the people who were starting their trek while we were on the last stretch. Quite often the trek was narrow, and we had to stop to let people coming up, quite often in a row, to pass before we could descent. This
  • 9. delayed us a lot. It was amazing to seethe number of trekkers who were startingthe trek at this time Once more we had to walk in thedark for at least an hour. For once, Rajendid not come to our rescue, and we hadto struggle in the dark. We reached ourtea house, we had our dinner, and retiredfor the night.18th Day – Friday : This was the last dayof our trek, and the distance we had tocover was small compared to what wehad walked so far. We woke, and gotready very leisurely. We had ourbreakfast and left just before 9.00. Ourwalk to Lukla was uphill, but we were not in a hurry. We stopped often to admire the beauty,and to take lots of pictures. We chose a lovely spot in the sun for our lunch, and had aleisurely lunch break. We talked with some trekkers from Europe. We reached Lukla at 2.30,and we took a photo to mark the end of our trek. There was problem with the tea house we had booked, and we had to go and look for another suitable tea house. To our surprise, we met there the people from Poona whom we had met on the first day when we started the trek. We spent the afternoon and evening in the dining room, and had some celebratory drinks. We talked with the people from Poona and exchanged addresses. We all talked about the successful trek, our future plans and hopes for a revisit, and looking forwards to joining the world we had left behind. After dinner we went to bed, knowing that this was the last time we will be unpacking and sleeping in the sleeping bag.19th Day – Saturday : We woke up, and packed our sleeping bags for the last time. We gotready, and left for the Lukla airport, which was within walking distance. As before, the airportwas in chaos, but Ganesh managed everything for us. Planes were coming literally everyminute, and leaving at the same speed. Soon we were on our flight. It was time for us to leavethis wonderful land of the Everest, and leave the trekking behind. But as the hoardings said in bigletters, we heartily agreed with it: “Never sayGood bye to the Himalayas.” With a greatdesire and hope that we will visit theHimalayas again, hopefully in the near future,we embarked on to our plane and had ourfinal look at this beautiful land.This would have been the end of my diary ofthe great trek. But I have to mention thesurprise we got when we reached Kathmandu.Ajaya came to pick us up, and took us to his
  • 10. home in Bhaktipur, an adjoining but historical town. He wanted us to enjoy and experiencethe Nepali hospitality. He lived in a big house on a large plot of land. We met his father andmother, and his wife. His children were at boarding school. We spent next twenty-four hours attheir place and we experienced some wonderful Nepali food, and still more wonderful Nepalihospitality. We had lunch, dinner and breakfast at his home, and that was something moneycannot buy. I have been to many countries, but it is rare to get an opportunity to meet andtalk with the local people, live with them, and eat with them. It is rare opportunity to taste thehome cooking in a country we visit. Ajaya’s parents were also very hospitable, and we talkedwith them till late hour. His wife gave us all the hospitality one can think of. In the morning wehad some home grown fruits from the garden. After a successful and wonderful trekking trip,this was something we had not expected. This stay gave a wonderful finale to our whole trip,and made the trip so much more memorable. - End -