A Diary of               A Trek To Everest Base Camp                                  By Jayant Doshi                     ...
plane flies over the mountains to land on a smallstrip at Lukla airport after a thirty-minute flight.Within minutes passen...
board, which allows sound to travel with immunity.                                         Even a whisper could be heard i...
same. Rice and dal, or noodles, or pizza, or hash brown potatoes became our meals.3rd Day – Thursday – I woke up with a ba...
come back and then slide back into the sleeping                                               bag and keep the liner in it...
and some lying down or sleeping, while somejust sat there staring around them. There wasnot much that could be done in thi...
and view the splendour of Everest and otherpeaks was one of the three targets on our trek.         I had poor sleep, possi...
and missed those scenes. We did not regret                                                that. Everest, but for us this w...
10th Day – Thursday : It snowed during thenight, and there was a thin covering on theground in the morning. I had a good n...
riverbank. Rest of the day we spent in the dining                                                  hall.                  ...
was a long walk over a flat surface, and much                                                    easier to tackle. We pass...
morning with only a cup of lemon tea. At Gorak Shep we had our breakfast.                                             We l...
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A trek to everest1

  1. 1. A Diary of A Trek To Everest Base Camp By Jayant Doshi From 16th October 2004 till 8th November 2004. We landed at Kathmandu (4435 ft) airport at 9.00 p.m. on Saturday 16th October 2004, and Dhiru and I were received with garlands. It dawned on us that we were at last here to start our very first trekking expedition. After months of preparations, doubts and apprehension created by the political situation in Nepal, and the fear of being persuaded not to go, we had at last landed in Nepal. We faced eighteen days of trekking on the mountains and we felt ready for it, though unsure if we will be able to accomplish it. Ever since my first visit to the Himalayas in 1996, I had fallen in love with the beauty ofthe region. While I visited the Himalayas twice since then, I always had that desire to roam theregion on foot and absorb the beauty that nature had endowed on the region. When someonemade the suggestion to go on a trek to Nepal, Iseized the idea and was excited by theopportunity that had come my way. I askedDhiru who immediately showed keen interest.We met in April and discussed what we could do.We bought special trekking shoes in June. It isimportant that shoes are really comfortable andstrong, and it is essential that the shoes areworn in for some time for the feet to get used tothem. The thought of rebel activity in Nepal wasuppermost in our minds, and our resolve wasshaken by the advice given by the government.But I pursued the idea and started our planning.I was fortunate to make contact with Minal and Ketan who had been to Nepal five times. Theygave us great encouragement, and detailed advice on what to take, what to buy and where tobuy. Without their support our trekking trip perhaps might have floundered. The person whoinitiated the idea pulled out, but Dhiru and I were firm on our resolve. On Sunday morning Ajaya, the trek organiser, briefed us as to the itinerary and theother requirements during the trek. We were taken around Kathmandu on a sightseeing trip. Next morning we met Ganesh, our guide, who went through all our equipment to ensure that we were well prepared. In the afternoon we bought medicines and other items required for the trek. We were all prepared and ready for the trek, and excited. 1st Day, Tuesday – We woke up early and got ready. We were taken to the airport for our flight to Lukla (9350 ft). It was chaotic at the airport but Ganesh sorted out our boarding process. Fortunately the flight was on time. Sixteen seat
  2. 2. plane flies over the mountains to land on a smallstrip at Lukla airport after a thirty-minute flight.Within minutes passengers disembark, baggage isdownloaded, and then new passengers embark andthe plane leaves within two to three minutes. Beingpeak time for tourists, a few planes were landingevery few minutes and bringing hundreds oftrekkers. We walk down some very steep stepsfrom the airstrip, and we start our trek. We carrieda rucksack with water, windcheater, some snacksand other essential items; the duffle bags werecarried by the porters. The porters normally walkfast and reach the destination long before us and ensure that rooms are booked for us. Portersare male as well as female, and many as young as eighteen or even less, and carry fromanywhere like 30 kg to 80 kg. It dawned on me that after this airport, there are no vehicles of any sort. Those born inthis region would never have seen a wheel. Everybody seemed very fit – I guess they cannotafford not to be. Only means of transporting any goods was either a yak or human beings. Fromthis point onward, we had to forget our world, totally cut off from what was happening in the world, and away from all the modern amenities we are so used to. But from now on, we are in a land unpolluted or unspoilt by human greed; we are out in the open, breathing crisp, fresh mountain air, and viewing the world of nature created by the almighty. All our lives we were used to seeing man made monuments and cities, and the artificial world created for our pleasure; but for the next eighteen days we were going to see the world created by god. We crossed lots of swing bridges on the first two days. Some of the swing bridges were very long and they swung with every step.We passed a village built by Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person ever to climb Mount Everest. Ithas the only High School of the region. We also passed Dudh Koshi river, which literally means“milk river”, and the water in fact looks milky white. The path was reasonably well maintained,and we did five and a half hours of steady walking on the day, and reached our very firstteahouse (or a lodge) at 5.30 in the evening at Phakding (8800 ft). The teahouses look nice from the outside, constructed with stones and yak dung andmud. But inside the walls, ceilings and floors are just plain ply boards. We were told that as wewent higher up, the standard of teahouses gets worse. Only the dining hall is well decorated withphotos and paintings, and office table type tablesand benches for sitting, and the floor covered withcarpet in places. One can see lot of Tibetaninfluence in the décor. It is the only room in the teahouse where a wood fire is allowed from 4.00onwards. It was nice to see the country observingthe strict laws for preserving the trees. As the roomis cold and lighting is poor, all trekkers, guides andporters sit in the dining hall. Talking with othertrekkers, and reading or playing games was thenormal pastime. Dinner would be quite early, andwill be finished well before eight at night. Besidesthe dining room, the bedrooms are very basic. Thewalls, floors, door and ceiling are made of ply
  3. 3. board, which allows sound to travel with immunity. Even a whisper could be heard in the other rooms. The bedroom hardly seven by seven feet, has two beds each two feet wide with little space left for bags and other equipment. There are no hooks to hang clothes or any other such amenity. Electric light was a rarity, and where it existed, it was so dim that its only use was to pack and unpack bags, but not good enough for reading. We met three people from Poona on the very first day. Coincidentally, we kept meeting them on the trek and also at the end when we had finished the trek.The lady, past sixty, in the group had climbed quite a few mountains and was a keen trekker.While hardly any Indians come for trekking, I was told that Poona has some active trekkinggroups. As guides and porters sleep there, we had to go to our room by then, and as it was quitecold we got used to going to sleep early. The rooms were very cold, and the outside temperaturewas also near the freezing point. We were provided with sleeping bags, and we had brought innerlining for them. Once we got into the sleeping bags it kept us so warm that we did not feel theoutside cold at all. In most tea houses Ganesh would arrange for a blanket, which provided extrawarmth.2nd Day – Wednesday - We woke up at 6.00a.m. The toilet was inside, but there was nowater facility or a sink. On request we weregiven a small bowl of luke-warm water to washour faces and brush our teeth. We soon realisedthat shaving would be a problem and timeconsuming. We both decided to grow ourbeards. After two mugs of hot lemon tea andporridge and toast, we started our trek at eight.We were told that this was going to be a longday of trekking, and advised to take few stopsand walk faster. After lunch we had some steepand tiring climbing to do. I kept getting out of breath and had to keep stopping every now andthen. We reached Namchi Bazaar(11490 ft), a small town on the slopes of the mountains. Thisis the last trading post where we could buy our requirements. After this, the world as we knowdisappears. There is no electricity or telephone after this point. There is huge Tibetan openmarket where the Tibetans come to sell their wares. We had problem finding a room and had towalk right to the top of the town to find a room. By this time Dhiru and I had caught a bad cold and cough, and we suffered from theseailments till the end of the trek. In the dining hall we met a 71 year-old American who was trekking on his own without a guide and carrying his own luggage, and he walked much faster then we did. We were slowly getting used to our routine, and settling down in our meals. We were expected to drink lot of liquids, and we found lemon tea provided a good way of getting that liquid into our bodies. We drank as much as six to seven mugs of lemon tea daily, and we had bowls of soup at lunch and dinnertime. All the teahouses were tuned and trained to cater for European palate, and we slowly got used to the
  4. 4. same. Rice and dal, or noodles, or pizza, or hash brown potatoes became our meals.3rd Day – Thursday – I woke up with a bad cold, and a niggling pain in the forehead and feltterrible for a while. We were staying at NamchiBazaar for a day to acclimatize ourselves beforegoing higher up the mountains. We had achoice of doing trekking to a nearby spot or takeit easy for the day. As we had just started thetrek and had 16 more days to walk we decidedto spend the day in the lovely town, rather thengo for the trek and exhaust ourselves beforestarting the main trek. We visited the museumand the Tibetan market, and had wonderfulmassage followed by a shower where Dhiru wasunfortunate to freeze in cold water. This wasour last opportunity to call our families and usethe internet and we took advantage of the same. We could see the majestic Mount Everest andother peaks from this town.4th Day – Friday – Today also we left the teahouse early to start our day of trekking. We wereleaving behind all the modern amenities and would be cut off from the world for the next 15 days or so. We stopped at Everest View Hotel, which have wonderful views of Everest and other peaks from its balcony. It is claimed to be the only hotel at a height of over 4000 metres (13500 ft) and is built by some Japanese entrepreneur. Tourists are brought by helicopter for a stay at this hotel, or the only alternative is by walking from Lukla. The hotel is for the super rich who want to enjoy the nature without taking the effort to actually do the trek. We reached Khumjung (12270 ft) by 11.00 a.m. The teahouse was very basic. The toilet was outside, built of corrugated sheets,with a ply board floor with a hole. It was very sunny with clear blue skies, but by noon it gotcloudy and very cold. My cold and nagging headache were bothering me since the day before. Iseemed to have no desire to eat and felt funny in the head. After lunch we walked to Khunde, amilitary hospital for the benefit of trekkers and local people. There is also a helicopter rescueservice, and we could see the helicopter almost everyday. The major problem anyone faces on such a trek is altitude sickness. The body takestime to adjust to higher altitude, but time is limited and sometimes one is tempted to keepmoving. On the way back I decided to start on the altitude sickness medicine rather thenjeopardise the rest of the trek. I felt good since thenand did not regret the decision, though I will neverknow if I would have suffered from altitude sickness. Islept in the afternoon and felt much better after that. We went to sleep before 9.00 p.m. hopingthat we do not have to wake up at night to visit theoutside toilet. To put the inner lining and then toslide into the sleeping bag was difficult as it is; thento wake up in the dark, search for the torch, and thencome out of the sleeping bag, put on warm clothesand walk in the dark to the outside in the freezingcold was a frightening thought; and to top it all, to
  5. 5. come back and then slide back into the sleeping bag and keep the liner in its place was something that has to be experienced to understand the difficulties involved. 5th Day – Saturday – I woke at 6.00 and went to the toilet outside the tea house. There was ice on the grass, and the temperatures possibly below zero. I was well wrapped but it was still very cold. There were some Tibetans sleeping out there in tents. I got a bowl of warm water, brushed and washed my face and rushed back inside; that isall I was willing to do in that cold weather. We stopped at a small village for lemon tea. I hadacquired a taste for lemon tea in the last few days. We walked for an hour or so, and thenstopped for lunch. We reached Dole (13620 ft) for our nightstop. Dole is a small village on the bank of a riverwith a few lodges. There is no electricity or phoneservice, and rooms were very basic. While themornings are sunny with clear skies, by noon orearly afternoon, the clouds cover the skies, thecold wind starts blowing and temperatures dropdrastically. We reached Dole by 3.30 but anythought of going for a stroll disappeared when wefelt the cold winds. Outside toilet was gettingnormal now, and a fear of coming out at middle ofthe night to the toilet was frightening. There weretwo solar powered lights in the dining hall. Thelights were so dim that those lights would not allow one to read anything. We spent our timetalking and playing cards. We had to leave dining hall by 8.00 and there was nothing to do in acold dark bed room then to go to bed early. We had sound sleep on this night.6th Day – Sunday : We woke up at 7.00 and were ready to start our trek by 8.00. There weremany tents in the grounds indicating a large camping group was present. We had a very steepclimb for two and half hours, followed by downward easy walking. We reached Machhermo(14885 ft) just after mid-day. The tea house was surrounded by mountains and rivers and thescenery was breathtaking. The teahouse we stayed in was large and quite modern looking. Whilethe bedroom was similar to what we had so far, it at least had carpet and hooks to hang ourclothes. The toilet was inside and near our room. Overall, the accommodation was much better then what we had the previous two nights. The restaurant was quite busy and the selection on the menu was quite impressive. There had been heavy snowfall in the area and the temperatures were below freezing. We had a free afternoon but we did not want to sleep as this would affect our night sleep. After lunch we decided to go for a stroll and enjoy the beauty of the mountains. But it was so cold outside that we decided to come back and sit in the dining hall, which also was cold but better then the bedroom. The wood fire starts only after four. All the trekkers staying in the lodge were in the dining hall – some reading, some playing chess or cards, some talking
  6. 6. and some lying down or sleeping, while somejust sat there staring around them. There wasnot much that could be done in this weather.We spent the afternoon and the evening in thedining hall till 8.30 at night. I did not sleep toowell during the night.7th Day – Monday : We woke up at 7.00. In thislodge we had the luxury of running hot waterfrom a barrel, and soap was also provided. Westarted our trek at about 8.15. The earlytrekking was some steep climbing followed byeasier gradient and then flat land. It was verycold and windy, and the sky was covered ingloomy grey clouds; but this was counter-balanced by some spectacular scenery on the way. Wewatched some lovely snow clad mountain peaks, rivers flowing in the valley, and generally veryserene and lovely atmosphere. Later, the sun came out, the clouds dispersed, and it becamepleasantly warm though still freezing. Our destination today was the Gokyo valley. It has the largest glacier in the world.Gokyo (15970 ft) has six large lakes and several small lakes. Set amidst towering mountain giants and jewelled with sparkling azure lakes, Gokyo village remains one of the last unspoilt destinations in the Everest region. A sparsely populated valley, it was until recently occupied by yak herders during the warmer summer months. As Gokyo has been developed recently, the teahouses seem modern compared to what we had experienced so far. Gokyo village, if it can be so called, is a plot of land no more then three acres surrounded by two hundred feet high mountain on one side and a lake on the other side. On the other side, on the upper level of wall like mountain is the Gokyo glacier with numerous small lakes, many of them totally frozen. Ourteahouse boasted of satellite telephone, hot shower, and solar powered battery rechargingservice. However, the battery charging did not seem to work and the satellite phones were notable to get the signal. In the bedroom the walls were covered with wallpapers, there was a mirrorin the room and hooks for hanging clothes. The toilet was western style with provision for waterto wash hands with a mirror nearby for those who wished to shave. This teahouse was far betterthen all the teahouses we had stayed in so far – seemed like five star accommodation. Quality offood was also much better. But the teahouse had many trekkers staying, and the dining hall wasover crowded.8th Day – Tuesday : Gokyo Ri (18280 ft) was rightacross from where we were staying. Gokyo Ri givesspectacular views of four Himalayan peaks. Fromthe teahouse it seemed like an easy mountain toclimb. But we were going to climb at least 2300 feetfrom where we were staying, and that is no easyclimb. As mornings are always clear and sunny andget cloudy later in the day, Ganesh suggested thatwe start at 5.00 in the morning to get a clear view ofthe Everest and other peaks. Climbing Gokyo Ri,
  7. 7. and view the splendour of Everest and otherpeaks was one of the three targets on our trek. I had poor sleep, possibly inanticipation of being woken up early in themorning. Many trekkers had left well before wewoke up, and we met many coming back whenwe started our climb. We left at 5.15 in thedark, in extremely cold weather. My guess isthat it was minus ten C at least at that time.With very thick and warm gloves, my handswere still numb with cold, and I could notopen a simple plastic buckle with my hands.We crossed a river where rocks had been laidto make the crossing easy. But one had to becareful tackling those rocks. A slip could meanice-cold water getting into the shoes and perhaps wetting the clothes. A lady walking behind medid slip but luckily got away with wet hands. We were well covered in warm clothes, with woollencap and gloves, and a head torch to guide us in the dark. The icicles on the ground and on the rocks glistened like crystals. Grass blades werecovered with snow, and it appeared as if white grass was growing naturally. It was very cold, butluckily it was not windy. We started our walk up the Gokyo Ri. The zigzagging tracks helped toease the steep gradient and made the steep slope easier to walk. The dawn rose behind the peaks, and gave a wonderful aura to the atmosphere. The peaks one by one glowed with the first rays of the morning sun. The sun came out from behind the peaks, and gradually threw its golden rays on the snow peaks, lighting each peak in turn. The scenery was breathtaking. Words fail to describe it all. The camera can capture the scenery, but cannot catch the beauty of the time. We were awe- stricken by the wonder of nature. The golden rays lighting the peaks of the snow-covered mountains were seized on the camera, but the beauty of the moment could only be appreciated in person. In spite of all the hardships, I knew that the trip wasworth it just for viewing this beauty. As we reached the point, which we could see from the teahouse, we saw a rockymountain in front of us, which was the real GokyoRi. But we knew that we could do it; we knew thatwe had to do this. For us this was a greatachievement; we have conquered Gokyo Ri – nowhere we come Kala Patthar. Ganesh told us that he could climb GokyoRi in one hour, and many trekkers did climb in lessthan two hours. We took three and half-hours.Ultimately, age overwhelmed our fitness andenthusiasm. Our legs were strong, but our lungswere aged. We were slow but we made it. Thealtitude and aged lungs were not in our favour butwe did not stop and turn back; our legs did not giveup. We did not have aching knees or tired legs. Wehad started early hoping that while the skies were clear we would get a good view of the Everestand other snow covered peaks. However, by the time we reached the top it had become cloudy
  8. 8. and missed those scenes. We did not regret that. Everest, but for us this was no less an achievement. After taking some photos, we started our descent. However, the tiredness hit us and the last walk seemed as if it was not going to end. By the time we finished, we were really tired and as soon as we reached the teahouse, we collapsed in our beds. We did ask Ganesh why we are spending another night in Gokyo when our climb of Gokyo Ri would be finished by mid-day. Now we realised why. We had no energy left to walk any more. We had the afternoon free. Theteahouse had shower facility. We were sceptical about these showers, but when we heard praisefrom another guest, we decided to try the shower. It was our first shower after a week. Theshower room was like a dilapidated shanty town shack. The shower cabin was outside theteahouse, built of wooden frame with glass, some of which were broken, and plastic sheet roof.The shower room was filthy, and broken glass windows and the door had gaps to blow cold airfrom outside. There were some nails to hangour clothes, but not enough space to changeour clothes. We opted for a bucket bath as theshower was also connected to a bucket but onewould not know when the water would befinished. We had our shower, but we were nobetter then before we had the shower. We wereshivering before starting the shower; and wewere shivering even more after the shower.Dhiru was unlucky. While he got a bucket fullof very hot water, the cold water finished soonafter he started his shower, and he could notbathe in the hot water.9TH Day – Wednesday : We went to bed early asusual the previous night. It snowed at night and left an inch of snow on the ground. Themorning was chilly, but sunny and clear We were going to Dola all the way down from 15970 feetto 13615 feet. But most important peril is the effect on the knees. Walking down the slope putsmore strain on the knees – especially when the knees are aged. It is important not to take too biga step. Dhiru had a narrow escape today. There were four yaks, with heavy loads, coming fromthe opposition direction. One yak went wild and the two attendants tried to control the yak. The other three, in the meantime, went down the slope on the side of the path. Ganesh asked us to pass the unruly yak. Dhiru was about to walk past when the yak set itself free and moved towards Dhiru. It all happened in a few seconds. Dhiru panicked and moved backwards onto a slope with some wild growth. He could have easily tripped and fallen down, or slipped down the hilly slope, and that could have caused some injuries. Luckily, he controlled himself and maintained his balance. The yak ran down the slope, and we took a sigh of relief.
  9. 9. 10th Day – Thursday : It snowed during thenight, and there was a thin covering on theground in the morning. I had a good night’ssleep. We woke by 6.30 and were ready and onour way by 8.00. The initial walk was up themountain and then along the mountain ridge.The path along the ridge was narrow, coveredwith snow and quite slippery. As snow startedmelting, it became muddy and even moreslippery. I slipped a few times, and one time itwas serious but luckily nothing happened. Islipped, got to the ground but got control ofmyself in time and avoided any damage. The walk was through mountains, andvalleys covered with pine trees. There was uttersilence all around. The sheer silence in themountains was broken by the thunder of the falls, and the roar of the gushing waters of theriver, but that was all music to the ears. Scenery was stunning, and I could not but keepclicking my camera. We took our lunch at Porsche. The walk after lunch was a mixture of goingup and coming down. As usual, it became cloudy and cool. We reached Pangboche (13100 ft) at 4.45. It was a long day for trekking, but a very enjoyable day with some stunning scenery on the way. Pangbouche is the highest Sherpa settlement in Nepal. While many might consider our completing our very first trek, and that also as difficult as this one, as a great achievement at our age, when we met other trekkers and heard of their achievement, we felt as if what we will be doing would be insignificant. We met a 71 year old American who trekked without a porter or a guide and walked much faster then us. We a met a 72 year old Japanese woman who was climbingthe New Peak which is over 20000 feet, much more then Gokyo Ri which we climbed. We met a75 year old American who climbed Everest at 55, and is on record as the oldest person to havedone so, was here to do trekking to Everest base camp, with the hope of climbing Mount Everestnext year. Looking at his physique, I had my doubts if he will make it.11th Day – Friday : We woke up to a bright sunny morning with clear blue skies. The teahousehad some stunning lovely mountain peaks, and I took some photos of the same. After breakfast,we visited 600 year old monastery. We just misseda major festival that took place here a few daysback. We left for Pheriche (14135 ft) at 8.30. Itwas a gradual uphill walk, and we were hoping tobe there by lunchtime. We were walking on oneside of the mountain range, the valley in the middleand another mountain range across, with the riverflowing in the valley. Since we left Pangbouche,Mount Everest could be seen all along the way, andall the time it felt as if we were walking towards theEverest. By mid-day it became cloudy and cold.Pheriche consisted of a few teahouses along the
  10. 10. riverbank. Rest of the day we spent in the dining hall. We had got into a set routine after one or two days of starting our trek. As soon as we reached a teahouse, no matter what the time was, we would prepare our bed by putting the bed sheet we had brought, open the sleeping bag and insert the inner liner. I would change my shoes, and put on the tracksuit bottom and a tea shirt, and I would sleep in the same. We would empty the water from the jugs into thewater bottle we carried in our rucksacks, and then take the jugs to the dining hall to get hotwater for the next day. While the big bags were open, we would prepare the rucksacks for thenext day. We will put all the items we might need for the next day, including snacks. We wouldkeep our head torches readily available for the night. When we come back after dinner, with thejugs of boiled water, we would put iodine drops in the water to purify it, and then add vitamin Ctablet to bring taste to the water. When we woke up, first thing we do would be to visit the toilet. Then we change into ourtrekking clothes, and the shoes, and then go outside to clean our teeth and wash our face with asmall bowl of warm water provided. We go to ourroom, pack the sleeping bags, and then pack ourlarge bags, ensuring that we do not leave anyitem in the room. We will take our rucksacksand walking sticks, and the camera, and go tothe dining hall for breakfast. The porter wouldcome and take our main bags. This became ourdaily routine. We had to ensure that we wereready in time as specified by Ganesh, and thisdid not allow much free time to take it easy.12th Day – Saturday : We woke up to a very clearsky and a sunny day – something we had gotused to by now, knowing that by midday itwould be cloudy and windy. We left the teahouse well before eight in the morning. We were goingup as much as 2350 feet so we were expecting some steep climbs and difficult walking. But theday’s walking was different and interesting. The first part of the walk was through a valley. Wehad to cross several streams while walking the almost flat valley between two mountain ranges.Rocks had been put in a haphazard way in the streams to help the trekkers to cross. But onehad to select the right rock and walk carefully. A stumble, a slip or a loss of balance could end ina taste of freezing water. It was so cold that we could see big lumps of icicles hanging from the growth around the streams; some of those icicles would weigh a few pounds at least. Temperatures must be below freezing all the time to keep those large lumps of ice hanging on those plants. We climbed a gentle slope, came to a teahouse and had a break for tea. But after tea we were faced with a mountain slope which was not very steep, neither gentle as such, but littered or literally covered with rocks of every shape and size. We had to manoeuvre our way through those thousands of rocks. At last we reached the top, and we gave a sigh of relief. After a short break we started walking again, but now it
  11. 11. was a long walk over a flat surface, and much easier to tackle. We passed a few rivers, and the rivers had ice floating on the water or had lumps of ice on the banks. The fact that the ice was not melting in the strong sun showed how cold the temperatures were. We reached Lobuche (16450 ft). Having reached at such a great height above the sea level, we could feel the extreme cold weather. We did not really find breathing that difficult, except when we were walking up a steep slope. Our stop for the night had a luxurious teahouse built recently with much better facilities, and were hoping to spend thenight in that teahouse by paying for the room. But the teahouse was full and we had to acceptan ordinary teahouse for the night. The teahouse we got was the worst so far in our trek. It wasfreezing outside, and in our room too. We had no choice, and had to spend the night in thatfreezing room. We spent the afternoon and the evening in the dining room as that was the onlyplace with little warmth. We spent our timetalking and playing cards. We met a nineteen-year old sherpa. Hefirst tried to climb Mount Everest at the age offourteen, and lost five fingers due to frostbite onthat attempt. In spite of that, and not deterredfrom that bad experience, he tried again at theage of sixteen, succeeded and became theyoungest person ever to have climbed thathighest mountain in the world. While he gotglory for his success, and place in history, thefinancial rewards are meagre. No wonder that hestill is a porter on the Nepal treks.13th Day – Sunday : We had a very long dayahead of us today. We were awake by 4.30 and left the teahouse by 5.30. It was very cold, andmy conservative estimate is that it was at least minus ten degrees C. When I put on myrucksack, I checked if water was flowing through the tube. It was fine. But we had hardly comeout of the teahouse when the water in the tube became ice and blocked the flow of the water.The camera battery, which was in working order the previous night, was gone. The smallbatteries in the head torch also were dead. The cold and altitude had this impact on thosebatteries. I was wearing thick skiing gloves, while Dhiru had two pairs of gloves on his hands,but still our hands were frozen from the cold. The stream on the way was solid ice, and the biglake had thick cover of ice on the surface. Our trek today was over ground covered with rocks of all shapes and sizes. It appeared as if a huge earthquake had taken place and blown a mountain to all these thousands of rocks. By now, we had got used to walking over these rocks, though we were very aware of the dangers of any mistake while walking over these rocks. At our age, it is very easy to injure the knees by taking much bigger step over some rocks, or trying to jump from one rock to the other. It took us three and a half hours to reach Gorak Shep (17280 ft). We had left in the
  12. 12. morning with only a cup of lemon tea. At Gorak Shep we had our breakfast. We left at 10.00 to walk to the Everest Base Camp (17860 ft). Ganesh and Tara carried our rucksacks. As we were coming back to Gorak Shep for the night there was no other luggage, and they kindly agreed to carry our rucksacks. The walk was on a flat surface to start with, but followed with going up and down the hills. We also had to do with some snacks as our lunch. We had woken up early and had walked a lot already. We kept walking with tiredness showing in our steps, and in our minds, and by 1.30 we reached the base camp area. We faced icy conditions and I once slipped, which could have been costly, but luckily Imanaged to keep my balance. To get a proper view of the base camp area, one still needed towalk a lot more, but we could get a good view of the base camp area. But having walked for overseven hours since morning, we decided that we had enough, and did not wish to go any further. (continued Part II )