If last night felt like Christmas Eve this morning definitely felt like Christmas day. It was exciting to wake up to fresh snow covering the ground but we were all worried about what the weather. We had a long day ahead of us – about 9 hours of trekking. We departed Lobuche at 7AM sharp.
Every morning we take our pulse and oxygen reading – a typical reading at sea level is about 65 resting heart rate and a 98% oxygen saturation level. Up here we were reading at about 110 resting heart rate and a 90% oxygen saturation level – being at this altitude really stresses your heart and organs. The higher your resting heart rate is the less you have to give when you really need to push up a hill. All of that said, we were all feeling alright and were excited to finally make it to base camp.
It only took us an hour to reach Gorak Shep – the only village left before reaching Everest Base Camp. As we approached the village I got excited about this pile of ladders. You see – when you try to climb Everest from the Nepal side you have to cross huge crevasses in the glaciers on ladders tied together – and I’m pretty sure these are those ladders. We had a light lunch (really a second breakfast at 8AM).
I ordered the double vag omlate but not without giggling. We loaded up on tea and boiled water for our water bottles and hit the trail.
The weather was deteriorating and it was hard to breathe. But after hiking for about 2.5 hours we made it to what I thought was Base Camp. There were prayer flags and people there posing for photos with their shirts off.
But Buddhi told us we had farther to go.
And so we kept walking.
We walked along the side of the Khumbu Ice Falls. It’s hard to tell the scale in these photos but I imagine it would be a full day just to get across them. This is where those ladders above would come in place.
We made it! There were only a few tents set up – apparently, there was one American team attempting to summit while we were there. However, most people that attempt to summit Everest do so in April and May. So, we tried to muster up some enthusiasm and relish in the moment. I tried to come up with some life epiphany to share with you guys but in all honesty… it was kind of anti-climatic. We were tired, it was cold and starting to snow. I should also clarify (and I knew this going in) that you cannot actually see Mt. Everest from base camp. It’s obscured by a couple mountains in front of it.
We started to head back towards Gorak Shep and I was feeling guilty for not being more excited about base camp. And when we got to our tea lodge and sat down for hot cocoa the rest of our team admitted to feeling the same way. Yes, we were excited that we made it. But this trek has become something far beyond hiking to Everest Base Camp. The trek has become about each step and breath it took to get there.
And tomorrow, Day 14, we will be pushing even higher and harder than we did today. And the views will more than make up for the bad weather we experienced at base camp.