The Everest Base Camp Series: Step by Step, Ohh Baby!
At five weeks out, a lot of what’s left is reviewing logistics and tying up loose ends. We’re working with a local adventure group led by Nick Gordon, who coins himself “Nick of the Woods,” to coordinate logistics of our trek.
There’s a group of just fewer than 30 people heading out on this experience – most are local, but some are from other regions of the country.
Here’s a run down of what our day-to-day looks like:
Days 1, 2 + 3: Fly from General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee to JFK Airport in New York City. We’ll have a short layover before we board a China Southern Airlines flight through Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou, China and onto Kathmandu, Nepal. After arrival, a representative from our travel company will meet us at the airport and transport us to our hotel. Since we arrive at 10:40am in Kathmandu, we’ll likely explore the city before getting some rest.
Day 4 is dedicated entirely to exploring Kathmandu. We’ll head to Kathmandu Durbar (Palace) Square, home to many of the capital city’s historical and cultural monuments. Also on our list is Pashupatinath Temple, a sacred Hindu Temple of Lord Shiva. Day 4 closes with a seminar that walks us through upcoming trekking plans.
In store for Day 5 is a white-knuckle flight from Kathmandu to Lukla; in fact, the small Lukla airport tops the list on a Google search for “world’s most dangerous airport.” Why? Well, a Conde Nast Traveler article dedicated entirely to the subject refers to the flight as “mountain-dodging.” Its only runway is a, “heart-stoppingly tiny 1,729 feet” (JFK’s shortest runway is 8,400ft) - the world’s fourth shortest. “One end of the runway abuts a cliff with a 2,000-foot drop. The other end of the runway is a solid stone wall…” Because of the sharp Himalayan peaks, using a navigation aid isn't an option… Enough said before we cancel our trip!
We don’t have much time to catch our breath after the adrenaline rush. Instead, we’ll meander downhill for a relaxed 3-5 hour walk to either Phakding (8,694ft) or Monjo (9,350ft) (the flight is notoriously delayed, so our final destination on day five will depend how close we are to schedule). On this day, we’ll begin to follow a daily regimen of drinking at least 3 – 4 liters of water to ensure we stay well hydrated.
Day 6 is filled with famous suspension bridges and 6-7 hours of trekking uphill to Sagarmatha National Park, the Everest region’s official entrance. The mixed terrain here is slightly downhill or flat. The trail we’ll be taking follows a river to the final suspension bridge before we reach the Sherpa village of Namche Bazaar.
Acclimatization is key for a successful, safe journey when traveling to high altitudes. Mindful of our 1,509ft ascent to Namche Bazaar, Day 7 allows for that process to happen. It’s not without trekking, though, as we’ll be crossing a runway at Shangbouche Airport to enjoy stunning views of the region.
Day 8 is a 5-6 hour trek from Namche to Tengboche (12,795ft). The first 2 hours are relaxed, traversing high above the valley floor. The trail descends to the valley floor then gradually back up a long hill to the town of Tengboche. The small village is most known for its famous Buddhist monestary, Tengboche Monestary (pictured above).
On Day 9, we move from Tengboche to Dingbuche, a total elevation increase of 1,641ft; though, the trek is rather hilly. We’ll pause for a lunch break at Pangbouche, one of the villages most affected by the recent earthquakes, before passing through the Imja Valley with views of Island Peak.
Day 10: Another day of acclimatization. We’ll shoot to reach an elevation of 16,076ft, gaining 1,640ft, in this 3-hour trek packed with sweeping views of the Himalayas.
Day 11 is a 5-6 hour, 7.5mi trek from Dingboche to Lobuche. Momentary side-thought: we’re noticing that most locations end in ‘boche' or 'bouche' and it's caught our attention... What in the world does that mean? It’s commonly thought to translate roughly to ‘place.’
Anyhow, on our eleventh day, we pass through a beautiful (it’s hard to imagine that this deep in the Everest region isn’t beautiful!) elevated route through Dugla, the Thukla Pass and past the Everest Memorial until we reach our final destination for the day – Lobuche.
Day 12 is one of our most challenging days as we’ll slowly be crossing a lot of loose rock and Glacier moraine, trekking for 7-8 hours. We’ll pause in Gorak Shep for lunch before continuing on an additional 3 hours to reach the much anticipated Everest Base Camp (!!) – elevation 17,590ft.
Our trek back down to Lukla is just a few days, but our daily mileage increases tremendously. Day 13 brings an opportunity of a lifetime. A VERY early 3-hour, strenuous uphill hike rewards us with the chance to see the sun rise over Everest – an experience we’re very much looking forward to.
After that, we’ll return to Gorak Shep for breakfast and head to Pheriche. Day 13 offers a decrease of 2,602ft in elevation – and 2,602ft of MORE OXYGEN!
Day 14: 13.7 miles of descent to Namche Bazaar. Once we reach our resting point for the day, we’ll indulge in delights from Namche Bakery or play a few rounds of pool at Café Danfe.
Day 15 is our final day of trekking and ends where we began – Lukla. It’s a 13-mile hike and usually the hardest simply due to exhaustion. End of day plan? REST.
Day 16 gets us back to Kathmandu with a simple 35-minute flight.
Day 17 and we’re homeward-bound feeling physically exhausted, surely, and hopefully spiritually fulfilled!
Stay tuned right here for photos and daily journals whenever we have access to the interweb! We'll be traveling from the evening of September 12 and returning October 1.