In the valleys at 2,800 meters
Khumjung Travel Blog› entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
It all started in early 2003 when a trekker friend asked if I would be interested to join him and his group of students on a trek to Everest Base Camp during the school holidays in December. Although it would be rather cold to do this trek in December, I nevertheless agreed immediately as my sense of adventure took over and at the opportunity of doing this classic trek to the greatest mountains in the world. However, the unfortunate outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong and the region that year brought all schools’ overseas excursions to a halt and the trek was also abandoned.
After a lapse of nearly three years, this Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek was finally realized in March 2006. From the time it was decided in 2005 to do this trek in the following year, a considerable amount of effort went into preparation – getting physically fit for this high altitude adventure, getting gears and equipment ready, extensive reading on altitude sickness and the prevention of it, finding a suitable trekking agency and guide, determining our own trekking plan, etc, etc.
From all the reading on acute mountain sickness (AMS) and the prevention of it, we had decided to stick by these golden rules:
1) If you feel unwell at altitude, it is an altitude illness unless proven otherwise. Never ascend with symptoms of AMS!
2) At altitudes above 3,000m, the sleeping elevation should not increase more than 300m – 500m per night.
3) Every 1,000m height gain, a second night should be spent at the same elevation.
4) Drink a minimum of 3 liters of water per day at rest to help acclimatize better and to deal with altitude.
Hence, we concluded against taking any of the ready-made EBC trek package with standard itinerary and a very tight schedule of 16 days in total from arrival in Kathmandu to ascending to 5000m and descending and back to Kathmandu.
From a list of 15 selected trekking agencies that we had written to, the selection was quickly narrowed down to three agencies based on the quality and speed of their replies. As we had a list of specific questions, it was very clear from the replies which agencies, were in our opinion, the better ones. In the end, we decided to hire the guide and porter service from South Asia Treks (www.southasiatreks.com).
Our guide, Nga Temba Sherpa, was an accomplished climber with an impressive track record.
On the equipment side, we were so well prepared that we could actually start a shop selling clothing and food at the end of the trek!! Well, blamed it on our inexperience for the first high altitude Himalayan trekking! We were not sure if the food in the lodges would suit our taste and had brought along plenty of chocolates, dried meat and other high calories bars.
Our best investments were the goose down sleeping bags and trekking boots with insulation good for up to temperatures up to -40 Deg C. Although we were sleeping in lodges, the thin wooden walls provide little insulation for the coldness and the warmth from the sleeping bags was much appreciated. We had Micropur water purification tablets which we had used even though we got boiled water. We had even a water purification pump from Micropur just in case but that was never used … just go to show how prepared we were!
Lukla – 2,840m
Flying into Lukla was a very interesting experience.
Pakding – 2,610m
From Lukla, we trekked onwards to Pakding at 2,610m. The plan was to stay overnight in Pakding but due to some miscommunication with our two porters who went ahead with our baggage all the way to Jorsale, 2,740m, we had a last minute change of plan and stay overnight at another lodge in Benkar.
Jorsale – 2,740m
We continued onwards to Jorsale the next day. Passing Monjo, we officially entered the Sagarmatha National Park and spent a night at a new lodge belonging to our guide.
The trek in the valleys was easy as the weather during the day was warm and pleasant with plenty of sunshine and abundant oxygen. The scenery was fantastic too with plenty of vegetation including cherry blossoms and apricot trees, rushing rivers through the valleys and snow capped mountains high above.
We had a leisurely trek in the lower valleys to allow enough time for the body to acclimatize before trekking to Namche Bazaar at 3,450m. It was nice to take a slower pace instead of rushing through the trip to enjoy the scenery and to understand a bit more of the simple lives of the native Nepalese.