Following our trek around the Annapurna circuit three more friends came to join our adventure for a two week holiday. We spent a few days in Chitwan National Park before heading out to do the Lang Tang trek. Our friends were not in Nepal for long so we chose this short trek so they could have a taste of mountain life. After the trek we spent a few days in Kathmandu to enjoy the festivities of Deepawali 2075. There were parties on every street and a real carnival atmosphere across the city. Then it was time to start the main event of our Nepal adventure...
Day 1 – Katmandhu – Phakding (2610m)
On the 8th of November our friends left and the three of us boys were to start our Everest trek. We chose to do the Everest Three Peak Pass as it is one of the most challenging treks in the area and also encompasses Everest Base Camp. We had to wake up super early in order to get a flight to Lukla at 06:30am.
Lukla is a small village 2610m high, where most people start their Everest treks. We were a little anxious before the flight after hearing many travellers stories of their flight being cancelled for days due to bad weather. Fortunately we had no such trouble and got straight onto our flight. We arrived in Lukla and met our guide for the trek. After a quick breakfast we had an easy three hour walk to our first sleeping point in a village called Phakding. Unlike on the Annapurna circuit it was too cold to sit outside unless you had all layers on. We quickly realised that this trek was going to be a completely different story.
Day 2 – Phakding – Namche (3440m)
Our first night was a cold one but once we had awoken we had a relatively easy three hour trek through villages that were surprisingly modern compared to some of the villages on our previous treks. We stopped for a permit check in Monjo, from there the trail got incredibly hard.
We trekked about four hours up the steep hillside through the forests, crossing our highest suspended bridge so far. On the other side of the bridge we continued yet further up into the town of Namche. As we entered the village the clouds descended and it felt like we had entered a new world. There was a large group of twenty or so griffon vultures all trying to get a piece of a cow carcass under a tree.
Namche was an odd place up in the clouds and boasted the highest Irish Pub in the world. We couldn’t say no to the highest pint possible, so had a beer and played some table football. We found pinned to the wall a Bournemouth FC shirt so signed our names before we left.
Day 3 – Namche – Lumde (4368m)
We woke up and saw what Namche looked like when not engulfed by clouds. Walking out of the village we had a nice trail through the conifer forest surrounded by snowy peaks. We soon made it past the tree line and had a relatively steep climb that took us beyond the clouds into a mystical land we named Mordor.
Walking through the clouds the soul of my shoe came off, luckily Sam had a spare shoe lace and I was able to bodge my shoe together. We finally bumped into our rest-house and found out that relaxing in our rooms was no longer an option. The only place to relax was in the communal dinning areas around the log fire. From here on in I don’t think we took our coats off unless we were sleeping. We had an early night to prepare for the pass the next day.
Day 4 – Renjo La Pass (5360m)
Waking up at 6am we grabbed our water bottles to find that our water for the day had frozen in the night. This trek was soon becoming more and more extreme. The walk was freezing cold and it took a while for our brains to kick into action. We then started the ascent which was 1000m up and was horrendous. I don’t think we had ever walked so slowly before.
Sam managed to sprain his ankle and could barely walk and Harvey was majorly struggling with the weight and altitude. We needed lots of breaks and lots of encouragement between the three of us. The ascent then got worse when we saw the final part was stairs. Sam had to struggle up with his bad ankle as Harvey and I started suffering from bad headaches from the altitude, it was the first time Id experienced altitude sickness.
We finally fought the pain and made it to the top of the pass. And boy was it worth it, we were treated to the most incredible view but the magic really came from the fact we got our first view of Everest. The view down the valley and of the surrounding mountain giants was utterly insane. It was hard to comprehend the fact that we were looking at the world’s tallest mountains. On the way down from the pass we went by Gokyo Lake which was an incredible emerald green colour.
Day 5 – Gokyo – Dragnag (4700)
Today we had an easy day so had a late breakfast (08:30), the sarcasm of these timings was not funny. After breakfast we left our place and was surrounded by beautiful sandgrouse running around all over the place.The trail took us across the Gokyo glacier for two hours. The terrain was otherworldly and like something from a Star Wars movie. However, it was sad to see that this glacier is but a shadow of its former self and is actually now more rubble than ice. After the glacier we had a thirty minute short walk along moorland like terrain before we got to our tea-house. Today was a short day as the next day would be time for pass number two.
Day 6 – Cho La Pass (5420m)
We woke up whilst it was still dark and also freezing cold. The water on the bathroom floor had turned into an ice rink and the toilet was frozen solid. The walk started as a fairly steep incline to wake your body up before an extremely annoying 300 m descent into a small valley. We looked up the other side of the valley at where we was heading and it looked completely impossible, a sheer wall of black rock.
We were insured that it was in fact possible however as we started the walk we soon realised how dodgy this walk was as you had to crawl up rocks at times and dodge falling stones. We finally dragged ourselves to the top and was rewarded with a stunning view.
On the way back down we had to cross over a glacier for 30 minutes, we strapped on our crampons and plodded over the ice as slow as possible. Many people didn’t have crampons and were slipping and sliding all over the place, we saw one girl completely eat ice as her face smashed against the solid floor.
Once across the ice we stopped at one of the most amazing view points of the trek so far, a scene of the most incredible peaks. Coming down from the view point was a slow affair and it was another Mordor environment, with some very pretty landscapes to enjoy.
Day 7 – Dzongla – Gorakshep (5140m)
The next day started with a slow uphill past an amazing ice lake. From there it was relatively flat for two hours but with high elevation it was exhausting. After lunch we had to climb over rubbly hills for two hours until we reached Gorakshep the town was incredible, surrounded by huge beautiful mountains and Everest in the background. We checked into our room and then climbed a view point which was a hard walk for the end of the day.
The view point was definitely worth it as the view from the top was amazing. The sun started setting on the peak of Everest and its surrounding mountain peaks. As the sun went down the colours of the mountain got more and more beautiful. As the sun disappeared completely the whole landscape turned into an Icey blue mountain kingdom and it was time to head back down the slope before darkness came.
Day 8 – Everest Base Camp (5364m)
We woke up at 06:30am and left our bags in the room so we could walk to the Everest Base Camp. We questioned waking up so early but actually it was a great idea as we were the only ones there so early in the morning. It was a relatively easy walk just over an hour across mounds of rubble from the glacier.
The base camp was a mound of rocks just on the edge of the glacier before people would start to ascend the mountain itself. There were hundreds of prayer flags and people had bought their countries flags to surround the mound. This was as close as we could get to Everest without trying to climb the giant.
We then made the journey back down the valley the way we came up back to the town. We had an awesome view of the peaks we had just come from and for the first time on the Everest trek we could sit and enjoy a little bit of warmth from the sun. Just before bed we went outside to check out the most incredible star-scape we had seen so far. All of the peaks were Icey blue in the haze of the moon and it felt like you could see every star in the universe.
Day 9- Kongma La Pass (5535m)
Today was the day of our third and final pass. The walk started by having to cross a very rocky glacier for around an hour and a half. After crossing the moon like terrain of the glacier it was time to start the climb up the pass. It was straight up for roughly three hours. Strangely this was the easiest pass, either our minds had stopped thinking of the pain or we had finally got used to trekking up so high, either way this pass was actually quite an enjoyable climb.
The last thirty minuets of the ascent we more or less had to crawl up rocks to get to the top. Once we reached the summit we could sit and take in our final mountain top view. We could look back at where we had come from and look forward to an even wider world of mountain tops. Looking down there was an incredible ice lake which was the most amazing shade of blue but changed colour as the wind whipped up the top layer of ice from the lake.
After taking in the view we had an audious three hour descent which was ridiculously steep and was a killer on the knees. We walked under the clouds and re-entered the underworld. As we went down and down the mountainside the shrubby thickened and many birds could be seen dotted around the vegetation. Coming into the town was like stepping into the Lake District.
Day 10 – Dingboche – Namche (3440m)
We had a very long but steady descent downhill following along the riverside. The trail stayed high along the tops of the river valley until we eventually sunk bellow the treeline and entered the most enchanting forest we had yet encountered. Conifer pines and birch trees that were peeling off to reveal vibrant reds and which had moss flaying from branches showcasing greens never before seen. This forest was one of my favourite parts of the trail as I had never seen anything like it.
We then had a stop in the town of Tengboche to visit the oldest monastery in the area which was a famed retreat for monks the world over. After checking out the monastery we had a very steep decline for around an hour before we had to completely undo our work and climb an hour back up the other side of the valley. We climbed back up so high that we re-entered the clouds and there was points where you couldn’t see more than 5 m ahead of yourself.
The path coasted along the mountainside through the shrubbery for around two hours. At one point when I somehow managed to be on my own a huge mountain Tahr Jumped onto the trail and allowed me to watch him trot off down the mountain into the clouds. What a crazy mystical life these animals must have.
As we started to near Namche we came across the national bird of Nepal which was majestic. The bird had metallic purples and blues all over its body. This was the perfect way to end a trekking day that saw us travel through such varied habitat. We then topped the day off by going back to the Irish pub to watch England play football and play some local porters at pool.
Day 11 – Namche – Phakding (2610m)
Retracing our steps out of Namche was a lot longer and harder than we remembered. We were shocked at how far we had climbed up when coming the opposite way. On the plus side the temperature was starting to get a little warmer and we could finally take our coats off. I got rather frustrated on this part of the trail watching tonnes of donkeys and horses struggling up the mountainside with tremendous loads on their backs. If they stopped for a rest their owner would either hit them or throw stones at them. I had to have stern words with many of them which dampened the mood of the day. I wonder what would happen if we started throwing stones at the people when they stopped for a rest. Slavery is not dead, animals are the slaves of the 21st century.
Day 12- Phakding – Lukla (2840m)
Again the walk back to Lukla was a lot harder than what we remembered coming the other way. The trial seemed to never end and I think it was hard knowing that the finish was close, just not close enough. We went for lunch in the town once we had got their and all we could hear from the surrounding tables were people complaining for how long they had been stuck in the village due to a lack of planes leaving in the bad weather. We thought we could ride our luck and we bought some rum to have a drink for what we hoped would be our final night.
Day 13 – Waiting
We were wrong to count on luck. There was no flights. We had an extremely frustrating day sat watching planes leave the airport that didn’t have us on them.
Day 14 – Bye Bye mountains.
We woke up early and headed to the airport to try our luck. We were in the airport for six hours surrounded by some of the angriest and depressed people we have seen. Some had been there for three days. Finally someone shouted out our flight number and we quite literally jumped for joy. We could not have got on that plane any quicker and we were up and out of there.