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An Almost Perfect Day at Everest

Catching our Breath at Everest Base Camp

all seasons in one day 9 °C

On Thursday, we headed out early from Sakya with the intention of reaching Rombuk in time to attempt the hike to Everest Base Camp, weather permitting, the same day. We experienced such good weather, however, that we enjoyed uninterrupted views of the mountain from our first sighting in the morning, so we had to keep stopping for group members to take photographs at this location or that location. Sightings of Everest – even from base camp – are far from guaranteed, so we couldn’t really blame them (and in fact we almost missed our best opportunity for a great photo by allowing ourselves to be rushed along by our tour ‘leader’).

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Cloud did build around Everest as we drew closer, but we decided to go for it and hike to the Base Camp, rolling the die on whether we would be able to see the top of the mountain when we got there! I left our Monastery dorm room apparently prepared to go all the way to the summit, with no fewer than seven layers to keep me warm. Despite some sleet, however, it was surprisingly warm once we got going and our progress was slowed only by the constant need to stop so I could unwrap another layer! We also took our time to enjoy the Scottish-Highlands-type scenery, and for Lloyd to share a close encounter with a yak.

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Lloyd and a Yak - you figure out which is which. And, on the right, me recalling the Highland Fling from lessons about three decades ago!

Alltitude also slowed our progress of course! At more than 5,000 metres, or 16,500 feet, it required a lot of effort to do anything more than place one foot in front of the other. On the minor inclines – Everest Base Camp is around 5,200 metres – a few steps upward literally takes your breath away. And this is just 5,000 metres! The actual summit is over 8,000 metres and we certainly came to understand that the relationship between elevation and effort was far from linear, and our respect for the mountaineers on Everest above us knows no bounds.

Having crested our own ‘summit’, we celebrated with a miniature bottle of champagne that Martin brought to China with him a few weeks ago (thanks, Martin – we toasted you at the top!). Then, with a storm approaching, it was time to make a dash back to Rombuk for the night. We didn’t quite avoid the storm, and we battled through heavy sleet as blanket-wrapped, umbrella-topped Japanese tourists crashed by in pony carts.

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Back at Rombuk, my over-bundling came back to haunt me as my sweat had cooled my body to such an extent it took me hours to warm up. I sat in the communal mess tent, practically hugging the stove and narrowly avoiding overflow from massive kettles of water boiling away in the middle of the room. As I enjoyed my tea and biccies, hungry trekkers gobbled bowls of noodles and fried rice from the Monatery’s limited but welcome menu. When I was finally warm again, I buried myself beneath four blankets and struggled to find sleep amidst a room of snorers. Lloyd, meanwhile, had a painful night with oxygen-deprivation robbing him of any sleep at all (a common side-effect of high altitude), and he was relieved when at last morning arrived.

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Overnight, the entire camp had been dusted with an inch or two or snow, which was an unexpected but welcome transformation. A few of us early risers were privileged to witness Everest at dawn before weather quickly whited out the entire vista. After a brief snowball fight with our 4*4 drivers, we started our descent to lower altitudes and our approach into Kathmandu which would take the next 24 hours or so

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Posted by jacquiedro 21:16 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world

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I love that shot of the mountain in the background with the fog/mist rolling in. Congrats on 'the best decision we ever made' - nice vid! :)

by Sam I Am

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