Pratik Surana

A Promise Fulfilled: My Everest Base Camp Journey

The Challenge and the Journey Begin
My son challenged me to get in shape during the COVID lockdown, and I decided to go all out: Everest Base Camp became my ultimate fitness goal. I had promised my father, before he passed away in January 2021, that I would return to my trekking roots. Finally, in October 2021, I set off to celebrate my birthday at the very place I had once vowed to conquer. This travelogue is dedicated to my son and dad, who helped me overcome childhood asthma and other physical limitations, making this journey possible.

Kathmandu: Waiting for Clear Skies
Due to inclement weather, I found myself exploring Kathmandu while waiting for flights to Lukla. Kathmandu is rich with history and culture, and I made the most of my time visiting Pashupatinath Temple, the Boudhanath Stupa, and the ancient royal palace. The vibrant streets of Thamel, filled with trekking gear shops, bars, and clubs, provided a lively distraction. Pro tip: Use the SBI ATM for cash withdrawals to avoid hefty fees that other ATMs charge.

Namche Bazaar: Acclimatization and Exploration
Finally in Namche Bazaar, the gateway to Everest, I spent time acclimatizing and exploring the local attractions, including the Everest View Hotel and the intriguing Sherpa Museum. The helicopter ride from Kathmandu to Namche offers stunning views of the Himalayas and a thrilling glimpse of Everest itself, known locally as Sagarmatha.

Day 1: The Trek from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche
After a hearty breakfast of potato curry and Tibetan Phale bread in Namche Bazaar, we set off for Tengboche. The trail led us through rhododendron and pine forests, accompanied by the sounds of the Dudh Koshi River. We stopped for lunch in the charming village of Phunki Tenga, enjoying local cuisine before tackling the challenging climb to Tengboche Monastery. The day’s highlight was the evening prayer ceremony at the monastery, surrounded by towering peaks.

Day 2: From Tengboche to Dingboche
Our journey continued with a descent through forested trails and a crossing of the Imja Khola River. We arrived at Pangboche, the highest permanent settlement in the valley, and lunched in Shomare, where the landscape turned more rugged and barren. As we reached Dingboche, the stone-walled fields provided a picturesque setting against the towering mountains.

Day 3: Acclimatization in Dingboche
To adjust to the altitude, we spent the day in Dingboche. A short hike to Nagarjun Hill at 5,100 meters offered breathtaking views of Ama Dablam, Makalu, Lhotse, and more. The afternoon was spent exploring the village, relaxing in teahouses, and preparing for the higher altitudes ahead.

Day 4: From Dingboche to Lobuche
The trail from Dingboche to Lobuche took us through alpine meadows and past the poignant Everest Memorials at Thukla Pass, honoring climbers who lost their lives on Everest. The trek was challenging due to the altitude, but the stunning vistas of Nuptse and the Khumbu Glacier were our rewards.

Day 5: Lobuche to Gorak Shep and Everest Base Camp
This was the day we had all been waiting for. The rocky, high-altitude trail led us to Gorak Shep, our final stop before Everest Base Camp. The journey to Base Camp was tough but awe-inspiring, with views of the Khumbu Icefall and surrounding peaks. Reaching Base Camp was a moment of immense pride and joy.

Day 6: Kala Patthar and Return to Kathmandu
Before dawn, we began our climb to Kala Patthar, the highest point of our trek. The sunrise over Everest, Lhotse, and Nuptse was a sight to behold, with golden rays illuminating the peaks. From Gorak Shep, a helicopter whisked us back to Lukla and then to Kathmandu, marking the end of our incredible journey.

Final Thoughts
The trek from Namche Bazaar to Kala Patthar is an adventure of a lifetime, filled with challenges, breathtaking landscapes, and unforgettable moments. From the serene Tengboche Monastery to the triumphant arrival at Everest Base Camp and the awe-inspiring sunrise at Kala Patthar, every day brought new experiences and memories. The warmth of the Sherpas and the camaraderie among trekkers added a special touch to the journey. This trek is not just about reaching a destination but about the journey itself, testing our resilience and deepening our connection with nature.

Tips for Future Trekkers:

  • Try Dal Bhat, a nutritious local dish with rice, vegetables, and lentil soup.
  • Acclimatization is crucial for a successful trek.
  • Be prepared for higher prices and limited amenities as you ascend.
  • Carry sufficient cash and ensure you have travel insurance.
  • Dress in layers to adapt to the changing weather.

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