Over the course of 15 days we hiked, along with 14 other Americans, 2 western guides, 6 Nepali guides and several porters from Lukla to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and back. We also took a two day side trip to Thame (partly for altitude acclimation).
The high point (literally and figuratively) for me was Kala Patar. At 18,500 feet and located just outside the highest “settlement” in the Khumbu valley (Gorak Shep) it is a traditional viewing point for Mt Everest. We had stunning weather that day and the view was amazing.
The hiking was not that hard. We hiked a total of about 90 miles with our longest just over 11 miles and most days half this. But it was very steep and 3,000 foot days were not uncommon and ….. it was, by our standards, very high. We spent three nights above 16,000′ which was a new experience.
The trail was very rocky and sometimes very steep but in good condition most places and we saw several crews doing major trail repairs. The suspension bridges (we crossed at least 10) were very stable and in good condition.
The trail was reasonably busy (this was the high trekking season) but not uncomfortably so. We did have to wait several times a day to let yak or donkey pack trains or porters pass by.
Everyone got sick. Several people (including me) had intestinal issues. These usually lasted no more than a few days (with medication). Speaking of medication, it was easy to get Cipro and Diamox at the pharmacy in Namche. And almost everyone developed the “Khumbu Cough”, a dry raspy cough, some worse than others. It seems to be caused by a combination of the cold, dry air and the altitude.
At Lobuche (16,140 feet), three hikers, including Roberta, and one porter developed AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and had to go down. The porter was unconscious and had to be carried partway down before he recovered enough to walk. Two of the trekkers were very sick, vomiting most the night, before heading down to the clinic in Pheriche.
See my other post about the accomodations ( Accomodations ). Think hostel with no electricity, heat or running water and you get the idea.
Our guides were amazing. The famous Vernon_Tejas was our lead guide. He has more experience at high altitude than just about anyone else in the world and his wife, Carole, is an expert on Nepali culture. Our Nepali guides were friendly, knowledgeable and spoke passable english. They made for a safe, enjoyable adventure.
Rara soup. Dal bhat. Rice. But also pizza (Tuna Pizza??) and spaghetti. The food was a bit monotonous but filling. Drinks consisted of “hot lemon” (think hot lemonade of varying sweetness), hot tea or hot water. Sometimes coffee in the morning. Strangely enough we got used to drinking hot water.
We had wonderful weather- mostly sunny days. As we went higher it got colder of course. Above 12,000′ feet it was definitely below freezing at night. We used our full size parkas to run to the toilet in the night. During the day it was usually in the 50’s, perfect for hiking.