20 May To Everest Base Camp and Back – we made it!
The early morning air was frigid and so thin I struggled to catch my breath. My legs felt coated in molten lead as I hauled them in slow motion up the boulder-strewn incline. Sobs caught in my throat and my head throbbed in time to my heartbeat. I knew that the only way to cure my altitude sickness was to descend, yet I was mesmerised by the view. Above me, sculpted snow-topped mountains stood against a crisp blue sky, among them, the tallest peak in the world: Everest.
Already, that Himalayan wilderness feels like a dream. Was it just last week that we were there, surrounded by the world’s most awesome mountains, trekking our way into the clouds? Did we really make it all the way to Everest Base Camp and back? Somehow, one painful, uphill, blistered step at a time, we did. The last two weeks have been filled with exhaustion, sickness, frustration and tears, but despite that, the trek to Base Camp was one of the most memorable experiences of my life in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
Our Everest Base Camp Trek in a nutshell
I have so much to write about our Everest Base Camp trek including the logistics, costs, route and challenges, but here’s what we went through in a nutshell. From Lukla, it took us nine days to ascend to Everest Base Camp at 5,365 metres and five days to descend. During that time, we experienced sun so hot it turned our skin purple, blizzards and thick snow, hail and long hours of rain. Along the 62 kilometre trail we trekked by topaz rivers, through pine forests and tiny villages, up never-ending zig-zag paths and steep rocky mountainside to the moon-like landscape of Base Camp.
Every day, fuelled by mounds of potatoes, eggs and bowls of hot soup, we’d lace our weary feet into our boots and strap on our backpacks to face the road ahead, our sole purpose to reach the next dot on the map. In the evenings we’d collapse into our tea house and warm ourselves next to a stove fired by yak crap, drink litres of tea, chat with other trekkers and play cards until it was time to climb into our freezing sleeping bags. Exhausted from long days of walking, we were usually asleep by 8pm and up by 7am, woken by the snores, coughs and elephantish stomping of other trekkers.
During the trek we took just two hot showers and wore the same clothes every day. There were outdoor squat toilets, stomach bugs, colds, chapped skin and blisters to contend with, as well as altitude sickness. Some nights, the temperature slid to below minus five. On the snowiest day, we heard the thunderous rumbling of distant avalanches. We crossed dizzyingly high suspension bridges and passed caravans of yaks and porters carrying impossibly huge loads. Throughout it all, we were surrounded by a backdrop of the earth’s most epic mountains, a continuous stream of beauty unrivalled by anywhere else I’ve been in the world.
Recovering and our final week in Nepal
We returned to Kathmandu mentally and physically exhausted, sick and in desperate need of a shower and a clean set of clothes. It was the most amazing feeling to step under a scolding hot shower and slip between clean, white sheets again. Unfortunately, because of the delay at the start of our trek (our flight was cancelled on the way out), elections in Nepal and our poor health, we’ve had to cancel the volunteering we had planned for our last week in the country. We definitely over estimated how much we’d be able to achieve in Nepal and were naïve about how difficult travelling and trekking here would be.
Instead, yesterday we made what was supposed to be a seven hour bus trip, but actually turned out to be almost 12, to Pokhara. After struggling to get to grips with Kathmandu, this place feels like paradise. The streets are clean and dust free and there’s a lake surrounded by green hills and the jagged tops of the Annapurna mountain range. There are lovely cafes to relax and catch up with work in and we hope to finally recover from our illnesses here. Pokhara is the perfect slice of peace we need to get back on our feet and digest the fact that we made it all the way to Everest Base Camp and back – I still can’t believe we did it!
Pin Me For Later!
GildaPosted at 10:11h, 21 May
Amazing personal achievement. I guess it will take time to fully process all that you have accomplished. Well done
AmyPosted at 09:46h, 22 May
Thanks Gilda, I’m still having trouble believing that I made it! It was so tough but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.
Finding BeyondPosted at 10:02h, 22 May
WOW!! Sounds so intense and so hard! You have put yourselves through a lot in such a short amount of time. You should be very proud of completing it. Did anyone you know give up and head back down?
Sounds like the weather did not help your epic climb either.
I bet that shower was just amazing. ?
Enjoy your recovery time in Pokhara, it’s sounds like it’s just what you need. Xxxxx
AmyPosted at 11:11h, 22 May
Thanks guys 🙂 A lot happened in those two weeks! We saw people getting helicoptered down every day because they were sick, mainly from the altitude, it was pretty scary at times! We are loving Pokhara at the moment, hope you’re well over in Bali x
Finding BeyondPosted at 05:17h, 01 June
That sounds really scary. Something you can never predict. No matter how fit you are altitude sickness can ruin you. Glad you made it safe and sound. Xx
AmyPosted at 13:33h, 01 June
Thanks guys, we definitely learnt a lot about the dangers of altitude sickness, you have to be really careful. It can be managed easily though as long as you’re sensible x
PattiPosted at 01:38h, 24 May
Well-done Amy and Andrew! What a fantastic achievement; I look forward to reading more!
AmyPosted at 06:20h, 27 May
Thanks Patti, we have lots to write about it!
RhondaPosted at 22:49h, 25 May
Well done!! I am SO incredibly impressed you made it. Although I dream of hiking the Annapurna circuit, I’m just not sure I want to undergo the challenge of base camp. I can’t wait to hear all of the details coming out next.
AmyPosted at 06:24h, 27 May
Thanks Rhonda 🙂 Base Camp was really tough; we heard the Annapurna was slightly easier because you acclimatize at a slower pace. We also stayed in Pokhara, the start/end of the Annapurna circuit and it was beautiful.
KarolinaPosted at 10:04h, 26 May
Great post! And stunning adventure! it must be amazing to see the Himalayan mountains !
Lovely blog 🙂
If you have a chance check our website too
AmyPosted at 06:26h, 27 May
It sounds like a cliche, but it was literally a once in a lifetime experience. The Himalayas have to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.
Victoria @The British BerlinerPosted at 13:46h, 01 June
Cooongratulations! You made it. Wow! What a motivating piece. I could feel the challenges as you wrote, and felt the excitement as you reached the peak and took every step!
Well done guys. Phew!
AmyPosted at 04:46h, 02 June
Thanks Victoria! Getting to Everest Base Camp is something we’ll always look back on with amazement and wonder 🙂
DonnaPosted at 23:23h, 04 June
What perseverance! I can’t believe you managed it while battling sickness. Good for you both.
AmyPosted at 12:17h, 05 June
Thanks Donna, looking back on it I can’t believe we managed it!
Charlie AlfPosted at 14:45h, 09 June
Oh my goodness! This trip sounds both harrowing and incredible at the same time! I’m sure you went in with all the fire and fury at the beginning, but it must have been incredibly difficult in the middle (if it wasn’t, everyone would do it!), but what an experience to be able to tell everyone you had! You’ve seen things that most of the world hasn’t, isn’t that such an amazing thought? If I ever have the physical stamina for something like this, I absolutely plan on making a trip to Nepal!
AmyPosted at 08:54h, 12 June
Hi Charlie, it is an amazing thought! I would definitely recommend Nepal for trekking, it was so tough but totally worth it 🙂
Louisa klimentosPosted at 23:54h, 26 June
I am so proud of you Amy and Andrew .I know the trek was tiring and the altitudes made you feel sick,but you did it You have experienced the most breath taking mountain scenery in the world and you couldn’t get any closer to heaven.I hoe you are feeling better,lots of love Louisa
AmyPosted at 15:03h, 27 June
Thanks so much Louisa! We are all recovered now and are still carrying the sense of achievement and incredible memories.
davidPosted at 12:36h, 23 November
nepal himalayas is really a gem of the world.
Andrew WyattPosted at 15:33h, 24 November
It sure is!