Lobuche and Ultimate Everest Base Camp expedition, 19th October – 10th November 2019
The trip started with a welcome dinner in Kathmandu where a dancing yak and abominable snowman entertained while we tried the local cuisine. Then it was briefly back to the hotel before we left at 3am for our exhilarating ride out to Ramechap. Those who managed to nod off were woken by the squeels of excitement from the others. On arrival at the airport we had our 20 minute flight up to Lukla where we set off for the start of our journey into the mountains. Here we met our brilliant local team led by Jire Rai.
After a night in Phakding, a charming village nestled beside the Dudh Khosi river, it was off to Namche Bazaar where the group caught their first view of Everest on the way. The German bakery was enjoyed to the full after the famous hill climb up to Namche from the valley. The next day the group relished a rest day – which consisted of a 4 hour walk up a steep ridge taking in the views via the Everest View Hotel and the Sherpa village of Khumjung. There was also a chance to visit the monastery and the Yeti Skull. Though this may sound like a strange idea of a rest day, it is important for acclimatisation to gain some height during the day and drop back down to sleep at the same altitude.
Our journey then continued up the valley towards Gokyo, forking off the main Khumbu trail and onto the quieter rhododendron flanked path towards Phortse Tenga. Our daily life relaxed into a rhythm wandering up the valley taking in the stunning peaks all around, passing Yak trains and eating delicious food at the teahouses. The local food was lovely but we were also very excited by egg and chips and beans on toast when it made an appearance! There was also a chance to try the local equivalent of a deep-fried Mars bar. Some of the days were shorter to allow for acclimatisation and this meant the afternoons were free for washing clothes, crazy eights, painting or extra walking.
After reaching Goyko we had another rest day during which we climbed Goyko Ri to 5300m. Amazing views of the bright blue glacial lakes and snow covered mountains all around. Next we crossed the Ngozumpa glacier and then it was our big day to tackle the Cho La Pass. It was a long day with some steep rock sections and walking on the snow on the far side but the group completed it in 7 hours, a very strong time.
Arriving at Lobuche village it was time for the group to separate, half heading up Lobuche Peak and the others to head to Kala Pattar and the Everest Base Camp. The Lobuche group spent one night at high camp where we lived in luxury. Ang kami and Purri had set up an excellent camp with air mats in each of our tents. We were brought a delicious range of food and even hot towels! The next day after an early breakfast at 1.30am we set off at 2.00am. The first section was up the rocks and there were some steep steps with a side rope. Next we were roping up for the glacier. Arriving at the ice cliff it was time to get onto the fixed ropes. As we followed the ropes up the sun rose and we were treated to spectacular views over the Khumbu and beyond. Moving up steadily we arrived on the summit at 7am. Neil managed a ‘taps aff’ picture despite the cold and the Scottish flag was out! We headed down and had a few big groups to manoeuvre around on the descent. Enjoying the ice cliff more on the way down, soon we were back on rock and back to High Camp by 9am. We were treated to tea and lunch and then it was time to pack up camp.
Back in Lobuche we were reunited with our Ultimate EBC team who had successfully trekked up to Everest Base Camp the day before, savouring some whisky there to celebrate. They also made the sunrise hike up Kala Patthar which is well worth the effort for the unparalleled spectacle of the sun’s morning rays igniting Everest as it rises. We enjoyed pizza together, exchanging stories of recent days’ adventures, and then an early night called! Our journey down began after this, following the Khumbu valley down through the villages and past many of the Himalayas’ biggest giants. It was fantastic to round off our expedition returning by a different route so we could appreciate another view on the way down. After 3 days trekking we were already back in Lukla and we celebrated with our brilliant porters and local guides. The next day it was time to fly off back to the capital before a last couple of days in Kathmandu where we dined out on steaks and beer and some of the sights. It has been an amazing trip with a lot of great characters.