[RD] The Everest Basecamp Trek

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by warpus, May 18, 2020.

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  1. tjs282

    tjs282 Stone \ Cold / Fish

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    I can believe this, because I've also read/heard that ginger is (supposed to be) good against seasickness.
     
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  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Staying Connected On The Trail

    Surprisingly enough our Nepali SIM card equipped phones had a decently reliable signal for the first couple days on the trail. This allowed us to stay in touch with friends and family and gave us a way to access the outside world.

    This wasn't very reliable though and the signal got worse the further we went.. Eventually two of us decided to try out the EverestLink wifi, which is a service you can sign up for that gives you a login and password that works in all the towns and villages on the main trail.



    You only get 300 or 500 MB of data and this service is not cheap.. It does not break the bank either, but on the trail you can only reliably use the cash you brought with you. In Namche Bazaar you can maybe get away using a credit card, but you shouldn't count on it. The stack of Nepali currency that I had with me was all the money I could count on having to spend on food, accommodations, souvenirs, and everything else on the trail for two weeks.

    Note that the above notice advises you to turn off automatic updates... My friend did not do this, and when his phone connected to the internet it started uploading some of the photos he had taken on the trail and synchronizing them with the cloud.. His entire allocation of wifi data was gone just like that.

    Fortunately for me he went first.. After seeing what happened I locked down everything on my phone.. all notifications, updates, and anything at all that might force my phone to send unwanted data out into the world or request data for download.. Then I logged in and hoped for the best.

    The service isn't very reliable.. Sometimes the speeds are decent, sometimes they're really slow.. and sometimes you can't even log in.. I mainly used the service to upload some photos to social media so that friends and family back home would not worry about my wellbeing.. I developed a routine - at some point after the day's hike I'd snuggle up in my sleeping bag, then pick out the best photos of the day from my camera, copy them to my phone, and post some of them on social media. I also used the wifi to give me something else to do during downtime.. I had a book with me to read and we'd socialize and play cards.. but occasionally I didn't mind reading something on reddit in a text only format; it was nice to have something else to do to pass the time.
     
  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Day 4: Namche Bazaar to Debuche
    Leaving Civilization Behind

    Leaving Namche Bazaar does sort of feel like the moment you leave civilization behind and enter a new stage of the trek. Every single village or town from now on would be a lot smaller, with less and more expensive amenities. The vegetation also gets more and more sparse as you continue ascending in altitude.



    This day's hike takes you from 3440m to 3750m or so, returning you to the heights of the previous day's acclimatization climb via the Tengboche Monestary (3,867m). After visiting the monestary we would descend about 100m down to the village of Debuche, our final destination for the day.

    Click here to see a cool interactive 3D map view of the route.

    In the photo you can now finally see Mt. Everest in the distance, right down the middle and a bit to the right. You can also see some of our trail in the distance, and if you look up and to the left you can sort of see the trail we saw the previous day while acclimatizing. Looking at the map, that seems to be an alternate route, but who wants to climb up to the acclimatization spot all over again..

    Looking at the datestamps of the photos, this day's hike took us a total of 7 hours, but that includes all the breaks along the way, lunch, and a stop at the monestary. I mention this, because the above link says "3-4 hours"
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
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  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    First Views of Tengboche

    Surprisingly enough it only takes about an hour of hiking to get to a spot from which you can see Tengboche, which at this point was still about 5 hours away for us. You can spot it if you look at the whitest mountains in the centre of the following image. Look down until you hit the first large hill you can see, and go to the right a bit. There's a couple buildings poking out there you can see sitting at the top of that hill.

    You can actually see Tengboche in the first picture from the day I posted earlier.. That one I might have to redo because the levels came out all wrong. That's what I get for rushing ;)



    This is also where the trail again diverges into two different directions. The valley you see on the left is where we would be returning from at the end of the trek.. Straight ahead is Mt. Everest (visible in this image basically in the distance right down the middle) and the classic Everest Basecamp Trek trail, which most hikers use to get to and from Basecamp.

    We would be descending down below and eating lunch at Phunki Thanga, which you can see down below as a sort of lone white dot at the bottom of a V shape. After lunch it would be all uphill to the monestary up above
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2020
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  5. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Ginger Tea Pit Stop

    This was our first full day hiking above 3,500m with weight on our backs, so we took our share of breaks. The latter part of the hike would also be all uphill to the monestary, so I think our guide wanted to pace us a bit as well.

    Yet again another benefit of having a guide! Since he knew all the upcoming places where we could stop and buy some tea or some food, we could plan out our breaks ahead of time instead of hoping for the best. The guide was also keeping an eye out on our physical and mental condition and could mentally plan out the rest of the day's hike as well.



    The mountain in the background is Thamserku. We saw it from a different vantage point on the previous day's acclimatization climb. You might remember it from the picture with the two ladies raising their hiking poles into the air.

    Since the same mountains dominate the landscape for days at a time, you really get used to them, especially the ones that really stick out because they're just so majestic or unique looking.. Most of these peaks are considered sacred by the Sherpa people, and to the locals these are essentially powerful entities you have to respect, almost like a deity. You sort of start thinking about them as characters in the story and not just inanimate objects.. What helped was our guide being able to name any peak we pointed to and tell us its name and usually something else about it as well.
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Ama Dablam Watching over the Trail

    Ama Dablam is our guide's favourite mountain in the region and immediately became my favourite as well.



    The hill you can see straight ahead is where we would end up at the end of the day, that's where Tengboche monastery is. You can even see the trail we would be taking up. But first we'd have to descend down into the valley and stop for lunch.
     
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  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    A Star in the making

    A little girl saw me snapping pictures and started impromptu posing, so I of course indulged her



     
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  8. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Tengboche Monastery

    Situated at an altitude of 3,867m above sea level, Tengboche monastery is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries at such altitudes.. There are monasteries even higher up in the mountains, although they are not as large.

    This monastery is the largest Gompa in the region as well. A gompa is a fortified centre of education and meditation. Bhutanese Dzong architecture is traditionally the style in which these structures are built



    The climb up here was not easy.. You end up at the highest point on the trail so far... The previous day's acclimatization climb did help us with this climb, but it was very tough nevertheless. We also stopped for lunch right before the climb up, which helped as well.

    It was very satisfying to finally reach the top of the hill and to see the first structures of the monastery in front of us.
     
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  9. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Do you know how many monks reside there?
     
  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    About 60 monks live here at any one time.

    This monastery is the terminus of the Sacred Sites Trail Project, which is a circular hiking route that covers 12 monasteries, caves, hermitages, and nunneries in the region.

    On this map you'll only probably recognize Namche Bazaar (1) and Tengboche (12), but it might give you some idea about the scope of this particular hike. Remember that anyone wishing to hike this route first needs to hike to Namche Bazaar.



    Here's a PDF with more information about the Sacred Sites Trail Project
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Reading the link, TIL that #6 is a two day walk from the airport. :lol:
     
  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yeah, you end up going from 2,860m to about 3,800m in 2 days... It is not uncommon for people to walk from the airport at Lukla to Namche Bazaar in 1 day though. We considered this option, but were advised to split it into 2 days, just to get into the whole trek better.. You don't want to burn out on the very first day (and the final approach to Namche Bazaar is tough)

    Lawudo (#6) is about 2 hours away from Namche Bazaar, but it is 350m higher in altitude.. The other way you can get there in 2 days is to walk further than we did on day one, but not all the way to Namche Bazaar.. Then on the second day you climb up to Namche Bazaar in the morning, rest there for lunch, and then hike to Lawudo in the afternoon.

    It seems doable, but one of those days would be very tough no matter what you do, especially since you haven't acclimatized yet. Having said that, you're also not pacing yourself for a hike to Basecamp and back, and the rest of the trail doesn't take you to nearly the same heights from what I can see. So maybe you can afford to make your first 2 days a bit tougher and that's why it's done
     
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  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    A Short Break at Tengboche Monastery

    The hike up to the monastery is demanding enough to warrant a 20-30 minute long break once you get to the top.



    In the main temple courtyard four monks were practicing a dance for an upcoming festival. I made sure that it was okay to take photographs before I started shooting, but the only place I was not allowed to do that was inside the actual temple. The monks were fine with being photographed and seemed really relaxed and accommodating, as long as you were respectful.



    Afterwards we descended a bit down to Debuche, where accommodations were a bit cheaper.

    We were now about halfway to Basecamp, and after four days of hiking our destination finally seemed within reach. We were feeling comfortable at 3,800m, but were also feeling some of the effects of hiking at such altitudes, such as fatigue, slight headaches, a loss of appetite, relatively frequent coughing, and occasional dizziness or nausea. This was all very slight for me and not a worry, and I don't even think I got any headaches, but we were all feeling it to some extent.

    After arriving at a teahouse, it was nice to get changed into dry clothes, maybe take a short break or nap in your sleeping bag, then eat a warm dinner, maybe socialize a bit, maybe read, and usually call it an early night.. We were getting into a sort of routine and got used to just not having much energy for anything else.. After arriving you just wanted to sit or lie down and take it easy.. Before the hike began I assumed I would venture out a bit and take some photos of each village.. That did not usually end up happening
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2020
  14. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    Any music to go with that dancing? I can't find those yellow, second floor windows that are behind the dancers, in the top photo to identify where that dancing was happening.
     
  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    The dancing was happening behind us in that photo. The golden gate you see is the entrance to the temple, there's stairs leading up, and I was taking the photo from just outside the temple looking out. Right behind me is a gate through which you end up in the courtyard, and a further set of steps takes you inside the temple itself where you will find a statue of Buddha and monks praying or meditating.



    You can see an instrument on the left. I suspect they were practicing their rhythm here and were focusing on percussion. I bet during the actual ceremony there's more instrumens. There might have been some chanting though
     
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  16. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    What then is the big, white, many windowed, blue roofed building in the first photo?
     
  17. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Those could be the structures where the monks live and/or study. I bet there's a cafeteria there too somewhere and probably some sort of a rudimentary medical centre as well as other support structures. The temple where you saw the monks dancing is probably just for praying, meditating, and ceremonies.

    Think of this place as a sort of fortified religious university. It's more than just a monastery, it's more like a mix of a monastery, university, and fortification. We don't seem to have a good word in English for Gompa, but you can check out what I just linked to read a bit more about them.

    There's also accommodations for hikers here, there's a cafe, etc. but I think the buildings in the photo are a part of the monastery complex.
     
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  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Debuche to Dingboche
    Via the Imja Khola river

    On this fifth day of hiking we would be breaking through 4,000m for the very first time. I found this day quite tough.. You really start feeling the high altitudes as you make your way up. The scenery also becomes more and more spectacular around you.



    Click here if you want to see an interactive 3D view of this day's route (although it is slightly different, as we stayed in Debuche and not Tengboche)

    This day's hike took us about 5 hours total, including lunch and all the breaks. I remember it being tough, although it's not easy to compare it to the other days.. Each new height we reached for the first time was just a bit tougher to deal with than the previous day's record.
     
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  19. Patine

    Patine Deity

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    What's that shrine-looking thing, there?
     
  20. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    What is the approximate point to point distance for each of your days?

    EDIT: Nvm. The map link has it: 6.8 miles, but yours was a bit less.

    That puts you at a walking rate of about 1.3 miles per hour.
     

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