[RD] The Everest Basecamp Trek

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

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  1. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Yeah, it was about that, although that does include breaks and lunches, so in terms of just the walking we were walking faster than that. You also get different distances for these depending on where you look (different altitudes too!) so there's some imprecision there as well (but not a lot)

    Here's an itinerary I had written out before the hike began, although we did not end up walking this route (Instead of walking to Gokyo first and basecamp second, we ended up flipping that, which saved us a day)



    We also ended up moving some of those "Free" days from before the hike to just after and ended up staying a bit longer in the country than 23 days.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2020
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  2. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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  3. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Lunch with a View

    By the time we reached 4,000m it was just about time for lunch. In the following shot you are looking south, back towards the way we came from.



    Ginger tea was on the menu as well of course! This was my drink of choice on the trail
     
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  4. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    That's a stupa, they are places of meditation that usually contain some sort of a religious relic. They are also associated with the religious practice of circumambulation, which is the act of walking around a sacred object.
     
  5. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    What month were you hiking in? May? June?
     
  6. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Our hike began on October 27th and finished November 10th.

    The main trekking months in the region are February to May and late September to November. These are the optimal times to do this hike, although it is also possible to walk the trail in January, when the daytime temperature at Basecamp is a surprising 10C. I don't think it's safe to walk any of the 3 alpine passes in January though, so all you can do is the traditional route.

    Most people go during one of the two trekking periods, as June through August is monsoon season. After doing extensive researched it seemed that we were more likely to have clear skies and nice views in the fall, but the one downside was that it would be a bit colder. After looking up some flights and conferring with my friends we decided on October or November as months that were the most optimal for us in terms of all the factors.

    Anyone who wants to actually climb Mt. Everest has to show up in May; it is not possible to get to the summit at any other time of the year. (because it's too windy)
     
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  7. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Lunch with a View

    After lunch we had ginger tea and prepared for the afternoon push to Dingboche.

    In this photo you are looking east or slightly north-east. The mountain watching over us is Ama Dablam

     
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  8. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    How to Boil Water in the Himalayas

    We saw more of this sort of thing the further up the trail we hiked. Since there's free heat and energy coming from above, you might as well make good use of it, especially since electricity and energy are quite expensive up here.

    I think I paid about $4 USD or so each time I wanted my thermos filled with boiling water for the night, although this was probably cheaper closer to the trailhead and gradually increased in cost. As far as drinking water goes the teahouse would always boil water in the evening and cool it overnight, selling it to hikers in the morning. I remember this water being cheaper, but I could just be misremembering. I believe this water might have been boiled over the large stove you'd find in the middle of each teahouse common area, which was always burning in the evening anyhow. Hot water on demand was likely boiled on the stove, which would have been more expensive.



    This photo was taken at the same restaurant where we ate lunch. The views were beautiful and we had a challenging finish to our day's hike ahead of us, so we stuck around a bit longer
     
  9. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    What fuel did they use for cooking up there?
     
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  10. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Almost everything at the teahouses is cooked using propane that is hauled up there using yak caravans from the airport in Lukla. So the further you go the more you have to pay for the food (and everything else), because those cooking it had to pay more for the ingredients and the propane as well.
     
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  11. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Views from the Trail



    To the right you can see the direction from which we came. On the other side of the valley you can also see another hiking trail
     
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  12. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Arrival in Dingboche

    It was not an easy day's hike reaching 4,410m, so we were extremely happy to finally see Dingoche within reach.

    Just to the east of the village (of about 200) you can see the Imja river. In this photo you can also see the next day's acclimatization destination - that pointy hill right behind Dingboche.



    At these altitudes the vegetation was a bit sparse. The further we went the terrain became more rocky and more sandy.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2020
  13. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Staying Charged on the Trail

    I had several devices with me that required electricity to function, such as a camera, a goPro, a kindle, and my phone. I brought a portable solar panel that I was planning on attaching to my backpack so that I could charge my devices on the go.. but initially there was just no time to set that up.. and when I did it didn't really work very well.

    I also brought two portable rechargeable battery packs with me, a small one that holds about 2 phone charges or so and a larger one that holds about 12. I also had extra batteries for my phone and goPro that I was hoping to charge and rotate as I went..

    It was possible to get your phone and other devices charged at the teahouses, but it was not cheap.. and they would not charge something like a big rechargeable battery pack that I had.. The alternative was to use my solar panel during downtime by finding a spot that got as many hours of the afternoon sun as possbile..



    Above you can see me charging my 2 battery packs on the right and my friend charging his phone on the left. Later on I would then charge my phone, goPro, and camera batteries using these battery packs. This allowed me to not have to pay to charge anything on the trail at all.. although I didn't really make a lot of use of my electronics either.. but enough to make this worthwhile.

    Solar power works slightly more efficiently at these altitudes, for various reasons.. so even though the solar panel is a bit of extra weight, it made the cut of things I ended up bringing with me for the trip. Some days I had to get lucky with the sun and with the clouds, but on most days it allowed me to recharge my reserves a bit. I ended up eventually bringing the solar panel with me (instead of packing it up for the porter to carry) so that I could set it up during lunch and tea breaks.. The sun was usually stronger earlier in the day, so it ended up turning into a viable strategy for keeping everything charged for free.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  14. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Jeff's Tasty Mistake

    At the end of this fifth day of hiking is when Jeff decided to show us what he brought with him. edit: More than what you can see here! This is what he brought out for this particular snack time. He had more little bags like this hiding in his backpack



    All sorts of delicious candy, including gummybears, m&m's, and many other options. The only problem was that at this point we were just not hungry.. Being at high altitudes messes with your appetite a bit, and after dinner we were just not interested in eating anything, except for occasional snacks.. So I did eat a bit of it.. but not much at all. Instead of diving into all this like he imagined, it went largely untouched...

    All this candy was a lot of unnecessary extra weight.. This is the person who opted to not pay for a porter, so he had to carry everything himself.. It wasn't long before he almost completely lost his appetite and only ate toast for at least 3 days in a row.

    He ended up being fine in the end, but his condition had to be closely monitored by our guide for most of the rest of the hike
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2020
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  15. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Acclimatizing at 5,050m
    On Day Six

    On this rest day we were going to climb Nagerju Hill, which you can see in one of the previous posts. It's a rather intense climb that takes 3-5 hours. You end up high above Dingoche with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.



    Dingboche is down below on the right. You can see some of the village and some of the nearby farms.

    This was maybe a half an hour into the climb. I found it tougher than the acclimatization day back at Namche Bazaar.. You just keep going though, no matter how many breaks you need.. Step by step and eventually you're at the top. I wasn't feeling any headaches and not many other high altitude sickness symptoms, so it was just a matter of time until I made it to the top. The problem was that each step felt like the last one I could make.. so you had to stay mentally strong and just try to get into some sort of a rhythm.

    For these acclimatization climbs I always brought these energy capsules.. I forget exactly what was in them, but they're some sort of an energy booster for hikers.. with natural ingredients that help you at high altitudes as well, from what I remember. I have no idea how much influence they really had, but it was a good mental boost having them.. like you had a sort of secret weapon against the conditions.

    I also had aspirin pills with me. On doctor's orders I would chew down on 5-6 of them whenever I felt discomfort in my chest.. which happened a couple times. I have high blood pressure problems, and I could definitely feel my heart working overtime at these altitudes.. It has to work harder to pump the same amount of oxgen, and you do feel that..

    I also had pain gel caps (just in case my knees started acting up), vitamin C energy chewables, emergen-C mixted with water in one of my water bottles, i had something with electrolytes (helps with cramps), and some snacks.. but those were for the summit.

    My hiking altitude record at that time was 4,600m, which is how high I ended up in Peru back in 2012.. This time we were climbing to 5,050m, which I definitely felt on this acclimatization climb.. It was a tough challenge, but I knew that it was going to help with the next several days, so I tried to pretend that I was going to make it to the top and kept walking
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
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  16. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Step by Step..

    This was the biggest challenge on the trail for me yet. It was a very tough climb up to the summit, but I kept going.. step by step.



    You can see Dingboche down below in this photo, as well as the direction we originally came from (on the right). If you look closely you can also see two groups of hikers making the acclimatization climb. There are two hikers a bit closer and a larger group a bit further behind.

    I was making many stops along the way to the top and fell a bit behind my two friends. Our guide stayed behind with me and made sure I was okay. From what I remember our porter was making the climb with us as well, I believe he was using this opportunity to get some guide training and experience. If I'm remembering this correctly, the porter hiked up to the summit with my friends, while the guide stayed behind with me to provide support. I wasn't very far behind, but it seemed that every minute my friends would get smaller and move much closer to the summit than me. I wasn't yet convinced I would make it to the top, but with every step it seemed more and more doable. I really wanted to get to the summit, because I knew that it would really help with the next couple days of hiking. This was not the last challenge we would face on the trail and I wanted to get all the help I could get.. Plus it would have been a shame not to make it to the summit! There was no rush so I just kept going, step by step..
     
  17. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    There is a lesson here. Perseverance can pay off. Many years go, I was an instructor at an Outward Bound school and led inexperienced young men in challenging and difficult activities during 28 day courses. Doing hard scary, things is possible with good guidance, and taking it on one step at a time. Your expedition certainly fits the bill as hard, scary and exhilarating! :)
     
  18. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    It can be surprising what your body is capable of. We talked about this principle on the trail.. Supposedly it's something soldiers are taught, but I'm not sure how accurate that is, as I can't seem to find anything about it online. Basically when you feel like you have no energy left at all, take a short breather you'll find that you still have 10% or so of your energy reserves left. Use that energy to walk the next little stretch, and by the time you feel like you've ran out of energy again, repeat the process and you'll find that 10% of your energy reserves are still in the tank. Keep doing this and you'll always find an extra bit of energy to keep going. It's more of a psychological tool I suppose, but it's a bit astonishing how there's always energy there, as insanely tired and out of breath and devoid of energy you might have felt just a minute earlier.

    We also discussed a certain way of walking. I seem to remember this also having military roots, but I can't find anything online. It's possible I am not searching for the right terms.. It's a way to move your feet that makes long distance hikes less taxing on your body. We noticed that our guide was walking in a unique way that was almost not noticable. The "Step by step" description is really the best one I can give, but there seemed to be a lot more to it. He was sort of casual about the way he moved, but there was purpose to it. It reminded my friends of something they read about that military approach to long treks, which is how our conversation started.

    I learned that walking behind the guide and attempting to match his rhythm and way of walking was the way to go. The rhythm would differ depending on the conditions, so I would almost always try to just copy him in his approach.

    I wish I knew more about all this so I could explain this better.. I also wish it was possible to explain better how tough this climb was! Eventually it totally turns into a mind over matter type of challenge where your mental strength is challenged moreso than your physical endurance.

    This is also yet another reason why having a guide was important. I could easily see myself giving up on such a climb, thinking I'm just never going to make it.. I could easily see myself thinking that it's just too crazy and that my lack of energy is a sign that I should descend.. Our guide knew that it would be a challenge for us, but he also knew what to look for in terms of problems and potential high altitude issues. He knew that completing this climb would help make the next couple days easier as well. He did a great job motivating us and convincing us that we can do this, and especially looking after me after I started taking breaks every couple minutes.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2020
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  19. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Super Moderator Supporter

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    The best guides (in any endeavor) are experts at what they do; and not only do they make tasks look easy, they enable the less experienced to complete them.
     
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  20. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    Exactly! In this case this young Sherpa guide not only had to know the terrain really well, the variance in climate, the potential things we could run into on the trail, and so on, but he also had to understand how high altitudes affect somebody who lives at sea level. All this knowledge combined allowed him to not only guide us through the trail, but also make decisions along the way depending on our condition as well as the conditions on the trail.

    For instance, this particular acclimatization climb wasn't the only option for us.. Those who find this climb a bit too much can opt to do a different hike on this acclimatization day. There is a mountain nearby that's quite popular for climbing. It's over 6,000m in height, so not anything we'd climb on this particular trip.. But what you do is you start hiking in that direction and once you reach a certain altitude you take a break and then return to Dingboche.

    It was up to our guide to decide how we would acclimatize, and he had to keep our condition in mind when making that decision. This particular acclimatization climb gave us much more epic views of the surrounding landscape, so it's the one we would have preferred to climb instead of doing the alternate hike.. I believe you also end up a bit higher, which helps a bit as well..

    I hooked up our guide with 2 new clients. Surprisingly enough 2 German friends I made while backpacking through Norway were on their way to Nepal and wanted to begin their hike to Basecamp right as we were finishing ours. They asked me on social media if I'd recommend our guide and then asked me if I could connect them with the same company I used, so they could get him as well. It ended up working out and our guide had 2 more weeks of work lined up when our hike was complete. Which meant he couldn't return to college/university at the proper time, but that didn't appear to be a problem and he much rather preferred to have extra work instead.

    Anyhow, these German friends of mine wanted to do all 3 alpine crossings. This hike takes about 3 weeks from what I remember and is the most challenging out of all the Everest Basecamp Trek variants. One of the alpine crossings you do is even more epic than the one we did..

    Turns out they didn't end up doing any of the alpine crossings. The high altitudes just really go to them and the guide had to alter the route and take them via the traditional route to Basecamp (and back). No doubt he made this call on the trail after seeing the condition of my friends. I bet they would have had some input as well, but when your Sherpa guide tells you that you probably shouldn't be doing something, it's a good idea to listen.

    Our guide had alternate routes in mind for other parts of the trail, although the only one I can remember is an alternate way we'd walk if Cho La pass was too crazy at the time. It ended up snowing the night before the crossing, so we weren't sure if we'd be able to do it. It was our guide's call, and we ended up going for it. If he wasn't there, who knows what we might have decided. It was really nice to have someone with us who basically knew everything and could make these decisions for us. One of his main goals was to ensure that we were safe, so that just lowered stress levels and allowed you to focus on the walking.

    But yeah, another thing our guide did was give us a psychological boost. He'd tell us that we can do it and to just keep pushing. And even when it seemed impossible to find more energy for another set of steps, hearing him say that this is a challenge we'll conquer made a difference.
     
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