Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Hump to EBC

Everest 2015  •  April 8

Big move today to Everest Base Camp (EBC).  This took us about 5 hours and gained 1,800 vertical feet.  This was the toughest day so far, even though the amount of gain was typical, because the ending point was higher than we’d camped before.  I felt it today for sure.

Another of our trekking friends made the right call to descend today via heli.  We will miss him!
Another of our trekking friends made the right call to descend today via heli. We will miss him!
Leaving the LBC basin.  (Photo: Justin Merle).
Leaving the LBC basin. (Photo: Justin Merle).
Conditions are perfect for a trek today.
Conditions are perfect for a trek today.  (Photo: Blake Penson)
The medical kit always travels with us, in the hands of our trusty sherpas.
The medical kit always travels with us, in the hands of our trusty sherpas.
Lakpa Sherpa sweeps nicely.
Lakpa Sherpa sweeps nicely.
Blake sheds a tear at leaving LBC... not.
Blake sheds a tear at leaving LBC… not.

The trek took us away from Lobuche and up the Khumbu valley, which is remarkably scenic and impressive.  We stopped briefly for a break a Lobuche town, then at Gorak Shep, before pulling into EBC itself.  Both of these towns consist of a few tea houses, a helipad, and LOTS of yak dung.  The streets are basically open sewers, for the waste of both human and beast, and you truly do walk through feces to get anywhere.  More disturbing was watching the water intake pump at Lobuche town in a feculent stream get clogged with yak dung as it screeched while trying to pump “water” up to the tea house. Thank goodness for boiled water and UV steri-pens.  To date, our GI issues have been very modest, a testament to our meticulous habits while moving though these places.  On the other hand, Gorak had some 3G internet, just a little, so it was not all bad.

Making the left turn up the Khumbu.
Making the left turn up the Khumbu.
Nippiest comes into view and dominates the skyline.
Nuptse comes into view and dominates the skyline.
Yak train on the trail to Pheriche... this will be our route out at the end of the expedition.
Yak train across the valley on the trail to Pheriche… this will be our route out at the end of the expedition.
Pumori on our left.
Pumori on our left.
Nuptse gets closer....
Nuptse gets closer on our right…. West Shoulder of Everest appears on the left.
Very happy to be here.
Very happy to be here.
So is Blake.
So is Blake.
Andy points out features of the upper Khumbu.
Andy points out features of the upper Khumbu.
Suddenly, we see the summit, in the background, between the west shoulder and Nuptse.
Suddenly, we see the summit, in the background, between the west shoulder and Nuptse. EBC appears just in the middle left of the photo.
Closeup of the summit pyramid, including South Summit on right, cornice traverse, and Hillary Step.
Closeup of the summit pyramid, including South Summit on right, cornice traverse, and Hillary Step.  Snowmass of Nuptse in foreground.  Oh yes….
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Remarkable burden of hanging glaciers on Nuptse.
Closeup of some of the ice on Nuptse.  This is impressive.
Closeup of some of the ice on Nuptse. This is impressive.
Truly impressive...
Truly impressive…
Numerous sinkholes appear in the moraine.  Not good for skating on...
Numerous sinkholes appear in the moraine. Not good for skating on…
We are easily impressed.
We are easily impressed.
Me and LC as we approach EBC.
Me and LC as we approach EBC.
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Pumori dominates the terminal Khumbu. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Me, Blake, and LC are happy to get to EBC!
Me, Blake, and LC happily to get close to EBC!  (Photo: Justin Merle)

EBC sits on a glacial moraine, meaning blue ice covered in loose stones ranging in size from pebbles to the size of houses.  It shifts and moves slowly on its way downhill, so the camp has to be rebuilt by hand each year.  The sherpa teams that do this work are remarkable.  I am amazed by their strength, determination, and organizational skills.  It is not exactly an engineering marvel, but something close to that.  Our tents sit on platforms that have been chiseled and carved out of the icy rock, and trails join the community together… personal (small) tents, cook tents, gear tents, communications tents, dining tents, toilet tents, shower tents (yes, hot showers on demand!), and the entertainment tent (an army surplus tent where we can recharge batteries and project movies on the wall).  At night, some paths are lit by solar rechargeable garden lights.  It is bitterly cold at night, but there is a decidedly cheerful air to this place.  For instance, our dining tent is adorned with plastic flowers, stylish chair covers, and astroturf carpeting.

EBC seen from the ridge leaving Gork Shep.
EBC seen from the ridge leaving Gork Shep.
Our tents have a nice view, no doubt.  (Photo: Blake Penson)
Our tents have a nice view, no doubt. (Photo: Blake Penson)
Everest, the icefall, and Nuptse are at our front door.  (Photo: Blake Penson)
Everest, the icefall, and Nuptse are at our front door. (Photo: Blake Penson)

This is important, because Mt Everest sits right outside our doorstep.  It is enormous, imposing, savagely beautiful.  Behind us, Pumori stands like a stone sentinel.  Then a full, impenetrable cirque ends in the West Buttress of Everest, which terminates in the  Kumbu icefall, then Nuptse immediately across from our camp.  I have studied their photos for years, but reality is much more impressive.

This will be fun!

One thought on “Hump to EBC

  1. Does EBC have any overall organization, i.e., is there any kind of “governance” to resolve issues and conflicts that may arise, or do people simply work stuff out on their own? For instance, is there ever any conflict over who gets which tent locations or does that all simply fall into place somehow, first come first served or whatever? Hate to raise such mundane “human” concerns but I’m just wondering if it all functions smoothly or not?

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