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.
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.
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.
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!