Today was a long day. We befriended a trio from New Zealand/Australia/Great Britain at breakfast who we had seen a few times before. I would be surprised by how few friends we’ve made, but we don’t often travel with other couples. It’s made us pretty insulated, and it’s nice to meet people who we have seen throughout the trip.
A couple of hours of Nepali flat later we arrived in Gorak Shep – about an hour later than we anticipated. Most of us have some sort of ailment now. This morning it was nausea for me. Probably from not realizing the momos are as poisonous to me as the flour in the soup. I can’t seem to catch a break on food here! Karma spoils me at least – always negotiating ingredients with the kitchen. I don’t know how a celiac would survive here.
Our walk today followed the long tongue of the Khumbu glacier. It’s hard to see the ice beneath the debris for most of the walk, but we finally can spot blue among the crevasses. The glacier separates us from the tall wall of Nuptse and we hike along under the shadow of Lobuche. The elevation is now over 16,000 feet. It’s hard to move at anything faster than a shuffle.
After lunch in Gorak Shep we piled on the layers and set off for more Nepali flat on the way to Everest Base Camp. Most of the trek involved rambling over either moraine debris or actual glacier – an uneven and rocky mess. It was also insanely crowded. We had braved the Namche superhighway through most of the trip, but the final mile was jammed with trekkers. By the time we arrived at EBC (per trekker slang) we had to wait what seemed like an eternity to take a picture in front of the sign. Even Mingma jumped in the picture though. Raz had stayed behind, and was missed.
EBC is a collection of yellow tents (easier to find after a snowstorm) sprawled across the glacier below the Khumbu Ice Fall.
We could see climbers fixing ropes in the Ice Fall – it didn’t look fun. We also saw a steady stream of sherpas hauling gear out of EBC and back toward Namche. Some were marked with the Discovery Logo – the wing suit jumper they were there to film was forced to abort after the avalanche tragedy.
Despite guidebooks which warned otherwise, from certain angles you can see Everest peaking over the NW shoulder. Everything about the climb looked difficult and unpleasant. So far I have no idea why people see it and want to get to the top.
At this point, a combo of crowds, yaks and rapidly deteriorating weather (and oh fine, fatigue) convinced us we should turn around and head back to Gorak Shep. On the way back the momos won. Nothing like welcoming your first snowfall in Nepal huddled behind a rock that’s hanging over a glacier. At least it was scenic?
As we passed by more Discovery and NBC equipment, we witnessed a small avalanche on Nuptse. At dinner we spotted a much larger avalanche on Nuptse – visible through the window in the dining room. It seemed to validate the decision to abandon the climbing season.
Early to bed tonight – we have a 4 am wakeup to climb Kala Patthar in the morning!