Everest Base Camp Trek: Arriving at Everest Base Camp!
The sun took awhile to reach us this morning, the shoulder of Nuptse standing 9,000’ above blocked the sun rays and cast long shadows that gradually crept backwards as the sun rose. By the time we stepped out of the tea-house after 8:00 am the sun hit us and almost instantly began to chase away the nighttime chill. We left Gorak Shep in good spirits, eager to complete the final few hours of walking to Everest Base Camp.
The trail becomes notably less defined this far up the valley. In addition to seeing less traffic, the path is ever changing as the loose moraine settles and shifts with the passing glacier and the pull from gravity. Despite Everest Base Camp being a relatively short distance from Gorak Shep as the crow flies, no more than two miles, the trail itself is much longer as it twists and turns over the rough landscape, descending through boulder fields and climbing back up loose scree gullies. We picked our way along it, stepping from rock to rock and occasionally catching glimpses of the tent tops of Base Camp off in the distance.
About two thirds of the way to Base Camp the trail finally drops off of the side moraine bordering the glacier and crosses onto its surface. This low down on the glacier the surface is covered in rock that was pulled down from the mountain side further up and large features of ice, pushed up by the pressure of the glacier above, are interspersed with giant pools of frozen water that sit on the glacier surface from when the ice melts in the warm afternoon sun. The walking, while relatively flat, is tricky as every rock lies atop a sheet of ice below and the footing is continually shifting underfoot. Nevertheless, the group navigated the trail well and by midday we crested the final rocky rise and walked into RMI’s Everest Base Camp.
Our Sherpa team has been busy working up here for the past two weeks, hacking away the shifting ice and rolling the rocks aside to create large platforms on the glacier’s surface for our tents to sit on. With the creative eye of a designer, they set up a very comfortable camp here. Our dining tent looks right out at Everest, the lower stretches of the Khumbu Icefall filling the view out the door from inside. A series of large stone steps leads from the Dining Tent to the sleeping tents sitting in a semi circle on a small rise above. Just in front of them stands our Communications Tent, with direct sight to the mountain above for the best radio reception and good exposure to the sun as it tracks across the sky for the solar panels that power all of the equipment. The Kitchen and Storage Tents are just below, with a large stone path leading between them and the Dining Tent above.
The Sherpa team greeted us enthusiastically when we arrived, showing us around before we settled down for lunch. Kumar, the Expedition Cook, pulled together an incredible meal complemented with fresh baked rolls and steamed veggies. The change of pace from the typical tea-house food is refreshing and the food was excellent. After lunch we settled into camp, unpacking our gear in our tents and relaxing in the warm afternoon sun. We are all very happy to be here, pleased that we don’t have to turn around and walk back to the tea-house this evening and enjoying the life around Base Camp. Everyone continues to adjust well to the altitude and hiked well today. We are spending tomorrow here in Base Camp, enjoying this place for a bit and covering some climbing training in preparation for those of us that are headed to Island Peak next. We want to thank everyone for the great comments on the Blog, we read them aloud over dinner last night and enjoyed hearing the snippets from home.
RMI Guide Linden Mallory checks in from Everest Base Camp.