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To Gorak Shep (5140m)

Saturday 7th July

overcast

A yak broke our morning grazing outside our window. My skull cap of pain had lifted, there was still a little niggle but I was ready to get going and we only had 200m to climb to Gorek Shep.  The sun was highlighting the snow capped mountains and the sky was so blue. The backdrop displayed Nuptse (7861m); Kangtega (6685m); Chukhung (5833m); Tobuche Peak (6367m); Pumori (7165m) - but no Everest as 2 mountains shadow it as it is further back - Nupste and Lhotse (8501m). Britney (Canadian girl) had the same head ache as I did yesterday, so after their guide being extremely unhelpful Tanka and Sangdan advised her to wait and acclimatise for the day to see if it improved! We headed out into the wilderness at 8am to Gorek Shep. This was the staying post for every invasion of E.B.C and was roughly 2 hours away. The trek was really heightening it's demands, paths vanished and reappeared in an instant sometimes leaving us unsure of which direction to travel in. Guides and sherpers leave piles of stone to mark the way but these change yearly due to the deformation and alteration of the landscape. We climbed an extreme mountain that rose around 45m over 2kms. As we proceeded up the valley, the colour was draining out of our surroundings, the clouds and wind chased us continuously, eventually the rain joined in also. The boulders were getting bigger and we were climbing and rambling over a desolate broken path. We were incased on both sides with evidence of past ice ages, the raw effect of parts of the world colliding with each other. We arrived at Gorek Shep (5140m) around 11am, a little colour flooded the area but the clouds were so low we couldn't see any evidence of a mountain range or the key feature - Everest. Again the headache had crept back as I had climbed and I was really worried now as we were so close and Tommy didn't want to go alone with Tanka. We tried massage which eased the pain, I'd been taking tablets, refused the garlic soup but ate momo's instead, then Tanka mentioned he would have a cigarette when his headache kicked in around 5000m. As my last resort Tanka went to find a cigarette which I smoked with a cup of coffee and the vice like grip on my brain lifted. We waited for Matt and Emily to finish their lunch, the weather was clear to around 200m and the rain cleared. We geared up from head to toe in anticipation of the finale that E.B.C would throw at us in order to test our commitment to achieving something special - we would not give this prize up lightly. After 1 hour we meet the mighty Khumbu Glacier - stunning that this valley was, it showed a contrast of rugged blackened ice with peaks and troughs filling the basin, with high rise mountains and white snow and ice balancing ready to collapse at any second - it was full of life. On our ascent we witnessed at least 7 avalanches - nature in its rawest form, reminding us how trivial we were against the balancing boulders hanging high above the path in an area renowned for taking lives and giving experience. 
We eventually arrived at the Everest base camp, on top of the mighty Khumbu glacier that was the pathway to the summit of Everest, we could almost feel the glory and history that many people had felt arriving here many times before us. It was overwhelming. We paid our respects to the gods for allowing us safe passage to this point and congratulated each other on a momentous climb, all the while realising that we where standing in a moving, changing crushing beast that we should not stay in too long. Tommy got the Irish flag out for some photos. He then proceeded to get undressed with a crazy American
to mark the occasion with a naked photo.  For a few moments we stood gazing around us, a place that humans where not meant to survive, not meant to be, and thought about the first people to reach this desolate place over 50 years ago, on their journey to the summit.  It was incredible to be part of it.  Due to bad weather coming in from the south we felt it a good idea to make tracks of the glacier, the moonson rain started to pour down and it got colder and colder, making us slightly worried for our safe passage of the Khumbu.  Two hours later after battling over the boulders and rocks that looked like nothing on earth we finally arrived back at our tea house in Gorak Shep, where we  shared a celebratory drink.  We huddled around around the fire stove in the middle of the tea house and planned out the  next part of our journey.  To see Everest properly we needed to climb the mighty Kala Patter mountain to the east of Everst, it was a 3hr trek up the side of its west face. The best time to do this was in the morning - to see Everest in its full glory. 

Posted by RoltlissTravels 02:18 Archived in Nepal

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