Where to start? For both of us Everest Base Camp was a big ticket achievement, a challenge that was on the cards for years but we never really got around to it.
Our guide was Babu, a seasoned porter with a few years under his belt as a guide sporting a massive smile that put us all at ease. We hadn't done 1 second of preparation for this Trek and after chatting to a few people that had completed it in Kathmandu we were very nervous.
On the drive to the airport Babu informed us that we would be getting a Heli into Lukla Airport and wouldn't have to suffer the horror's of the long, winding approach into arguably the worlds most dangerous airport (something I think we were a little sad about). After 10 minutes into the flight the cloud started to clear and our first glimpse of the worlds highest mountain appeared to the left of us. We're both seasoned snowboarders so the mountains always feel like home but this view was something else. Here we are cruising at 11,000ft in the Heli and every mountain in sight is still nearly 18,000ft above us.
I don't want to give a day to day account of the trip as that may just send you all to sleep so will try and be concise and summarise our experience as best I can.
Was it hard??
The trek itself wasn't as physically demanding as we had thought it would be, yes we were sore/tired at the end of the daily 8 hour hike but to be honest anyone with a good level of fitness would not find it taxing. The local food was tough, eating Dal Bhat non stop really just increased the chances of having to do a "Nature Poo" while on the mountain. Sleeping was harder than we ever imagined, early starts, breathlessness and freezing temperatures.
By far altitude sickness was the most difficult part of the trip and we all suffered at some point, nearly costing us the whole trip while we struggled in Gorakshep. What didn't help was a young guy from Hong Kong, trekking the trails at the same time as us dying on the mountain in front of everyone. I think in some way it got in everyone's head about the reality of what we were doing and just magnified any symptoms we may have had.
I can't say anything more than GIGANTIC! Nothing comes close, not the Andes nor the Alps, it really makes you feel small, insignificant and overwhelmed.
Would you do it again?
No, and the reason is simple. You spend days trekking to a place that is 17,600ft and when you get there there is still another 12,000ft to go to the summit. We had a greater sense of achievement summiting a mountain on our rest day (16,730ft) than we did getting to base camp. What I would do next is try and summit something like "Island Peak" where we all feel it would be tough but worth the pain.
After a month of being in Nepal we received a call to say the remaining investment funds were ready and we had to start work on a project in Portugal that wasn't supposed to move ahead until early next year. Totally unexpected and has meant we have had to call time on the back packing part of our travels. For sure we were both disappointed but all the jumping in OZ, New Zealand and the US will still go ahead later in the year.
Andy will be down in Dunkeswell and I will be around Hinton for the season so come say hi and jump with us before we head off.