Everest Base Camp via Gokyo Ri
December 21, 2011
Our trek to Eversest base camp via Gokyo Ri and Cho La Pass was the most amazing experience of my life. We were very lucky with the weather. The rain and snow that we experienced as we left Namche Bazar on our way up to Mong La was very challenging and I’m very grateful that we had no more weather like that, especially as we got higher into the mountains. After that the days were crystal clear and I could not have even imagined how beautiful and awe inspiring the landscape was going to be. As we left the main trekking route and headed up the Gokyo Valley the crowds thinned and the scenery got more and more awesome. What an unbelievably beautiful place. We overnighted in Macherma which is set in a superb glacial valley and continued up the valley to Gokyo the next day. It literally just kept getting better and better. You know when you’re holidaying and strive to get to that one amazing lookout and when you get there you think that it was all worthwhile? Well try to imagine that you reached that rewarding lookout and there was another one just up the track and they just kept coming. That was what it was like in the Gokyo Valley. The first lake was beautiful but the third lake with Gokyo village on its banks and surrounded by immense mountains was superb. We were so lucky here I think. We arrived at about midday, unloaded our gear into rooms and headed up Gokyo Ri in absolutely perfect weather. We got to the top at about 3:00pm and let me tell you the scene is overpowering. Everest is clearly visible as are Lohtse, Nuhptse, Makalu, Choy Oya and several other mammoth mountains, Ngazumba Glacier and Gokyo Lake. (please forgive my spelling). Imagine being surrounded by 7-8,000 metre peaks with glaciers and turquoise blue glacial lakes at their bases, blue, blue crystal clear skies and the occasional puffy white cloud occasionally gathering around a mountain top just for dramatic effect. This was definitely my highlight of the trek and should not be missed. The views are absolutely awesome. Unbelievable!
The next day we crossed the glacier and trekked down to a very small village Dragnac where we overnighted before setting off in the dark to head over Cho La Pass. A very cold and challenging section and negotiating the icy boulders near the top you understand why this should only be tackled in benign weather conditions. Incredible dawn views and when you get to the top there are truly spectacular views down an immense valley to Ama Dablam in the distance. Although quite a few people do this pass I could not help feeling very priveledged to have seen this part of the mountains. There are no Yak trains or hoards here and it really feels remote and you get a sense of being a long way from civilization. This is where you need a good guide too. You will not stop taking pictures as you trek down this valley as the views just keep changing. It’s all very uplifting. The trek up to Everest Base camp the next day was senstational also.Trekking up the edge of an immense glacier you get a sense of the massive scale of these mountains. The ice fall and at the base of Nuptse and the views up the climbing route to Everest are inspiring. Our trek guide, Mindu knew the guys at base camp and arranged hot tea at the mess tent – what a guy! It briefly snowed on us here as storm clouds brewed and then the weather just cleared off down the valley. How lucky can you get?! We saw 4 avalanches happening on the slopes of Lhotse and Nuptse and I got some great photos of them. Once again, more impressive than you could dream of.
The next day we shuffled up Kala Pattar before dawn to watch the sun rise over Everest. Great views but possibly the coldest place that I have ever been to! As we headed down from this high altitude country we had a real sense of achieving something quite amazing. This is one part of the world not to be missed. And there was more. We stayed overnight at Dingboche at the base of Ama Dablam on the Dudhe Koshi river. A very, very beautiful place with views up the valley to Island Peak and down the valley to Themsarku. It was arrest day but I couldn’t resist heading up an adjacent peak to get some sensational views of Ama Dablam and down the valley. Very, very worth the effort if you get the chance.
The 5 other people in our group were all great fun and we bonded really well – rather important if you are going to spend 2 weeks plus in close company with others. that Himalayan Glacier did a superb job of organising everything from pickups at the airport and accommodation right down to tea breaks at sensational settings. Our trek guide Mindu Sherpa was more than awesome and he and the two assistant guides Bosan Sherpa and Dawa Sherpa looked after us like kings. They took all of the stress out of the trip and I cannot say enough about these guys. They were truly our friends and did the best for us everywhere. They arranged accommodation and meals and helped us stay healthy and strong. The porters were also unbelievably solid, reliable and good natured.
Thank you Himalayan Glacier for organizing such a great trip that I will remember for the rest of my life. Believe me I am a critical bastard and I have no desire to say anything critical of the trek whatsoever. I will use your company again whwn I return to try another part of the Himalayas. It was an amazing experience. It is strenuous and it will challenge anyone’s strength and stamina. Some members of our group suffered altitude difficulties and had coughs and colds and it is not easy but it is definitely worth it. Get fit before you come!