Written by Terrance Glancy, trip leader Everest Base Camp trek, May 2016.
Thankfully Earth’s Edge provide a training weekend for all expeditions two months in advance of the departure date. This weekend provides an opportunity for clients to meet their expedition leader, doctor and fellow trekking mates. This immediately creates an important bond for everyone preparing to go on a trip of a lifetime. Questions are answered and appropriate equipment is discussed. The expedition doctor gets to chat with each client about any queries and discusses all medical recommendations with the entire group. For me, this is a valuable and worthwhile weekend that helps everyone prepare for a challenging and amazing expedition.
Fast forward two months and everyone is meeting in Dublin airport. The time flies between the training weekend and your departure date. The usual nerves are obvious amongst everyone but soon settle as we chat through the first few legs of our journey. A nice soft shell Earth’s Edge jacket and buff is provided to all clients and are quickly squeezed into the duffel bags before we board our plane.
I think it was pretty obvious to everyone how excited I was as I had never been to Nepal or Everest Base Camp. I was really looking forward to getting back to the mountains and forgetting about the humdrum of everyday life. However, I was also anxious having never been on this expedition before, but extensive experience of travelling and guiding in the Himalaya helped me relax and get my thinking cap on. Taking the weight of a group’s hopes and dreams to get to Everest Base Camp can be overwhelming, but for some reason I look forward to this aspect of the expeditions. I have learned a lot from previous expeditions and about group dynamics and anticipating small problems before they escalate into something bigger.
When we touched down in Kathmandu, the group was met with the infectiously friendly face of our local guide, Lakpa. This is another reason why I really enjoy the trips with earth’s Edge. You get to meet other likeminded expedition leaders that are as passionate about the mountains and providing clients with a positive experience as you are. Lakpa and I developed a very positive rapport with each other from the start and I was confident from the get go that we would work together to overcome any challenges that lay ahead. Lakpa had worked with Irish clients before on previous Earth’s Edge trips to Everest Base Camp so knew just what to expect from us.
The trek itself is incredible. The first couple of days are fairly straightforward and wind their way up through Himalayan meadows and across atmospheric bridges that tower above the gushing white water rivers below. The banter on the trail is hard to describe but I know clients are having a good time and are doing well when I hear them laugh and see them smile so often. Thankfully, there is a full days rest in the beautiful village of Namche Baazar near the start of the trip. This gives everyone the opportunity to acclimatise in a way that will stand to them further up the trail.
On this expedition, we stay in tea houses all along the trail. These tea houses are fantastic and the food provided is of high quality. An interesting development in these tea houses though is the growing accessibility to electricity and even wi-fi. For some, this access can distract from the opportunity to unwind and get away from screens and social media, for others it a great way to communicate with friends and family back home.
As each day passes on the trail you become fully immersed in mountain life. You forget what day it is and develop a healthy focus on reaching base camp. This healthy focus incorporates a number of factors including how well you are acclimatising and a positive mental attitude. You are encouraged to drink plenty of water on these expeditions to help improve acclimatisation. You are also encouraged to eat a lot of food even if you’re not feeling too hungry. A loss of appetite is common at altitude but it is important to have fuel in the tank for each day. I take great care in ensuring clients are happy with their food and ensure they are drinking enough water to stay hydrated and prepared for the following days trek.
Before you know it, you are leaving Lobuche (4950m) and preparing to go to Gorakshep (5164m) and on to Everest Base Camp (5380m). This is a demanding day but one that is full of rewards. The impressive peaks of Pumori (7161m) and Nupste (7861m) dominate the view as you enter the uppermost part of the Khumu Valley and Gorakshep for some lunch a short break. As you get closer to Everest Base Camp, you start to think about the effort you have put in to get here. The feelings of satisfaction are sometimes difficult to hide and people get emotional. We hugged, shook hands and congratulated one another and took photographs to create lasting memories. Everyone in the team made it. Not only did they make it to Base Camp but they did it in good form, which for me is a testament to work and effort put in by everyone working behind the scenes to help make it happen. Fortunately the weather was really good for us until we reached Base Camp itself. We were very lucky to get good clear views of Mt Everest, however the temperatures quickly dropped as a small snow shower swept through, leaving fatigued bodies feeling a bit chilled. We made our way back to down to Gorakshep to eat and sleep and prepare for our next challenge, climbing Kala Pattar (5550m).
An ascent of Kala Pattar, which means black rock is no small undertaking. We began our climb at 4am under a starlit sky in cool temperatures. As we looked up the Khumbu Valley beyond Everest Base Camp, we could see would be Everest summiters making their way through the ice falls by head torch. I can’t begin to imagine what is going through their minds as they navigate their way through seracs and ice walls. It took the team two hours to reach the summit of Kala Pattar. The views from the summit are some of the best mountain views I have ever experienced. The silhouette of Mt Everest (8848m) and Nuptse are incredible. Again, everyone was in great spirits and handshakes and hugs were shared. The weather was absolutely perfect for us throughout and we made a quick descent for some well deserved breakfast.
It’s a very rewarding experience to see clients put in a huge amount of effort to fulfil their dreams and goals of reaching Everest Base Camp. It is at this stage of the trip that myself and the doctor can begin to relax a little. We know everyone is happy and healthy and the only thing left to do is get down uninjured. We made our way back to Lukla over the next few days to nice warm showers and a celebratory dinner which are always great craic. The next morning we took the breath taking flight from Lukla to Kathmandu. Seriously, this flight alone is worth joining the next expedition as it is truly exhilarating. We had a full rest day in Kathmandu and then made our way home to Ireland feeling good and happy.
What do I like about Earth’s Edge Expeditions? I don’t just like them I respect them and trust them. They look after their crew and porters well above any other expedition companies I have come across. It is clear that the guides and porters enjoy working with them as did our group of adventurers that took on the Everest Base Camp expedition. With all seventeen clients successfully making it to Base Camp, there is a clear reason why you should choose your next adventure with Earth’s Edge. They take great pride in providing a truly memorable experience for everyone involved and you won’t be disappointed.
If you are interested in joining us on one of our Everest Base Camp treks contact us today!