Everest – a patchwork of notes: The final few days

I’m a little behind on the posts so this is going to be succinct and predominantly picture based post. As a result, the narrative is going to be unimaginative and of the general structure “and then…and then…and then…”. Sorry. I recommend just looking at the pictures.

We awoke early-ish. We wanted to get out by 0700 (I later found out a lot of people leave at 0500-0600). It wasn’t until 0730 or so that we had actually left as I had a few stomach problems; something I ate in Gorek Shep hadn’t sat well.

Either way we hit the road at 0730 and had a brisk pace in the morning. The first hour was walking gently uphill through the valley.

We then had a steep rock face to climb. This part was more technical but straightforward for us nonetheless.

Below: Looking back at the morning’s progress thus far (genuine):

Below: Looking back at the morning’s progress thus far (posing)…

Once we climbed over the top, the terrain changed on the other side. It was snowy and icy so we had to keep our wits about us. After making our way down the valley side, we traversed across the flat snow. This would be one of the most dangerous parts of the trek, had it snowed recently. But, fortunately, it hadn’t and plenty of hikers had been there already over the past few days so the trail through the snow was clearly marked. If it hadn’t, there was supposedly a few hidden frozen likes beneath the snow which poses some hazard to hikers.

Once through the plateau, we had to climb up a steep rocky face. The ground was loose crumbly rocks that were difficult to climb. The steep gradient meant we had to scramble on all four up the hill.

Looking back down on said climb…

At the top, we climbed up the rocks to the highest point on the ridge. It was tricky, but the views were rewarding. There, we rested for 30 minutes to have our mid-morning lunch.

A view from the left

A view from the right

The next part was downhill on more loose, crumbling rocks – initially with ice, but as we descended in altitude the snow disappeared. It was a tricky descent and I almost slipped a few times (and actually slipped once, fortunately, the big bag on my back softened the fall).

Above: Looking back up the trail we had descended

After an hour of crumbly rocks, there was another half hour to an hour of jumping from boulder to boulder.

Looking back at the hill we descended and plain we traversed. Follow the trail in the middle of the picture, then follow the white path up the mountain.

We climbed up and down a few hills until eventually we reached a large valley. We followed the trail downhill, mostly next to the river all the way down the valley.

At the base of the valley, we sat and had tea and chocolate in the village. Surprised that my stomach had survived for those hours, the stomach problems reappeared in a convenient and timely manner.

After a 30 minute break, we pressed on. We still had two hours to Gokyo. The trail started easy but as we entered the u-shaped valley of the former glacier it became very difficult. Tiny crumbly rocks that just slipped away as you stepped on it carrying you with them. We headed up the valley towards the source and traversed across at the same time. The moraine was in heaps so every 20 minutes we were climbing up and descending these small rocky hills. After 6-7 hours of hiking already, these last 2 were gruelling, tiring and demoralising.

Eventually, though, we made it to Gokyo.

The following morning we awoke early and started our race up to Gokyo Ri.

Mountain Everest there in the background with the wind sweapt snow

Mountain Everest

After a hearty breakfast, we started our descent back down to Namche Bazaar. Just on that day we had descended around 1200-1500m. As we descended, vegetation slowly – at first – started to reappear and eventually we were walking through forests and trails that looked like something out of Middle Earth.

The rest of the hike was easy, we continued down to Namche the following day, which took 2.5 hours, then the day after to Lukla. On the way to Lukla, it started to rain for the first time since I arrived on the Himalayas, but the last two days had been really easy hiking as we descended in altitude and soaked up the oxygen rich air. From Lukla, I flew back to Kathmandu. Two days later I arrived in Kolkata.

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