My journey to the base of Mt. Everest by Shane Jennings
What a journey! I am hooked on Nepal. I reached out to Ian Taylor in 2012 as I saw his Everest for Free trek. I wasn’t sure what way it would work but it worked for me. I am part of a hiking club in California. We hike on a weekly basic around the Santa Lucia range and partaking in regular hikes up to Black Butte at 7,455 feet. It took a few months but I was able to gather the numbers to join me on this adventure to see Everest. We also raised $25,000 for a local non-profit.
Our team was assembled and training. I had to pay for my flight to Kathmandu, Visa entry fee to Nepal and I received my hike to Everest for free. What I did was share the discount with my group as I felt everyone should receive a discount on the trip. The cost of the trek was discounted to $2,200 as we had some extra people in the group.
Once we arrived in Kathmandu we were blown away. After our initial greeting at the airport in true Nepalese style we were brought to our upgraded hotel in the Thamel district and we hit the streets to enjoy the famous rum doodles and samples our first Everest beer, which was great by the way. We went to bed early after a long flights from California. Up early the next day we took the half day sightseeing tour around Kathmandu. This was included in the price and was great, English speaking guide working with Ian on the ground in Nepal. We were brought to the Monkey Temple, temples of Pashupatinath and back through Durbar Square. We could of spent a week in the Kathmandu region exploring all the local villages and temples. It was a truly unique experience for us.
Once back in the Thamel district we were brought out shopping for down jackets, lip balm, sun screen and a range of final equipment needed for the trek. We all headed for dinner and then back to the hotel for an early night.
We rose early at 4am and brought back to the airport for the internal flight to Lukla. We got out on the second flight and what a flight. Weaving through the mountains and seeing the runway ahead of you as you land a crazy and intense feeling. We arrived at 8:45am and brought for breakfast before our 3 hour hike to Phadking which was up and down a bit. Over all we dropped ab out 1,000 feet lower to sleep. I brought two books and there was plenty of time in the late afternoons to read and keep hydrating.
We moved to Namche Bazaar the following day and we knew we were at altitude. No one in the group had been above 14,000 feet so it was a journey of Discovery. Namche is incredible, narrow streets spread across this alcove in on the side of a mountain. The town had some cool bars, pool tables and we visited Ian’s t-shirt he put in 2006 before his Everest ascent in 2008. We played some pool in the bar cafe danfe, eat pizza and pies at the bakery across the path and checked e-mailed, relaxed and got used to our new home. We would spend two night here and miss this town and the local people we met. I will return some day.
After a two night stay in Namche we moved onto Tengbouche and the famous monastery. The hike started easy up out of Namche and winding around the mountain we had amazing views of Everest and the surrounding mountains. After a few hours of walking we down hill for lunch. I think we had already stopped 5 times at this stage and we were guided very slowly as not to be pushing high heart rates. This turned out to be vital in our acclimatization process. We had a long stretch of 3 hours to reach Tengbouche. We got cleaned up, changed and went to explore the monastery and local bakery and relax before our evening meal. Everyone was doing great at this stage and enjoying the trail.
Soon we were moving closer to Everest with stops at Pangbouche, crossing more bridges and arriving in Dingbouche at 14,435 feet and we celebrated our new height record. Some of us were feeling the effects of the lack of oxygen and our guides kept us drinking water and feeding us snacks which were greatly appreciated. The landscape and temperature had changed quite a bit and we got a little snow the following morning added to the excitement.
We were all fit and healthy and moved slower now towards are goal. One book down and moving onto my second. I was really enjoying the whole experience. Some people took showers in Dingbouche before moving to Lobuche but I was quite content with my wipes and using cold water to clean up. We moved forwards the Dugla pass and slowly made our way to the memorial grounds. This site remembers some of Everest’s fallen climbers and reminded me that these mountains, although beautiful have taken out some of the world’s best climbers.
We moved slowly up to Lobuche for the night, the lodges were not as nice as lower down, we could still get a bed and nice fire every evening. We were almost there. I noticed people were not eating as much as before but our guides were great, encouraging us to eat and keep drinking water. This next day we moved to Gorak shep and we decided to rest here for the night before heading to Everest base camp. It was a nice walk among giant mountains all around. We rested and got up early for our trek to base camp.
We had arrived, it took 3 hours trekking to reach this goal and what an experience to have standing at the base of the world’s highest mountain was truly a moment to be remember. We took our pictures, walked around this famous place and felt we had achieved something great. We marched back to Gorak Shep with a smile on our faces. We relaxed for the afternoon, played cards and games before an early night. The following day we got up at 4am to all but two people made the ascent of Kala Phattar at 18,192 feet and the view was over whelming. We had reached the roof of the world.
We returned to Gorak Shep and made the long journey back down to Pheriche, onto Namche where we partied at Cafe Danfe and the longest day after a few beers back to Lukla this was one of the longest days at 8 hours hiking and we were all glad to be back. We had survived the Everest base camp hike. We will be regroup and return our eyes to Kilimanjaro in 2014 and look forward to another adventure of a different kind. Thank you to Ian and team or a wonderful experience in the Himalaya’s we can not recommend you enough.