My name is Sarah Wilson, I come from New York. I really wanted to make the journey to Everest Base Camp and see the highest point on the planet. My biggest fears were:
– I don’t have access to the mountains
– I live at sea level
– Can I walk day after day for 12/13 days
– How can I mentally and physically prepare
– I had never been outside the United States
I found Ian Taylor Trekking online and reached out to find out more about how I could make this journey possible. I spoke to Ian and he spent some time helping me prepare for the trip. I also read some other peoples experience in his blog and was really impressed with the top 10 tips for trekking to Everest Base Camp and other people’s experiences on making this journey to Everest Base Camp.
I decided to take on this journey. I had been jogging three times a week and started to change up my training in preparation for this trek. I set my sights on October 2013. I had 4 months to prepare. I started walking up hill on the treadmill twice a week, jogged for 45 mins once a week and worked out on the stair master twice a week. In month one I added 10 pounds weight to my backpack on all gym sessions. Each month I trained 4-5 times a week and added an extra 5 pounds in weight to my backpack each month. In the last two months before heading to Nepal, I added in a spin class in my weekly training schedule. I started to feel a lot stronger my upper body was able to handle the weight and my lower body was covering more mileage each month with heavier weight. This made all the difference on the day hikes on route to Everest Base Camp.
I was blown away by Kathmandu. It took a while to get through the visa lines in the airport so make sure you have passport pictures, forms filled out and US$40 exactly ready to hand over. I was humbled by the airport greeting and a little nervous arriving in one of the poorest countries in the world I was brought through the manic streets of Kathmandu to the Thamel, tourist district. I met up with 5 fellow trekkers and we explored the shops and picked up some remaining items needed for the trek.
The next day we were brought on a city tour, we visited the monkey temple which with great history and monkey’s running around. Make sure you hold onto your water, food, bag as they monkeys will try and take them from you. We moved on to the Boudhanath Stupa which is one of the largest in the world, thought to be built in the 14th Century after Tibetans moved across the Himalaya’s into Nepal. Thousands of Tibetans and pilgrims flock to this important land mark and it was a great visit. Some of the stories and history were insightful and a very interesting place to visit. I was really enjoying the weather as it was 75F and sunny, meeting new people and experiencing a new culture. We were encouraged to keep hydrating and getting prepared for our flight into the mountains at 9,000ft.
The following morning we were up early at 5am and transferred to the airport, we were lucky enough that the weather was clear and we could see right out across the Himalaya’s getting close to the mountains before we turned and landed in Lukla. I had read about this flight but it was truly amazing. It was a little coldy in Lukla but once the sun came up it got a lot warmer. We had breakfast in Lukla and started to hike to Phakding which was up and down hill to 8,500 feet. This felt very comfortable of a walk and we arrived for lunch. We got settled into our tea house rooms and get changed into more comfortable cloths and rested, kept drinking water and I could now feel like I was high in the Himalaya’s. I read my book, walked around the small village and what an incredible experience watching local people going about their daily business.
The next day we had breakfast at 7:30am and started crossed some amazing suspension bridges at 8am. The pace was very slow which was amazing and we took plenty of rest stops to take in the views. I was now believing more and more that I could do this. We stopped numerous times getting biscuits and warm lemon tea, which was great. We slow made our way to the Namche hill on the route up to Namche Bazaar which would take a couple of hours. I noticed the lack of Oxygen but we were moving a steady pace and we all managed pretty well and I could see how my training was paying off. We arrived in Namche for Lunch and freshened up. We were in a lice lodge and the food was great. I took a walk down to Cafe Danfe and the German bakery which was awesome!! it was amazing looking at the old pictures of this town and thinking about the first trekkers to come into this region with no pizza, bakery and pool tables. I was feeling good and kept hydrating which was drilled into me now.
The sun was up and we were hiking higher, we moved up the back of Namche Bazaar to Shangbouche air field and onto Shangbouche hill which made the whole trip. The views across to Everest, Ama Dablam and Khumjung were Edmond Hillary build a lot of schools. This view was beyond my wildest dreams and was so excited to move further up this amazing valley. We were now standing at 12,800 feet above sea level. I could notice the lack of oxygen but felt I was coping with the pace and my body felt good. It was a steep decline back into Namche Bazaar to rest up for the rest of the day.
Up early again, I slept well and we moved around the mountain and walked on a nice flat trail with awesome views of the khumbu valley. We make our way down to the river through the forest where people were living which was amazing and rested for lunch before our long slog up to Tengbouche. This hill seemed to go on forever, with plenty of break and drinking water we all made it. We went to check out the Tengbouche Monastery and finished the day off in the bakery with amazing views of Mt. Everest. Slowly getting toward my goal.
We are on the road again at 8am and made our way through the glade trees and crossed back to the other side of the river moving towards pangbouche for a break. This was an easier day for me and felt really good taking in all the amazing views. We moved onto Dingbouche at 14,400 feet and rested for the rest of the day. The night were getting colder and enjoyed the warm communal area before heading to our colder rooms. My hot water Nalgene bottle in my sleeping bag kept me nice and warm.
The next morning we got up a little later and had breakfast at 9am and did a 3 hour hike up the hill behind Dingbouche it got warmer as the sun came up and it was great to break new height records every day. We made it up to just over 16,000 feet just 1,300 feet short of Everest Base Camp. Some of the group had slight head aches but after returning to Dingbouche and drinking another 4 ltrs of water and we all felt tired but good and spirits were high.
We got a good nights rest and started walking across this amazing plateau toward the Everest valley. To me, this was a nice easy stroll and we stopped for some food in a crowded Dugla lodge. I knew the next hour would be tough but we slowly made our way up the Dugla pass with yaks and porters quickly moving past us letting us know are place. At the top of the pass it was quite warm and we stopped to rest. We were in the memorial grounds for climbers who had lost their lives in these mountains. I had read the book ‘Into Thin Air’ and it was interesting to see a memorial to American climber Scott Fischer who died on Everest in 1996. It reminded me to respect this environment. We were all looking out for each other and making sure everyone was well hydrated and feel good. A couple of hours later we arrived in Lobuche at 16,100 feet and rested for the rest of the day, eating and drinking as much water as possible. I was feeling good, just a little tired from the altitude. After resting and drinking I felt better.
I had another good nights sleep and knew today would be a long day. We were trekking all the way to Everest Base Camp. We were all very excited, we started walking at 8am and hiked to Gorak shep across some rocky terrain which was a little more difficult and we made our way to 16,800 feet and could see the end of the valley where Everest Base Camp was and up Kala Phattar where we would go to get that view of Everest. We had some food and moved on towards Everest Base Camp, we arrived after 2 and a half hours later and it was sunny quite warm and was so glad to have made this journey. I tool a lot of pictures and enjoyed 45 minutes walking around and exploring the area. We moved back to Gorak Shep and all celebrated our success on making this amazing journey and keep hydrating and doing the right things. We had some great soup and food before retiring early. I was in bed by 7pm.
We rose early at 4am had a small breakfast, packed some water and snacks and made the 3 hour hike up Kala phattar to 18,200 feet which was tough towards the top and we had to stop every 5 minutes which is normal and finally made it to the top and the iconic view of Mt. Everest. The experience was more than I could have ever imagined.
We all made it to the top and back down to Gorak Shep to eat, rest and move lower. We spend about 35 minutes taking in this special experience. This is a memory that will live long in my mind. A truly inspiring view and journey, one I was unsure I could do. We had a long journey back and we made our way all the way back down to Pheriche and we all felt really good dropping down lower altitude. We were now at 13,800 feet.
We were up early to hike all the way back to Namche Bazaar, it is a long way, easier to walk and we could move a lot faster. We made it back to Namche at 3pm and decided to go back to Cafe Danfe, enjoy a beer and a few games of pool. We all took showers and went to bed early.
We had a long day today 7 hours back to Lukla so we started at 10am after a great nights rest. We were now back to nice 65F weather and it was getting a little hot. I was down to a shirt and shorts. This is a long day and one of the hardest days, especially the last few hours going up hill back into Lukla. It was so important to keep hydrating and drinking as much water as possible. I was able to shower again and felt really good to have accomplished this amazing and personally rewarding journey.
I was a new person arriving back in Kathmandu, this experience had changes my life. I had stepped out of my comfort zone in so many ways and have a new found respect for the mountains, the people who live in them and a found I could go to altitude and learned a lot about who I am. I would encourage anyone wanting to step out and make this journey to pick up the phone and speak to Ian. His immense knowledge and experience helped me every day making this journey and looking forward to planning my next adventure.