Mount Everest Climb for St Aidan's Services, Gorey
How do I start to describe an epic adventure and capture ever special moment from the Mountains of Nepal…
Official Day 1
Venturing through katmandu, Nepal, on the journey to Mount Everest basecamp, I am thoroughly enjoying experiencing the culture here. From what I can see, there are no road rules or even a traffic light in sight, you’ll get run you over if you don't move so decided to take a taxi, on the back of a rickshaw! (Yes a man cycling a bike basically!). Not my best decision of the day but finally got to explore the 'Monkey temple' which was insightful and stands at the top of 365 steps. It is an remarkable temple, full of culture and history. After 2 days and 2 nights in the very basic hotel in Katmandu, we begin to prepare for the following day; the official Beginning of our journey. We are given a black holdall that we have to pack all of our belongings into and it can only weigh 10kg! This bag is for our porters to carry up the mountain.
The porters prefer to be called porters instead of Sherpa’s because all the of the men that live in the area are actually named Sherpa (by Surname) and their first name is one of 7 normally. They are called Monday-Sunday in their native language!
It’s Easter Sunday and we have a very big day ahead of us……. Here we go!
We set off to the Katmandu airport to take a flight to Lukla airport on the mountin to begin the climb of a lifetime. The flight into Lukla is an experience that I won’t forget in a hurry!! (I have video footage to prove it!!!!) We were on a 15 seater plane, flying over cliff tops, Adrenaline pumping on that landing :)
Today is the 1st real day climbing towards Everest. We started our 4 hour climb to Phakding village where we rested and had lunch. We then set off on another 2 hour higher climb to help us acclimatise, returning back down to our teahouse where we stay as we travel up through the mountain. We are not staying in tents!
It's incredible to see how much the porters/Sherpas carry up and down the mountain. It rained on the 2nd climb and we had to cross our first ladder bridge which was scary but fun!
I loved soaking up the local culture as we travel; it's a fascinating place, steeped with tradition and history.
We were tucked up in bed by 8pm as we needed to get plenty of rest for what lay ahead the following day. Breakfast is at 6.30am and a full day of climbing.
Regarding the food, it was very normal and plain on the mountain and surprisingly there is a lot of choice. After a certain town they advise climbers not to eat meat as it has to be transported up the mountain from the base and by the time it has travelled for a few days with the porters, it isn’t fresh so there can be high risk of food poisoning. It was fine for me as I am a vegetarian but I can imagine it being difficult for people to take meat out of their diet if they are used to eating it.
Tomorrow will be one of the toughest climbs as it is very steep and more or less a constant climb for 6 or 7 hours so it will definitely be carbs for breakfast! Porridge all the way….
We left Pakding village en route to Namche Bazaar. This is one of the hardest days trekking as the route is as steep as your legs will let you climb with 6 or 7 kg on your back (although I'm sure my bag has 10kg in it because I carry about 5 or 6litres per day and drink it all as I need to stay hydrated!)
The weather was unusually hot along route today which caused dehydration problems for some. The weather usually starts out cold but by late morning to sun was out keeping us very warm.
Crossing the ladder bridges was an experience in itself! Crazy windy in parts but actually fun (in a weird way!). The local people are very gracious and always give way to tourist on the bridges. Meeting the Yaks on one of the bridges with gas bottles attached to them was scary!! (for anyone who doesn’t know a Yak is a large domesticated wild ox with shaggy hair, humped shoulders, and large horns, used in Tibet/Everest regions as a pack animal and for its milk, meat, and hide.) You will see why they are scary from my pictures!
It was on this route that we arrived at the first view point where we could see incredible Everest out in front of us. Entering the National park was stunning. This park runs through a huge part of the Everest region. The park is called Sagarmatha National Park (which is actually what the Nepalise call Mount Everest). Evening time we arrived at the town of Namche Bazaar which was stunning. It has such character and we got to see clearly what mountain life is like. There is such a sense of local community here. The villagers and their little kids are so gracious. I love their culture. The shops are so quaint and even in the rain has such character.
On arrival to Namche Bazar we stay for 2 night to acclimatise. On arrival we trekked up to the Hilary Memorial view point (3840m) where we could see Tamserku mountain peeping through the clouds. We visited the Norgay Tenzing Sherpa statue, who was the first Sherpa to summit Everest with Hilary. There is a museum there where you can read all about climbers and the history of the Mountain and treks throughout the mountains.
Tomorrow we will head off to Tengboche which is approx 6/7 hour trek. Drinking 4-6 litres of water a day to stay hydrated and avoid altitude sickness.
We left Namche Bazar and we experienced 4 seasons in one day on route today. A dust,rocky trail towards Tengboche. Some of the paths are rocky, some dusty and stoney. Along this route we passed a point where an elderly gentleman asks for donations to pay locals to widen the path so tourists can travel safely along this route. He has dedicated his whole life to extending and building this path for tourists and porters to make their journey safer. I am sure he loved our 'selfie' moment!
Today is the first day we have really felt the chill in the air. We trekked down the valley by the river to eat our lunch and then back up another 2 hours to Tengboche. On arrival at Tengboche, we visited the monks at the monastery and tomorrow we listen to their chant at 6.30am before we head off to Dingboche which will be a 5 or 6 hours trek. The views tonight, of the peak of Everest, were stunning in the darkness. It is incredible to see it shining through the clouds at night as you stand there. A very special moment.
Waking up to this mountain view was spectacular even after a very cold night! At 6am we watched the sunrise over the Tengboche monastery which was indescribable. After sunrise, we entered the monastery to listen to the monks chant. It is so incredible to share in their morning ritual. Having breakfast, looking out over Everest; it doesn't get much better than that.
Shortly we will head off through the mountains climbing higher to reach Dingboche (4200m) it just gets better everyday here....
Headaches started to kick in a little bit today. I am conscious to stay hydrated. In the evening we sit around by a stove/fire sharing a communal area which is a lovely experience as you get to chat with people who are all on a journey through the mountain. Different cultures, meeting lots of crazy adventurous people and hearing their stories but what resonates with me most, is that everyone along the way, has their own unique reason for being there.
Today was an acclimatisation while staying in Dingboche, which basically means a shorter trek up into higher altitude of 4700m to get used to the air and back down to where we are staying. Our climb today only took 3 hours as we just do a short climb to see how we adapt to the higher altitude! I was ok but some people had head spins! That is common.
It is vital for us to take our time while acclimatising or bad headaches can set in fast. Amazing views of the mountain ranges up there. The higher we get, the more it takes your breath away. The rocks were glistening with minerals which our leader said is mainly silver. They actually mine the Himalayas in parts which I didn't know. Dingboche is a small village, again with lots of character. The communal area in our teahouse looks like the inside of a log cabin. The fire is noticeably much hotter in this tea house and when I asked why? They said and it is because until now, they have been burning wood but up here they are burning Yak poo!
They dry the Yak poo on the roof of houses in the sun and then burn it throughout the evening and I have to say you can feel the difference…… Yak poo all the way! Speaking of Yaks, I learned today that the male is called the Yak and the female is called the Nak. They native’s don’t kill Yak for their food, they can only use the Yak to eat when they die naturally. As we walk I talk with our tour guides Gelu and Pemba who are from Nepal and are super knowledgeable of the mountain and the way of life here. The group I am travelling with are incredible people! Loving my journey with them all! I am learning constantly about life on this mountain. My mind feels like a sponge and I just can’t get enough of it.
Today we reached 'Babuchhiri Sherpa' memorial grounds on our way to Gorakshep! This is the memorial ground for all the climbers and Sherpas who have lost their lives attempting to summit Everest over the years. You may recognise 'Scott Fischer's memorial stone' from the Everest movie in my pictures. There are beautiful flags that people hang as an honour to the dead and the colours symbolise different parts of the body. It was a very eery moment to stand there among the grounds the people of the mountain believe that their souls float there. I sat there and felt my head spinning and had to rest as the climb became very steep again after there. Knowing we were one day away from Base camp was incredible. After another few hours of climbing with a headache, we reached our next point which is Gorakshep my head was spinning again so I actually ordered some Garlic soup which they said helps combat altitude sickness and it genuinely helped. Wifi along the way was more expensive as you travelled and I was struggling to keep everyone up to date with my journey as the signal wasn’t very good in a lot of places.
The day has arrived where travel to Base camp. We had an early, 5am start to Gorakshep with a quick breakfast before we headed off for base camp. Awesome experience crossing the Khumbu Glacier. Then slowly, the Khumbu Icefall and the iconic yellow tents of EBC (Everest Base Camp) came into view.
As we hiked along a ridge to the left of the Khumbu Icefall, we heard the snow crack on the opposite side of the valley. Sure enough, an avalanche roared into life and came hurtling down the mountain. Thankfully, it lost it's momentum on the Khumbu Icefall, stopping just short of EBC and where we were headed.
It was a very powerful and humbling moment. Telling us that we could adventure all we liked, but ultimately we were at the mercy of Mother Nature.
On we went and I'm so delighted to report that all 15 trek members, and our friends Gelu Sherpa and Pemba Sherpa made it safely to Base Camp... WE DID IT! An unforgettable moment.
Time to get off this mountain! It is a funny feeling when you reach the highest point (Kala Patthar), all you can think of is climbing down! We all thought the descent would be easy but we forgot how much uphill there was on the way down! Yes I know it sounds odd but it was so steep climbing back through the hills and valleys. We saw so many things on the way down that we missed on the way up! We left Kala Patthar, had a quick pitstop at Gorakshep, then climbed down for a further 5 hours to our next tea house where we stayed for the night.
It was incredible to feel the flow of oxygen through our lungs when we finally left the rocky area and hit the trees again. I couldn’t believe how much oxygen I could feel in my body. We savoured every moment of our descent and the feeling of achievement flowed through the group like we had won the lottery!
One of the many incredible people I met on my journey, was a traveller called Jelle Veyt (http://www.jelleveyt.be/). He has attempted to summit twice to date. (He will try again on May 14th). In 2014 he was preparing to summit when the tragic ice fall happened, where 16 Sherpas were killed working on fixing ropes and making the path safe for climbers. Then in 2015 he returned to attempt summit again but the earthquake in Nepal had such a bad effect on the mountain causing a huge avalanche that killed 12 climbers. As a huge coincidence Jelle happened to be recording on his go pro camera at the exact moment the avalanche occurred and caught the tragedy on camera. You can see this on his youtube channel and website. CNN interviewed him in the aftermath and used his footage. Sitting chatting to someone who has experienced some of the most adventurous parts of Everest was definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
- From Base Camp to Camp 1 takes approx. 5/6 hours climb
- Camp 1 – Camp 2 it takes approx. 4/5 hours climb
- Camp 2 – Camp 3 it takes approx. 4/5 hours climb
- Camp 3 – Camp 4 it takes approx. 4/5 hours approx. climb
- Camp 4 – Lhotse Face 4/5 hours approx. climb
- Camp 4 – South Col (Summit) approx. 3 /4 hours
When the climbers leave Camp 4 they need to check weather conditions and it is a race against the Mountain to see if they can get to the top. I can’t wait to see if Jelle finally makes it up there on May 14th!
We descended down to a Teahouse called Amadablam Lodge which is owned by a Sherpa and his wife. They are such a kind, warm couple who built the lodge for climbers and tourists after the Sherpa earned the money from summiting Everest twice back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. They were so hospitable while we were there. We watched a documentary about climbers on the mountain which was amazing and quite surreal, to watch it while we sat there on the mountain. They have a Wall of Fame in the communal area of all the famous people who have stayed there and their visit to the UK to meet Prince Charles. Listening the their stories as we sat there that night is something I will never forget. Insightful, inspiring, courageous and passionate. Listening to how this Sherpa summited with those climbers.
As we headed off to make our way back down to Lukla that night, we sat with locals and Sherpas and they produced the local drink called ‘Chang’. I had a taste, but as I am not much of a drinker, the only way I can describe it, was tasting like sour milk and flat wine! Some of our team loved it and danced the night away with the locals and Sherpas which was great fun!
On our final day of walking, we had a steep descent before reaching our last point. It was such a feeling of pure joy and relief. We hugged and celebrated at the last point as we crossed the final steps entrance to where we would stay on our last night at Lukla before flying back to Katmandu. Once back in Katmandu we showered and got cleaned up, after only showering about twice in 12 days. It was by far, the most enjoyable shower I have ever had.
Words cannot describe the feeling of achievement and pride I felt, knowing I had reached my goal. The home sickness set in on the decent and I couldn’t wait to get home to my husband, kids and family. As we set off to the airport my mind was racing with all the memories of the Mountain and what I had seen, learned and experienced along my journey both personally and physically. I have raised €9000 for St Aidan’s Services, Gorey for a group of amazing people who suffer from intellectual disabilities. Knowing that this money will change people’s lives made every moment worth it.
Update on Jelle, he summited Everest on May 13th and I am so proud of him as I knew how hard he worked to achieve his goal!
'Nothing is impossible'