Où suis-je?

Les pieds dans les nuages

12 juillet 2011 | 3 Commentaires

Pour le besoin de partager ces quelques mémoires avec des anglophones rencontrés au Népal, comme je leurs ai dis que j’écrirais un peu sur la rando, je vais écrire le restant de ce post en anglais.

I will however admit that theses memories seems to come more from a personnal diary than an actual description of the trek in itself.

The Everest base camp trail is a highway of trekking tourists. Going from town to town, for the most of it, you will find a huge variety of lodges to choose from. Theses are mountain villages, but yet still, you can in many of them find at least 5 or more lodges to choose from (random number here!). They usually host quite a few rooms (throwing a number of 20+++ here). Seeing how many lodges some of theses towns had, I am just SO grateful I wasn’t in high season. Way too many people up there!

Prices for the lodges are extremely cheap, in the almost free category! The exception is that in order to have cheap accommodation, well you need to eat out at least breakfast and diner at the lodge. That’s the deal. On the other end that ain’t so cheap. The higher up you get, as you can imagine, the more expensive it becomes. Once you hit over 4000m for instance, bottled water can easily reach over 200 to 250 rupees (compared to 10 / 15 down in the city). So yeah, you outta try treating your water and have a nice chlorine taste to it ;-)

I don’t blame them though. Somebody somewhere needs to bring all those chips, chocolate bars, water and much much more up there! And that needs paying for. Seems like they don’t have enough donkeys and yaks to do the job… so, men and women will carry just crazy amount of weight on their back. Now, people felt I was nuts going up there with my 18kg in my bag  (without water). I felt it sometimes!! After a while though, it feels like the weight merges with your body. As long as you are properly adjusted, you’ll barely feel it… to a certain extent of course. However, theses Sherpas (people of the est, commonly known as people from the mountains), they were just admirable! I don’t know how, but some of them could carry over 100kg! I’ve once met this girl, smaller than me… Asked her how much she was carrying. When she told me 45kg, I didn’t quite believe her. She then challenged me to lift it up… no need to put up a picture of that :P

I will say this: I was pretty damn proud of myself haven been able to trek my way up to 5550 meters; carrying all my gear, food and water; no porters; no guides. Knowing that many tourists pay near or more than 1000$ for a porter and a guide and the such, I figure I outta be proud. Especially having no mountain and trekking experience…

There’s 1 main thing which I must say disappointed me: because there is so many tourists, for which so many of theses are “non adventurers”, needing comfort in my mind… they require extra in the mountain. I mean  come on: bars, starbucks and internet cafes all the way up to over 5000 meters!? What ever happen to the nice wooden like lodges where all would just gather around a nice heating stove with a warm cup of coco. The basecamp of Everest is like a mini tent village from which you will even come to find some guy walking around offering tea from tent to tent. Fortunately, the scenery made up for it.   It was truly beautiful, and to say I didn’t even (in my mind) hit the nicest trek the Himalayas has to offer.

SO before I proceed with just literally writing down my day to day description of how each day went, I did have a great intention on doing this small video each day talking about how it went down. However, I couldn’t manage to do it everyday because my memory cards were getting low in space.  So here’s what I got for those interested.

DAY 1: Lukla Landing (2840m, May 8th, 2011)

I had to change my initial plan of trekking starting from Jiri because of raining season getting close and lack of time here. I decided to fly into Lukla, gaining about 5 days of trekking. The town seems a little “touristy”, selling water bottles and other trekking gear for those who forgot to equip before going up… Though people are beautiful, I get the slight impression they are tired of tourists. We’ll see.

DAY 2: Lukla – Monjo (2835m, 08:00 – 14:15)

First day of trek. Took over 6.5 hrs. Not used to trekking, not warmed up yet. Found it hard, especially with my 18kg on the back. The food’s too heavy! Need to get rid of some… From what the map reads, started at 2840m, dropped at 2580m in Thado; then back at 2835m in Monjo. My GPS reads 2900m so pretty accurate. Nice views, followed by a blue turquoise river. Excellent weather!

DAY 3: Monjo – Namche Bazar (3440m, 08:30 – 13:30)

Though the distance on the map isn’t big, it was a steep climb! Went from 2835m to 3440m. Denis (nice fellow from San Francisco) helped me out with a few good legs stretches. He’s a personnal trainers so had a few good stretches to show me before taking off each morning. It helped a lot, though my 18kg still got to me 1.5 hrs before arriving, but made it!!! Thank god! Time to rest…

DAY 4: Acclimatization in Namche Bazar, 3440m

Slept in this morning until 07:00. To try to get used to altitude, went to the village of Khumjung (3780m), passing by a peak of almost 3900m. It’s absolutely a beautiful, lovely town! I recommend it. Left at about 10:00 to  arrive there at 13:00. This time, no backpacks with the exception water and camera. That was nice walk.  Coming back to Namche took about the same time because we took a wrong turn at some point. All good, it’s part of the adventure ;-)  Got a small headache, little pressure up on the head. This is my last day trekking with Denis and coco as they are taking a different route from this point on (going to Gokyo in 2 days). I worry a little for them. It just seems to far, to high, to quick to go to… Hope they’ll be okay.

DAY 5: Namche Bazar – Tengboche (3860m, 08:00 – 16:00)

This was a good day. Getting stronger! Or so it feels. Perhaps it’s because I’ve so far manage to lose 1 or 2kg of food. The start of the day was very pleasant as you walk along cliffs of mountains helicopters flying by you… at the same alttitude. Strange. We followed the river from way up there, 3700m perhaps. It was nice, though the trail made me go back down to the river level at which point I was feeling dizzy with yet another small headache. Had lunch and rested 1.5hrs there after which I continued my way , this time going back up to Tengboche. From that point on, I must of gotten my second wind ’cause I had no major difficulties.

DAY 6 & 7: Tengboche – Dingboche (4410m, 07:50 – 15:45)

Seems to have taken us a little more time than what normally would of been needed to get to Dingboche. Let’s just say we took it slowly ;-) I barely feel my backpack anymore. A nice trek. As we go higher, the mountains faces more and more; trees starts to fade out. Beautiful views of Everest from Tengboche in the morning. Fortunately, it’s not a steep climb to Dingboche. A nice long walk, but still over a 600m jump in altitude. Even after my 4, 5 litters of water, seems like we all got hit a little by altitude sickness once we reached. Good headache, a bit of dizziness…  Took half a diamox and off to bed.  Next day was a rest day. Though we had thought of doing a small 2hrs trek higher (go and come back) for acclimatization, we decided to stay put and simply rest… no climbing today. We were feeling much better, but still for myself, small headaches once in a while. Seems to be an ongoing fight. Perhaps the sun burning our faces without mentioning the cold wind isn’t helping. Need to cover my head more. Tomorrow should be a short, 200m climb trek (2, 3 hrs I reckon). P.S. Denis and coco changed their plans and caught up with us. Made me very happy, but damn they walk fast.

DAY 8: Dingboche – Thokla (4620m, 11:00 – 14:30)

Short day trek to Thokla (4620m). Jumped a mere 200m.  Having felt a little shitty myself and Cathal, we decided from this point to go slower. An easy hike through a desert like up in the mountains, despite the cold wind and breathing which was getting harder and harder as we climbed. Thokla was small and cold. The rooms were expensive compared to the other towns (200RS just for the room). With only 2 “structures” in the town, not like we had a choice.

DAY 9: Thokla – Lobuche (4910m, 09:00 – 12:30)

Almost there! Another short trek, though the first hour and a half was rough! Steep climb through rocks and bolders… the trail was shit! Breathing was getting a lot harder compared to day 8. However, that day of rest in Dingboche and the slow climbing really helped me out! For the first time in a while, no headache last night, nor the morning. Feeling top notch :) On top of the steep climb, we ran into a cemetery of people who died on Everest, like Scott Fisher, etc.  Apparently a well known guide who died in an Everest tragedy in 1996. I don’t understand why that american girl was so excited about taking pictures of herself with his tomb! Stupid… It’s a cold, sad place. Nothing to be excited about if you ask me. The rest of the trek was pretty flat on, but still in rocks. P.S.: met a nice fellow on his way down whom had just submitted Everest on the 13th. Congrats!

DAY 10: Lobuche – Gorak Shep (5180m, 07:10 – 10:10)

REALLY good day! Must of been the butter garlic toasts (it’s said that garlic is good for altitude sickness)  ’cause I arrived 1.5hrs before Cathal and Fionna. Trail was good. Not too steep, not too many rocks. Though not much to see either if I recall.

Come noon time in Gorak Shep, I left solo to the Everest basecamp. Cathal got sick throwing up just as he reached so no more climb for them! Basecamp is at 5360m. A shitty climb I must say. At least it wasn’t too steep… a slow climb. However, just a bunch of damn boulders and rocks which made it somewhat hard to walk through. That’s the worst trail I’ve hit so far. Really hated it. Basecamp as not much to see. Maybe 50++ tents setup on the side of the glacier. I stopped at the welcome rock marked with the basecamp label and nepali flags. To go down to the tents and come back would of easily added 1.5 hrs I reckon. Too lazy, got back to Gorak Shep at 17:00.

DAY 11: Gorak Shep day 2

Slow day. Learned last night that Denis and coco had made their way there (we had gotten split up again because they had taken another resting day in Dingboche). Saw them in the morning. They were heading to basecamp, just like Fionna and Cathal, whom was feeling a lot better (good, good thing!!). Since I had already went, started my climb to Kalapathar, but I decided to turn around and join the gang for a second time. This time however, walked to the tents. It was nice reaching our goal (basecamp) together, as a group. That was it, nothing else for that day.

DAY 12: Gorak Shep - Kalapathar (5550m), then back down.

Heading down, but not before hitting the highest point of our trek: Kalapathar (5550m). A small 2hrs loop… even though we had no visibility by the time we reached the top. Too bad. Apparently the view up there of the Himalayas range is just spectacular.

Going back down is a lot faster!

Gorak Shep – Lobuche: 10:10 – 11:40
Lobuche – Thokla: 12:00 – 13:00
Thokla – Periche: 13:25 – 14:45
Periche – Tengboche: 15:10 – 18:45

As I still had in mind to maybe get the Cho La pass towards Gokyo, it’s as if a force didn’t want me to! Nasty weather came; snow, mist etc. On top of that, I was strongly advised to find a guide to cross at least the glacier part of the pass, if not the hole pass. Apparently, as one french guy did (and had to sleep outside), you can easily get lost in there. Guess it will have to be for another time.

The walk to Periche was interesting. I felt like I was back in Scotland… with all these small rivers, overflowing streams, having to jump from rock to rock, coming across bricked houses and enclosures for animals. The cold, misty weather made it even more scottish like. Interesting as I even had trouble seeing 10m in front of me.

Was a hell of a long day, totaling 11 and a half hours of trekking. Legs are on fire! Apparently, it was funny seeing me reaching Periche with my frosted beard. So I’ve been told from Denis.

DAY 13: Tengboche – Namche Bazar (07:45 – 11:30)

This ain’t just going downhill! I was hoping on making my hole way down in 2 days (personnal challenge), but my reason took precedence. My left leg is on the edge of really getting hurt which I have no intention on doing. Plus, what’s the rush? 3 days to come down is plenty fast enough. No point in hurting oneself. Rest in Namche where I watched a national geographic movie called “Everest”. It’s about the history of the first climbers, about Hillary and Tenzing, the first 2 climbers of Everest who established the route all climbers take to the top of the mountain as of this day. It also makes you realize how Sherpas are so underlooked! They deserve way more credit for all their hard work, even if they do it only for the money! Without his sherpa, Hillary never would of made it up there. It’s team work.

DAY 14: Namche Bazar – Lukla (07:15 – 14:15)

Back down after nearly 6 hours of trekking (and 1h of break time). I underestimated this trek day thinking it would of been faster. Lukla seemed so far away… Never ending, downwards trek. Not much to say except I was pretty happy to finally reach my destination! I sorted out my flight back to Kathmandu as soon as I reached Lukla. Should get on the 2nd flight tomorrow they say…

DAY 15: Lukla airport departure

Weather is bad. Cloudy… As it turns out, we’re not on the 2nd, but the 3rd flight down. That’s, if the planes make it up there. After many hours of wait time, it’s our turn to check-in. Finally. The small airport has absolutely no structure! By the time you know it, everyone seems to be cutting me off… I’m then told there is no more room on the plane!

I need to wait for the next one. A few hours later, I finally get the chance to check-in (again) before the plane arrives. The few of us remaining comes to finally sit outside by the landing strip… clouds starts pulling in again fast. It poors rain! All remaining flights are cancelled. It’s now 15:00. I’m told to come back tomorrow. I go back to the lodge, and 15 minutes later, bright nice sun comes out.  No matter, all was cancelled so I’m stuck another day there, my friends having caught the previous plane down.

DAY 16: Flying out

No excuses. Beautiful morning. And believe me, they sure as hell ain’t nobody who cut me off this time in line :P Back in the “real world” after a 30 minutes flight back down.

In conclusion, I’m really happy I did this trip up in the mountains. It was a great challenge for myself and just know I am very fortunate to have been able to walk up in theses great Himalayan mountains. I’d suggest it to anyone who gets out there.  However, I would probably suggest a different route (such as the Gokyo trail) instead of the Everest trail. Seems like we are all tempted to go the base of everest simply to get the “I’ve been to everest’s basecamp” stamp. I think Gokyo is probably even nicer and a better choice. And one last thing I would suggest: do it having time! I’ve seen too many choppers going by me, having to fly people back down because all they wanted was to get there too quickly, getting really bad altitude sickness. This can really be dangerous! For the unfortunate that don’t have proper insurance, unless you have 10 000$ to spare, if you’re lucky you’ll be put on top of hired horse or donkey, with a nepale holding you to make sure you don’t fall as you haste your way down. Don’t be stupid now. Diamox should not be the real solution.

Now for some pics :)

And some extra videos… (A bit of anything, I know. I need some place to store my archive ;-))


P.S. : for my trekking partners, here’s a LINK TO A ZIP FILE containing all the pics. Was a pleasure :)


3 Commentaires



13 juillet 2011

Wow! très impressionant….tu es courageux mon gars! bon retour!

Take care!



17 juillet 2011

WOW…impressionant! Tu m’épattes…quel courage tu as mon beau Pat! …et encore une fois je dois le dire, tes photos sont absolulment à couper le souffle! Merci de nous faire voir ces coins de pays!! Take care my friend xoxo



11 août 2011

The pictures are breathtaking!! I so want to travel now !!!

Thank-you so much for taking us along on your journey. :) I really appreciate it.

Hugs, Oksana

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