Nepal travelogues Among icy glaciers


The Everest Base Camp (EBC) at 5,360 must surely rank among the most desolate places in the world.

Situated at the beginning of the Khumbu icefall, a few expedition groups were in residence with their flags flying in the blustery wind.

The day was overcast when one started from the Eco Lodge at Lobuche.

The Eco lodge was the best lodge around with clean, indoor toilets and carpeted bedrooms. The heavy quilts, LED lights and the warm dining room added to its desirability. However, the dining room was quite small and the library had books in languages other than English.

Lobuche is situated on the right bank of the Khumbu glacier and has wonderful views of Nuptse. On climbing the lateral moraine of the glacier, there are superb views of Pumori. The trail to Gorak Shep is initially through flat alpine shrub land. Then it ascends and winds through the right side of the Khumbu glacier.

Gorak Shep (5,180 m) is the last collection of lodges before EBC. The lodges here are much better than those at Lobuche, but most people do pretty poorly because of the altitude and the cold.

Around 10:30 am I stopped for tea at the Himalaya lodge, before setting off for EBC. The weather was deteriorating. It had begun to snow heavily and walking was getting to be difficult. One was totally dependent on the cairns marking the path.

I met an English couple and they assured me the EBC was less than 20 minutes away. I reached the site of the wreckage of an helicopter which had crashed while trying to take off.

The EBC was a cold, cold place and the light reflected off the Khumbu icefall gave it a rather eerie quality. For the last few years, a medical clinic has been functioning at the base camp to provide treatment to mountaineers and their support teams. We had seen a documentary about this clinic at Pheriche. Flyers about the clinic were also put up at different lodges.

On my way back I met a team of trekkers who were returning to Gorak Shep. They had attended our high altitude lecture at Dingboche, and the Sherpas offered me a drink of hot ‘Tang’ which I gratefully accepted.

The weather had really deteriorated. The yaks were the only living beings out in the blizzard calmly contemplating nature’s handiwork.

After a hasty lunch at Gorak Shep, I tried to make it to Lobuche as swiftly as I possibly could. However, most of the time I was slipping and falling on slippery rocks. Luckily two Sherpas were on their way to Lobuche and I followed in their footsteps.

The sun had set and light was rapidly fading by the time I made it to Lobuche.

It was my day out in the unreliable weather and harsh glacial moraines and rocks among the highest mountains on Earth. And I really enjoyed it!