Mighty Mountains

Ayush Pyakurel journeys to the enchanting Everest Base Camp

To start the Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek, most people fly from Kathmandu (1,400m) to Lukla (2,860 m), one of the scariest runways in the world. The other option is a bus to Jiri or Salleri and four to five days hike from there to reach the Lukla trailhead.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” said Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher and this is what inspired us to take on a tiring, but rewarding hike on well-marked trails, through truly unique landscape.

From Lukla to Everest Base Camp takes a minimum of seven days including one day off to acclimatise.

After a few hours trek from Lukla we entered a small village called Phakding (2,610 m), a couple of good internet cafes, pool houses and bars helped us forget our first day’s pain.

The next day we headed for the very famous Namche Bazaar (3,480m), infamous for its long steep uphill trails. Namche Bazaar, the Sherpa capital, is filled with restaurants, shops, museums and ancient monasteries to explore.

It is better to acclimatise in Namche before heading anyfurther. A day is needed for your body to get used to lower oxygen content in the air at higher altitudes.

You can walk to Khumjung and Khunde, the twin green villages, which sit at an altitude of 3800m and are the largest community of Sherpas in the Khumbu valley.

Here you can visit the Khumjung monastery, Tenzing Hillary memorial park, Bird Sanctuary and Hilary Memorial viewpoint. Once you’ve worked up your appetite make sure you head to the Everest View Hotel within the Sagarmatha

(Everest) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel offers a 360 degree view of the awe inspiring peaks. Opened in 1971, Hotel Everest View has been listed on the Guinness Book of World Records (2004) as the Highest Hotel in the world at 3880m.

The next morning we left Namche for Tengboche (3,867 m), with the magnificent Himlayas accompaning us. The landscape unraveling in front of us at each turn of the trail was awe inspiring.

We reached Tengboche monastery, a Tibetan buddhist monastery of the Sherpa community and the largest gompa in the Khumbu region. The sunrise and sunsets in this region are known to be beautiful beyond words. My trek partner,

Sahshwot Risal and I, were left speechless.

We headed to Dingboche the next day. As we trekked higher, we could see Mount Kusum Kanguru (6,367m), Thamserku (6,623m), Ama Dablam (6,812m), Cho Oyu (8,201m), Nuptse (7,861m), Lhotse Shar (8,516m), Pumori (7,161 m). The grand peak of Mount Everest (8848 m) and other beautiful sister mountains harmonise the scenery of Khumbu.

On this route we could see more than 150 mountains simultaneously lined making for a breath taking view. The trek from Tengboche to Dingboche took about five and a half hours. Dingboche is at an elevation of 4410m which meant that the trek was quite challenging.

A similar trek the next day to Lobuche (4,925m) and another day trek led us to the final point on the EBC trek, Gorak Shep (5,170 m).

A complete three hours walk on a single dusty rocky pathway from Gorak Shep took us to EBC. Painted boulders, 360 degree view of breathtaking mountains, prayer flags are what we saw here. Everest climbers acclimatise several days at EBC. Nearly 40,000 people every year take the trek from the Lukla airport to the Nepal Everest Base Camp.

The next day we climbed up Kala Patthar (5,643 m) for a dramatic close up view of Everest. Kala Patthar which directly translates to black rock is a hill behind Gorak Shep which offers splendid views of Mount Everest. It tooks us about two hours to climb Kala Patthar and the trail began near the Gorak Shep.

A couple of days of busy downhill trek brought us back to Lukla. The attractive Nuptse, Ama Dablam and Thamserku bid us goodbye.

The unpleasing cough I caught in Khumbu refused to to leave me for the next couple of weeks, but the memories will last a lifetime.

Some good travel gear, occasional rest, constant hydration and great company is all you need to turn this trek into an experience of a lifetime.

The author is a student and a frequent traveller