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DESTINATION:

EVEREST BASE CAMP AND KALAPATTHAR

4th May to 17th May, 2014

By Ankit Saxena, Colorado, USA

THE TEAM 

(All photos have been provided by Ankit Saxena) 

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Top Left: 
Ankit Saxena (Team Leader) 

At the time working as an Engineer with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) 

Top Right: 
Pranav Saxena

Working as an Sr. Associate with Parthenon Group 

Neelima Sharma
PhD Candidate at National School for Biological Sciences (NCBS)

Kabir Husain, PhD Candidate at National School for Biological Sciences (NCBS) 

Also a team member- 
Ramandeep Babrah (picture not available)
Working as an Consultant with ZS Associates

DETAILED DAY TO DAY ACCOUNT...

ARRIVAL

A high spirited team of 11 members started our journey at the T-3 terminal of the IGI airport on the 4th May’14 a Sunday morning at 8:40am. It was a short and a pleasant flight to Kathmandu, Nepal and we arrived within 2 hours of our departure from India. After getting our check-in luggage we headed out towards Thamel and settled into a hotel near the main market. During the day we conducted a number of activities. The first of which was to convert our Indian currency to Nepalese Rupee (conversion rate INR 1= NPR 1.6). We converted about 20,000/- INR per member. Next, we set off towards the Tourism Board office to get ourselves registered under the Trekkers Information Management System (TIMS). The fee was nominal ($6 approx. or NPR 580) and we paid for it in the local currency itself. The permit for entering the Sagarmatha National Park Sanctuary is also available here before 2 pm but we couldn’t obtain it here as we were late. The same permit is also available at Monjo and we decided that we can get it while were trekking. The only worrisome thing was that it was raining and it had gotten very cold. We were keeping our fingers crossed that the next day the sky would clear as we had to take a flight to Lukla.


THE DELAY

Man proposes and God disposes. I never thought this proverb would irk so much. The next three days, 5th, 6th & 7th of May’14, we spent at the domestic terminal of the Tribhuvan International Airport. There were anxious moments when we had the boarding passes in our hands and the flight got cancelled. Another day 4 flights went successfully but by the time our number came the weather played spoilt sport. Most exasperating was on the 3rd day when we flew to Lukla but returned to Kathmandu due to bad weather en route. We suffered our first setback even before starting the trek. Out of the 11 of us, 4 of us decided to abandon the trek and head for trekking in the Annapoorna region due to paucity of time.  Two of us returned to New Delhi due to the initial program getting tipped due to loss of 3 precious days. The remaining 5 of us started exploring other options. One such was to take a Helicopter to Lukla, which was a rather expensive option. That was the only spark to a dying hope, so we took it and what an exhilarating flight it was to Lukla!!! By now it was 6:30 in the evening and the sky was still dark. With mixed feeling we checked into a hotel. Exhausted from the roller coaster events of the last three days we decided to call it a day.   We had to make tough decisions like changes in the itinerary to make up for the lost days. This  we finally did this by cutting the 1 day we had for acclimatization at Thyanboche and by spending 1 night less at Gorakshep and thus coming down to Pheriche after completing Kalapatthar. By doing this we were able to keep our return flight itinerary unaltered. But all this again required a robust team with high spirits and a focused vision, which we turned out to be.


EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK


 1. On 8th May’14, we started our trek to Everest Base Camp with a spring in our step. The first stop as per the original itinerary was at Monjo, which we did in good time 4 hrs 20 min. The path to Monjo in one that first goes down into the valley to Phakdin and then rises upto Monjo. So it was a hard first day trek but we managed to complete it with enough time to spare to relax at Monjo and enjoy the valley around us. At Monjo we got our permits to the Sagarmatha National Park.

Start from Lukla

2. The next day, 9th May’14, we headed towards Namche Bazar. The way to Namche is a steep 1000m climb with nothing but your own two legs to carry you all the way. However, we made in it well in the early hours of afternoon (3 hours) and immediately took off to Shyanboche for acclimatization after having lunch. This walk also proved to be a tough climb as Shyanboche is a further climb of about 440m. But we were rewarded with a breath taking view of the snow caped peaks and the view of Mt. Everest from the Everest View Hotel.

Start from Monjo... 

3. The third day, 10th May’14, we started the climb for Thyangboche. The start from Namche is pleasant with a gradual descent that leads to the river bed. But then looms in front of you the steep climb to Thyangboche. It is straight 2 hour uphill climb to Thyangboche which takes the wind out of you. The Rhododendrons (National flower of Nepal) of various colours though more than make up for it. After reaching Thyangboche we again climbed to a nearby hillock here to acclimatize as we could not afford a day extra to acclimatize( as per original itinerary) 

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Start from Namche ...

4. We didn’t rest another day at Thyangboche for acclimatization and continued on the fourth day, 11th May’14, to Dingboche via Debouche. We had now risen above the treeline, with nothing but rocks and boulders around us. But the higher we climbed the more spectacular the panorama grew around us. On 12th of May’14, we reached Lobouche. The trek to Lobouche was tough as we all felt the depreciating oxygen in the air. One of the members faced slight breathlessness but she was fine once we reached the lodge. We made a short acclimatization trek. Till now we had phone connection which snapped at Lobouche. 

Start from Dingboche ... 

5. From Lobouche we started the ascent to Gorakshep on the 13th of May’14. This is the first time that all of us experienced tiredness and fatigue due to lack of oxygen at high altitudes and we could only reach Gorakshep after a grueling 4 hour climb. At one point there was an anxious moment when we felt we were off track. I climbed up a mountain and saw some Sherpa’s who told me to take the next bend. Till now it was easy to find the route because most of it was a well beaten 

(The team at Mt. Everest Base Camp) 

path and wherever you felt confused you just had to look for shoe prints in the mud. But this was more hostile terrain. Again the sight of a Quail was a feast to our eyes. Seeing that the weather was cloudy we decided to go to Everest Base Camp (17,598 ft) the same day. On the way to EBC, (2 and ½ hours) we saw 3 avalanches and witnessed firsthand the devastating effect of this natural phenomenon. We took extra precautions not to venture too close to the Khumbu Glacier. When we reached the Base Camp we were filled with a sense of accomplishment and elation, for each of us had held on to the desire in our hearts to complete this trek. And we were finally here against all odds. Not only was it special experience it was also heaven on earth. The size of the ice chunks at Khumbu Glacier, most of them much bigger than us, was something you have to see it to believe it. We just feasted our eyes on the bounty of nature. In this no man’s land there were some tents pitched of foreigners waiting to climb Mt. Everest.  


6. The next day, 14th May’14, we started our toughest climb yet to Kalapatthar (18,192ft). We felt severe lack of oxygen and there were time when turning back seemed a favourable option. But the beauty of the region motivated us to reach higher and with determination and perseverance we were able to reach the top, Kalapatthar which was the highlight of this trek. With the spectacular view of the peaks like Mt. Everest, Mt. Pumori, Mt. Nuptse, Mt. Ama Dablam, Mt. Changtse, Mt. Thamserku and many more. It was a 360 degree panorama of bliss. After reaching back to Gorakshep and having breakfast we started our journey back. This was harder than we had foreseen because we reached Lobouche in 2 hours but Pheriche, where we had to halt, never seemed to near in sight.


7. The next day 15th of May after a good night’s rest we felt rejuvenated and started further descent and reached Namche at 3pm. We thought of making it to Lukla but that was farfetched. We reached Monjo at 5.30 pm and stretched ourselves to reach 20 minutes short of Phakding at Tok-Tok by 6.30 pm.

8. Now the last leg of the journey-16th May from Tok-Tok to Lukla to try and catch the 8 am flight to Kathmandu. We did reach by 8 am, but unfortunately didn't get a flight. We had to spend the day a Lukla and some of us caught up with shopping.

(The team at Kalapatthar with Mt. Everest in the backdrop )

9. On 17th we got the 10 am flight back to Kathmandu. We could not believe that we had not only completed a 13 day trek in 10 days but also we did not have to reschedule return flights to India.

It was an experience of a life time and this has left us with fond memories of the time we spent together facing both the challenges as well as the accomplishments we achieved as a team.  

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