Monday, September 3, 2012

EBC TREK: Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (Day 9)

          The day that I'd been waiting and working for had finally come and all I felt like doing was sleeping. The previous day's scramble up Kala Patthar had pushed me to my limits and I was now laying in bed feeling worse than ever before during the trek. I had a fever. I couldn't breathe through my nose. My throat felt like it was swollen shut and every cough felt like it was tearing it open. I finally gave in and started taking the Diamox to help subside the symptoms of the mountain sickness since we wouldn't be going any higher in elevation after Base Camp. Mike and the others asked if I wanted to take a rest day but I just wanted to get it over with. Nut up or shut up. 

Everest Base Camp

          The hike to Base Camp takes about 6 ½ hours roundtrip. Unless you bring your own tent there's no lodging or accommodation at base camp. We didn't bring tents so we kept our rooms in Gorak Shep another night. The plan was to trek out to the Khumbu Glacier upon which Base Camp sits, walk around, take pictures of the camp and the icefall, and then head back to Gorak Shep before the sun went down.
          Once we started walking I felt a little better. The trek out there was pretty easy-- walking along rocky ridges with a few gradual ups and downs. Whatever mercy the terrain showed the cold made up for. It makes sense that the farthest point in our journey would also be the coldest.
By the time we reached Base Camp I had tons of good pictures. There were some great shots of Base Camp still in the distance and a few of both the the glacier and icefall. Still, the best views of were from Kala Patthar the day before. In fact, because of it's location you can't actually see Everest from Base Camp. Even so, there was plenty to take in.
Khumbu, baby.  Glacier chillin.
          I walked into Base Camp and I could hear creaking and cracking of the blue glacier below my feet. I'd made it to the finish line. I'd reached my goal. This was it. 5,364 meters in elevation. 17,598 feet. EVEREST BASE CAMP... and all I wanted to do was take a picture and get back to my room in Gorak Shep and go to bed. As terrible as I felt, I tried to appreciate the moment.
          When you reach Base Camp, there's a boulder covered in graffiti-- decorated with prayer flags and the signatures of those that made it this far. In the background, a blanket of white lay speckled with the orange and yellow of so many trekkers' tents. My friends and I waited for other groups to finish and then took our turn taking pictures next to the makeshift monument. Leanne had a plan the whole trip to take a picture at Base Camp in her bikini and she had every intention of following through. Despite the freezing cold, she stripped down and posed in her two-piece only to get sternly yelled at by several Sherpas for “disrespecting the mountain”. 
          Leanne and Mike wanted to stay at Base Camp a little longer to walk around and check it out. Britt and I were satisfied with what we'd seen and done and decided to head back. The wind picked up and it was long, cold trudge back to Gorak Shep. We arrived just as the sun was falling behind the mountains. Garlic soup and lemon tea was my victory meal. After dinner I fell into my bed exhausted and accomplished. After nine long days I'd reached my goal but the journey was far from over-- I still I had to go all the way back.
Arriving at Base Camp... more tents beyond the ridge but not much to it.

rep the Naptown jersey.  yeeeahh buddy.

1 comment:

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