From the 2013 Travel Journal – The WMS CME Trek to Everest Base Camp
Part 6 of There Are Signs Everywhere. Exactly one year ago:
The Night Before
We spent the night before Everest Base Camp (EBC) arrival at Gorakshep where we did some solar charging and sunset watching.
The Kalapatthar group arrived at base camp around 4:30pm. On account of ice melt and glacier regression, the trail from Kalapatthar to EBC vanished at one point, turning a four-hour tour into an eight-hour tour of what was the pinnacle (or in one trekker’s words, the climax) of the WMS Everest Experience 2013. Alena, Glen, Jim, Chris, Pranav, Clay and I, led expertly by Sherpas Dorji, Nima Dorji and Pasang, made it to the top of Kalapatthar, bistaari…bistaari (slowly), reaching a maximum altitude of 18,600+ feet (5,669+ meters)!
At the summit, everyone celebrated in their own special ways. Clay gave Kate Upton a run for her SI Swimsuit cover money with his Speedo photo shoot backdropped by the most stunning views of Everest. Some of us were so blown away by the view that we forgot about our high altitude headaches for a while.
The ‘down’ from Kalapatthar proved to be a trek that almost didn’t end. The entire group shared my “just in case” carb-heavy snacks, using every last bit of energy trekking. Teaching point: even on day hikes and on guided tours, always carry extra food and water as well as extra layers, including a wind and vapor layer. You never know when you may face surviving the unexpected night out. We watched the Khumbu ice fall and the tents at Everest Base Camp get bigger and bigger, yet still seeming so far away.
At one point, we heard a low rumble, and off in the distance saw an avalanche in all of its enormous glory demanding respect. It was loud, it was proud, it was scary, and luckily, it was far, but not so far that I couldn’t snap this sequence:
After fantasizing about hob nobs and cappuccino, like a mirage, Djiku Sherpa appeared with a thermos full of hot Sherpa tea and Digestif biscuits. Chris termed this experience an HTBO (Wild med girl shout out if you know this abbreviation).
We walked into our Peak Promotions base camp, where we were presented with kata and warm hugs from our fellow Trekkers Laura and Deja. Suzi and Kirsty were hard at work organizing the Everest ER with the help of Barry, Sam & CJ (Beanie). Peak Promotions continued to be attentive and caring, feeding us ASAP – grilled cheese & tomato, French fries (I’m a sucker for fries!) sardines and coleslaw. That “snack” was followed shortly by dinner of delicious veg momos (the collective group’s fav) and spaghetti. Some slept well, some did not. Some slept warm, some did not. Some had headaches, some did not. However we all awoke to tea-in-sleeping-bags, surrounded by the gorgeous Himalayan mountains, sun shining, ready for pancakes and fried eggs. In two days time we would descend to Pheriche where we would meet up with our one team member, who couldn’t make it up to base camp because of a headache and TD. We looked forward to reuniting with him, and sharing a hi-five for the journey he made.
Khumbu Icefall and Everest Sauna
At EBC, we toured the beginnings of the Khumbu Icefall, the treacherous “trailhead” of the climb to summit Everest. Pasang Sherpa, two-time Everest summiteer, told us that the glacier had receded several feet even since last season. The ice is spectacular, with its white and blue colors displayed majestically in large spires on the deceptively pitched glacier. Our group insisted on our typical playful photo shoot, followed by me falling on my ass several times before accepting help walking off the icefall. Thank goodness Clay recovered my lens cap not once, but TWICE the day before. A few of us needed a bit of R & R up here at 5430 meters, including me. I went into my tent to change clothes, saying I’d be back in a jiffy, but the sun-drenched tent kept a hold on me for the next three glorious hours of what I call the Everest Sauna Tent Nap. There was afternoon tea, pre-dinner scrabble, yet another ridiculous Himalayan sunset, Dahl baht for dinner, and Jim playing around with my camera and Harsh’s tripod, getting some awesome shots of the Milky Way here at EBC.
It was so sad to say goodbye to Kirsty, Suzi and Pranav. Friends and colleagues for life!
We arrived in Pheriche, descending to 4200 meters over eight hours or so. We saw our old HRA friends. At this relatively lower altitude, exertion without severe dyspnea felt amazing, headaches improved, hot showers obtained. We saw our one trekker who was ill in Gorakshep and got him heli-transport to Lukla then Kathmandu. We received word that his headache completely improved upon landing in Kathmandu and that he was improving nicely with IV fluids at the CIWEK Clinic in Kathmandu. Lessons today: 1. Do not donate all of your meds in your Wilderness Medical Kit until the end of the trek. 2. The importance of RESCUE INSURANCE! Heli ride from the trail to Lukla: $1000 and from Lukla to Kathmandu: $4000. 3. The only definitive treatment for HAPE and HACE is descent.
Namaste & hugs!
To read the trip summary including medical cases: WMS Everest Experience
Follow the 2014 WMS Everest Trek with Peak Promotions