Nepal Trekking Days 10-11: Cho-La, Lobuche, Gorak Shep, Everest Base Camp

The climb over Cho-La felt a lot less strenuous than Renjo-La, although it eventually peaks at a slightly higher altitude (5420m). The others were now feeling much better, and the total climb was probably about half that required for Renjo-La! The view from the top was no less spectacular, although perhaps a little less expansive, and looks directly over a glacier on the far side. The descent down the glacier was very sunny and warm, before a bit of a rock scramble revealed a massive valley through which we walked to Tzongla, and provided quite an impressive lunch spot (first panorama).

The original plan was to stay in Tzongla, but since it was full we pushed on for a few more hours to Lobuche. Lobuche is the penultimate stop before Gorak Shep, the launching pad for the base-camp and Kalla Patthar trips, and on the main trek route which meant a lot more people. Gorak Shep itself is just a couple of hours from Lobuche the next day, and after lunch there we walked to the famous base camp.

To be honest, this is more of a "tick the box" destination than somewhere you go for the view: it is honestly not that scenic, and despite what you might think from the name, Everest is not even visible! That said, the glacier on which it is situated is fairly spectacular, seeming to consist of a mass of knife-like peaks. The Khumbu ice-fall behind is even more ominous, and incredibly is the start of the easiest route up Everest! (Although the ice-fall itself is the most dangerous part of that route) Mid-October when we arrived is actually the very tail end of the climbing season; someone was apparently summitting just as we were there, but there were only two groups left from the tent-city that normally occupies it during the height of the season. Most other visitors didn't venture right to the end, so it was fairly quiet at least.

Included in the photos is the latrine tent, and in the final picture you can possibly make out a flat rock balancing on a sheer ice edge, over which you have to hop on the way along the glacier to the base camp! Now, stop for a moment and consider that some porter is going to be tasked with removing the contents of the latrine from the glacier, and will also be making that hop -- albeit while carrying 60kg of poo!

The weather was starting to turn at this stage, and was beginning to hail during the return journey.

Mark Hepburn 27 December 2010
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