Dec
10

On Top of The World - Everest!!!

So to all of you who thought we couldn’t do it, you need to take a big gulp and swallow your words beause WE MADE IT and are now officially unstoppable!!!!!!

Both of us made the grulling 14 day round trip journey to Base Camp of Everest and now a little thinner (not much), tireder, colder and wiser are back in Kathmandu relishing on the memories of the past two weeks. The sights and sensations have been a completely mind blowing experience and our wildest dreams have been exceeded. The trip was truely amazing - a once in a life time experience and despite the tantrums, crying (mainly by Al), freezing weather, fecked legs, lack of Oxygen and general fatigue we have had a fantastic time which words cannot really convey. We tried to take as many pickies as poss and even these do not do the place justice, the shear vastness and enormity of the place was simply indiscribable.

As we had no accesss to Internet throughout the trip we wrote a paper log of each days’ adventure, which we will share with whoever is interested enough to read on…

DAY ONE - WE’VE ONLY JUST BEGUN!!

KATHMANDU (1300m) - LUKLA (2600m)- PHAKDING (2400m)

As per usual, awoke late and rushed around like blue arsed flies trying to get ready for our pick up time of 07:00. Had a shit night’s sleep due to the constant noise of the streets of Thamel and with the wave of anxiety and nausea spreading over us, as the reality of what we were about to do was setting in. Typical start to the morning, the shower wasn’t working, so had to wait on the one upstairs. All of a suden the door down stairs was being thumped and Pradip (MD of Mountain Monarch trekking Company) and Narendra (assistant Guide) were early and ready to take us to the airport. A few curses and stomping around later we were off in the car - airport bound!!

Arrived at the aiport to discover that all morning flights to Lukla were delayed, due to bad weather (fog). There are about 12 flights to Lukla per day, run by 4 agencies and the planes basically ferry backwards and forwards all morning without a break. We were due to catch the third flight of the morning but the first hadn’t even left yet (which had to go and come back twice more before our turn). Gave us time for breakie though anyway and a good bitch about how much more sleep we could have had!!!

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Finally at about 11:30 (flight was supose to leave at 08:30) we managed to board our plane. Oh my God, was the smallest plane in the world which looked like it was made from a Meccano set and when we approached was just offloading last passengers (all of which looked sunburnt, hairy, dirty and knackered).

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Watched as the plane was crammed full of our luggage and many cases of San Miguel and began to shite myself about the flight.

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Took off with limited tubulence and could see why these could not fly in bad weather. The slightest change in pressure made the plane (and my stomach) dance around in the sky. Al was in heaven and taking in all the sights. Managed to look up about ten minutes into flight and sceney was just amazing.

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We were flying at around 3500m through a valley of mountains which got bigger and more overwhelming as we continued. Were just about above cloud level when all of a suden the pilot put down the landing gear and announced we would be landing iminently. Couldn’t quite comprehend how we could land when still in the clouds but then all became clear as suddenly we were faced with the tiny 20 degree inclined runway of Lukla. Landed with a thud and screeched up hill and from there there was no going back!!!!

Lukla is the aiport built by Sir Edmund Hilary as the starting point to Everest. Hilary has been like a mini God to the people of this region setting up schools and hospitals and the people of the mountain worship him.

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Met Chhatra (our Porter) and CP our main guide in hotel beside airport where we had some lunch. CP explained that he would not be able to join us until tomorow on the trek and that we would proceed ahead with Narenda & Chhatra. Wasn’t quite sure how Chhatra was going to manage both our bags but turned out that he was actually carrying two more bags also. With a small tweeking of a bit of rope he had the bags in a pile and proceeded to attach them to his head with a piece of towelling and off he went - must have had about 50 Kgs supported by his neck (this we would soon discover was a relatively small load and the way everything was carried).

Started off on our trek through the small but bustling village of Lukla, where we picked up a couple of walking sticks and caps (essentials!!) and were on our merry way.

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Narenda informed us that todays trek was easy and would only take around 3 hours and the majority of which was down hill (excellent!!) Meandered through little villages, idealic tree lined mountains and streams and became immersed in the scenery.

First major challenge was a suspension bridge over a river (suspended about 50 m in the air).

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Initially filled with dread attempted to stand on wobbly structure at which point Al decided this was great fun and decided to start bouncing. I quickly reteated back to solid groung heart in mouth and decided to wait until Al had got to the other side.

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Cautiously shuffled over bridge and finally reached the other side only to find out that there were about 6 more of these (all of which more scary) to come.

Passed by some Religious monuments and an aray of prayer wheels and were further mesmorised by the rolling landscape.

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Along the way saw some porters carrying a 10 foot steel pipe on the heads (for building an new hydroelectric power station). These guys are truly heroes.

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Finally arrived at our destination where were delighted to be shown into our first tea house (kind of like a summer house/hotel).

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Fire was roaring and place was full of other trekkers so after a quick change was time for tea. Menu was suprisingly varied (pizza, chinese and the Nepalese Dal Baht) and nothing like what I had expected (however transpired that menu was practically identical at every tea house and after 2 weeks not appealing). Played some cards with Narenda and Chhatra, teaching them good old Rummy and had a relatively early night. First night in sleeping bag caccon which again was not as bad as originally thought. The place even had a Western style loo (inside) …heaven!!

DAY 2 - CP COMPLETES THE TEAM!!!

PHAKDING (2600m)- MANJO (2850m) - NAMCHE BAZARRE (3440m)

Awoke early by the banging on the door (06:30 - to become a regular occurance) and braved the cold to dress, pack away sleeping bag etc and head down to brekie. No heat on for breakfast so have to sit wrapped up to the max exposing only the eating hand!! Tried some rhododendron tea (a local speacility) which was lovely and even Al was drinking tea to keep warm. Headed off on todays trek towards Namche Bazarre. Had met a couple at the airport yesterday who had just completed the trek and they said that this day was possibly the worst so as you can imagine were both thouroughly looking ofrward to the upcoming trek. Started off relatively easily, leaving Phakding and heading down towards the Dudh Koshi (milky river).

Beautiful scenery en route passing through potato and wheat fields and waterfalls and through some tiny villages.  

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More evil bridges to cross but gradually getting the hang of it (run and shit self!!) En route met a Scottish couple Geraldine and Snoz who had just got married and this was their honeymoon along with several months travelling. She was a physiotherapist and he was an engineer (sound familiar???) Anyway they helped us through a few steep parts by keeping us chattting which was pretty good.

Arrived in Manjo for lunch and parted company from the Scottish couple. However we met a Canadian couple (Robyn an ER Physicain & her boyfriend ??? a helicopter pilot) having lunch. They had been up to Kundi where there is a local hopsital in the hope of landing a job there.  Altitude had done them no favours and both said they felt like shit (didn’t look the best either and had not showered in 3 weeks - nice). This worried us a little as they looked like fit individuals and lived in Alaska so were used to trekking, at this point thought we’d probably only make to Namche!!!

After a feast of lunch and a rest/snooze in the “sun room” it was off again. this time headed up out of vilage and then followed the river closely.

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Amazing this crystal clear blue river flowing violently down from the mountains - totally devoid of any living matter (ie fish) due to the strength of the flow and the coolness of the water. Just as we were walking beside the river turned around and met CP (our guide) who had quickly caught up with us. Had a wee chat then it was off again. Crossed another evil bridge and then the nightmare of the 500 metre climb up to Namche began. Climb took around 3- 4 hours and was an absolute nightmare.

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Had to stop every 20 minutes or so to catch breath and allow time for the lactic acid to dissapate from the jelly legs. I believe we complained adequately for the task in hand and I’m sure CP was glad to have joined us at this point. En route were completly embarrassed by the sherpas and porters who were carrying in excess of 120 Kgs on their backs…. (Two 50Kg sacks of rice + beers!).

Finally arrived in Namche, the “Gateway to Everest”, at about 16:00 and our tea house was the furthest up over looking the rest of this funny little town. 40 years ago this was a tiny village and since Hilary has been and input a lot of cash it has developed into a little town with about 20 guest houses, a bakery, a sauna, a pool hall and a regular market held by the Tibetans who cross the border near Everest. A real hive of activity and totally mad that everything has to be carried here, by foot, from Lukla (which has taken us 2 days).

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Settled into room which was reasonable (again inside toilet and sink obviously communal not en suite!!) Absoultely freezing and couldn’t get warm and both feared at thie point we would have to go back. However wandered upstairs where there was a fire, had some dinner, met an old German guy called Rudi (a chemist), had a beer and went to bed. Can’t wait till tomorrow!!!!

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DAY 3 - IT”S ALL GONE BAZARRE!!!!!- REST DAY

NAMCHE BAZARRE (3440m)

An unrestfull night with the raging shits and dogs barking all night. As soon as the lights went down the dogs had started and it was like an illegal dog rave that didn’t stop. Anyway despite it being a “rest day” still were woken at 07:30 with CP and Narenda knocking on the door for today’s adventure. Got up and tried to eat and then got togged up and ready for the Sagarmatha National Park Headquarters/Barracks. CP assured it it was only 20 minutes away but failed to mention that was fully up hill. So with legs still a little sore from yesterday bitched our way up.

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Arrived at the top to some amazing scenery and got our first proper glimpse at the big chap (Everest)!!!

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This area was the main Barracks for fighting off the Maoists so the entire hill top was surrounded with barb wire and razor wire (who would attack here I don’t know- they’d have no energy by the time they got here!!!)

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At the foot of the hill was a crashed helicopter which apparently had already been stripped for parts (so no chance of escape)!! From the top the view was just spectacular with Everest, Nupste and all the other fellas just there almost touchable!!!

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At the top of the “hill” we went to a museum with loads of artefacts and info on Everest and it’s history. Figures showed suprisingly that it has mostly been visited by Brits over the years with 3500 of us last year alone (and we thought we were the only ones…) Whilst we were there we saw 3 helicopters circling and landing to pick up supplies and when I asked what was happening was informed that 3 people had apparently died yesterday at base camp and they were looking for the bodies. At this point we shat ourselves and thought what the hell are we doing here???

Anyway after much assurance from the guides that we were in safe hands we went down to the sherpa museum, which was basically a tribute to all the others who had died enroute, and the worries hightened!! Despite that saw some great photos of the mountains and a dodgy slide show (which would have been recorded better through a baked bean can) and a load of info on Sherpa life.

Returned to the hotel for lunch and a hot shower (which was fab) and then headed off about town!!

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Bought a couple of jackets (as were now freezing), some scarves and a token yak model. Found an internet cafe and emailed the folks to assure them of our safety and then Al found a bakery where he feasted on apple pie. Returned to hostel where we lounged around near the fire and played a few cards. At this point where informed that it was actually an avalanche at base camp that had killed 6 people. Can’t wait to continue!!! Another cold early night and off to bed.

DAY FOUR - GETTING HIGH THEN THE AMS HANGOVER!!!

NAMCHE (3440m) TO PHUNKI TENGA (3250m) TO TENGBOCHE (3867m)

Door bashing began at 07:00 to get us up in time for breakfast (think they are begining to suss us out!) So had brekie with Rudy and then left on the next leg towards a place that sounded a little funky!!

A beautiful sunny day to start off with and the scenery was just amazing. Almost like walking in (what I imagine) the Rockies or South America - loads of trees and greenery and really rugged landscape.

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Was roasting and manged to walk and get burned in just a vest top. Along route again loads to see from monestries to shrines to other trekkers with their pearls of wisdom!

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A relatively easy 3 hour trek to Phunki Teng with it mostly being down hill or flat (we like). Sat in the glorious sun next to the river with a chicken who took a fancy to Al and his chips and lapped up the scenery of Namche behind us in the distance and the mighty Everest in front.

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Encountered the worst toilet so far ( a wooden whole down into the valley with shite smeared all over it) and wondered what amenities we had to follow!!!

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Left lunch and as per ususal the climb became worse… always lead us into a false sense of ease before lunch… Headed up and up and the weather and the complaining became more sinister and cold…. Again landscape became more amazing and sights of yaks and mountians galore!!

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On the way up was bitching that I’d love to be on the beach and then low and behold stumbled across one!!! (well not quite).

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Continued up and up and felt like we were in the clouds, with Everest getting closer and closer and our legs sorer and sorer!

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Eventually, both with sore heads from the altitude, reached Tengboche which again was a feast for the eyes. In the middle of nowhere at nearly 4000m come across a village.

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The main dominating feature being a large monestary.

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Before sitting to chill were lead off to look around said monestary which was trully amazing, hand painted walls throughout.

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Then a quick tour of the five houses of the village and back to the tea house. Our room was proablaby just big enough for a single bed but had a double (ish) in it and nothing else. Loo was outside and freezing and sink was none existent!!Mattress was too big for bed so if rolled over would end up on floor!!!

Met 4 guys from Crowthorne (Berkshire) in the restaurant (all about 50 - 60) who had just been to Island Peak (6160m) and all looked absoultely Fecked!!! They remonised on tales of not eating and all feeling ill for the four days trek!! Anyway had some tea and warmed ourselves by the fire before retiring to bedfordshire!!

DAY 5 - WE HATE THE MOUNTAINS!!!

TENGBOCHE (3867m) - SHOMARE (4000m)- DINGBOCHE (4260m).

Another early start after a pretty bad night’s sleep. Al’s headache had got worse during the night and had to wakeup CP at about 03:00 to get some paracetamol and advice as thought he was going to have to descent due to the altitude. Anyway up and packed and started on our way which fortunately started downhill.

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After about 1/2 and hour both started to feel pretty shit and every step was exhausting. Scenery was also now changing and the temperature was now freezing and the ground solid.

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Passed through Pangboche and then trekked on to Shomare. Found out on the way that the story about the people dying at Everest base camp wasn’t true and it was actually 3 sherpas and 3 Swiss who had died in an avalanche at Ama Dablam (6812m) base camp. All the way we could see helipcopters circling, still looking for the bodies, as we were approaching that way.

Arrived at lunch and unfortunately met one of the sons of the sherpa who had been killed in the avalanche which was quite sad. Fortunately one of the “elders” in the village had agreed to take on the boys education and welfare so he would be looked after. He had a beautiful puppy which I befriended and contemplated on life up here as we sat eating - very different and definetly not in Kansas anymore.

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After lunch and another quick snooze for Al set on our merry way.

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As we continued it was so difficult to walk and the scenery, although beautiful, was difficult to appreciate due to the pain and shortness of breath!

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Arrived finally at Dingboche

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The tea house was filled with candles (as a shrine) to the husband of the owner had also been killed yesterday in the avalanche.

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Again sad as there was a young child of about 6 and a baby who he had left behind.

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Al’s headache continued and he was given Diomox (a Diuretic) to help with the effects of AMS. Met 2 Dutch guys Bart & Joost who were the only other guests there and we ate dinner and drank a beer to celebrate the fact it was Friday night. The stars outside were just amazing I have never seen so many the sky was just a wash with speckles of light - unfortunately unable to get on camera but the memories will hopefully stay. Sat and watched the family eat dinner on the floor and the baby pour rice all over his head!! Then again another early night and bed in our cozy sleeping bags.

DAY 6 - AT LEAST THE WALKY TALKIES WORK!!!

DINGBOCHE REST DAY….

So both slept very well considering and although we both had slightly sore heads we felt ok and a hat seemed to take away most of the headache. Had our first lie in till 08:00 and felt like we’d slept for hours!!! Woke up to look out the window through the ice and saw a yak’s arse staring back at me. Decided to have a wash so got a bowl of half boiling and half freezing water and had a quick splash next to the yak who was munching on last nights left overs…Brushed teeth into a pile of yak dung (nice) and then headed in for warmth and brekkie.  

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Today’s adventure was a “small climb up a hill” which would be easy…apparently.

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Needless to say said hill was 5200m and although I started off with good intentions after about half way (400m)was absoluetly fecked and decided to crap out as I wanted to enjoy tomorrows trek. Myself and CP climbed down and left Narendra and Al to continue. I went and had a warm shower and  waited on the boys return….

As Al and Narendra climbed the mountain the clouds came over as per usual from Namche and very quickly the trail was plunged into a thick soup of white. They battled on (well Al did, Narendra is somewhat of a mountain goat) and finally made the summitt, which was a cold and rocky affair. The high clouds parted to reveal stunning views of the surrounding peaks with a sea of white below- utterly spellbinding. Ten minutes of picture taking and viewing was enough and the altitude was cutting everybreath short.

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So they both headed down describing the sceney en route to me via walkie talkie (thanks Fraser & Hazel - fab gift).

On his return Al had a well deserved hot shower followed by a feast and then it was the usual cards and chat before off to bed.

DAY 7 - THE WORST DAY SO FAR !!!

DINGBOCHE (4260m)  - TUGLHA (4620m)- LA BOUCHE (4900m).

Woke up again with ice on the inside of the windows and felt like there were icicles hanging from our noses. Very cold. Had experienced a very strange night’s sleep and had been struggling to catch breath and both having funny dreams. CP dished out the necessary Diomox to Al and I as we would be ascending to almost 5000m today.

Went outside for the necessary abolusions and noticed that the whole village was covered in a sea of cloud and you couldn’t see further than about 100 m in front of our tea house. CP said we didn’t need to rush as no point trying to walk in this, so Al had a few more minutes in cozy bed. Sat and had brekkie and while we were eating noticed that the young girl in the tea house had taken quite a shine to Narendra and was pandering to his every need. She then confessed her love for him much to our amusement!!! So much ribing throughout the rest of the trip for him!!!

Set off up the same “hill” as yesterday and Chhatra decided to stick with us today rather than rushing off ahead.

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Immediately began to feel the legs and breathing strugling. Only had to go up about 1/5th of the way before taking a track off towards the next village. Fortunately the trek became much flatter at this point and the walking and breathing easier. Then it was downhill for a while (yeah) although this inevitably meant that we had to climb back up again. Scenery was barren and the clouds were so low that it made it even colder. Beautiful scenery with the Chola pass in front, Ama Dabblam behind and yaks grazing merrily beside us.

Made it to a small village - Tuglha (around 3 food places and a couple of shacks) for about 12ish and sat and had lunch. Al had his first Dal Baht (Nepalese speciality of rice, lentil and curried veg) which was actually lovely and I struggled to eat my chicken noodle soup, which tasted of kerosene.

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Another traumatising toilet experience. While sitting eating we were aware of the huge hill next to us which was our next mission. The slope looked like it went onwards and upwards forever and Chhattra had set off about 1/2 hour before us and we could see that he was only about 1/4 of the way up.

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After stalling for a while and trying to put off the inevitable, packed up and set off again. The clouds were coming in thick and fast at this point and the hilll was only half visible now. Headed up and within about 10 minutes was gasping for breath witha tight chest and felt like our hearts were about to jump out of our chests. The headaches also came on thick and fast. So this small hill was in fact about 600 m climb and mostly rock and quite frankly awfull. The wind was freezing by the top and the clouds and air were so thick and heavy that they felt void of any oxygen. At this point we both felt exhausted and yet again felt that this was the worst bit so far.

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Finally after about 1 1/2 hours (CP predicted it would take 1/2 hour) we reached the top, shattered and dilusional!

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The top of the hill was an eeire place heightened by the low mist. We were surrounded by a cemetary of memorials to those who’d died in the mountians.  There must have been around 50 -60 different stone monuments peaking out through the mist and countless little stone cairns.

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We made our own little stone pile and caught our breaths before heading off again.

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From there we were told it was about a 2 hour trek to La Bouche (mostly flat) so off we went. By this point the scenery was very barren and it was so misty all you could see was rock and ice and cloud. As we walked my hair all froze and the pair of us were covered in little icicles. I began to feel better, although still cold and miserable but Al’s headache was worsening and he was really stuggling.

Finally saw La Bouche coming round the corner.

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CP and I marched on with Narendra and Al bringing up the rear!!! Arrived at tea house which had no electricity/lights as the solar power had not collected any sun today.  The only heat was from a tiny stove in the middle of the room surrounded by porters, run on Yak dung. So huddled round the best we could and put on all clothes to try and stay warm. Al had a few more painkillers and we both wolfed down hot lemon and hot chocolate in an effort to heat from the inside.

Hostel was the most basic yet. Although the toilet was inside it was a squat on a raised platform surrounded by ice so was like trying to squat on an ice rink, balance and pee in the dark - not the best. Fortunately kind Mr Sharp had brought us head torches before our trip which came in a treat.

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After about 1/2 hour, hair had thawed and we were slighlty warmer and the yak dung was heating up a bit. Sat by the fire with an American psychotherapist and her French window cleaner boyfriend who had just been to Kallapattar and gave us some handy hints. They were from Colarado and trekked on a regular basis and said it was easy (liars).

Anyway after a short stroll round the village and some more Dal Baht was off to bed as big day tomorrow - BASE CAMP!!

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Had possibly the worst night’s sleep ever as I could not get a breath. Everytime I lay down and closed my eyes I was awoken and forced to sit up due to the overwhelming need to catch a breath. You know that way when you wake up and feel like you are fallling out of bed and panic, well that went on and on all night. So I don’t think I slept at all. Al managed a couple of hours as he was drugged up although he was also struggling.

DAY 8 - BASECAMP…EVEREST…EASY

LABOUCHE (4900m) - GORAK SHEP (5180m) - EVEREST BASE CAMP (5353m) - GORAK SHEP (5180m).

Think I had finally managed an hour or so’s sleep just before CP bashed the door and we were rudely awoken at 05:00 in the freezing and pitch black to get up and go. Wanted to brush teeth but no sink so had to balance over shite splattered loo/hole and try and spit down there.

Tried to eat something for breakfast, but was unable as both totally lost appetite and set off in silence (both totally unimpressed). Both took the Diomox again.

Outside was freezing and even darker but we set off on our merry way all wrapped up and ready for the elements in full space suit!!

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Eventually warmed up as the sun came out but the walk was proving very hard and again we were struggling for breath. Trek was relatively barren as we were now above the tree line and we started off on the flat which again soon changed.

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Met a girl at the base of another evil cliff who we tried to say hello to but who ignored us. We thought she was just rude but good old CP stopped and chatted to her and found out that she was actually dehydrated and about to pass out. Her guide had just left her behind and her pigeon Russain English was not the best. Anyway CP to the rescue gave her some pills and water and she followed us up the cliff.

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After a grulling climb and a further one hour trek we arrived at Gorak Shep the highest and last village before Tibet.

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Tea house was lovely and we sat and again attempted to eat but stuggled.

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After a rest set off agin this time destination base camp…Set off through Gorak Shep across a sandy stretch of land next to a frozen lake and beside Kallapattar (tomorrows hike) which sent hairs up on the back of our necks.

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Trek started off flat but over loads of rocks which made walking difficult as most were unsteady and wobbly underfoot and one had to step carefully to avoid any leg breaking.  Scenery didn’t change much the whole 3 hour trek there. Apart from getting steeper and rockier.

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Met some rodent friends along the way who were too quick for the camera. Scenery just became more breath taking as we approached the huge Khumba Glacier seperating base camp from us. The mountains seemed to be getting smaller and closer and just more beautiful. The silence was deafening and all you could hear was the sound of cracking noises and falling stones.This was some of the hardest trekking so far.

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Finally reached the Glacier and could just about make out base camp in the distance by the crashed helicopter. The Glacier was a mess of rocks and stones and you could barely make out that it was ice apart from the occasional lump of ice protruding from the rocks.

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Saw some amzing sights like an ice tunnel and eventually reached the last leg of travel towards our final destination.

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Struggled over the last few rocks and through the old tin cans and bones (I think yak) and eventually we were there BASE CAMP.. Can’t describe our emotions thought we would be all teary and ecstatic but in reality were both silently dumbfounded and knackered.

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And there behind us was the big fellow and a long climb to the next camp - neither of us had even the slightest ambition to go any further..and felt great admiration for anyone who ever has or will again.

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Had the place to ourselves for about 10 minutes before another group of people turned up (Andrew - South African and his mates). Got all the required photos and pleaded to head back while we could still muster up some energy. The weather was beautiful (sunshine no clouds) throughout the whole trek and we were truly blessed with the views.  

The trek back to Gorak Shep was equally as challenging although we made slightly better pace and managed it in about 2 1/2 hours. However when we arrived back our legs and lungs were like jelly. Had a cup of hot chocolate and 30 minutes by the fire which was enough to summons the energy to change clothes and prepare for dinner. CP then gave us the run down on tomorrows adventure which would again start at five am and begin with a short climb up Kallapattar. Sat chatting to a guy from Surrey and shared a small bottle of Khukri rum with our guides, (to aid the sleep) and then headed off to bed in awe of our adventure today. Felt a little emotional thinking about it now that we had enough energy to feel something!!

DAY 9 - ON TOP OF THE WORLD

GORAK SHEP (5180m)- KALLAPATTAR (5550m) - LABOUCHE (4930m) - TUGHLA (4620m) - PHERICHE (4243m).

Slept very well after the rum and walk and got the wake up call at 05:00 to do the climb. Apparently the views are amazing and you can see the best view of Everest and base camp. However the thought of it after being wrenched from doze land was totally unappealing. No time for breakfast was straight in to snow suits and head torches and off into the freezing darkness.  Well, after about 10 minutes of climbing my legs were as stiff as hell from yesterday and breathing was horendous. After about 30 minutes I had lost the will to live and I believe at that point began to cry which I did sporadically until we reached the top. Al tried to keep me going with small incentives like “if you make it to that rock you can have a hug or a drink” which helped me on reluctantly. After about 3 of the worst hours of my life and a small river of tears and sweat we approached the top absolutely fecked.

The sun had risen by now and the views (360 degrees) were amazing but I hadn’t any more to give.

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I sat down about 30 metres from the top and again sobbed a bit more and wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out, vomit or die. You could see the prayer flags which circled the peak just above but I had no intention of going any further.

After about 5 minutes of wallowing Al and CP had had enough and scooped me up and pushed and pulled me to the top kicking and screaming (well not quite). So eventually we were there - on top of the world or so it seemed.

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Truely breath taking views all round (a visual overload!!) You are centered in a magnificent mountian arena perched on the centre stage of the whole affair. Everest took pride of place up the Khumbha glacier, however it was by no means the prettiest just the menacing overlord of the arena. This felt like the pinnacle of the whole trip so far, the highest point we would reach and the hardest climb (steepness and atitude) and the most emotionally draining and the highest payoff of effort. We sat taking photos for around 10 minutes then we were interupted by the same crowd as yesterday (from Base camp) - think they were following us!

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Unfortunately still had to climb down, which took about 2 1/2 hours of careful manoeuring to avoid slipping. Was great to pass by people struggling on the way up knowing we were going down. Pretty uneventful, more whinging and “are we there yet” comments but eventually made it to the bottom.

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and looked back at what we’d climbed…

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So back at the lodge had some breakfast packed up and set about our way back (yeah homeward bound!!). Tried to put off the inevitable 6 hour trek but CP was having none of it so with even heavier legs than yesterday we left Gorak Shep at 11ish headed for Pheriche.

The trek was relatively easy going but with knackered bodies found it hard work. We trekked several hours alongside ther glacier and then onto Labouche without stopping.

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Every five minutes or so we both swore profoundly claiming we had no energy left but CP just kept going “Slowly slowly - just keep walking”. Eventually we came to the steep descent just before Tughla (the earlier nightmare mountain) and could see the grave yeard better in the light and our stone creation was still standing!!

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We trekked down hilll which wasn’t as steep as we’d remembered, and had a celebratory hot chocolate at the bottom. Met Andrew (from South Africa) who had lost the rest of his group and didn’t know where he was going. To make matters worse he was only wearing a t-shirt and fleece and the weather wa turning awfully chilly… We knew from talking to his mates on Kallapattar that they were also going to Pheriche so suggested he could follow us - he didn’t fancy it though and said he’d wait there for the rest of his group. I guess this is how people get killed out here cause if his mates didn’t arrive shortly it would be dark and he would have to try and find his way in the dark and would proabably get lost and freeze.

Anyway we left and headed off on the last leg of today’s hike. The path seemed to go on forever as the light began to fade and the temperature plummeted. We finally reached Pheriche around five o’clock and collapsed in front of the fire.

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Dinner came fairly quickly accompanied with Khukri wine (yum) which we shared with a Polish guy called Yorak. He turned out to be excellent company and imparted some experiences on travelling in India (our next venture), especialy Delhi which sounds a nightmare!!!Went off to bed at about 8:30 for another early rise.

DAY 10 - OXYGEN NEVER TASTED SO GOOD!!!!

PHERICHE (4243m)- PANGBOCHE (3985m) - PHUNKI TENGE (3250m).

So had a relative lie in (wake up 07:00, breakfast 08:00) and amanged to wash self with some hot water. Temperature now getting much more appealing. Before leaving the village stopped in at a memorial to all those who’ve died on Everest from 1922-2006 (still with spaces to be filled). A little melanchony as there was lots of names (and lots of British). A strange pyramid thing with all the names inside.

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A small climb out of Pheriche then onto recognisable roads. Trek was mainly flat or downhill to Pangboche where we had some lunch in a lovely little restaurant (chips and beans). From there it was off to Tengboche and the weather started to get cold again. No stops and it was a fly by of the village and on to the next place. I remeber on our way up how high tengboche felt and at this point we had felt like we had come so far. On the way down it felt like we were almost back!!!

En route came across a large hill and our poor bodies had forgotten how to climb and soon started bitching!! Anyway managed fine and it was then easy walking back past all the yaks and temples…

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It was then down towards the river again and back to Phunki Teng and Al’s chicken friend. Descended for about 2 hours before gettng down to the river and wondered how on earth we had made it up this hill on the way. Everyone managed to slide over on the way but fortunately there were no injuries. Arrived at hotel - room lovely and had a reasonably cold shower, but at least felt clean. Sat by the fire (filled with logs no dung so no smell), ate some Dal Baht amd bought some Swiss chocolate which we sat back and endulged. Played some cards and was off to bed.

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DAY 11 - NAMASTE NAMCHE!!!

PHUNKI-TENGE (3250m)- SANASA - NAMCHE (3440M).

After a restlesss night (as by a very noisy river) it was breakfast and off destination Namche - plan was to arrive early so we could shower and relax for rest of day so set off at about 08:30. Had to start day with an hour long climb which nearly killed us. Needless to say much complaining and blaming CP for the lay of the land. Met a guy on the way who’d been staying in our tea house who didn’t look the best. He explained that when up climbing Kallapattar he’d got Pulmonary Oedema and was now having to descend as quickly as his fluid filled lungs would let him. Poor guy was really struggling and had to walk all the way back . We were assured if that had been us we would have been helicopterised off !! (is that a real word?).

Started walking off to next destination with the big fellows still in view for the meantime, soon to say goodbye to them as we descend beneath the trees. Scenery now more green though and moutnains further away.

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Stopped in Sanasa on the way for a drink where there were some lovely stalls selling yak jewellery. So a few purchases were done and a few christmas presents bought !!! 

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Headed off again along the route to Namche which was one of my favourite walks on the way along the American style scenery. Met a mountain goat en route and a peacock type thing which is the National bird of Sargarmatha park.

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Arrived in Namche to the sun and had lunch and a hot shower - bliss… Were again greeted by the cows..

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Did a little washing as socks now stinking!! and then went and emailed the folks and wandered round town. Back to tea house where we played cards and Al annoyed the Germans around us by blowing on the fire and spreading ash everywhere!! Another early night and bed….

DAY 12 - THE HOME STRAIGHT

NAMCHE (3440m) - MANJO (2850m) PHAKDIING (2640m)

Awoke around seven and had a light breakfast in the lodge and got ready to leave. Headed off rather speedily as had lungs full of oxygen!!! Said our good byes to Namche and the milky cow and off we went….

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Strolled down towards the river through a turrent of traffic heading up towards Namche - Saturday is market day so all food is headed up along with new equipment etc - all carried on the backs of porters. There was a variety of different objects going up with the majority of if being food. As Sagarmatha is a Natiomal Park no animals are allowed to get slaughtered within it. So any meat that you eat while up there has to have come from below Lukla where it can be slaughtered. So all the meat is transported (not wrapped or frozen or even refrigerated) in baskets covered in flies up to the market at namche where it is sold. So meat by the time it gets there is at least 6 days old. Hence the reason for being veggie the whole trip….

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Headed dwon the long dusty path to the river and agin wondered how we had got up this steep cliff. Eventually got down to the river and my old friends the suspension bridges, which by now I almost ran over (well not quite)!! Passed the oldest house around also (100 years old).

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Arrived in the familiar Manjo for lunch where Al revealed his new hair do and me my burnt face…

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Met a couple of Aussie lesbains who’d been trekking up Island Peak and were now dying from a cold. Then headed off after lunch towards Phakding and our last night above Lukla.

Arrived at Phakding where we stayed agin in the Prince Everest hotel but we were pretty much the only ones there. So bought some Everest beer (and fags) in celebration of our acheivements which went straght to our heads!!!

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Again dinner and bed…..

DAY 13 - DRINKS AHOY!!!

PHAKDING (2640m) TO LUKLA (2886m)

Woke up after a small lie in (08:00) and had leisurely breakfast while Al engraved our sticks so we could leave them behind.

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It was then off again on the final trek. Sun was shining and the route was up and down and not too much bother. Had rememebred our first day’s trek as being mainly downhill so was worried that it would be all up on the way back - but managed fine with our new found fitness!!! Passed back past the prayer wheels and monuments…

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Scenery was lush thoughout with greenery and trees. A few more bridges which I could now do hands free…

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and it was a small climb up to Lukla where we finally reached and celebrated with sticks held high…

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Back to the same hotel we’d started off in and back to the slopey runway. Had a beer in the garden along with lunch then Chhatra our porter turned up and Al decided to try out the bags - big mistake - he almost collapsed. All the weight is carried through the neck…nightmare.

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I sat back and relaxed….

Anyway after another shower and change it was up for dinner where we had a “tip giving” celebration with our guides, more rum and got a little bit drunk..

The team was splitting and the trip was nearly over…. I think we all felt a little emotional (well the boys pretended too..) about leaving and at the same time relieved that the ordeal was over. So we drank a little more.

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Was another early start with suprisingly no hangover (which was nice), breakfast and the short walk to the airport where CP had managed to get us on the first flight (08:00). Apparently since  we’d been away there had been bad weather for 5 days where no flights could get from Lukla to Kathmandu so there had been a huge backlog of travellers - apparently this had now cleared and the weather looked fab so it was fingers crossed that we’d be off. Went  through  the vigourous security check (a quick frisk) and into waiting lounge. Planes started arriving and our’s was fourth in line to take off.

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On board I began to panic about the forthcoming take off as it would be downhill and Al began to get excited. Engines started and off we went I closed my eyes (shitting myself)  and Al lapped up the adrenaline rush. Took off and although the sky was clear the pressure changes made the plane wobble a bit, but eventually it flattened off and I managed to open my eyes. Views yet again were stunning and we said our farewells to the mountains as we flew by.

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Finally approached Kathmandu and saw the sights of civilisation and began to relax and look forward to a hot shower, beer and meat!!!

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Collected bags from baggage reclaim

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and headed back to hotel that the company had arranged for us. Immediately were confronted with the manicness of Kathmandu and wondered whether we were ready to face it again but as soon as we arrived at the hotel and saw the lovely garden and spacious room we were in heaven!

Said our goodbyes to the boys and arranged to meet them the next night for dinner and they arranged for our bags to be returned to the hotel and for  Pradip to meet us later that day to discuss our trip.

First port of call was the hairdressers as Al had turned into a yeti over our trip.

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So we found a local barbers and Al received a full haircut and cut throat razor shave. Also got conned into both having a massage which they tried to charge us a small fortune for. Also not sure how legite it was as the man started massaging my boobs, when is hand tried to go inside my top I called a halt to the proceedings!!

So all shaven we headed back for a shower and change of clothes and could recognize Al again!!

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Hadn’t realised quite how much weight we’d lost till I held out my trousers (hope it stays off !!!).

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So had a leisurely afternoon in the garden reading and had somelunch. Pradip arrrived and we gave him the lowdown on the trip and expressed our gratitude to him and his impecable team. Cannot rate CP, Narindra and Chhatra highly enough - also for Mountain Monarch such an excellent trip. As an encore we got a free T shirt and he agreed to help with travel arrangements onto India.

Went to a steak house for dinner where we endulged in steak and chicken and beer and althouigh we wanted were unable to stay out past 10 as we were knackered!!!Headed back to hotel for an early night in a cosy bed.

So plan of attack is a couple of days in KTM then onwards to Pokhara and India in search of the sun - with the final destination being Goa.Will email with the next blog when I have recovered from writing this one!!!!!

So that was it - Everest - done!!!!

18 Responses to “On Top of The World - Everest!!!”

Mum said:

boy! that was something truly quite amazing ,Halfway through I was taking deep breaths for you. Don’t think I could put up with these conditions but I’m still quite envious, wish I could turn the clock back a wee bit. Terrific welldone any thing else you do now will be a daudle eh!! love again Mumxxx

Posted on December 10th, 2006.

Dooch said:

I don’t know what was harder, your trek up Everest or reading this post. Haha, only joking.

Very impressed that you both managed to make it to base camp, I assume that the guide had a Big Mac dangling from a stick to entice Al to keep going.

I also think Al looked better as the Yeti. With the shaven nut he looks like he’s doing a 10 stretch in Sing Sing prison.

Posted on December 10th, 2006.

Fraser said:

Good on you both. I knew all these dashes in the rain to Greggs for cakes would pay dividends one day Sarah!

You might have been exhausted reaching base camp, but do you realise just how tiring it is for us too to keep twisting your neck to the side to look at the sideways photos?

Posted on December 11th, 2006.

Sandra Craig said:

Wow, what a trip! I’m drained just reading about it. And I thought it had turned a bit chilly here in Glasgow. Well done.

Posted on December 11th, 2006.

John @ Lousey said:

Well done you two,

Looked superb!. Id like to go for it one day myself, I say Myself because Lousey aint never gonna do it (”oh ma Knees!”). Anyway must get back to the Crimbo Decorations etc.. etc.. .

XX John @ Lou

Posted on December 13th, 2006.

Sarah Reid said:

Hello everyone lovely to hear from you all and nice to see you’ve been reading along our travels….. We are currently in Goa on a fab beach called Palolem it’s gorgeous and about 35 degrees (sorry!!)
Kevin - you are a cheeky Bas$$$$ and Santa hats are only mildly amusing so stop messing with the photos!!!
Sandra - lovely to hear fom you and pleased you are keeping trak of our travels
Fraser - you are also cheeky - and yes Greggs was good training.
John and Louise - pleased life is treating you well and nice to hear from you.
Will write a new log in near future and catch up soon…

Posted on December 15th, 2006.

Bob & Ace said:

We like all the snow, think we could get to the top of that hill in no time.
Fancy that chicken I we could chase that around the hill as well. Not so keen on the big dogs with horns. Going to see if we can go next year

Posted on December 18th, 2006.

Ben & Babs said:

Guys, sorry we have been so crap. I have totally forgotten how nice it was to hear from friends and family while we were away, no matter how dull the news was. So, job is crap, new house is fab and cat is getting fatter! i have filled in a few blanks on your previous blogs, check them out! it will take me a while to catch up, but i will try to keep up with latest events. Have a fab crimbo, i seem to remember we were on a beach in nam with not a christmas tree in sight! Fantastic!!!! All your news brigs back such good memories! Love to you both xx

Posted on December 18th, 2006.

Fra said:

Al you looked like a grinning osama bin laden

Posted on December 21st, 2006.

Andy W said:

You sure took some nice photos of the campsies, but where did you find all the unusual people, not to mention the bulls? Good to see you’ve joined the taliban…….have you ate each other yet?,,,,,,,,ahem..

Posted on December 23rd, 2006.

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