Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Trip to Everest Base Camp Day 5
In March 2015, I set off on the adventure of a lifetime with 3 good friends. On day 5 of our trip to Everest Base Camp, we would be trekking to Diingboche on our way to Everest Base Camp in Nepal to stand and look at the beauty that is Mount Everest.
If you’re following along from day 1 trekking to Everest Base Camp, welcome back! If you’re new to this adventure, you may want to first start with day 1 of our Everest Base Camp trek from Kathmandu to Lukla and Phakding and then come back to continue on.
Day 4 of our trip to Everest Base Camp had been pretty tough. It was “only” about 5 miles of hiking, which, at sea level isn’t that difficult. But, add in the elevation, the snow level, and the elevation gain, it certainly wasn’t easy. Today was going to be just about as difficult, but the views would be well worth it! Especially ending the day with an incredible view of Ama Dablam!
Hiking Out of Tengboche
Elevation: ~12,600 feet to ~14,200 feet
Mileage: ~7 miles – “Napali flat” for about a mile, uphill for about 2.5 miles, “Nepali flat” for the rest with some small (but intense) uphills and downhills
We woke up the morning of day 5 of our trip to Everest Base Camp feeling pretty good. We had clear, blue skies again which was a relief after the day of snow we experienced in the beginning of our trip. But even better, we could see the tippy top of Mount Everest from our tea house! She looked spectacular.
I can’t speak for the group, but personally I was finally starting to feel a bit more conditioned and it was awesome. It really is amazing how your body goes into auto-mode and just seems to accept that this is what we’re in for, so get used to it. It’s often the mind that gives up first.
Today we would be leaving Tengboche and hiking on to Dingboche, going from ~12,600 to ~14,200 feet. The trail started off relatively flat for the first half mile, and then we started going downhill. The Dudh Kosi River was back on our left hand side, and we had a high pack of snow on our right. We passed a tea house whose roof had collapsed in from the snow (luckily, it was closed at the time), and a collapsed bridge hung awkwardly pushed aside after falling some years ago, but had not been removed.
Our trip to Everest Base Camp had so far left us in much more snow than we had anticipated. With the sun out, we weren’t out of the woods. At one point as we got closer the river, our guide, Gyanu, was concerned about possible avalanches and snow slides, so he had us move quickly until we got to the bridge that went across the river.
Trekking Along the Dudh Kosi River to Dingboche
Once on the other side of the Dudh Kosi river, the trail went right back uphill, as expected. Luckily, on this side of the river we started to move into the sun and it felt gloriously warm. Our trip to Everest Base Camp had so far left us with some very cold and wet weather, so the clear skies were very much welcomed. Ransom and Steve continued to circle the small stupas clockwise – tradition says that if you circle in a clockwise direction, it will bring you good luck. And we sure needed it.
For our trip to Everest Base Camp, the stupas were all surrounded by knee-deep snow, but that didn’t stop the boys from doing it anyway. In their defense, we did end up with pretty perfect luck all along our trip, so maybe there was something to it. I was usually too tired and trying to conserve every ounce of energy, so following them was not an option at this altitude.
About a mile or so in, we passed a town that during the busy season must be full of travelers and foreigners, but on this day it was nearly deserted. We found one tea house open with restrooms and took a short break before moving on.
We continued on, trudging through the snow and still completely grateful for our micro-spikes…until we got to the stone stairs. In general, the micro-spikes were pretty easy to get on an off. They had rubber that basically just stretched around your boot, so it wasn’t too difficult. Until you were out of breath at elevation with a backpack on and hiking poles in your hand, and then you looked like a clumsy fool if you tried getting them on or off while standing.
Before this, there was no issue because everything was 100% covered in snow so there was no reason to take them off once they were on. Now that the sun had been out for a few days and porters and trekkers were starting to break the trail, the snow on the trail was starting to melt. Much of the trail was still covered, but in between were bare spots. We would go from spots completely covered, to spots completely bare, and then we would have to struggle with whether or not to leave the micro-spikes on because another snowy spot may be just up ahead. It wasn’t good to walk on the micro-spikes if there wasn’t snow because the spikes would bend and break, so we had to be very careful.
The hike took us up stone stairs for what seemed would be quite a way, so we decided to take our chances and take them off. Ransom, my hero, would often remove mine like taking a shoe off a horse while I balanced on my poles.
Lunch in Panboche
Up we went for what seemed like forever (a trend for our trip to Everest Base Camp) but was probably only about 2 miles. We finally reached our lunch spot in Panboche, the Everest View Lodge & Restaurant. We dropped our bags, sat down for tea, and waited for our usual “veggie” noodles.
It was warm enough here to strip down to just a fleece, and we enjoyed time with some adorable puppy friends who hung out right at the door. We filled up our water, sterilized it, added our electrolyte powder, and rested for the second half of the day. We were about half way to Dingboche!
As had been the norm, we were the only ones in the restaurant. Because of the storm, no other planes had been allowed to fly to Lukla for a few days, and we were early season so there were no crowds. We enjoyed our lunch and tea, and then it was back on the trail. The second part of today’s hike was absolutely breathtaking!
Hiking to Dingboche
The second half of day 5 of our trip to Everest Base Camp was very long and arduous, but incredibly beautiful and peaceful. Once we came a bit uphill out of town, we could see that the trail went relatively flat and fully snow covered – Nepali flat. I took out my headphones, put on some of my favorite songs, and simply enjoyed the walk. It was still tough, and we were trekking between 14k and 15k feet, so it certainly wasn’t easy, but it was peaceful. And incredible. Did I mention the views??
Eventually the trail went downhill back to the Dudh Kosi River before going back uphill. We passed some Yaks, as was the norm, just hanging out in the snow. And, of course, then the trail went back uphill until we finally reached Dingboche.
We were all pretty worn out and quiet at this point – the day had taken us probably about 6-7 hours with our short break. We didn’t have the same reactionary excitement seeing Dingboche as we did seeing Namche Bazaar because now we couldn’t be fooled. After being fooled once on our trip to Everest Base Camp, this time we knew that just because we saw the town didn’t mean we were done for the day.
Once we reached town, we still had to walk a bit to our tea house through the snow, but we got there eventually! The town was, as expected, completely empty. Dingboche was a big town, much bigger than Tengboche, and I could only imagine what it must be like during the busy season. But for us, it consisted of us, a few other trekkers, and locals.
Spending the Night at Our Teahouse in Dingboche with Ama Dablam
Our Dingboche Guest House was nice – the main room was upstairs, and to get to our rooms we had to walk down a short flight of stairs. There was a shared bathroom down the hall that was pretty much frozen over, but there were two bathroom stalls and a sink outside where we could brush our teeth. Also, because it had been sunny the last few days, they were able to get some solar juice to get us Wi-Fi, so we were able to check in with people back home to let them know we were doing okay. And maybe checked facebook a bit. Whatever, we’re still tech junkies.
The best part of our tea house was the view of the lovely Ama Dablam from our window – she was incredible! Ama Dablam is a 22,000 foot peak in the Himalayas, popular with mountain climbers. The name Ama Dablam means “Mother of Pearl Necklace”, referring to the glacier that hangs around the peak.
Anywhere else, you would pay hundreds of dollars for a view like this with Ama Dablam in your backyard, but where we were staying was extremely inexpensive. The only catch is that you have to walk there to see it – well worth it!
We settled into our rooms, changed into comfortable clothes, and headed back upstairs for dinner. We didn’t last very long after dinner – it was VERY cold at this elevation, so by 7pm we piled into our sleeping bags. We had had a few long day of trekking but luckily day 6 of our trip to Everest Base Camp was a rest day in Dingboche. We were all looking forward to not having to hike for 6-8 hours. We also knew we were getting closer to Everest Base Camp, and that was very exciting! Day 6 wouldn’t turn out to be a do-nothing day, as it’s recommended to do another acclimatization hike, but it would still be an incredible day!