Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Hike to Everest Base Camp Day 7
In March 2015, I set off on the adventure of a lifetime with 3 good friends. On day 6 of our hike to Everest Base Camp, we would be hiking on to Lobuche after enjoying a “rest day” in Dingboche, continuing on towards Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
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 6 of our hike to Everest Base Camp had been a beautiful, sunny day with a hike up to Nangkartshang peak to help acclimatize. The views were simply amazing with snow covered Himalayas in every direction. Today we would set off to higher elevations a we got closer to Everest Base Camp!
Hike from Dingboche to Dughla
Elevation: ~14,000 feet to ~16,000 feet
Mileage: About 5.3 miles – Napali flat for about a few miles, very uphill for about a mile, and then a bit up and down with some Nepali flat for the rest of the day.
On day 7 of our hike to Everest Base Camp we left Dingboche for Lobuche, trekking almost 5 miles. That doesn’t sound like much, but going from 14,000 feet to 16,000 feet makes it feel more like 10 miles. The skies were clear blue again, so we loaded up on our sunscreen and set off for what should have been a 5 hour trek, but ended up taking us about 8 hours.
We started the hike up the hill we had done the day before on our rest day in Dingboche, but half way up was where the trail lead to Lobuche (so, luckily, we didn’t have to reach the summit of Nangkartshang Peak again!). From there, the trail was Nepali flat (gradual up/down the whole way) for about 2 miles. The first part was clear, flat and open, but once we got to where there was a cliff on our left, it made trekking more difficult.
At this point in our hike to Everest Base Camp, there had been enough sunny days after the storm that the snow was starting to melt, which sounds great, but really it made it even more difficult. We walked with our micro-spikes, but the snow was no longer solid so you had to have much stronger footing. The trail was very narrow through the snow because not as many people had reached here over the last few days, so we were slow moving…and it was exhausting.
Luckily, at this point I was starting to feel more acclimatized with each day, not only to the altitude, but also to the walking all day long. I felt better keeping up with the guys, but sadly Sarah was starting to feel the pain of an injury that was keeping her moving slowly. The constant slipping and sliding wasn’t helping.
The boys, feeling fine, did more butt sliding down the hills, and we took breaks as needed. It probably took us about 3-4 hours to get 3 miles to our lunch spot at Dughla. We were excited to sit and enjoy lunch, and my first stop was the potty outside. This was one time I was extremely thankful it had been so cold. Below me was a pyramid, no joke, about 2 feet tall, of poop. Solid, frozen poop. But, because it was so cold, there was no smell!!!
Lunch in Dughla
I returned from my frozen potty experience to the group seated inside ready for a warm meal and some hydration, but the looks on their faces quickly changed that. So far on our hike to Everest Base Camp, all the water we filled up with had been pretty clean and clear. Although we sterilized it anyway, it usually seemed pretty good to go.
Dughla was another story. There were tons of floaties in their water, and it was pretty murky. A little yellow too. We all opted to stick with the water we had until we reached camp. Together, we would have enough good water to get us to Lobuche.
Then the food came, and our eggs weren’t quite cooked, and seeing as though we were already worried about the water, uncooked eggs seemed like a bad idea. We opted for protein bars and snacks instead.
As if that wasn’t enough, more sad news came. Unfortunately, Sarah had made the hard decision at lunch that her injuries were making things too difficult. She would continue hiking through to Lobuche, but then from there she would be calling for a Helicopter rescue back to Kathmandu. It wasn’t so much hiking to Everest Base Camp that was concerning since we were relatively close. It was how far she would have to hike back on an injury that was already acting up big time.
Each day so far on our hike to Everest Base Camp we would hear the occasional helicopter rescue, which seemed a lot to us. Gyanu, however, said that during the busy season they call it the Nepalese taxi, with about 50-70 rescues a DAY! Apparently a lot of people come in either un(der)prepared, or just get unavoidable altitude sickness.
Luckily, we had all bought travel insurance that included a Helicopter ride back in an emergency. As sad as it was that she was leaving, I completely understood how difficult a decision it was and how bad the pain must have been for her to make that decision. We told her we supported whatever decision she made as we set off from lunch for Lobuche.
Hiking Over Dughla Pass
From Dughla, you head uphill for about a mile or so, which doesn’t sound bad, but it’s pretty brutal. There are a lot of switchbacks that are fairly steep, and you’re heading up over 15,000 feet of elevation at this point. It’s pretty rough…or at least it was for me. At one point, Gyanu jokingly had me climb on his back and he ran me uphill about 100 feet. I couldn’t run 10 feet without getting winded, and this guy ran uphill with ME on his back! Crazy man.
It was a slow climb to the top of Dughla Pass, but we eventually made it. At the top of Dughla Pass, there is a memorial dedicated to climbers and Sherpa who died on Mount Everest. The snow covered most of the Memorial area, but it was touching to see the prayer flags surrounding the stones dedicated to those who had lost their lives. We stopped to rest, as did the dog who had followed us all the way from Dingboche.
Hiking From Dughla Pass to Lobuche
From the Dughla Memorial, the hike continued uphill a bit, then downhill a bit, then Nepali flat for the rest of it. It wasn’t too terrible from here, but it was still very slow moving because of the snow. The views, again, were amazing. The pictures are good, but in person, the views quite literally took my breath away (or was that the altitude?)
It took us about another 4 hours to go the ~2 miles from lunch in Dughla to reach Lobuche – and this was the first time so far that we had beat our Porters to our tea house!! Well, okay we didn’t really beat them there, but more that we got there along with them rather than far behind them. Hey, it was progress!
Spending the Night at our Teahouse in Lobuche
The tea house in Lobuche was relatively nice – the rooms had electricity for about 10 minutes, but then it went off. The dining room was nice and warm, and there were more people here than most towns we had stopped in. Our Irish friends were here with us – they had separated from their group who decided to head back to Kathmandu rather than hike to Everest Base Camp after a bout of stomach problems. We settled into our rooms, Ransom fixed our micro-spikes, and we settled in for some tea and food.
Gyanu made arrangements for the helicopter to come the next day, and you could see he was concerned about coordinating getting Sarah back to Kathmandu safely. As well as getting the three of us safely on to Gorak Shep. He decided that he would stay with Sarah until the Helicopter came (with his business partner on board to insure her safety to the hospital in Kathmandu, a condition of having the ride covered by the insurance), and Ransom, Steve and I would head on to Gorak Shep with our porters.
Omar, one of our porters, spoke fairly good English and was in training to be a guide – we felt fully comfortable with both of them. We would have to leave pretty early since it would be a very long day. It was less than 3 miles to Gorak Shep (16,942 feet) where we would rest for lunch. But that wasn’t it. From there, it was about another ~2 miles hike to Everest Base Camp, and ~2 miles back to Gorak Shep…all in one day, And all above 16,000 feet.
The mood was a bit somber at dinner with Sarah leaving the group, but we were also very excited that we would finally get to Everest Base camp!