Everest Base Camp Trek Days 9-11 – Gorak Shep to Lukla

Our Mount Everest Base Camp trek had been the adventure of a lifetime so far. In spite of a huge snow storm, we managed to make it successfully to base camp and stare at the glory that is Mount Everest. It had been a long trip so far – an extremely exhausting and cold trip – but as all trekkers know, a trek is not just about getting to your destination. You also have to make it back to where you started!

We had 3 days to make it back along the same route we had spent 8 days coming up. Sure, it would be easier going down in elevation, but we still had a lot of uphill followed by downhill followed by uphill…rinse and repeat.

Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 9, Gorak Shep to Pangboche

Day 9 of our Mount Everest Base Camp trek wasn’t too bad. Ransom and Steve woke up before sunrise to hike Kala Pathar, a nearby hill where you get a great view of Mount Everest. Since their boots were frozen shut (literally, frozen), I made the warm decision to stay in bed until they got back. They made it back a few hours later after their hike with some beautiful pictures (although I was still very happy (and warm) about my choice to stay in bed) and we packed up ready to head to Pangboche from Gorak Shep.

The snow on the trail was melting much more rapidly so instead of a snowy trail, it was now a slushy, icy, muddy trail which made it hard to walk with our low-quality crampons bought in Namche Bazaar (although they held up mighty well with some fixings along the way for only costing $15!). It was incredible how much more crowded the trail of people going towards Everest Base Camp was now verses when we were hiking.I think we saw a total of maybe 20 people the entire way up, and now we were passing that many people every few steps. They were literally ankle to ankle walking up. Our Mount Everest Base Camp trek may have been extra difficult because of the snow, but I was grateful it had not been this crowded for us!

We made it to our tea house in about 7 hours, which was relatively good timing with the trail conditions. Along the way, we had stopped midpoint for lunch again in Dughla where the water hadn’t looked especially clean on our way to Everest Base Camp. Ransom and I chose to once again skip the water there, but Steve decided to do a double treatment since it looked a bit cleaner.

Once we got to our tea house that evening, he realized what a mistake this had been. Steve unfortunately did not join us for dinner that night, and spent most of the night…um…getting rid of whatever had been in the water in Dughla. Poor guy. But, like a trooper, he woke up the next morning ready to hike on! He didn’t have much choice unless he wanted to call for a helicopter, so, one foot in front of the other, he hiked on.

Mount Everest Base Camp Trek - the view from Kala Pathar
Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – the view from Kala Pathar
Kala Pathar along the Everest Base Camp trek
The boys on Kala Pathar
The masses of people heading towards Everest Base camp as we descend
The masses of people heading towards Everest Base camp as we descend
Navigating a muddy, icy, messy trail towards Pengboche
Navigating a muddy, icy, messy trail towards Pengboche
The view from our teahouse in Pengboche along the Mount Everest Base Camp trek
The view from our teahouse in Pengboche

Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 10, Pangboche to Namche Bazaar

It’s amazing how well your body can hold it together when it knows there’s no end in sight…and how quickly it can fall apart when it knows the journey is almost over. This is what started to happen on day 10 of our Mount Everest Base camp trek. I took notes along the way to remind myself of what happened on what days, and my notes for day 10 start with “Fuck this place”…and it’s repeated a few times throughout the paragraph I have written.

The trails were much clearer – it was almost difficult to recognize where we were hiking as a place we had been only a few days before because without snow, it looked completely different. It certainly helped our hike not having the snow to contend with, but there was so much uphill and downhill making it to Namche Bazaar – and SO much “Napali flat” – that we were just over it. We came, we saw, we conquered…we were ready to be done.

Poor Steve was moving a bit slower, understandably, but it wasn’t as though any of us minded. We were beyond exhausted. We had all lost weight, noticeably, and muscle mass from not being able to eat enough calories to counter what we were burning every day, and our bodies were starting to hurt.

We all celebrated with a coca-cola in Namche Bazaar, and Ransom and I enjoyed our first beer of the trip now that we were leaving elevation – Steve, in his condition, chose to skip the beer. Good move, Steve. Good move. Exhausted, we finished our dinner and settled in for bed knowing that we only had one day left before we were back to a lovely, hot shower!

Passing our teahouse in Tengboche - looks completely different not covered in snow!
Passing our teahouse in Tengboche – looks completely different not covered in snow!
Heading downhill....so that we could head back uphill....
Heading downhill….so that we could head back uphill….
"Napali flat" back towards Namche Bazaar
“Napali flat” back towards Namche Bazaar
Steps into Namche Bazaar - the last time we saw them, they were covered in 2 feet of snow!
Steps into Namche Bazaar – the last time we saw them, they were covered in 2 feet of snow!
Namche Bazaar not covered in snow - strange sight!
Namche Bazaar not covered in snow – strange sight!
Exhausted, but excited for a coca-cola in Namche Bazaar
Exhausted, but excited for a coca-cola in Namche Bazaar
After a little rest, enjoying a beer with dinner (while Steve drinks his tea)
After a little rest, enjoying a beer with dinner (while Steve drinks his tea)

Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – Day 11, Namche Bazaar to Lukla

We’re almost there! Well, kind of. Day 11 of our Mount Everest Base Camp was probably the roughest day for me. The first half of the day was all downhill, which was really rough on my already sore knee (getting old really does suck!). We stopped for lunch in Phakding and unfortunately, the food tasted very frost bitten which made it hard to eat. Knowing we were only a few miles from Lukla, we set off in good spirits, only to be crushed by the long, slow, painful uphill pretty much the whole way.

But, don’t let that fool you. It was still up and down in some spots which was like someone taking a steak knife to my knee with each step. Day 11 of our Mount Everest Base camp trek was the day I called “You are capable of so much more than you think”. It really is amazing what the body is capable of in spite of the brain. With every painful step, I wanted to stop. I wanted to sit down and now get up again. I wanted to find a horse or a helicopter or something, anything, that would get me to Lukla without having to walk another step.

But, I’m also pretty stubborn. So I told myself with each step that I had made it this far and I was determined to make it to the end.

And that’s exactly what I did. Walking into the town of Lukla was probably one of the happiest moments of my entire life – we were here! We had made it! And we were SO ready for a good meal.

Once again, we didn’t last long after dinner at our tea house in Lukla, and didn’t want to as we had to be up very early the next morning for our flight back to Kathmandu. A hot shower awaited!

We woke up early the next morning, packed our bags once more, and walked the short walk to the airport (you could see the airport from our teahouse). We ran into our same Irish friends we had seen all along the way, and boarded the plane for Kathmandu. The takeoff is incredibly – you have such a short runway to takeoff that you feel as though the pilot won’t be able to make it…and then you’re in the air. We had finished our Mount Everest Base Camp trek.

Back in Kathmandu, our van was waiting to take us back to our hotel and we were excited to get clean, eat some food, and maybe get a massage! Sadly, the water at our hotel never quite got hot, but we did eat well, and we did enjoy our massage which was a lovely way to end the trip.

Hiking back to Lukla from Namche Bazaar
Hiking back to Lukla from Namche Bazaar
Clear path back to Lukla
Clear path back to Lukla
Oh, hi, friend!
Oh, hi, friend!
The final steps into Lukla from Namche Bazaar
The final steps into Lukla from Namche Bazaar
Goodbye, Lukla
Goodbye, Lukla

Mount Everest Base Camp Trek – Closing Notes

The Mount Everest Base Camp trek is something that I think everyone should experience once in their lifetime, but with caution. Elevation sickness is a real thing and with an average of 50-60 helicopter rescues off the trek every day during busy season, it proves that people greatly underestimate this trip. If you’re going to do it, train well. Pace yourself. Eat your food. And hydrate. A lot. Seriously. It’s a painful journey, but the payoff was so much more valuable because of the pain that I overcame. I hope you are able to make it, and I hope my story has been helpful for you!

Namaste 🙂


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