Trekking to Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 4
In March 2015, I set off on the adventure of a lifetime with 3 good friends. On day 4 of our adventure, we would be trekking to Tengboche 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 3 of our Everest Base Camp trek had been relatively relaxing compared to the day before, but we were concerned about the weather and making it to Everest Base Camp without any delays. We had spoken with people who had to turn around because of the huge storm, but we were hoping things would turn in our favor!
Hiking Out of Namche Bazaar
Elevation: ~11,200 feet to ~12,600 feet
Mileage: About 5.3 miles – starts uphill for the first 2 miles, drops downhill to the river for about a mile and a half, then back uphill all the way to Tengboche
At this point , we had seen rain and snow for 2.5 out of our 3 days in the Himalayas along the Everest Base Camp trek. Personally, I was afraid that if the weather continued as it had, there was no way I would make it to base camp. And from the stories we heard from people coming down, we weren’t sure we’d be able to anyway.
Luckily, we woke up the morning of day 4 of our trek to Everest Base Camp with clear skies. Perfectly blue, clear skies, with not a cloud in sight. We had our tea, omelettes and potatoes. We put on our gear, which was luckily fairly dry by now. We put on the micro-spikes we had bought the day before. We took our “here we go!” photo. And we set off trekking for Tengboche.
The trail to Tengboche started out uphill through town – the same trail we took the day before on our short snowy adventure. This time, we stayed to the left instead of going right to the Conservation Memorial. Others before us had worked a narrow trail through the snow which was helpful, and our micro-spikes were heavenly. It was pretty cold still, especially since it was morning, but the sunshine felt wonderful.
Up we hiked, around turn after turn. We were pretty close to the side of the cliff, but with and micro-spikes and hiking poles, it felt safe-ish. And, of course, we had our incredible guide, Gyanu, who always checked in to make sure we were okay. I couldn’t imagine doing this in the snowstorm coming down like the group we had talked to the day before, but with clear visibility and the right gear, we were good to go!
Once we got up to the top-ish of our initial climb out of Namche Bazaar, it was pretty flat with a slight, gradual incline which wasn’t too bad. Gyanu called it “Nepali Flat”. That means that it just gradually goes up and down…and up and down…and up and down.
Reaching the top of this climb was awesome not only because we reached the top, but also because this was where we got our first view of the glorious and magical Mt. Everest! We came around a corner, and there she was…so of course we stopped to take some pics…
We continued on with our “Nepali Flat” trail for a while until we started to descend towards the river. Gyanu pointed down to where we would be stopping for lunch. Then pointed back uphill to where Tengboche and the Tengboche Monastery were. It was a bit exhausting to know we had to hike all the way downhill just to go back uphill, but…this was what we signed up for!
Lunch in Phungi Thenga Near the Dudh Koshi River
We hiked downhill from about 12,500 feet to 10,700 feet over the course of about 2.5 miles, which our lungs loved. We were back to the Dudh Koshi River which we had hiked along back on day 2 of our Everest Base Camp trek. Finally, we came upon the spot where we would be enjoying our lunch for today before hiking back uphill to Tengboche.
It was “warm” and sunny at lunch, but we still sat inside. The sun was strong enough that while you were walking, it felt warm. But once you stopped moving, it would get chilly rather quickly.
We had the usual for lunch – fried rice with egg, and tea – and rested a bit before setting off. It felt nice allowing our bodies some extra oxygen being back at 10,700 feet, so we enjoyed it as long as possible!
Hiking Uphill to Tengboche
The last part of today’s hike would be all uphill…again. We had to gain about 2,000 feet in about 2 miles…in the snow. The skies were still pretty clear, but the now under our feet still made things rather difficult. We started the hike over a small bridge over the Dudh Koshi River, and uphill we went. Towards the end of our hike into Tengboche, the clouds started moving in and we got a few snow flurries, but luckily nothing substantial. Up we went, until we finally reached the entrance to the town of Tengboche.
You start off through the trees, but eventually get above and the views again are spectacular. Unfortunately for us, some clouds moved in and it was started to snow again. The benefit was that this kept us moving forward because we did NOT want to get stuck hiking in the snow like we had on day 2!
Up we went, and up some more. It was exhausting. Truly. This was the first time on the trip that I had put my headphones in with some music – a little extra help to keep me moving.
Visiting the Tengboche Monastery
FINALLY! We came upon Tengboche, and it was a beautiful site.
We dropped our things at the tea house we would be staying for the night and ran off to check out the Tengboche Monastery before it closed. I rushed out without my sunglasses, and figured it wouldn’t be a problem but Gyanu was adamant that I go get them. Tengboche sits at about 12,600 feet, and combined with the glare from the snow, it can be very dangerous to be outside without sunglasses.
Unfortunately for us, there weren’t many monks around for our visit, but the building itself it beautiful. We also were not permitted to take photos out of respect for the religious building, which we happily agreed to.
We learned that although this area was considered very spiritual, it has also been subject to destruction by earthquakes and fires in the past. After a quick tour of the Tengboche monastery, we walked back to the tea house and settled in for the night.
Spending the Night in Tengboche
We had been walking with this German group for much of the day, and they happened to be staying at the same tea house. It worked out well because the tea house was small, and with all of us crammed into the dining room, we didn’t need much fuel for the stove because of all the body heat. Or maybe it was just, as advertised, the best yak dung stove in the Himalayas! And by “we didn’t need much heat”, I mean that with our down booties and down jackets, we didn’t need much heat – it was still pretty cold!
The tea house along the Everest Base Camp trek for the most part, at least within our price range, are pretty basic. There are walls, but no insulation, so the only source of warmth is the central room where everyone comes together to eat and spend downtime.
We sat around drinking our tea and playing cards with Gyanu. Ransom, our micro-spike engineer, sat and fixed any micro-spikes that needed to be fixed (this happened a lot – they were only $15, what do you expect??). Sarah, our token nurse, worked to fix up the girl who works at the tea house’s finger that got sliced. Had she not been able to help, the poor girl would have had a long walk ahead of her to get some medical attention.
Health wise, we were all feeling pretty well. I had come to Nepal with a cough that I had for about 2 months before the trek, and luckily it wasn’t in my chest, but I just couldn’t stop coughing. Gyanu gave me some root that he hoped would help…it didn’t. It’s not uncommon to develop a cough up there – they actually call it Khumbu cough. So, pretty much everyone we met along the way thought I had Khumbu cough and I had to reassure them I wasn’t dying from the altitude.
We had no electricity at the tea house in Tengboche, but after we finished dinner, we were too tired to need it. We used our headlamps for the bathroom – one was a toilet, one was a hole in the ground, both were very cold. And by very cold, I mean extremely cold. Eventually, we’d get used to it. There was a sink with a water bucket, but the water was completely frozen. As were the windows. 100% frosted over.
We piled into our rooms with our very thin walls, and passed out. Four more days until Everest Base Camp, and we were all very aware of how hard this had been so far. And that it wasn’t even close to being over yet.
Tomorrow we would be hiking from Tengboche up to Dingboche at 14,800 feet, almost 2,000 higher than where we were now. Then we would again be treated to a “rest day” in Dingboche, and we were already very much looking forward to that!