This morning started with a brisk hike in the bright sunshine to Gorak Shep. Two in the group had to descend to Pheriche to recover from mild acute mountain sickness. We hope they can join us after a day at lower elevation. The scenery was outstanding as the Himalaya mountain range surrounded us on all sides. The terrain was like what one would imagine the moon to be. As we approached Gorak Shep, we could see Everest base camp and the Khumbu Ice Fall. We also had the best views of Everest that we will have during the trek. The morning hike was comparatively easy as we only gained about 700 feet in elevation. Tonight we are staying at about 16,700 feet.
On the way to Gorak Shep we came across a gentleman from Israel named Erez we had met a few days prior. He had left his girlfriend in Tengboche, when she had decided to turn back and let him go on without her. She was going to go back to Lukla to wait, giving him a ten day window to complete his dream of seeing Everest and making it to base camp. He was a little unsure of his path and joined our group for half a day. We parted ways in Pheriche a few days ago, but we ran into him again today. He had made it to EBC and he was elated. Today was also his girlfriend’s birthday and he asked us to wish her a special day by singing Happy Birthday to her while he recorded us. Although everyone on the trail seems a little worn out, all are very friendly.
After lunch, Wongchu marched us up Kala Patthar which is 18,200. Those that made it to the summit were treated to spectacular views of Everest and base camp. However, it was by far the toughest trek since the trail was steep and the air is now very thin. Every step makes you gasp for air. And it was windy and very, very cold; however it was sweet when a Sherpa greeted us on the mountain with hot lemonade. This is the highest we will go since base camp is lower at 17,200. We are all exhausted after this hike.
It has been a rigorous journey and all of us are feeling the effects of eight straight days of long challenging hikes, a cold dry and windy environment, and the thinning air. There has been a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and altitude related ailments but we are all excited to head to base camp tomorrow where we will be spending two nights in tents and it’s going to be freezing!
Off to base camp tomorrow!
MJ, DD, Carrie, Vicki