Written two days ago, posted today – because interwebs are solar powered here and I was busy climbing mountains and stuff during the day.
Today was a really good day. We awoke around 6am to make our way from Leboche to Gorakshep. While we were told the trek would take 3 hours, we managed it in two. Because we’re awesome.
Arriving early allowed us to sit and relax before we made our push to base camp. The trek was expected to take 3 hours, and another 2 return. To ensure we weren’t hiking when the sun went down, we aimed for an 11am departure.
We followed the Khumba Ice Fall for several hours, sticking mostly to the peak of the tills (I think that’s what they are called) created by the glacier that pours down the Khumba valley. It was mostly rocks, boulders, and dust. Pretty much nothing lives at this altitude save for some lichen or moss growing on the rocks. Some birds seem to frequent the area, and I also saw a moth. Other than that, it’s pretty much a desert.
The glacial till actually gave us a fantastic view of the valley and the glacier itself, as well as the mountains that tower around it. And as we got closer to base camp, it struck me that we were at least 100m higher. For whatever reason, this made me smile.
We eventually made our way down the till to the glacier itself. Now, this was news to me, but apparently base camp is set on the glacier itself. Hiking over the glacier was surreal. At various points along the way the glacial ice poked through a layer of dirt and gravel to reveal incredible blues. In the distance I could see glacial lakes and caves – all very much frozen despite the intense sunshine. Sounds of cracking ice could be heard in the distance.
And then, just like that, we were at base camp. All that exists at the moment at this spot of the globe that pays homage to the highest point in earth is a monument of flags and memorials left behind from previous hikers. There’s also a simple sign that identifies the location as base camp and the fact that it’s 5364 m above sea level.
When I saw the sign I was honestly overwhelmed. I’m not sure I’ll say this was the toughest thing I’ve ever done, but it was pretty damn close. I was overcome with a sense of giddiness and holy effing hell, I just conquered Everest Base Camp. I smiled liked an idiot, and I was brought close to tears. Inside I kept saying to myself – you’re at base camp.
You. Dan. Gillis. Are. At. Base. Camp.
I couldn’t stop smiling. I still can’t.
After a bunch of photos we decided to find higher less windy ground to enjoy some lunch and snacks. Many of us sat in silence, reflecting on what just happened.
We’re now back at our lodge in Gorakshep. While we crushed the 5 hour hike in slightly more than 3, that accomplishment pales in comparison to base camp itself. I’m still giddy with excitement.
I just conquered Everest Base Camp. That’s going to take some time to sink in.