The relative small country of Nepal features the highest peaks on the planet situated in the central Himalayas. We went on a combined trekking and climbing expedition going from Lukla to Everest Base Camp (EBC) and climbing Island Peak, 6180 meters.
After spending a few days in Kathmandu we took a scary flight into Lukla airport at 2800 meters. From Lukla it is a 2 day trek to Namche Bazaar, 3440 meters, the last outpost if you want to do some shopping or internet before entering the Khumbu (Everest region).
Next stop is the Tengboche, this is the largest Gompa in the region, a beautiful monastery surrounded by misty forests and some of the most beautiful mountains, Ama Dablam is one of them. Trek goes on to Everest Base Camp (5300 meters) via Periche and Lobuche and from EBC we climb the small summit of Kala Pathar (5550 meters) for stunning views over Mount Everest and the southern route to the south col of Everest.
During the trek we stop every 2 days for acclimatization and to rest, on acclimatization day we climb high up during the day and sleep lower to saturate the blood to be able to carry as much oxygen as possible, this is very important and speeds up the acclimatization to prepare for the climb later.
After EBC the trek goes down to Chukkung and from there up to Island Peak Base Camp around 5000 meters. We rest and sort out our gear for 2 days and get fully acclimatized before going up to high camp at 5600 meters where we spend the night. On summit day we get up at around 2 am, it is cold and the Sherpas serve us some tea and Yogurt, then it is lights on and walking in the dark for a few hours, walking/climbing in the dark is surreal but it helps not to be able to see how high you are going. We reach the top glacier at first light and put our crampons on, get roped in and start to walk in a line over snow and crevasses, we see the summit from here and after a while we reach a 150 meters wall of ice and snow. We climb the wall slowly on a fixed rope, (this is where you need the crampons and ice axe) and reach the summit ridge at around 6150 meters, from here it is a thin ridge up to the summit. The last climb is “airy” and we reach the summit before 7 am, the view from up here is spectacular with the huge Lhotse face, Makalu and Ama Dablam as the main features.
From here it is all down and the trek back to Lukla takes only a few days, we stop for some celebrations, everyone got sick from some bad wine and Everest whiskey, but we had some fun! A typical day on the trek goes like this:
Wake up in a Himalayan lodge for some healthy breakfast.
Trek a few hours and stay for lunch at some lodge.
Trek for a few hours more and arrive at a lodge for sleeping.
Get some nice dinner, socialize with other trekkers/climbers and go to bed.
About the food, on the trek we ate much lentils, porridge, potatoes and eggs. We didn´t eat any meat because our guide didn´t want us to get sick. After a few days we got quite fed up with lentils and found out we could get fried potatoes with fried eggs at most places, that was nice!
The most common way to do a Himalayan trek is to have porters and a guide, this is the way they want to do it and the Sherpa people appreciate the business. You can get this sorted out in Kathmandu and if you are a small group your porter can be your guide. If you make the arrangements with a tour operator, make sure that the porters don´t carry more than 25 kg each and that they have good boots and clothes.
So if you are not trying to prove anything, get a porter and enjoy your trek even more, carrying heavy back packs at high altitude is hard work and you won´t be able to enjoy the views as much. PRACTICAL
When to go: Spring or Autumn, summer is monsoon time, we went in Apr-May.
Getting there: Fly to the international airport in Kathmandu.
Money: Nepalese rupee.
Other: Allow yourself a few days in Kathmandu, get used to your boots before going on a hike.
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Ola & Maria are full time workers and part time adventurers, follow for photos around the world, over and under water. © sixweeks 2022