Nov 8th – Dec 4th 2016
28.0025° N, 86.8528° E
Three high passes, EBC and Kala Patthar
This is a story about two guys, five goals and shit-tonnes of adrenalin! Our five goals, respectively:
- Kongma La Pass, 5535m
- Everest Base Camp, 5364m
- Kala Patthar, 5545m
- Cho La Pass, 5420m
- Renjo La Pass, 5345m
All spectacular in their own way, staggering thousands of meters high !
I went on this trip with one of my best friends from back home, Hans Johan Kopland! He is a strong, stubborn, and not to mention handsome guy that never gives up when a goal is set. We had a hell of a trip together and I know I couldn’t have asked for a better trekking mate than him. We left Oslo on November 8th, and were ready for almost four weeks in Nepal together.
After a stopover in Dubai and a couple of nights in Kathmandu, we were all set and ready to go. We flew in to Lukla November 12th where we would start our trek. According to our itinerary, we would be trekking for the next 16 days. Good preparations, beautiful weather and strong determination made it possible to push on. Our guide Navaraj Magar from the company Amigo Treks & Expedition and our super strong Sherpa Narayan Basnet were also a big part of our team. We finished our five goals in 13 days, on Thursday November 24th! Here is how it went!
Day 1. Lukla – Phakding, 08.15am – 11.05am. Trek today: 2h50min
Day 2. Phakding – Namche Bazzar, 08.00am – 13.45pm. Trek today: 5h30min
Day 3. Acclimatization day, Namche Bazzar. Trek today: 3h
Day 4. Namche Bazzar – Tengboche, 08.00am – 13.30pm. Trek today: 5h30min
Day 5. Tengboche – Dingboche, 08.30am – 12.45pm. Trek today: 4h15min
Day 6. Acclimatization day, Dingboche. Trek today: 2h
Day 7. Dingboche – Chhukhung, 09.30am – 11.30am. Trek today:2h
Day 8. Chhukhung – Lobuche, 06.30am – 13.30pm. Trek today: 7h
- Over Kongma La pass 5535m
Day 9. Lobuche – Gorak Shep, 08.00am – 10.00am. Trek 2h
- Gorak Shep- EBC 5364m, 11.30am – 14.00pm. Trek 2h50min
- Gorak Shep- Kala Patthar 5545m, 15.15pm – 18.00pm. Trek 2h50min (sunset at the top)
Day 10. Gorak Shep – Zongla, 09.00am – 14.00pm. Trek today: 5h
Day 11. Zongla – Gokyo, 06.15am – 14.30pm. Trek today: 8h, 15 min
- Over Chola pass 5420m
Day 12. Gokyo – Namche Bazzar, 06.15am – 17.15pm. Trek today: 11h
- Over Renjo La pass 5345m
Day 13. Namche Bazzar – Lukla, 09.30am – 15.30pm. Trek today: 6h
While I was trekking in Nepal, my beautiful Sarah was visiting back home in Canada. A few times in the past we have been working apart, emails have been our way to communicate with each other. When one of us, or even both are in lack of service we can always write an email and send when service appears yet again. That was the way we decided to do it while I was trekking in Nepal. These emails also worked as my diary while trekking, and now I’ll use them for my blog post. They will be in real-time, but slightly modified where I’ll be taking out some personal stuff. You know, stuff couples write when they haven’t seen each other in weeks! Anyways…
Day 1. Phakding 2652m
We have arrived at our first destination for our first night. I’m sitting with two peaks at approximately 6600 meters behind me, they look so massive (back home our highest mountain stands 2468m). I can’t wait to see what it will look like when we get further up… It has been a pretty easy start, but that is good. We got picked up at our hotel a few minutes after 05.00am this morning. Our flight departure for Lukla was scheduled at 06.15am. Everything went well, and we were soon on the wings in an old looking airplane probably from early Soviet… just wait until I get the videos uploaded; yes, I’m taking lots of videos) . We are going to make that documentary we talked about.
We landed OK at Lukla but it was a bumpy ride. The air strip is made uphill so the planes will stop faster before hitting the hill-side at the end of the strip. Quite spectacular! We had breaky, got our packs all set up and took off. The plan was to walk for around 3-4 hours to our first stop. We did it in 2h50m, which was a bit fast but I guess our guide wanted to see what kind of shape we were in. That pace wasn’t really a problem at this altitude (2800m) either. We are currently at 2600 in Phakding. Remember; trek high, sleep low. This kinda turned into quite a long day even though we didn’t hike for that long. We got here around 11 in the morning, had lunch and went for a short walk to look around the area. We had a nap and Hans got really cold because he fell asleep without his second sweater. When the sun is going down the temperature is also decreasing quickly. Now we’re in the common area at our teahouse drinking hot tea and eating chocolate. We will have dinner a bit later and after that I guess we’ll be hitting the hay. Hopefully the sleeping bags won’t be too bad. We need some good sleep before a big day tomorrow.. Or at least bigger than today.. We are heading for Namche Bezzar. Trekking time from here around 5-6 hours.
And one more thing. We decided with our guide to do the trek counter clock-wise instead of clock-wise as the itinerary first said. We will therefore be heading for Kongma La pass as our first goal! A couple different reasons for that, but mainly because it will be a bit easier to acclimatize properly that way.
Day 2. Namche Bazzar 3440m
We have reached Namche Bazzar after a very good day. We started from Phakding 8.15am after a good nights sleep. We had an egg and hash brown breaky, then we were off. Up until lunch the walk was pretty plain. A bit up and down and we gained around 200m elevation. We walked with the sight of mighty Tamserku and it’s 6808m in front of us as we got closer to Namche. We had lunch in Jorsalle, Solukhumbu at 2850m before the “climb” up to Namche 3440m. I would actually dare to say it was not much worse than Mt. Gousta in Norway, and the altitude hasn’t really gotten to me yet either. I’m very happy with that. The body is working out pretty good, and even after the climb the last few hours I still have more to give. It’s a beautiful feeling. Hans got a bit dry in his throat, and was coughing a bit (remember he just finished a 10 day antibiotic dose), but hopefully that will pass. All in all it was a great day, we reached Namche at 01.45pm, after crossing many suspension bridges. That is so cool, and it looks insane. Especially the last one you can see they are crossing in the Everest movie… she is freaking high, I loved it. Five and a half hour trek today including lunch (mixed potato with vegetables). No meat during the trek, because it’s not fresh. And soon there will probably be no eggs either…we are going vegan, except my honey….
We just had a look around the town. Namche is the biggest settlement at this altitude in this region. Quite a bit to look at, and much that would be sweet to buy.. Buuut we can’t add more wight to our packs. We’ll see when we get back down. Now it’s time for dindin and we’re having Dal Bhat. It’s a typical Nepalese dish with rice, curry, spinach, soup and theres free refills! It will be a lot of Dal Bhat the next days. “Dal Bhat power, 24 hour” as they are saying here.
Day 3. Acclimatization day, Namche Bazzar (3440m)
There was no rush this morning. We met for breaky at 8 o’clock. Toast, eggs and beans, yummy!
Our itinerary today said acclimatization. We would also be visiting a couple of places while doing that. We trekked for 20 minutes up through the streets of Namche, until we reached the statue of Tenzing Norkoy. From here we had the must beautiful view towards Ama Dablam, Lothse, Nuptse, Everest and heaps more peaks. There was also a museum here, where we saw old sherpa equipment, history about Hillary and Tenzing and we wrote in the guest book. In front of us we could see a narrow path up a steep hillside where there was a monastery at the top. Approximately 400 metres elevation at 3880 meters. Our guide asked if we wanted to climb up, or rest for the remainder of the day. We weren’t hard to convince, and decided straight away to give it a go. It was an even better view, and it helps for the acclimatization. Trek high sleep low!
We took some great shots towards the highest peaks in the world, it was amazing and we felt really good. Bubbling over with adrenalin to get closer the following day. There was also an airstrip up there, at almost 4000 meters; pretty rough. Sadly someone died while trying to climb Ama Dablam yesterday, so a helicopter landed while we were there to pick up a “special” bag to get the person out. Quite absurd to see, but that is the reality up here apparently. Helicopters are flying in and out all day to rescue people all over the place. I guess some are probably cheating a bit as well, because they are tired and don’t want to walk the long way down.
Tomorrow suddenly turned into a big day. The plan was to walk to Tengboche but there’s a festival going on there at the monastery these days so everything was booked. We’ll stop, have a look around and move on to Dingoboche. It should take us around 7 hours with trekking tomorrow. We’ll see how that goes! It will be good fun to move further up in the mountain!
Day 4. Tengboche 3860m.
We left Namche this morning, and started our Three High Passes Trek. We could easily see Tengboche from where we started and it sure didn’t look too far away, but our guide assured us it was further away than it looked. Guess what, he was right. The first few hours were pretty straight forward, almost a highway really. Sherpas are truly making good trails up here. Then we went around a bend, and we could see the trail going downhill, all the way down to the river probably some 500 meters below us. Then back up again on the other side. Now we understood why it was longer than it looked. Anyways, it all went well. We walked down to the river, crossed a suspension bridge and had lunch before our climb up to Tengboche. I actually felt really good today as well, and the hour it took us to get to the top was not bad at all. I used my walking sticks for the first time on this stretch and that makes a big difference when you are climbing for a while. We thought we had to keep on going towards Dingoboche, which truly would have turned into a long day. When our guide called the lodges last night, they said everything was full because of that festival. He asked again when we got here and there was one room left. What are the odds! We decided to take it, because the sunset here are supposedly famous. It truly was. Tengboche holds the largest monastery in Khambu region. We watched one ceremony, and visited the monastery. We even got to talk with a couple of the monks living here. There are 30 in total, starting from the age of 10 and throughout life. A very nice experience to meet them. Hans and I also climbed up towards a little peak to get some good pictures of Tengboche and the monastery. It got too late to get all the way to the top, but we kept on going until we reached 4000 meters. Both of us could cross that milestone of our list today. The next few days from now will be at very high altitude, almost at extreme. Everything has worked out so far, and I’d say we are as ready as we can be! Now we’ll call it a night, and prepare for tomorrow. It’s getting colder! By the way, it was full moon last night. So beautiful.
Coming up in Part 2! Kongma La pass, Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar!