It’s as much about the journey as it is about the destination. We were, after all, preparing for the challenges of making it through sub-zero temperatures, altitude sickness, limited facilities and loss of sleep and appetite; all in an effort to walk the paths taken by legends to conquer the highest point on our planet.
While the first two days felt like a walk in the park, it was on the third that we encountered our first extremely challenging upward hike of the trip. The stretch from Namche Bazaar to Tengboche is one of the longest and steepest ascents you must endure on the expedition.
This is also when you realise the importance of timing your trek so you can reach your daily destination before the late afternoon winds kick in.
Arriving at Tengboche earlier ahead of schedule will give you the opportunity to visit a centuries-old monastery and get a stunning panoramic view of prominent peaks in the Himalayan region.
At the end of the day, sitting in the dining hall trying to keep warm, our heads aching and bodies in pain, we start to question our decision to take up this challenge. “Why are we even doing this and how are we ever going to make it to Base Camp?”, we ask each other.
A fellow trekker, perhaps in his mid-sixties, overhears our conversation, turns to us, and with a smile beaming through his overgrown beard, says, “Remember just three things when trekking in the Himalayas: First, always listen to what your body is trying to tell you. Second, when walking, just think about getting one foot in front of the other, and third, take it one day at a time. If you just make it to your daily destination, eventually you will reach Base Camp.”
These words become our mantra for the rest of the trip and despite some extremely testing terrain and below-freezing conditions, on the eighth night we stand on the verge of our destination. Sleeping on the eve of such a momentous occasion is a challenge in itself. Excitement reaches peak, but the road to our summit continues to test us on all levels.
Carefully treading through falling rocks and slippery ice slopes, the iconic yellow tents get clearer as we get closer and the might of the Khumbu icefall continues to mesmerise. Once within striking distance of your moment of glory, that’s when it’ll hit you and you’ll feel it. And what a moment it will be when it finally arrives. There’s no sense of achievement quite like it.
Himalayan Trails Trekking & Climbing’s trips to Everest Base Camp cost Dhs5,875 per person (including lodging, food, guides, porters, local permits and domestic flights).www.nepalhimalayantrails.com (055 170 5008055 170 5008).
Top Trip Tips
Your diet will be key It’s advisable to stay vegetarian for the duration of the trek. The meat you eat on the mountain usually comes all the way from Kathmandu and won’t be refrigerated until it gets to your plate. Make sure you take plenty of chocolate to give the local kids as a treat.
Lodge life is no-frills You’ll be staying in wooden lodges with minimal facilities. The higher you go, the fewer the lodges, so it’s best to aim to arrive before the rest of the crowd gets to the next stop. Be warned, heating is only provided in the dining room usually from 4.30pm to 9.30pm.
The ills of altitude Diamox is a handy pill to help calm symptoms but it is always advisable to listen to your body. You either stay longer to adapt at a height or make your way back down if symptoms worsen.