Everest Base Camp & Lobuche East 2019
Our 2019 expedition saw us take 10 adventurers to Everest Base Camp, with an attempt on Lobuche East (6119m) on the way back home. Enjoy this picture blog that'll show you our journey...
Day 1 & 2 of the trip is spent getting out to Nepal. Most of the team had arrived by early on the morning of day 2 and so there was the opportunity to explore Kathmandu. Thamel is the bustling tourist district of Kathmandu where we're based. It's a real onslaught of the senses in every way but also a fab place get some souvenirs.
We were lucky and arrived on Diwali (The Festival of Light) and so Kathmandu was lit up like a Christmas tree - it was beautiful.
On day 3 the team got together with our 'man on the ground', Basant. We had a trek briefing and it was an opportunity for the team to ask our head guide Sonam any questions. Following this we drove 5 hours to stay just outside of Ramechaap, from which we would fly out of to get to Lukla Airport.
We had an early rise on day 4 as we had the first flight out. Morning fog delayed things so there was a fair bit of waiting around in the makeshift airport, but before we knew it we were off into the air and heading for Lukla. Lukla is a point of excitement and trepidation for many. The runway is at 2,700m on the side of a mountain and has earned the reputation of being 'the world's most dangerous airport'. It's a necessity to fly to Lukla otherwise it is a 14 hour bus ride and a 5 day trek!
We landed in Lukla, had a spot of lunch and then hit the trail to Phakding for a short afternoon of walking.
Day 5 was a 6 hour day of trekking to the amazing Namche Bazaar (3,400m). The mornings walk was fairly easy and then most of the height is gained on a steep pull up into the village. Namche Bazaar is known as the Sherpa capital and is a real hub. All expeditions through the Khumbu come through Namche Bazaar which means it's also well equipped with luxuries such as bakeries!
Acclimatisation on such a trip is key. In just a few days we'd landed in Kathmandu at 1,400m, flown to Lukla at 2,700 and then trekked to 3,400m to stay at Namche Bazaar. On day 6 we would rest, but on any rest day it is wise to ascend at least a little to promote further acclimatisation. Our short walk took us up to some memorials which gave us epic views of Ama Dablam and Everest itself.
Day 7 is a 6 hour day of trekking from Namche Bazaar to the village of Debuche. All day Ama Dablam dominates the view, and as it's one of the most spectacular peaks in the world that's no bad thing!
Day 8 is a 7 hour trek from Debuche to Dingboche, 4,400m. A day of yet more amazing trails, but the most notable change is that from forested mountainside to a more rugged, glacial scene. Yet again Ama Dablam dominates the views, but as you near Dingboche we also saw Lhotse, Island Peak, Makalu, Baruntse and our target, Lobuche East.
Now up at 4,400m it is crucial to have another rest day and so for day 9 we stay at Dingboche. As on our previous rest day we went for a walk up some nearby slopes. On this walk we trekked to 4,900m - higher than Mont Blanc.
At this point you really feel like you're reaching the heart of the Himalaya. Now surrounded by snow capped peaks, rising cliffs and impressive glaciers, it's a real sight to behold. On day 10 we trekked for 6 hours to the village of Lobuche. On the way we visited Thukla Pass, a memorial site for dozens of climbers who had perished on the surrounding peaks, most notably Everest.
Day 11 is unforgettable and for many on the trip it was their highlight. After a short mornings walk from Lobuche to Gorak Shep we had a few hours resting and soaking in the views. That afternoon we hiked up the nearby Kallar Patthar (5545m) to watch the sunset turn Everest golden. Simply unforgettable.
The highlights come thick and fast now and the main event of day 12 is to visit Everest Base Camp. It's a 2 hour walk from Gorak Shep and again a magical experience. Being November there isn't anyone at the camp as it isn't Everest climbing season, but this didn't matter. We spent a good chunk of time here taking pictures, gawping at Everest and wandering amongst the ice towers of the Khumbu icefall. That afternoon we trekked back to Lobuche village.
This is where our itinerary changes from that of a standard Everest Base Camp trek as we had bolted on an attempt onto the 6,119m peak of Lobuche East. This consumed the following two days. On day 13 we trekked to 'Low Camp' at 5,200m. Here we did some technical skills training such as ascending a rope and generally rested. The views from camp are pretty epic, and towering over us was the remaining climb to the summit.
The weather was 'playing ball' and so the following morning we rose at 1am to make our summit bid. Between 5,200m and 5,700m there is rugged ground and some trickier scrambly sections. To add to his there was a nice covering of compact snow at times. As we reached 5,700m the majority of the team opted to return to camp. Reasons varied from fatigue to the scramble having been more demanding than anticipated. On reflection days later everyone was happy with their decision at the time and feel they had pushed their own personal boundaries one way or another.
Myself, Andy and Darren pushed on up the snow slopes on the fixed lines. The steepness of the slope was unrelenting, and after a couple of hours myself and Andy reached the summit of Lobuche East.
That afternoon the team were reunited at Dingboche.
With a contingency day in the bag our head guide Sonam altered our return itinerary slightly to allow us to visit some slightly quieter villages. On day 15 we trekked to the amazing village of Phortse. We stayed in a lodge where two Sherpas had racked up an outstanding 20 Everest summits between them.
On day 16 we had an easy day to Khumjung village and then on day 17 we descended through Namche Bazaar down to Phakding. For me these were some of the best days of the trek and we'd aim to walk these same routes on the rest of our EBC treks.
Day 18 was an easy half day walk from Phakding to Lukla. When we got to Lukla we dropped off the bags of rubbish we'd picked up at Namche Bazaar. This is part of the 'Sagarmartha Next' project. Rubbish is prepacked into 1kg bags and trekkers can carry a couple back down to Lukla if they choose to do so. That night we shared a meal and drink with or amazing Nepali guiding team.
We had an early flight out of Lukla on day 19 and fortunately again the weather played ball and so there were no delays for us. Of course we landed back at Ramechaap and so after a return 6 hour bus ride we were back in Kathmandu for showers and food. That night.
The next couple of evenings and days were spent having celebratory meals and doing bits of shopping. It's always strange getting back to a busy, dusty Kathmandu after so long on the peaceful trails - but the amazing pizza more than makes up for that!
Thank you to everyone that came along on this expedition, what an amazing trip we had! Thanks also to Basant, Siddik, Sonam, Phuchhar, Saila and Shyam for bringing this trip together on the ground.
Epic stuff, huh!?
If you'd like to join LMG Treks & Expeditions on a trip to Everest Base Camp then you can join us on our next trip in October / November 2021. Click here to view more details on that trip.