Everest Base Camp Day 1

April 6th, 2014 at 10:00 pm by David Farrar

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I’d read in Lonely Planet that Kathmandu Airport can be chaotic for domestic flights where yiu may queue there for hours and then suddenly have five minutes to check in, and board etc. It seems they don’t really schedule flights, just queue them up.

However we struck luck. Left Kathmandu Guest House (which was great) at 5.30 am and sailed through the airport in under five minutes to be on board our plane by 6 am. However just as we were about to take off, fog closed Lukla Airport. While disappointed that we had to head back into the terminal, I was glad they were not going to try and land in fog as Lukla Airport is known as the most dangerous airport in the world. There have been seven crashes in just the last ten years with 36 fatalities.

Anyway the dog lasted only an hour and we were boarding again by 7 am and away.

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Some great views of the mountains from above the clouds.

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And after all my worry, a fairly smooth landing and we’re at Tenzing Hilary Airport. The elevation is 2,840 metres.

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You can see here a plane taking off. The runway is only 460 meters long and it is a sheer drop at the end. I think taking off will be more terrifying than landing!

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At the start of the path is this gate to Pasang Lhamu Sherpa, who was the first Nepalese woman to make the summit of in 1993. Sadly she died on the descent when the weather turned bad.

Incidentally the first woman of any nationality to make the summit also had it hard. Junko Tabei climbed it in 1975. On her way up she got buried by an avalanche and was under snow for six minutes until she was dug out.

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This is the start of the track. Later on it is much much rougher as you climb over rocks everywhere.

The first day is a net drop of 300 metres or so. However there is still lots of uphill also.

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Some nice colour.

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There is a golden rule. Never ever get between a yak or any beast and the edge. This part is very busy and we had to give way dozens of times to different beasts.

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A memorial cairn carved on the rock.

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A troop of mules.

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Quite a few settlements along the way.

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One of three bridges we crossed. Quite stable actually.

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You always pass to the left of the many religious monuments.

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Then we got to Phakding. I wasn’t walking in this gear as it was quite a warm day earlier on and you get hot walking. But once you stop walking it starts to get really cold.

Around 12 kms, so only a half day to get here. The elevation here is 2,610 metres.

Also love the quility voice on the billboard!

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The room we’re in. Pretty basic but comfortable. It even has its own toilet which is luxury for out here. The quality of the accommodation declines significantly as we ascend, I’m told. So this is the five star version! No heating so will get very cold at night.

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I liked this lone tree at the edge.

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The view from the end of the town. We cross down into there tomorrow and at the far left you can see the path ascending up. Tomorrow will have around 1,000 metres of vertical ascent.

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11 Responses to “Everest Base Camp Day 1”

  1. UrbanNeocolonialist (231 comments) says:

    I found the 800m climb to Namche Bazaar (tomorrow) the hardest of the whole trip, with an endless series of switchbacks. But the subsequent trek (to Tengboche after descending into a river valley and then climbing with another huge series of switchbacks) was damned hard too.

    Get prepared for vivid weird dreams, make sure you take Diamox (can buy in Namche) to speed change of blood pH for high altitude, and get ready to piss 10 times a day as your blood pH alters)

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  2. V (694 comments) says:

    I’m sure you’ll be glad you’ve lost so much weight when you go to takeoff from that runway!

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  3. Mobile Michael (432 comments) says:

    Looks like quite an adventure. But as the runway is downhill for taking off, the extra weight will add speed!

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  4. jcuk (639 comments) says:

    MM The weight he lost would have been handy but he lost it :)

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  5. Jaffa (84 comments) says:

    Landing is more dangerous,…….if you touch down halfway down the runway!

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  6. Fletch (6,148 comments) says:

    David Farrar – kinda like Kiwiblog’s own Walter Mitty :)
    (Meant in a nice way)

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  7. Caturday (5 comments) says:

    Have fun, David and enjoy reading your new Kindle :)

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  8. RRM (9,661 comments) says:

    Good German Dornier aircraft, you’ll be fine!

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  9. Grizz (540 comments) says:

    Look forward to hearing about your walk up to Namche, ha ha. Say Hello to Raj for me at the bar.

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  10. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Taking off is fine David.

    The pilot will just bounce it into the air before the drop off and dive into the valley to get up to flying speed! :)

    Just like Boyd’s but higher!

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  11. Johnboy (15,586 comments) says:

    Course you have to survive the climb so as to get to return to the airport to find out if you will survive the take off! :)

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