Achieving the impossible (EBC part 3)

(Click here to read part 1!)

It is the final days of the trek to Everest Base Camp, Nepal. During the trek to Lobuche, I was listening to an album that reminded me of someone special to me in Moscow, and I was surprised to find myself crying and overwhelmed by emotions. My friend Kayti directed me to some published research, and I learned that high altitudes can affect people’s mood and emotions. Good to know!

On Day 7, we departed Lobuche and continued on our way. We passed over a glacier and smelled the decaying corpse of a yak. I spend much of my time listening to music and reminding myself of my new motivation for completing the trek. I mentally compose imaginary Facebook posts detailing my accomplishment. The thin air and general physical exhaustion make it difficult to converse while trekking.

20180608_114013^ Khumbu glacier. Not what I imagined glaciers to look like. The dirt and rocks (and probably the clouds) make it a little underwhelming.

We reach Gorak Shep village (5,164m), drop off our bags in the lodge, and continue on to Base Camp. Here, there is little more than a handful of buildings and a helicopter pad.

20180608_125312^ So close to our goal!!

20180925_005901^ The view along the way

20180925_005943^ Base Camp! With Khumbu Icefall in the background. During spring, the area is filled with the tents of climbers hoping to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

20180608_143123^ Almost too tired to feel happy at 5,364 meters above sea level.

20180612_210907^ Hem (right) and AiD (center), my amazing guide and porter, at EBC.

20180608_171335^ Khumbu Icefall feels like something out of a fairy tale.

20180608_171344^ The Icefall is like a magical forest of ice with a tiny stream of snowmelt trickling through it.

Typically, people also climb to Kala Patthar, a minor summit near EBC which, in the right months, gives stunning views of the area. However, with the clouds being the way they were, I decided to skip it because I wouldn’t have been able to see anything. A few hours after sunrise, though, they broke enough to make it worthwhile to climb a little bit along the trail towards Kala Patthar.

20180609_070632^ Looking down upon Gorak Shep town the morning after reaching EBC.

20180609_072244^ View near Gorak Shep the same morning.

20180609_063354^ The weather has allowed us a glimpse of the mountains now.

The trek back took an unbelievably short three days! We followed mostly the same way, circumventing Dingboche to head directly into Pangboche, a 23km distance. I suffered food poisoning from a pizza in the lodge where we ate lunch.

20180925_011440.jpg^ We passed some mama yaks with their babies! Female yaks are docile enough to get close to them. Males are rather aggressive, however. Fortunately, we didn’t see any males.

The morning of Day 9, I threw up twice on the trail within a few minutes of starting the trek, still suffering from food poisoning. (Fun fact: the stray dogs in this area will eat ANYTHING.) Every step became agony. In some ways, going back was even more difficult because the motivation isn’t there anymore. Now, I am OVER IT, and all I can think about is how miserable I feel how wonderful it’s going to be to return to Kathmandu and civilization. We spend the night in Namche Bazaar again, then return to Lukla on Day 10. I reward myself with another (glorious) hot shower, my first in a week, and we stay overnight in Lukla before flying back to Kathmandu.

20180612_135814.jpg^ Kathmandu from above

This trek was by far the most gruelling, physically demanding thing I’ve ever done. It was also one of the most rewarding. It changed me somehow, shifted my life a bit, but I’m not sure I can  exactly how. I feel like it’s one more step along the journey to me being my true self, the person I’m meant to be. Does that mean I’m incomplete as I am? Not at all. It’s like how master sculptors say that their masterpiece is already existing inside the block of stone, and all they do is chip away at the pieces that don’t belong, remove the fragments covering the statue inside. For me, by completing this trek, a few more of those fragments fell away.

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