This trip report was written by one of our trekkers Megan White of her adventures on our Everest Base Camp Trek
Having been a novice hiker for only a few years – my highest claim to fame being Croagh Patrick, I was more than a little adventurous when I decided to tackle Everest Base Camp. My friends and family thought I was mad and I would end halfway up the mountain calling home, begging for a helicopter to take me back to the comforts of Ireland.
The day finally came, an early October morning to meet my group at the airport. After the formalities and the “Hey, I’m Megan” out of the way, we started to make our way through the airport check-in. Thankfully, we had no major issues. The group were very diverse although all Irish, a mix of Irish living in Australia, New Zealand, a few couples, siblings, solo trekkers and then us country Donegal folk.
Oddly enough there were four of us in total from Donegal, although we didn’t know that when we arrived. First stop was Dubai and then onwards to Kathmandu. After a quick exit from the airport and then a bus ride, we were at our hotel ready to try some Nepalese food.
As we were ready to head out, the weather turned and the heavens opened. It was at this point, I thought about calling a man named Noah about an ark. The streets began to flood quickly and we decided the best bet was a taxi. Think clown car when you imagine this; 13 adult trekkers in 1 little 5-seater, it certainly broke the ice. Hot dinners and cold beers awaited us at the restaurant. It made a great start to our trip.
The following morning, we were back at the airport and ready to start our trekking, looking out onto the runway, I couldn’t help but notice the size of the plane, a 16-person plane – the smallest I’d ever seen. I put on a brave face and stepped on board. The views were amazing and the mountains simply stunning.
My heart was in my mouth as we neared our landing strip, perched on the side of a cliff with a short runway and a tiny airport. I peered out the window looking at the drop below if the pilot missed. We landed with a little bump and came to an easy stop.
We hopped off and our guides gathered our luggage for transport. After a short wait, the rest of the group arrived and we got a full introduction to our new family of guides for the next 17 days. After a hot cuppa and a little snack, we were off on our first day of trekking.
The Everest Base Camp trek begins!
The days that followed were at a leisurely pace as we gained altitude. I’m not entirely sure what I imagined the Everest trek to be, I think I was picturing lots of snow and not much else. I was amazed at the stunning scenery before me, hanging waterfalls, yaks roaming freely, suspended bridges, pagodas, rocks covered in hand carvings, smiling local children so happy to greet us with their little bit of English. However, they were very quick with “selfie” when I produced my phone to take a picture of us.
The nights were cold and while I had packed warm base layers, I was very happy to purchase some cheap down trousers in the local market. They made my nights around the tea houses at higher attitude much more pleasant.
I was also very glad I had invested in a 4-season snug sleeping bag, having emailed Earth’s Edge the choices in my local store, I listened to Babs’ advice and went for the slightly more expensive one. A good night’s sleep made the world of difference to my trekking. I was well rested and had a positive start to every day.
During the evenings, the entertainment was old school. We played cards, read books and did some great yoga thanks to native Donegal girl Zia. The yoga was a blessing for our hamstrings after so many days hiking.
Gaining perspective from locals
Our inspiration came in many forms during the trip, as we struggled to reach one of our higher tea houses. The day was hot and the elevation was proving tiresome for all involved. As we stopped for a short break to catch our breath and hydrate, we noticed a local Nepalese man resting.
The difference between him and us was that he was caring about 70 kg or more of plywood on his back and had been travelling from Lukla. A trip that had taken us hours to complete had taken him two days with a heavy load. He was obviously tired but seemed in good spirits.
When we asked our local guide what the man would be paid for such a mission, the mere sum of €30 seemed to be the going rate. We powered on with our little backpacks and needless to say stopped any form of complaining about our hardship.
Reaching Base Camp
For our journey to base camp, everyone was in good spirits as we made our way through the quarry and onwards in the baking sun. We arrived at base camp and waited on the outskirts for the rest of our team to arrive. We came as a group and we were going to reach our goal together.
As we approached Base Camp, everyone was grinning from ear to ear with excitement, and before we knew it, we were standing where so many famous mountaineers had stood before – Everest Base Camp. We stood in pure amazement with the sight before us.
A group photo was essential to capture this amazing accomplishment and like all good Irish people, it wasn’t long till we broke into song and started shouting out in perfect key “The Fields of Athenry”.
Needless to say, the other nationalities didn’t know what to make of this crazy singing but it wasn’t long before they too were grinning from ear to ear with our infectious laughs and smiles.
I think the moment we started singing was the defining moment of our group and certainly one of my favourite memories. We had plenty of time to take photos and explore Base Camp before heading back to our tea house. Spirits were high and we were all ready for a good cup of tea and some hot food when we got back.
Climbing Kala Patthar
The real hardship of the trek turned out not to be Everest Base Camp, but a small mountain close to our tea house, Kala Patthar – it still strikes fear in my heart (it really wasn’t that bad!!).
As we passed it on our return from Everest Base Camp, our guide pointed and said we will hike Kala Patthar later tonight. I glanced up and thought to myself, “Hmmm, okay that looks easy enough … “. Cockiness got the better of me! We started our ascent at 04.00, bundled with layer after layer for the cold temperatures that awaited. We began the climb at a strong pace, chatting away and having a giggle. This banter and giggles didn’t last long before shortness of breath set in. We had forgotten the number one rule in trekking, take your time.
After about an hour, we reached the summit and were rewarded with the view of Lhotse and Everest in the background. This was the best view of Everest we had on the trek by far. The sun was starting to rise and the sky was dancing with reds, pinks, and oranges as it pushed the darkness away.
We stopped and gazed to the mountains in the distance, the same mountains we had trekked to see, the mountains that had claimed the lives of so many people we had talked and read about. It was an amazing moment, one where you feel so small in this great landscape and so lucky to be peering up at such beauty. As our toes and hands got numb we started our descent. We knew a hot breakfast was waiting, followed by another long day through the mountains to get to our next camp.
As with most hikes, the descent was a lot easier and spirits were high in the group, as we were less worried about altitude sickness and more relaxed to enjoy some well-deserved drinks, shopping and even a massage or two. It wasn’t long before we were back in Lukla and time to say goodbye to our beloved guides.
They were amazing – so attentive, so happy and great fun. We couldn’t have asked for a better team and saying goodbye to these lads proved very difficult. Their passion for their job and country shone through and no doubt they will have a very successful future.
We boarded our little plane again, this time with complete confidence in the pilots or maybe I was just too tired to care about my immediate future. A short time later, we were on the ground in Kathmandu, headed for what now felt like a very luxurious hotel with hot showers, clean towels and endless shops to pass the time.
The challenge of Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp was certainly challenging at times. The days were long and temperatures varied from baking in the heat to so cold I can’t feel my toes. The positivity of the group and giggles with my roomie really made the trip a lot easier.
It’s not the places we see but the people we meet that makes a trip great. Everest was a dream I had since I was a child since I first saw climbers on television talk about the views and hardship in making such a climb.
Our dreams in life don’t have to remain a dream. With enough determination, we can make all our dreams come true. The Everest Base Camp Trek is accessible to everyone.
Jam and his team are there with you every step of the way with professional guides on the ground who know the terrain and will look after you until you are safely back on Irish soil. You only live once, make sure you live life the way dreamed it!!