Brooke Jones: Hiking to Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp, the base of the worlds highest mountain, the closest to Everest you can get without a substantial amount of money and an achievable goal by the average person. This was the challenge for me.

Landing down on the Lukla airport runway you breathe a sign of relief as you’ve safely arrived onto the the worlds most dangerous airport (with good reason) and have made your entrance to the Everest region.

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This is where the journey begins, at 2,845m above sea level. From here there are 10 days ahead of increasing elevation, mountains, and Sherpa villages that take you up to the renowned Base Camp. Let the journey begin…

The start was surprising and not as you’d expect. I imagined rocks and rubble and, well mountains, but instead it was jungle like, green, trees and some pretty awesome views. I was pretty sure they were only going to keep getting better.

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The weather was perfect, sunny and warm. Who would have thought in October. It made everything so much more enjoyable and picturesque. However, you soon find out that night time is a different matter with temperatures dropping below zero! The second day saw our first view of the mountains I’d imagined.

Don’t they look stunning, yet still so far away! Another joy was to hit the famous suspension bridges. We’d pass several of these throughout the trek. A little scary and wobbly but pretty awesome. That was unless you were unfortunate enough to meet/cross with a yak!

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It’s amazing walking through all the little villages along the route. You’d have no idea of life up here in the mountains, but its thriving. The main arrival was at Namche Bazar (3,440m), the main town on the trek and was full of shops, bars, cafes and even an Irish pub.

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Altitude could now be felt, being out of breath at the slightest movements, or walking too fast. It would soon knock you back and put you in your place. Slow and steady wins the race. The whole trek is in slow time - until you come back down that is where it speeds up 10 fold. There were a few casualties along the trek due to the altitude and for them, their journey would unfortunately be over returning to Lukla or Kathmandu by helicopter. Altitude is such an unknown experience and you have no idea it will take you down until you’re there.

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The trek was as you’d expect very uphill, some days more than others. You hit those imagined rocky paths higher up which makes big stepping along the way and with it comes a huge amount of dust. A kind gift of this dust was known as the Khumbu cough. Not helpful!

One day gave way to a solid two hour climb which was also in silence as everyone tried to keep their breath and concentrate on getting to the top. The reward, some hot garlic soup and popcorn which aids altitude recovery. Tasty!

There was never a boring moment throughout, taking in the views that constantly had you mesmerised.

Every day was different. A new challenge, terrain and altitude. Two of the best days (in my opinion) were 1) the second acclimatisation day (4,200m) and 2) Base Camp day (5,385m). Given a choice of climbing 400m and returning or making it 700m to the peak and back down, which would you choose? The latter of course and peaky it felt indeed. The last 20-30m were a battle in themselves feeling the altitude gain more than usual. As you can imagine, every step is worth it even if it was at the pace of a snail.

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Base camp day was full of excitement, and why wouldn’t it be? The start from Gorek Shep, the last stop before base camp, knowing that you’re just a couple of hours away, a few km’s from the target destination. Let’s go!!

It was a very rocky couple of hours and I have to say it seemed like forever to get there. Too much excitement? Maybe. Once the Khumbu Icefall (part of the summit climb) came into view you knew you’d made it. All the worry of will I, won’t I make it along the whole 10 days, and you can see the very spot you want to get to. It wasn’t climbing season so there wasn’t a whole lot at Base Camp but there was plenty to think about and enjoy.

It’s hard to explain the feeling of reaching basecamp, everyone has their own story and reason for being there, it’s a very personal experience and a very emotional one.

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What people don’t tell you is the long way back down the trek. Four long days reliving the journey up. This is the time you realise the achievement of what you have done to get there. You won’t have remembered any of the extremely steep climbs you’re now flying down. You’ll have been in a daze. Take it all in. It’s sad to walk away from it all but still as much enjoyable.

14 days, 127km, 314,894 steps - What a journey it was! This was one of the hardest things I have ever done and it was worth every minute and step that I took. Memories have been made that will never be forgotten, I completed a true mental and physical challenge and can happily say I’ve been to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world. The experience is so hard to describe but hopefully you’ve enjoyed the read, and thank you for taking the time to scroll through.

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I’ll leave you with this quote from a very famous climber, George Mallory

“People ask me, 'What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?' and my answer must at once be, 'It is of no use.' There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behaviour of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron...What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to live. That is what life means and what life is for.”

-Brooke-


End Notes

I’d like to take this time to say thank you to Brooke for sharing this wonderful adventure. Brooke certainly has the work to live philosophy dialled in and you too can follow the adventures on her personal blog. Also check out her Instagram account for some cool posts which I’m sure will make you want to get out there and make your own memories.

If you would like to share your adventures on here then I’d love to hear from you, please do get in touch. Also, leave your email address in the box for an occasional update on what’s happening here at Rock ‘n’ Road. All the best to you.

Aaron.