Day 9, Part 1: Everest Base Camp

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From the journal
As I travel, I keep a journal. This post is straight from the source – documenting the moments as I experienced them. It has been recorded on the blog on the date it was originally written.

The last two days have been some of the most physically challenging of my life. From the sound of it, everyone else feels much of the same.

Last night, the dusty burn of yak shit in the dining room chimney got the best of me. Paired with the severe exhaustion – I went to bed well before I could finish explaining the majesty of the day.

It felt like days cross the sandy valley just past Gorakshep. Then, we moved into the rocky ups and downs along the glacier.

We’d already hiked 3-4 hours through the morning. Only the idea of reaching EBC kept us moving. We rested at the top of every climb – then, suddenly a ridge above the camp gave nearly flat relief. At it’s furthest end, the group paused.

Dawa divided us into 3 groups. We descended to Everest Base Camp minutes apart in an effort to avoid rock slides. Somehow, I was sorted into the first.

Lakpa led Katie, Carla, Rob, me and Boyce into the rockery underbelly surrounding EBC. The sight was completely out of this world.

We climbed over giant boulders, skipped across huge rocks right and left. The trail was gone. We relied solely on Lakpa knowing where to place our feet.

We moved fast.

Too fast.

My lefts felt as though they’d never keep up. Climbing. Hopping.

And, suddenly, we rounded a boulder on the left. Prayer flags draped all around.

We were there.

My instinct was to cry.

I’m fairly certain I laughed.

Within seconds, I felt Boyce’s arms thrown over my shoulders. I grabbed them back. We laughed. “Holy shit, that was so hard,” I said.

It was. My tired body felt like it was sprinting the whole way. Despite the wind. Despite the cold.

There we were.

We’d made it.

Lakpa waited ahead with high-fives for all. Boyce went into full-blown photo snapping mode. I’m not entirely sure what I did first.

We snapped a photo next to some signs. The rest of the group queued behind us. A few photos later, I was solely attempting to absorb the moment.

I took some really dumb photos. Like “where do I even start trying to explain this?” type of photos. Glacial ice mixed into the rocks. Flags wildly blowing int he wind. The vast, rocky terrain in every direction. One of the world’s tallest points within reach. It was stunning.

I pulled my prayer flags from my bag and stepped across an icy boulder to tie them up. It was a perfect home for my little memorial. Thankfully, my sunglasses hid all the tears.

Dawa sat near the entrance with Lakpa and Deepak. They watched the insanity of our photo opp from afar.

I walked out to them, just out of ears’ reach of the group’s squawking. “Dawa, can I have a picture?” His face lit up.

Lakpa snapped several. Then, I gave him a hug. “Thank you. Very much. This is incredible.”

In less than 15 minutes, we were already on our way back out. The exit felt even more fast and furious.

The lack of oxygen weighed on me more and more as the day went on. Gorakshep was 1-2 hours back – but winds, hills and that sandy valley all laid ahead.

I lagged behind into the center of the group. Breathing hard. Too hard. Feeling the exhaustion in every muscle. The adrenaline had finally burned off and I operated solely on the motivation to get back to the lodge.

Every step emphasized that my day would end in the comforts of the lodge dining room.

Dawa had announced that since there were no clouds, the excursion to Kala Patthar would take place that afternoon instead of early the next morning.

Heartbreak ensued. I knew my body couldn’t make it.

Kala Patthar is a 2-hour hike straight up from Gorakshep. It boasts the most gorgeous views of sunrise and sunset on Everest. I admired it as I took my final sluggish steps across the sandy valley. “That’s insane,” I thought.