Everest Base Camp, A Photo Diary – The Journey Continues

Part 2 of the photo diary of the Everest Base Camp, covering days 4-8 of the trek as we spend our time acclimatising below 4,000m.

Tuesday 8th November: Namche Bazaar to Mende (3,700m)

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Namche Bazaar, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Kwangde Ri, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Mani Wall, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

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Thamu, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Mende, Nepal | Sony RX1RII
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Mende, Nepal | Sigma DP3 Merrill
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Mende after Dark, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

Wednesday 9th November:  Mende to Thame (3,801m) and back

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Mountain River, Nepal | Sony RX1rII Stitched
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Trail to Thame, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Thame, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Thame, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

Thursday 10th November: Mende to Tashinga (3,450m)

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Lhotse (centre) and Ama Dablam (right), Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Lhotse & Ama Dablam, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Ama Dablam, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Last Rays, Mende, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Mountain Sunset, Mende, Nepal | Sigma DP3 Merrill

Friday 11th November: Tashinga to Pangbouche (3,863m), via Thyangboche

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Kwangde Ri, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

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Thyangboche Monastery, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Thjangboche Monastery, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Khumbila, Thyangboche, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Mani Stone with Kumbila as the backdrop | Sony RX1rII
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Ama Dablam, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Ama Dablam, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

Diary Notes – Days 4 to 8

Tuesday 8th November: Namche Bazaar to Mende (3,700m)

Day four. A favourite day as we walk through forest. I hang back from the group and despite being shadowed by the two assistant guides feel like I have the trail to myself. As we arrive in Mende the mountains are beautifully framed and lit. After dark I take the tripod out to shoot the stars. The moon is too bright to see the Milky Way, but there are thousands of stars peppering the sky. It’s cold, but what the heck. Physically I feel fine accept for that nagging headache. Dunbar doesn’t think the headache is altitude related, which is a relief, but the height is getting to me in other ways as I start to lose my appetite.

Wednesday 9th November: Mende to Thame (3,801m) and back

Day five. An acclimatisation day and a chance to become accustomed to the altitude before pushing past 4000m. The landscape becomes more barren as we climb to Thame, nearing the tree line, but the scenery remains stunning with Lhoste and Ama Dablam as the backdrop. We return to Mende as the sun is casting its last rays and I stay outside to capture the sunset. In retrospect staying out in the cold too long.

Thursday 10th November: Mende to Tashinga (3,450m)

Day six. No diary notes but from recollection and the photos. The scenery is wonderful and I capture a couple of my favourite images from the trip, but the six days of constant headache is gnawing away at my enjoyment and preventing me sleep at nights, I’ve developed a chest infection and altitude cough, and I can no longer eat*. Those things aside I’m physically fine with neither aching limbs nor sore feet! I decline the chance to pay 250 rupees (£2.50) to see the skull of a Yeti though I refuse to accept that they don’t exist!

* It’s difficult to describe the loss of appetite. It’s not just a lack of hunger, it’s that I can’t physically face the food, let lone eat it. I cut small slices in toast in two, then four, before I can stomach a small bite, and even that is tough to chew and impossible to swallow.

Friday 11th November: Tashinga to Pangbouche (3,863m), via Thyangboche

Day seven. Headache and chest infection makes this a fairly miserable day and I’m running low on painkillers. The camera stays largely unused. On arrival I can’t get warm so go straight to bed. It doesn’t help. Eventually I get up, find the gas stove in the Observation Room, watch the staff struggle to light it, and then try and warm up. Other members of the group arrive. They express worry, say I need to eat more and talk about the number of calories needed. If only it were that simple! It’s halfway through dinner before I feel something like. My appetite is totally gone now, it’s a push to eat a bean. No food, no fuel, it doesn’t bode well, and the cough and chest infection make it difficult to talk. I wake at 12 midnight and count the hours. No more sleep. Tomorrow will be fun!

Shooting Notes

Shooting stars in the cold, dark, Nepalese, night took preparation. The camera was set up – ISO, manual focus, shooting mode, live view, etc. – and attached to the tripod inside before heading out in down jacket, gloves and hat. It was difficult to focus on the stars, so the trick was to find another subject to focus on at “infinity” and lock this in. To change camera settings in the dark a torch with red beam proved invaluable. As for exposure it was just guess work. Unfortunately the moon was bright and robbed us of the chance to see and photograph the Milky Way, so the main tip I can give is to go to Nepal and the right time of the month!