Everest Base Camp, A Photo Diary – Decent

The final post of the diary covers our descent from Kalapatthar back down to Lukla, and from there to Kathmandu.

Wednesday 16th November, PM : Kalapatthar (5,545m)  to Perchiche (4,280m)

No photos.

Thursday 17th November,  Perchiche to Tashinga (3,450m)

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Thamserku, Nepal | Sony Rx1rII
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Ama Dablam, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

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Friday 18th November: Tashinga to Monjo (2,850m)

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Mountain Sunrise, Nepal | Sont RX1rII
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Mountain Sunrise, Nepal | Sigma DP3 Merrill
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Looking back to Everest, Lhoste & Ama Dablam, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Saturday Market At Namche Bazaar, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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High & Low Bridges Over Dudh Koshi, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

 

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River Crossing, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

Saturday 19th November:  Monjo to Lukla (2,804m)

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Himalaya foothills | Sigma DP3 Merrill
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Old Bridge, Nepal | Sony RX1rII
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Starfield, Nepal | Sony RX1rII

Sunday 20th November: Lukla to Kathmandu

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Foothills, Nepal | Sigma DP3 Merrill

Diary Notes

Wednesday 16th November, PM : Kalapatthar (5,545m)  to Perchiche (4,280m)

Day twelve (pm). Descending Kalapatther I start to lag behind, then a sudden energy surge and I descend quickly – almost running – to catch the rear of the group, then I totally blow up! I struggle in last to Gorak Shep for lunch. I feel completely shot with a five hour decent to Perchiche ahead. As we set off Charlie asks if I’m ok and our guide, Dunbar, takes one look and immediately takes my pack.  Despite the help I can’t keep up the pace and drop back with Dunbar as the others go ahead.  At the mid-point rest I, under instruction, continue down, but am soon caught, passed and again drop behind. Dunbar, concerned that I will delay the group reaching Perchiche before dark, finds a porter who agrees to take the group down. I’m relieved that I’ll no longer hold them up. We follow, with Dunbar constantly urging and encouraging me to walk faster. I try but immediately blow up and have to stop; if he’d had a rope he’d have tied it round me and pulled me along. Round a bend and the smoke that marks Perchiche comes into view. My heart sinks, it seems incredibly distant, the sun has long disappeared behind the mountains and its getting cold. We arrive in total darkness and I head straight to the bedroom and sit on the bed. Dunbar brings tea and a hot water bottle to warm me up. I sit there in a trancelike state, in my full outdoor gear, without the will or the energy to drink the tea or to climb into bed. Eventually I force myself. Today is my nadir.

Extract for Sarah’s daily blog.

“The afternoon we knew would be hard as it would involve a further five hours of walking to get down to Pheriche. What made it harder still is that one of the group [me] started suffering from altitude sickness at the top of Kala Patthar and so was walking very slowly and we were worried for him. It was another reminder of how hard life is here. There was no real option but for him to keep walking to get lower. Our guide suggested that the remaining five of us navigated ourselves down to avoid walking in the dark! So we did! The thought of having to come down the steep rocky slopes in the dark made me much braver and I came down them very quickly!”

Thursday 17th November, Perchiche (4,280m) to Tashinga (3,450m)

Day thirteen. In the morning, with the drop in altitude, I feel much better and eat some cornflakes. Though I have to walk like John Wayne due to chapped thighs I have no problem keeping up with the group. At lunch at Thyangboche I eat again. Back below the tree line, and with some food inside, if feels like someone flicked a switch and I’m suddenly myself again, rather than the pathetic sod of the previous few days. I even take some photos!

Extract for Sarah’s daily blog.

“We met up again with our Australian couple, the husband of which had suffered from severe altitude sickness. He looked so much better and it was lovely to see them. He had been seen by a local doctor who had said that he was, at that point, a 10 out of 12 on the severe altitude sickness grading. A ’12’ is an unconscious state and the doctor said that at that stage, some people do not make it. It was such a shock to hear that. We have seen so many people suffering from various illnesses that it brings it home just how hard the environment is here. I am inawe of those that go further up the mountains and what they must go through to achieve their ambitions”

Friday 18th November: Tashinga to Monjo (2,850m)

Day fourteen. Despite my chapped legs and other unmentionables a favourite day of the trip, starting with a wonderful sunrise over the mountains. At Namche, after a superb lunch of spring rolls, (all food now tastes delicious) we’ve an hour to ourselves and I head straight to (what looks like) a chemist to buy medicine and soothing cream; relief at last! We re-cross the suspension bridge over Dudh Koshi and when we rest by the river I balance the camera on my rucksack and take some long exposures shots. 

Saturday 19th November:  Monjo to Lukla (2,804m)

Day fifteen. It’s like the day after a bad hangover. I feel fantastic and full of beans and nothing hurts! I put the walking poles away so I can more easily use the camera and snap away, focusing on the everyday textures and sights of the trail, rather than the mountains, and I’m in my element. Some of us take a side trail instead of the main path. The scenery is magical and for excitement we get to cross a dilapidated bridge one at a time. The full group meets up further down the valley for lunch before the final push to Lukla. In the evening we distribute tips to the guides and Yak man along with giving away surplus equipment. This is the last we see of our two assistant guides who’ve looked after us so well. After dinner I take the camera out for one last chance to photograph the stars in the clear Himalaya air.

Sunday 20th November: Lukla to Kathmandu

Day sixteen. Up early, breakfast, and soon make the 50 yard trek across to Lukla airport. I watch the planes start to come in and fly out, no dramas. After an hour or so we get the call and head for the plane. The pilot guns the engines and we set off down the slope, rising into the air 20 yards before the end of the runway and the vertical drop to the valley floor. Another perfect flying day and I snap the foothills through the airplane window. An hour later and we’re driving through the craziness of Kathmandu to the hotel, a complete contrast to what’s gone before, trek done.


2 thoughts on “Everest Base Camp, A Photo Diary – Decent

  1. Richard, goodness me! A tough trip!?
    Great photos and commentary.
    My wife and I are doing the base camp trek, via Gokyo Lakes (18days) in sept/oct this year, and getting more excited each week in anticipation.
    I’m interested in your thoughts on camera gear, especially lens.
    I will be taking two bodies, Sony A7 & A6000, as well as my favourite lens, the Sony Zeiss 35mm. I have a Rokinon 14mm I’ll probably take, plus one more I think!
    What would you recommend? A longer zoom, i.e. 70-200mm, or a portrait i.e. 85mm?
    Just for fun I’m thinking of taking a lensbaby, but not sure it will end up getting much use!
    Anyway, great to read your blog entries, sound tough but exhilarating.
    Cheers,
    Hugh

    1. Hi Hugh. I’m immensely jealous. Though I discovered that I’m not at my best over 4,000m, now back at sea level I’d quite like another crack at it! And to be fair every member of our group handled it differently, from absolutely no effect to one of our party who didn’t make it.
      As for gear, my instinct would be to take the zoom. I was limited to 35mm and 80mm, and though I’ve learned to live within those constraints there were times that I could have done with the extra reach. That said, above 4000m I’m not sure whether I’d personally have had the energy or dexterity to change lenses, especially with the amount of dust blowing around (it’s very sandy underfoot). Wide angle zoom on the A7 and tele zoom on the A6000 might be the best option! Hope this helps. Whatever combo you take I’m sure you’ll have a great trip! Richard

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