23 Oct, 2018

Day 8 – Everest Base Camp

Written by: Russ

South Downs Way

Distance:

miles

Time:

hours

Elevation gain:

feet

Watch the video

Day 8 route overview

The route to Gorak Shep leads you higher still while following the quarry and scree to your right which is left behind by the slow carving of the glacier. Some of this section requires a little bit of scrambling as you make your way around the hillside, hugging rocks coated in melting ice. It’s probably the only slightly technical part of the entire route where you may need to use your hands as well as your feet to traverse the boulders that pepper the landscape.

Once at Gorak Shep, it’s time to check in at the tea room, leave less important items behind and have a spot of lunch before heading to the destination you’ve worked so hard to get to. Everest Base Camp.

Elevation

It’s the last stretch, ascending almost 2,000 feet in Elevation to reach Gorak Shep. Once there the break is much appreciated before ascending a further few hundred feet to reach Base Camp. You’re almost there.

Over the M3

Onward to Gorak Shep

Impressive mountain views continue to fill the horizon on the way to Gorak Shep. But now we’re so close to the Everest Range and with Nuptse just to the right, it’s impossible to see Everest summit from this point on. We followed the Khumbu Glacier almost directly north, making our way around some of the most technical sections of trail. Peppered with large boulders it was necessary for some parts to use both hands and feet to traverse the boulder fields without slipping. Most of those who are used to scrambling up to mountain peaks will have no problem getting around the hillside. Other, less-experienced hikers will find this good practice, but it’s doable. Just take it steady.

Over the M3
Over the M3

Welcome to Gorak Shep

This little village sits on a frozen lakebed at over 5,000 metres above sea level and it’s tiny with only a few buildings and a pole laden with prayer flags. There’s not much to do there apart from taking in the spectacular landscape around you, and really, that’s all you’ll want to do. As well as get something to eat, it’s time to leave less important items behind after checking in to the tea houses before making your way to Base Camp.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

We did it!

Finally, leaving Gorak Shep after some lunch we headed to Base Camp. Just a couple of miles north from Gorak Shep, it was time to really take everything in. The landscape was harsh and baron, dotted with huge blocks of ice from the glacier and huge hills and fields of scree. The weather was warm with barely a breeze and the ski a deep blue. We were almost as high as a passenger jet and the furthest away from Lukla we’d ever get.

Upon arrival to Base Camp, many were surprised not to see the settlement of tents which is only there in the spring when climbers attempt to summit Mt Everest. I started in the autumn, the second high season, but the melting glacier through the summer makes the Khumbu Icefall almost impossible to pass, hence why there wasn’t any tents actually at Everest Base Camp.

I couldn’t believe I’d made it. In just two years I went from never hiking a day in my life, to trekking to the foot of the highest peak on earth. It was an incredible feeling and an immense sense of achievement. The altitude was only giving me a slight headache, apart from that, I was at the best I’d been since the start of the trek.

Base Camp was marked with a mound of prayer flags surrounding a stone with the words “Everest Base Camp 2018” written on the front with what looked like Sharpie pen! There was a bit of a queue for the photograph, but nothing compared to the summit of Snowdon on a summer bank holiday weekend. Wow. What a feeling.

Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3
Over the M3

Onto the glacier

After wandering the edge of the glacier and exploring what would be Base Camp in the spring, I decided to get closer to the Khumbu Icefall for a more detailed look. Huge blocks of ice, the size of buildings were cracking and melting their way down the valley. Shining with a bright, emerald blue and dripping with meltwater they glistened in the afternoon sun. Suddenly, I noticed a rock balanced on a block of ice and just had to try standing on it for a photo. That was the money shot right there in my opinion.

We’d made it. But there was one more thing I had to do.

Over the M3
Over the M3

Gallery

Overview

  • Views and vista 100% 100%
  • Difficulty 80% 80%
  • Elevation gain 80% 80%

Start time:

07:00

End time:

15:00

Points of interest

Gorak Shep

Everest Base Camp

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