05:00 am, Lobuche (4940 m) –
The alarm clock rang only to greet me wildly awake. This was the 08th day of our tiring, seemingly never-ending but beautiful journey which took us from the foothills of Himalayas, through farmlands, forest and fast flowing rivers to glaciers, frozen waterfalls and some of the highest mountains of the world.
The whole team greeted each other at the breakfast table and even though everyone was exhausted, had headaches, loss of appetite, and endured terribly cold condition there was an excitement in the air as this was the day when we were going to make our final ascent to Everest Base Camp.
I started my ascent wearing four layers of clothing. The ligament tear in my right ankle was paining a lot since last two days but today, the enthusiasm overpowered pain and I experienced a renewed energy in myself. It was a six-hour trek with a break in between for lunch which turned into a power nap session to recharge ourselves. In the final part of the climb, I hiked on loose rocks, beneath which was swathes of ice, the world highest glacier was welcoming us in all its glory and after months of anticipation, 8 days of painful and strenuous trekking and gaining an altitude of approx. 5000 m from my hometown….
I was standing in front of top of the world.
The Planning –
It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was sitting in my office after lunch and was bored, A LOT! Especially since I had resigned and my morale to do my job was at all time low. I was browsing through my Facebook feed and thanks to Facebook destroying my privacy, I was getting all advertisement related to vacation at cold, desolate locations (Antarctica and Iceland eh…who could blame Facebook).
Suddenly I saw a promotion regarding Everest Base Camp(EBC) Trek and it was offering me Rs 3000 cashback. The thing about Indians is WE LOVE DISCOUNTS, even though the company initially artificially increases the fare and then offers discount and we might end up paying more but as long as it says the word discounts, we are game!
I opened it and well…..immediately knew my next adventure. I knew the trek to EBC was not going be easy and there was no fun in doing it alone. I needed my friends to tag along and make it an epic trip.
I asked two of my close friends/colleagues who were sitting next to me in office and they immediately agreed (I guess they were as bored by their life as I was..P). Next I asked my Antarctica buddies and one of them, immediately agreed. And just like that, now we were a group of fantastic four!
Fast forward by couples of months which had endless discussions amongst ourselves regarding fitness, what to wear, eat, a car accident which resulted in ligament tear in ankle and doctor’s advise to not go…..I was ready to start my journey.
Day Zero - Jaipur to Kathmandu
Contrary to what you may think, this is a very important day. All your last minute shopping and renting of trekking gear is done on this day plus you get to meet your trek leader and team on this day. But most importantly, this is last day for next 12 days when you can truly DRINK and EAT GOOD FOOD.:P
We arrived in Kathmandu and met our energetic, enthusiastic team leader. There was an uplifting aura about him and we immediately knew that we were in good hands.
Then we met our team - there was a 52 year women cop who loved trekking and could give most of us a run for our money in fitness. Couple of Doctors, one of whom was passionate about trekking and another one, who was there to find passion and meaning in his life. A banker - mother of two, who wanted to challenge herself and set an example for her kids to follow their dream. An engineer who was there to impress follow footsteps of a girl he admired and another one who was there to get away from the life back home before he decides on his further goals in life. Then there was us - an engineer who was constantly looking for new adventures, trying to push his limits (that's my over the top description.:P), a media guy who was baked selling Ad spaces on TV and was looking for some adventure, an engineer who left his high paying job to do farming and was hoping to reconnect with his grassroots and another one who after being part of some of the biggest projects of the world, wanted to take a break.
A group of 10 distinct personalities, people from varied walks of life came together for one of the most difficult journey of their life.
Day 1 – Flight from Kathmandu to Lukla followed by trek to Phagding (2652 m): Trek duration – 3 hours
This is possibly the only trek route where you could be screaming for your life even before the start of the trek.
Lukla airport is considered as one of world’s most dangerous airports, with extremely small airstrip nestled between mountains and no air traffic controller on the airport, all this makes it for one hell of a ride. But it is an equally scenic ride and this 35 minutes ride can be one of the best you will ever take. The flight passes through valleys and with some amazing views of Himalyan mountain ranges.