Day 6: To Chhukung
(O/nt Altitude 4,730m/4-5hrs approx.) Today our route diverts from the Everest trail eastwards as we head into a world only of mountains. Boots on boulders seem only to add to the prevailing silence. At the same time it is also used for ‘dry’ instruction in ‘above-the-snowline’ mountain techniques. (B)
THE CLIMB – High Altitude Tented/Bivouac and Meals – Days 8-11
Day 7: To Island Peak Base Camp (Pareshaya Gyab)
(O/nt Altitude 5,087m/4-5hrs approx.) Everest’s two forward sentinels, the giants of Nuptse and Lhotse, crowd the northern peak-line with Lhotse’s glacier forming the ice valley to our left. Today is no more than a steady quite gradual ascent yet the sense of expectation is kicking-in. First the moraine; the detritus dumped by the Lhotse and Imja glaciers, the scramble over rock-strewn terrain, the crossing of the dry lake-bed, the grassy slopes, to Base Camp. (B,L,D)
Day 8: To High Camp
(O/nt Altitude 5,700m/4-5 hrs approx.) Occasional cairns mark the upward route. In line with conditions becoming pretty uncompromising, the instructional comments of an experienced guide in whom you are fast finding confidence will not fall on deaf ears. The spectacle from High Camp is awesome; in the words of Bill O’Connor: … ‘The Peak provides some of the most striking scenery in the Khumbu. If it can be likened to an island in a glacial sea then the mainland forms a semicircle of cliffs that rise in the north to the rugged summits of Nuptse (7,879m), Lhotse (8,501m), Lhotse Middle Peak (8,410m), and Lhotse Shar (8,383m). To the east, rising above the frozen waves of the Lhotse Shar Glacier, is Cho Polu (6,734m) beyond which can be seen the red granite mass of Makalu (8,475m). To the south of the Imja glacier the icy fluting of Baruntse (7,720m) and the Amphu peaks lead the eye to the lofty pinnacle of Ama Dablam (6,856m) which is like a giant sea-stack guarding the entrance to the glacial bay in which Island Peak stands’. (See Bill O’Connor, ‘Nepal Trekking Peaks’, 1997.) All of this….and not even a mention of Everest! (B,L,D)
Day 9: To The Summit
(6,189m/5 hrs approx.) and return to Base Camp (total 10 hours) Summit day. Maybe not yesterday, but today you will surely know that you have acquired the mantle of the mountaineer. By definition this one is invariably a long and exhausting, dawn-sometimes-to-dusk, day to remember, beginning as early as light permits. We set off with rhythm and moderate pace and after maybe 4-5 hours, and with practiced techniques, and detecting seracs and crevasses, we gain the summit ridge. And thus on up, up quite steeply, up wearily and up cautiously to finally be there, on the summit.
And, right there, due North, the yet to be mentioned… Everest. Not necessarily any more impressive than a dozen stunning others, but certainly no less so either! The entire panorama is literally ‘The Roof of the World’.
The route down into an afternoon sun is familiar; past now-dismantled High Camp, and on down to the steaming mugs and other seemingly cosy comforts of Base Camp. (B,L,D)
Day 10: Day in hand to accommodate contingency plan
A ‘Day-in-hand’ contingent with the expedition’s weather and/or other circumstances.
THE RETURN – Teahouse accommodation and meals – Days 12-15
Days 11: To Dingboche
(O/nt Altitude 4360m/6hrs approx) Arriving back in the two-way traffic of the Everest Base Camp Trail there is at least a restaurant menu from which to select and possibly a shower to queue for. (B)
Day 12, 13 & 14:
(Return to Lukla) Descend via Kenjoma (3,520m) and Monjo (2,700m) to the airstrip at Lukla. (B)
Day 15: Return flight to Kathmandu
Overnight Kathmandu Expedition ends on arrival with dinner in Kathmandu. (B,D)
MEAL CODES: (B=breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)