Forget mountain climbing – Everest is the ultimate high for hikers (with gallery)

Published: January 23, 2013

ARIELA FRIEDMANN
FOR POSTMEDIA NEWS

Mount Everest

Trekkers follow a trail as Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, is seen with other peaks from Syangboche on Dec. 3, 2009. Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

Standing on the mass of moraine and ice surrounded by frozen tundra and glaciers, I looked around and felt so blessed – this was it; this was the Base Camp of books and movies and dreams lived or shattered. Mount Everest Base Camp, 5,356 metres high in the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal. I was filled with awe. I was standing on hallowed ground where so many had come before.

Myself, and two others, Sandy Turner and Lorena Townsend, had planned a trip of a lifetime to visit Nepal and trek through the mountains. None of us are climbers or mountaineers, but we love to hike and explore.

Our journey to Base Camp had begun thousands of feet below in Kathmandu, where we had organized our gear and supplies and hired our guide before taking the spine-tingling flight to Lukla (2,850 metres), the traditional starting point for trekkers.

We spent 21 days in the Khumbu Himal Valley trekking a circuit that would take us from the lowlands up into Gokyo Ri (5,380 metres) and then over to Gorak Shep, the last village at 5,140 metres up in the mountains, where people tend to stay to do the long day hike to Base Camp.

Our journey to Everest Base Camp began in the wee hours of the morning. Leaving our “lodge” – an unheated plywood building where the temperature inside in our room read -12 C (yes, that’s a minus!) – we trekked for two hours before descending into the plateau that has been made so famous for its cast of characters and annual seekers of the world’s highest high. There is no sign that says “Welcome to Everest Base Camp,” but you know where you are because of the Tibetan prayer flags and the massive Khumbu Glacier that marks the spot.

We spent an hour at Base Camp taking photos, walking where a few months later expedition tents will claim their territory, taking in the icefall and glacier, and seeing the memorials to the many sherpas and climbers who have perished. Professional climbers tend to take over Base Camp around April. But we were there in November, when the days are mostly sunny though the nights are cold. The payoff is spectacular views of the Himalayan range without clouds.

I’m not a climber and have no interest in climbing Everest. But to hike there? Yes, yes, yes – and anyone can do it as long as you’re fit and give yourself time to acclimatize to the altitude.

The night before trekking to Base Camp, we had hiked to the top of nearby Khala Pattar (5,545 metres) to watch the sun set over Everest’s peak. We saw a spectacular view under a full moon as Everest turned from snow and rock, to fire orange, then pink as the sun set. Then, it seemed the moon became a giant light bulb bathing Everest in a spectacular moonbeam. As dark set, we trekked down, guided by the soft beams of our headlamps.

While we could argue that the hiking trails of B.C. and Alberta are far more technically challenging, what makes the Himalayans so challenging are the elements you constantly battle: numbing cold, air, and dusty and rock-filled trails shared by trekkers, porters, guides, locals and trains of yaks and their handlers. We have much respect for these mountains, the elements, the views and mostly for the people that call this place home.

Mount Everest

Picture 1 of 13

A night view of the Mount Everest range is seen from Shyangboche, Nepal on Dec. 3, 2009. Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images

Tags: ,




Featured

tallest man-India-desi

India’s tallest man spends his days in a cage-like structure posing for photos at an amusement park

VANCOUVER DESI Life is not easy for India’s tallest man Dharmendra Singh, who stands at 8-ft 1-inch, his height being the biggest barrier for his career and…
Continue Reading »

TK

Four hospitalized after apparent Surrey street race ends with car wedged under semi-trailer

VANCOUVER DESI Surrey RCMP say a street race nearly turned deadly when one car narrowly veered around a stopped semi-truck in a busy intersection and…
Continue Reading »

indian summer

It’s so hot in India right now the roads are literally melting

At least 1,100 dead in month-long heatwave THE ASSOCIATED PRESS & NATIONAL POST STAFF It’s so hot in India right now that the streets are…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Corruption charges put sponsors of Women’s World Cup in tight spot: expert

By Ian Bickis THE CANADIAN PRESS CALGARY — Corruption allegations against senior FIFA officials have put sponsors of the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Canada…
Continue Reading »

Organizers say Women’s World Cup won’t be tarnished despite FIFA corruption charges

THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — The ongoing FIFA corruption scandal won’t tarnish the Women’s World Cup, say the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada’s sports minister….
Continue Reading »

TK

Four hospitalized after apparent Surrey street race ends with car wedged under semi-trailer

VANCOUVER DESI Surrey RCMP say a street race nearly turned deadly when one car narrowly veered around a stopped semi-truck in a busy intersection and…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver Ross Street Sikh Temple

Media-savvy Narendra Modi’s one year in photos as India’s prime minister

VANCOUVER DESI Check out photos of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he completes one year in office. Modi is one of India’s most social…
Continue Reading »

Desi cop viral video

Video shows a young cop being thrashed by four men for drinking on duty

VANCOUVER DESI A video clip showing a cop being beaten up for drinking on duty in India is going viral, according to newswire Press Trust of…
Continue Reading »

Best city to live in North America

Vancouver is one of the world’s most livable cities — but it’s also ‘mind-numbingly boring': The Economist

NATIONAL POST STAFF Vancouver is among the world’s most “mind-numbingly boring” cities, The Economist has declared. Check out photos of the World’s most livable cities 2015…
Continue Reading »

Alberta Securities Commission

Alberta securities regulator fines Energy TV producer Neil Chandran $400,000

DAN HEALING POSTMEDIA NEWS CALGARY — The independent Calgary television producer who put Energy TV on the air says he “deeply regrets” losses suffered by…
Continue Reading »

Surrey Shooting

‘This is really close to home’: Two cars exchange gunfire in Surrey neighbourhood

CHERYL CHAN VANCOUVER DESI Another bout of gunfire rocked a Surrey neighbourhood Sunday evening. Newton resident Doug Elford tweeted about hearing gunfire outside his home…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Would you like to spend an evening with Bollywood actor Anupam Kher?

VANCOUVER DESI If you loved the comical ‘pops’ in Bollywood film Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, or hated the ruthless ‘Dr. Dang’ in Karma, you wouldn’t want to…
Continue Reading »

Tabu and Irrfan Khan attend the opening ceremony of the International Film Festival of India Tuesday. Submitted photo

Bollywood actress Tabu will bring whole new energy to upcoming film Fitoor

IANS Mumbai – Tabu, who has replaced veteran actress Rekha in “Fitoor”, will bring a whole new energy to her part in the movie, director…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood designer-actress

Bollywood actress Shraddha Kapoor visits ‘Baaghi’ set ahead of shoot

IANS Mumbai – Actress Shraddha Kapoor, who will be seen playing the lead in Sajid Nadiadwala’s “Baaghi” starring Tiger Shroff, took time out from her…
Continue Reading »