Today was a long day with a satisfying ending. We started our day with a 6:15 am start from Lobuche, after a night of limited sleep due to oxygen levels that are about 50% of what is available at sea level. After leaving Lobuche we hiked uphill for about four hours from 16,300’ (4,970m) to 16,950’ (5,165m) to Gorak Shep, the final, remote outpost prior to Mt. Everest Base Camp.
We enjoyed a quick lunch of Sherpa Stew (similar to a hearty chicken noodle soup, without the chicken) and some hot chocolate. Then it was off for another 2.5 hr hike to the base camp. This hike featured very rocky terrain, because we were essentially hiking up the valley created by the Khumbu Glacier. Along the way we caught encouraging glimpses of base camp, which is essentially a widely spread campsite of about 4000 people from various summit expedition teams and all the support staff it takes to feed and house the climbers for the several weeks it takes to prepare for their summit bids in late April thru late May.
Our entire group succeeded in reaching base camp! After the requisite photos, we headed back to Gorak Shep for some well earned rest before a very early 3:00 am wake up for tomorrow’s grueling hike to the peak of Kala Patthar, followed by a long descent to the small village of Periche… more on that experience later.