The Long Walk Down

Day 11 – Gorakshep (16,929 ft – map) to Kala Patthar (18,514 ft – map) – 0.9 miles – 1 hour 30 minutes

Before we did the EBC hike we had no clue that you can’t actually see the peak of Everest while standing in base camp.  It makes sense though seeing that there are several false summits before reaching the top.  So to get the best views of it we awoke in the wee hours of the morning to start what would be a very long day.

Morning sunrise over Everest
Morning sunrise over Everest

The morning hike was less than a mile in distance but climbs almost 1,600 ft in the short span, which makes for a literal breath taking viewpoint.  The night before in talking the hike over with Kishor it was clear that he wasn’t feeling too well and was having headaches thanks to the altitude.  Even though he acclimated the same as us I believe his sickness was due to having to exert more effort in carrying the bulk of the weight up the trek; I asked him to sit the morning hike out as we needed his strength for the way down.  EmSue on the other hand went to bed feeling good, but in the morning her stomach felt a bit off though she was determined to try to hike up the hill, unfortunately 15 minutes in she had to call it quits and she went back to rest before we started our descent down.

Panoramic views of Mount Everest from atop of Kala Patthar (click to enlarge)
Panoramic views of Mount Everest from atop of Kala Patthar (click to enlarge)

The morning winds were gusting 15-20 mph, but the locals assured us this was considered light winds and that it was safe to hike up.  Without a doubt this was the coldest part of my whole experience on the EBC hike with wind, no sun, and temperatures below freezing. The rented down jacket from Namche became worth it’s weight in gold.  To get an idea just how cold it got when I started the hike from Gorakshep my water bottle was chilled but still liquid, but once reaching the summit of Kala Patthar I had what could be called a slushy.

Water bottle starting to freeze
Water bottle starting to freeze

The views of Everest and the Khumbu Valley were worth the early morning freezing effort, even if I couldn’t stay long as I felt my skin freezing.  My only recommendation to those considering the same EBC hike is to take two nights in Gorakshep and do the Kala Patthar hike in the late afternoon so that you can catch the great colors as the sun sets to your back.

New heights - 18,514 ft and the summit of Kala Patthar
New heights – 18,514 ft and the summit of Kala Patthar

Day 11 – Gorakshep (16,929 ft – map) to Pheriche (13,907 ft) – 7.4 miles – 5 hours

After heading back down to Gorakshep for breakfast and reunion with EmSue and Kishor we started the second half of the day, a long but fast stretch to lower altitude.  Originally Kishor had wanted to go even further into the valley to make for a shorter hike the next day, but by the time we reached Pheriche for a late lunch I was exhausted and begged for mercy in that we stay the night there.

Over the next few days we really didn’t take many pictures of the way down as our excitement and anticipation levels were low and for the first time in the whole RTW trip it felt like we had the vacation blues; that feeling you get towards the end of a vacation knowing that you have to return to the real world.  I talked it over with EmSue and I decided the reason I was feeling this way is because EBC was a true highlight for the RTW trip and life.  It was also the style of the goal I enjoy most where you set out to accomplish some hard physical effort and you get to work at it day after day; it reminded me a lot of the TransAmerica bike ride from the year before.

Back to the start of the hike in Lukla - "That was easy!"
Back to the start of the hike in Lukla – “That was easy!”

The days below were our starting and stopping points for the next few days.  We made it into Lukla ahead of schedule as it was brought up to us that due to weather it may not be easy to leave.  After talking to other hikers in town this is a very real issue as some had been waiting up to 5 days to catch a flight out.  We, however, got lucky with no issues and made our scheduled departure time;  now for the really scary part – the take off!

The short runway for the Lukla Airport Takeoff
The short runway for the Lukla Airport Takeoff

Day 12 – Pheriche (13,907 ft – map) to Namche Bazar (11,283 ft) – 11.5 miles – 7 hours
Day 13 – Namche Bazar (11,283 ft – map) to Phakding (8,700 ft) – 6 miles – 4 hours
Day 14 – Phakding (8,700 ft – map) to Lukla (9,186 ft) – 4.6 miles – 2 hours
Day 15 & 16 – Lukla Rest Days (map)

WeGoRTW Everest Base Camp Trek

More great pictures from Days 11 – 16 of the hike in the slideshow below (not visible in email subscription).

About Dustin Orrick

Techie, TreeHugger, Outdoor Adventurist, Motorhead, and can now say World Traveler!

2 thoughts on “The Long Walk Down

  1. Happy New Year Dustin and Emily Sue! The pictures are breathtaking. Your going to have to create photo books with chapters to showcase all your photos. Are the photo’s downloadable? I love the second pan of Mt Everest.

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