Following my Kilimanjaro climb two years ago, I have just climbed Base Camp Everest for Today & Tomorrow, which is a charity set up by ex celebrity Hair stylist and Beauty Therapist Janet Ginnings, to support single parents and their children in marginalised areas, helping to secure them a brighter future, whether for training schemes, education, rehabilitation or general social support.Walk to Himalayas Base Camp - trek to the top of the World (well almost..). Each day was a challenge and each time we reached the next lodge, it felt like a major achievement bringing us closer to our ultimate goal of getting to Base Camp Everest. We each managed around 4 to 5 hot showers during the trek - the merino wool layers we were wearing were amazing - they kept the smells away (or so we believed!). The trails were full of yak poo which we had to avoid as we walked but it became our economical, ecological fuel friend in the cold mountain tea houses.
Day 1 On the first day of the trek we flew to the mountain airstrip in Lukla at 2800m (known as the most dangerous airport in the World). Prior to and during the flight, everyone pulled out their cameras and videos to capture take-off, the flight through the beautiful mountains and the landing on the short mountain airstrip - which ended up being a smooth landing. We were lucky with the weather and very lucky with the landing - yes we survived!. We shared the flight with a Japanese group who we saw further up the trek.
As soon as we arrived in Lukla we headed off down the 'milk river' to Phakding at 2652m. The trail was painted with rhododendrons and gave us a glimpse into local Nepalese life as we passed small villages and settlements. The Phakding lodge was larger than we all expected and it looked almost like a village.
Day 2 - We had a very long walk to Namche Bazaar (c3400m) which offered a beautiful trail of rhododendrons, fir trees and small flowers. The climb was very tough and involved step after step after step. Shortly before arriving at the lodge I started feeling ill as did another member of the group. Fortunately I was able to drink a lot of water and improve slowly over the next couple of days. Here the guide bought us down-booties to use in the mountain lodges during the cold evenings. The lodge in Namche Bazaar had an en-suite hot shower and was one of the last places to afford us such luxury.
Day 3 - We walked to a Japanese mountain hotel (Everest View Hotel) at around 3880m and the walk was stunning (although I fell ill again nearing the top). The hotel was beautiful and had stunning views of the mountain area. It was also the final stop for the Japanese group we had met on the plane. We then headed off to the next lodge at Kyanjuma to settle for the night. The host at the lodge was amazing and tried her best to keep our spirits high and ensure that everyone was drinking liquids and eating enough. One of the group members had taken the low altitude route and had to leave us because of altitude sickness. He was picked up by an emergency helicopter thanks to the guide's help who was able to diagnose him with altitude sickness. We all said good-bye to him in the morning. We walked a bit further up and saw a glimpse of Mount Everest - yet more incentive to reach our goal.
Day 4 - We trekked to Thyangboche (3867m). From here we had a fantastic view of Everest again which provided further incentive to reach our goal.
Days 5/6 - We climbed to Dingboche at 4530m. We spent two days at this lodge which was heaven just to be able to stay in one place for more than a day so no packing!. The lodge area had a bakery had tea and chocolate brownies (the bakery has an amazing reputation as being one of the best). The lodge was like a settlement with little shops. Even though we had a day of rest, we still did an acclimatisation walk.
Day 7 - We headed to Lobuje (4930m) and passed a line of memorials to those that had died on Everest. Some people took photos at this stage but I could not bring myself to take any pictures. It felt like a very sad place but at least the climbers died following their dreams.
Day 8 - Everest Base Camp here we come!. This was the day of the climb to Everest Base Camp which ended up being longer and harder than we ever anticipated. It was a very long walk and seemed never ending - our legs became heavier and heavier as the day passed. We passed a rock fall area and had to cross it hastily which was not that easy as there were very slippy areas - our superhero guides were amazing and helped us work our way through the dangerous path. We saw a rock fall in front of us and narrowly miss the group ahead - the girl in the group looked shocked and could barely move - luckily they had guides and someone had shouted to them to watch out. We all arrived at base camp, took our photos, breathed in the air, enjoyed the moment and then began the long walk back across the dangerous rock fall area. We made it and headed to Gorak Shep - where the facilities had frozen - yuk!. We were lucky with the weather at Base Camp Everest - it was warm and clear - phew!
Day 9 - there was an optional trek to Kala Pathar but the views were dreadful because of clouds and we all gave the climb a miss - phew!. The morning walk back (down and up the mountain) was freezing and difficult because snow had set in. We all slipped and fell down at some point or another - it was like cross-country skiing.
Trek back to Lukla - As we got closer to Lukla and the weather warmed up and we got more oxygen in our systems, everyone's spirits picked up. We each caught a cold on the way down or ended up with some ailment - dodgy knees, bad ankle, bad coughs or colds. But we survived the trip!
Day in Lukla - As soon as we arrive in Lukla we celebrated our success with capuccino and cake at Starbucks, beer and drinks at the Irish bar and a big meal and drinks at the lodge. I left our names on the wall in the Irish bar for future travellers to read. Everyone was on cloud nine! and spirits were high. The flight back to Lukla was smooth and we were lucky with the weather - it could have been a different story but we made it back to Kathmandu. Another group member left us on Sunday to head back to London and the remainder of the group relaxed and chilled with more food and drinks in Kathmandu at the Yak and Yeti undoing all the good work done on the trek. After leaving Kathmandu and surviving almost 3 weeks in Nepal, we all fell ill to 'ground level illness' - we never thought we would have to acclimatise to sea level.