Nepal - Gokyo valley and Everest Base Camp trek

Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp and return


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Day 12 - Gorak Shep to Everest Base Camp (5340m) and return to Gorak Shep

The walk to Everest Base Camp is what many people come for. But funnily enough they seem to be so tired by the time they reach Gorak Shep that many people do not go all the way to the edge of the Khumbu Icefall so it is very quiet up there. But please note that I went there in the autumn which is not the main Everest climbing season. In late October there were only two small camps finishing a summit expedition and packing up. When I went back in November there was no one. If you come in May, Everest Base Camp is a tent city!

From all that I heard and read I was prepared for a fairly boring day ("You can't see Everest from base camp" "The views are not so great" "It's a very tiring walk and not really worth it").

Well for all this negative I found Everest Base Camp stunningly spectacular. It is just so BIG, so majestic, so silent (apart from the choughs and the sound of avalanches).

So why this discrepency in perceptions I wondered? Maybe because people were coming only for a view of Everest summit? If you want a view of Everest, go to Kala Patar as you cannot see the summit of Everest from its Base Camp.
Maybe they were too tired when they got to Base Camp?
Maybe they didn't go all the way and turned back during the long walk towards the glacier. One thing is for sure: if you were coming from Lobuche (as many do) to visit EBC it is a very very long walk and you'll have little time or energy left to enjoy the Amazing (and that's really with a big A!) scenery before needing to return to Gorak Shep (or god forbid Lobuche!).

So back to the walk: it takes about 3 hours walking slowly to Everest Base Camp from Gorak Shep. But let's define EBC: in the climbing season, because there are many expeditions and spaces are hard to find on the more or less solid part of the glacier Base Camp stretches for quite a distance on the glacier. What I call EBC in this case is right at the foot of the Khumbu ice fall. That would be the "best front seats" in climbing time.
The walk to EBC is not really difficult but a lot of it is on the glacier so plenty of up and down and meandering in rough terrain. Enjoy the incredible melt patterns (the ice melts in the sun around rocks but not under the rocks where there is shade). Explore the remains of the large crashed helicopter (don't cut yourself on the sharp bits though!), listen to the avalanches and rock falls around you, feed the hungry choughs (they'll be hungry if there are no expeditions!), try to imagine how big the blocks of ice in the ice fall are. Admire the gently rounded ice towers on the upper part of the Khumbu glacier. I even found time to wash my hair in the melt water (the water was COLD but the sun dried my hair fast.

And then when you have soaked in as much as is possible, slowly walk back towards Gorak Shep for the evening.




Walking towards Evest Base Camp


Walking towards Evest Base Camp



Walking towards Evest Base Camp



Walking towards Evest Base Camp



Everest summit "peaking out" in the middle of the photo



Amazing ice formations on the Khumbu glacier



Nuptse face


Icemelt patterns on the Khumbu glacier - Lho La pass in the background



The Kumbu icefall



A crashed helicopter on the glacier



Ice meting on the glacier



Ice towers on the Khumbu glacier - Nuptse face in the background



View down the glacier



Khumbu ice fall seen from Everest Base Camp



An almost tame chough waiting for some food



Camp of the autumn 2006  Canadian Everest Expedition



Khumbu ice fall


Khumbu ice fall - a chaos of ice



Two climbers descending the Khumbu icefall (in the centre of the picture)


Khumbu ice fall - a chaos of ice. These ice blocks are the size of office blocks



The last aluminium ladders are being brought back to Gorak Shep


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