Everest Base Camp is on every trekker’s bucket list. However, diverging from the main Everest highway, is the less crowded Gokyo Ri trail. Everest-Gokyo Ri circuit is a more wholesome trek- taking you to Gokyo and Khumbu region with world’s tallest mountains, Asia’s largest glacier (present in the header image) and six alpine lakes to offer. Our trekker Arun Nayak captures this incredible trail with his images and words.
Landing in Lukla (2,680 m) is the real deal. On a clear day, it will be one of the smoothest landings you’ve ever experienced. Add to it the thrill of sitting right behind the pilot, watching his every move and every dial on the instrument panel. Lukla is a fully manual landing and so entirely dependent on visibility and weather conditions.
All it needs is a phone call from Lukla saying, “all clear” and suddenly the hostesses at Kathmandu (1,400 m) airport are packing you off into the numerous turbo props. Made me think its so easy to hijack these aircrafts. But then, only an idiot would hijack a dozen people who don’t see anything right in living normally!
Prayer stones and mini stupas with an elegant script are a common place through the entire trek but more so where the villages abound.
The Swiss suspension bridge that eventually gets you to Namche is perched a good 1,000 ft above the tempestuous white waters of the Dudh Kosi. You just can’t help but take a dozen pictures in all kinds of poses on this engineering marvel that is practically the lifeline of Khumbu region.
When you spared a thought for that, it won’t hurt when you pay a 100 NPR for a bottle of water.
On treks, you haven’t really photographed, till you’ve photographed at night. Post dinner, a simple suggestion to our trek leader about the possibility of seeing the mountains at night was well received. So, close to 10 pm, we went up back to the museum. At first we saw clouds blocking off our sight, but within minutes, almost as if to serve an audience, they cleared off! In this picture is the most beautiful mountain on the Everest range – Ama Dablam ( 6, 812 m).
The Tenzing Norgay Stupa is an unmissable landmark on the route beyond Namche. Perched high on a bend on the mountain trail, it’s a great place to catch your breath as you spend some time here enjoying the views and the relentless wind!
On a clear day, the initial part of the walk out of Namche towards the Everest region keeps your eyes fixated on the Everest (8, 848 m) and Ama Dablam. And here, I actually walked back a couple of steps to click this picture of the Tenzing Norgay stupa elegantly positioned at the meeting point of leading lines formed by the slopes of the Ama Dablam and below a blizzard-infested Nuptse (7, 861 m) /Lhotse (8,516 m).
The point where we broke away from the Everest highway onto the Gokyo trail. I did miss the busy international feel of the Everest Base Camp highway at this point, but in hindsight, I’m glad that I did walk this stupendous region!
Beyond Dole and later beyond Macchermo, the Cho Oyu (8, 201 m) is your companion till you cross the Ngozumpa glacier two days later. The sixth highest mountain is a huge snow wall and an additional treat on the Gokyo trail, as compared to the standard Everest Base Camp trail.
En route to Gokyo from Macchermo, the boulder walk makes you climb levels and at each level you find a pristine blue/green lake of increasing dimension till you reach Lake 3 at Gokyo. It is forbidden to take a skinny dip due to religious reasons and we didn’t even venture to find out if anyone can fish in them. Probably not…
Gokyo Lakes look pretty unassuming from the ground level. As we walked past 3 of them during our walk from Macchermo to Gokyo, I had written them off having seen the splendour of the Kashmir Great Lakes. But then, God also made Gokyo Ri (5, 357 m). And he made sure that every man who goes past these lakes also climbs Gokyo Ri to see how beautiful even his watery creations were. As you climb Gokyo Ri expecting to see the mighty Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu etc, right behind you, the three blue/green grand lakes seems to dwarf everything around them. Here you can see trekkers climbing up and as they catch on precious breath, get enthralled by what stands behind them!
Classic view of Mt.Everest (8, 848 m), Lhotse (8, 516 m) , Nuptse (7,861 m) and Makalu (8,481 m) from Gokyo Ri summit. The Ngozumpa glacier and its ever moving glacial lakes lie in the foreground.
While walking from Dzongla to Lobuche, the valley and the beautiful snow-clad peaks will take your breath away! The blue skies and the myriad cloud formations, and a flat walk skirting the mountain ridge curving out of Dzongla valley, makes for a particularly enjoyable walk.
Mt Pumori (7, 161 m) , Mt LingtrenTse, Mt KhumbuTse and the Western shoulder of Mt Everest form the cauldron that houses Kala Patthar (5, 644 m), Everest Base Camp (5, 380 m) and the origins of the Khumbu valley. It’s a glorious feeling to walk amongst such big mountains!
Just above Dughla on the Everest highway, you’ll find memorials for eminent mountaineers who gave their lives away on the slopes. Here is a memorial for Scott Fischer.
Gorakhshep that now houses extremely busy tea houses with excellent WiFi connectivity at the base of Kala Patthar (the dark hill with trails leading to its top) and Mt Pumori behind.
As you make the 3 hour walk to Everest Base Camp from Gorakhshep, you reach a point that gives you a birds eye view of Everest Base Camp on the edge of the Khumbu icefall. The Khumbu glacier, the Western shoulder of Everest and Nuptse and the Everest with her customary cloud halo peeking behind it look over the base camp.
Walking to the expedition tents of Everest Base Camp is very exciting. There is no trail on the extremely slippery and loose moraine. You really don’t want to trouble the mountaineers often sunning themselves outside their tents. Yet you want to walk as far as time allows you to without losing your way in the maze of the tents. But what quietly impresses you is the innocuous but unbelievably dangerous Khumbu icefall seracs standing right next to you. It can be a huge temptation to walk on it, but I refrained from doing so.
Watching the sun rise from behind Everest, stunning us as we climb up to Kala Patthar.