A grand photo story on the Everest Base Camp – Gokyo Ri trek

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.


DSC_2144Landing 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!


DSC_2227 (1)Prayer stones and mini stupas with an elegant script are a common place through the entire trek but more so where the villages abound.


DSC_2394The 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.


DSC_2648Namche Bazaar at 3450 m, the headquarters of the Khumbu region. Right from your basic supplies, to supermarkets stocking Snickers, beer and gear, to pubs, to branded trekking shops, to an ATM you have it all here. Spend a day here to acclimatize, walk around and ponder for the rest of the way, how the hell did they get it all there????
When you spared a thought for that, it won’t hurt when you pay a 100 NPR for a bottle of water.

Everest Base Camp- Ama DablamOn 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).

Everest Base Camp- Tenzing Norgay stupaThe 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!

Everest Base Camp- Out of namcheOn 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).


Everest Base Camp- Towards GokyoThe 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!


Everest Base Camp- Cho Oyu

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.


Everest Base Camp- En route Gokyo

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…


Everest Base Camp- Gokyo Lake

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!


Everest Base Camp- Gokyo Ri summit

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.

Everest Base camp- Ngozumpa GlacierThe dreaded crossing of the Ngozumpa Glacier – the largest glacier in the Himalayas. It must be around 500 m in width and takes about 2 hrs to traverse. Our leader, Gurdit,  had just one instruction for us… “This area is prone to rockfalls. Get out of this place ASAP.”  For a perspective, look at the progressively diminutive trekkers on the right as they get to the base of the glacier.


Everest base camp- Heading to Chola PassReaching the pseudo Chola pass.. an early morning start meant biting cold as we walked. As you climb up the valley behind Thagna, you see the sun rise ahead of you behind a ridge. You can’t wait to ascend up to sunlight. A fairly steep climb lands you at this perch, making you believe you’ve reached Chola Pass, until you see the Chola Pass ahead of you from where you stand. That climb is another story altogether.


Everest Base Camp- Ama Dablam in frontEn route to Dzongla, you get welcomed back to Everest region by a frontal view of the endearing Ama Dablam. This peak looks so different from different spots on the trek! Now, you’re officially done with the Gokyo region and Chola pass successfully!


Everest Base Camp- Dzongla valleyWhile 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.

Everest Base Camp- In everest regionMt 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!

Everest Base Camp- memorialJust 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.

Everest Base Camp- Mt pumoriMt Pumori – a beautiful name for a beautiful mountain – is now the dominant mountain in sight as you walk towards Lobuche and then to Gorakhshep. Our lead Nepali guide opined that its also the toughest mountain to climb in the Khumbu region.


Everest Base Camp- GorakhshepGorakhshep 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.

Everest Base Camp- EBCAs 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.

Everest Base Camp - EBCWalking 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.

Everest Base Camp- View from kala Pathar summitFrom the summit of Kala Patthar (5,643 m), you can easily visualize the entire Everest summit day climb from South Col (7900m) following the Southern ridge, the South Summit, Hillary step and the summit. The ridge leading to the top of Lhotse from South Col is also visible.

Everest Base Camp- Everest SunriseWatching the sun rise from behind Everest, stunning us as we climb up to Kala Patthar.

The sights you see on this trek stay with you long after it is over. The feeling of trekking among world’s highest mountains is beyond superlatives! I couldn’t help but make a silent prayer to get me back on this grand trail again for yet another unforgettable experience.
Arun Nayak

Arun Nayak

Dr. Arun Nayak is an orthodontist from Mumbai. An avid trekker, cyclist, runner and fitness enthusiast, he has completed treks like Chadar and Rupin Pass and captured fantastic pictures! Needless to say, he is a photography expert and often shares tips with photography enthusiasts.