…Part 2 of 2 – the bit where things got nasty  (if you missed part 1 of our Everest Base Camp trek chronicles you can read it here)


Day 7 – Dingboche to Lobuche (4910m)
Having had an early night after my first Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) symptoms, I felt much better in the morning so we went ahead with our trek to Lobuche. Things started off quite well, with Chris and the Sherpa speeding off ahead with all our kit as usual, while our guide and I followed on an hour or so behind. But as the day progressed the weather became increasingly nasty with heavy snow breaking out just as I started the steep, two hour climb up to Lobuche. And it was then, just after I’d made the climb up to 4,800m (the same height as Mount Blanc, Europe’s highest mountain) that disaster struck. My altitude sickness, which had been growing for some time, suddenly exploded into a splitting headache, severe dizziness, and an almost complete loss of vision, meaning I had to descend immediately.

memorial everest base camp trek

Memorial stones to fallen climbers on the way to Lobuche. For a while I thought they might need to add a new stone for me!

Luckily our guide was a complete hero and helped carry me down the mountain to safety, while sending up a message via other climbers (the heavy snow blocked all phone services) to Chris explaining what had happened. The descent is all a bit of a blur, but I remember being so cold that the icy wind felt like a hundred daggers piercing through me. By the time we reached the hut my body was shivering so uncontrollably that I needed 3 duvets and 2 hot water bottles, whilst being fed hot tea and soup by my guide, to warm me up again. Finally, by about 1pm, Chris and our Sherpa got word at the top of the mountain that I needed my sleeping bag and warm clothes urgently meaning the two of them raced back down the hill, in freezing conditions and almost zero-visibility, to reunite me with my warm kit.

tammy recovering from ams and hypothermia

Me on my sickbed. Chris never takes photos, except when I don’t want him to.

At this stage I was still determined not to give up and hoped after a night’s rest I could try and get up the mountain to Lobuche again the next day – but luckily Chris, who had seen how dangerous things were higher up, talked me out of this and made me realise that the best thing for me to do was rest for the night and then head down to lower altitude when the weather improved. So that was the end of my Everest Base Camp trek, but after a long conversation where I insisted he should carry on, Chris and our guide headed back up the hill, for the second time that day in ever worsening conditions, for what Chris described as the toughest few hours he has ever spent in the mountains. Not least because by now he had been trekking from 7.30am until late-afternoon on just 2 litres of water and a bowl of porridge for breakfast!

with our guide and porter at everest base camp trek

My mountain heroes. Chris, in a fetching Buddhist scarf, our guide (centre right) and our Sherpa (right). Nepalese guys are tough, I can tell you!

Highlight of the day – being saved by our guide, my mountain hero.
Lowlight – realising that due to a combination of hypothermia and AMS my only option was to retreat to a lower elevation, just a day away from base camp, and leave Chris to press on alone.
Oxygen rate – 54%

Day 8 – Lobuche to Gorak Shep (5140m) and then on to Base Camp (5364m)
Chris, now trekking with just our guide, was able to press on at his military marching pace meaning after a 5.30am breakfast he was at Gorak Shep by 9am in time to wolf down a crazily early lunch. Our trekking schedule allowed time for a day’s acclimatisation at Gorak Shep, but by this stage Chris just wanted to get to base camp and back as quickly as possible so he and our guide cracked on to base camp straight after ‘lunch’. Apparently the trek was pretty rough going – particularly without the planned day’s acclimatisation and the freezing weather – but by early afternoon Chris and his guide had made it, a day early even with the drama of my AMS.

snowy himalayas everest base camp trek

Things get a bit barren (but very beautiful) above 5,000m

yaks everest base camp trek

Even the yaks looked cold and tired beyond Gorak Shep

reaching everest base camp

Made it!

Highlight of the day – Reaching base camp (Chris)
Lowlight – (Chris) watching the lodge dining hall increasingly resemble an Accident and Emergency ward as victims of broken bones, AMS, and hypothermia got carried down the mountain in various states of consciousness. One guy who broke his leg was literally piggy-backed down the mountain by a heroic Nepalese porter about half his size. And a Singaporean group had a very close shave as three of their group went down with severe hypothermia and AMS, meaning they too had to be carried down the mountain and eventually had to be fully evacuated by a combination of horse-back and helicopters which literally saved their lives.
Oxygen rate – 52%

Day 9 – Gorak Shep to Kalar Patar (5550m) and then back to Periche (4240m)
Chris rose just before first light again on day 9 to give himself time to climb to a viewing point up on Kalar Patar – a mountain which overlooks Everest base camp – and then leg it back down to Periche to be reunited with poor me. After taking some nice shots of Everest he somehow caught me up by lunchtime, meaning that from day 7-9 he and his guide covered over 50km crossing glaciers, icy ridges, and steep climbs at altitudes of between 4,250-5,500m, all the time carrying full kit. Not bad for an old man!

mount everest everest base camp trek

The mighty Everest (centre). Base camp is bottom left somewhere on the glacier.

Highlight of the day – being reunited with my tired, but happy-looking husband
Lowlight – hating the fact that a combination of AMS and a nasty snow-storm meant I never quite made it to base camp. Guess I’m going to have to book a trip to Machu Picchu to cheer me up……
Oxygen rate (at Kalar Patar) – 50%

Day 10-12
The way back to Lukla airport was pretty much just the reverse of the way up, but done at a much faster pace as it was mostly downhill and the ever-thickening air meant with each passing step you felt stronger and stronger. Which meant we made it to Lukla a day early and were able to squeeze onto an early flight – which was delayed due to high winds but eventually took off, even though the winds were still high enough to make the flight back one of the longest 45 minutes of my life! But eventually we got back to Kathmandu, just in time for the Holi festival of colours which was the perfect way to cheer myself up – but more about that next week

returning from everest base camp trek

Sunrise at Periche, on the way back to Lukla airport. It was far easier to appreciate the beauty of the Himalayas on the way down!

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

17 Thoughts on “Everest Base Camp Trek chronicles cont…

  1. BOO on not making it to the top! I’ve been at 4000m before and it definitely gets ROUGH.

  2. I know, still a bit disappointed to be honest Erica. But these things happen and unfortunately there was nothing I could have done apart from descending again.

  3. So sorry to read about your AMS. After hiking Machu Picchu and islands of Lake Titicaca in March I thought I may try Everest. Now… I’ll think about it again 😉

    Anyway, a good story and cool photos. Memorial stones to fallen climbers photo drives some thoughts.

  4. That sherpa was a hero to carry you back down the mountain and take care of you! I’m not sure I could handle making it to EBS.

  5. @Memographer: Yeah it was ironic that I only made it as far as the memorial. Maybe it was a sign. You should try the trek, but my advise would be to take your time. Set aside at least 15 days and you should be fine with acclimatization.

  6. @Audrey: He certainly was. They are very tough people I can tell you. The trek should not be taken lightly, but if you trekked before and take your time you can do it.

  7. Congrats on making it as far as you did! Such a shame you couldn’t complete it but, hey, sometimes our bodies have other ideas than our minds. Still such an amazing experience and the scenery looks absolutely incredible!

  8. Thanks guys! The scenery and seeing Everest certainly made up for the disappointment. It was so beautiful!

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  10. WOW! I’m amazed at this trip! Incredible experience – glad you are both okay too.

  11. Wow, didn’t realise that Everest was so hard, I mean I know its not easy but with so many people climbing it now, it seems like it might be fairly easy..
    It, sucks that you were sick but good that Chris was able to solider on and met you goal!
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    • Tammyonthemove on May 27, 2013 at 2:11 am said:

      Yes, I think a lot of people underestimte the high altitude. But almost everybody along the trail had symptoms of AMS at one stage. I climbed at high altitude in Ecuador before and got AMS at almost exactly the same height. But it is certainly doable if you really take your time acclimatising.

  12. 10 months ago I was preparing for our trip to Nepal and was concerned which guide/travel agency to use. There are many candidates and I am sure that many of them are as good as the guide that we selected. I hope that my experience will help others to enjoy trekking in Nepal. We (group of six) reached a conclusion that there is no advantage using travel agency (except much higher prices) when doing tea house style trek.

    We used madhav adhikari . He is experienced licensed (important) guide who will make your visit/trek to Nepal memorable. We did the Jomsom trek last October which is the high season (but also the best from visibility point of view). I communicated with madhav by email and clarified all the open issues, including the itinerary. Sanjib arranged for our group (6) porters (that he is working always with), organized the daily trek and took care of all small details including finding for us a good tea house accommodations along the trek. His english is very good and his explanations helped us enjoy the trek. He can be reached at sanjib-adhikari@hotmail.com . He is very familiar with all the treks in Annapurna region.

    Along the whole circuit are many villages and nearly every tea house has SAT phone that can be used in case of emergency. There is no difference between using a good guide or big agency in this type of events. Also remember that these days half of the circuit is supported by a road access by jeeps.

  13. Joanna on December 3, 2013 at 5:29 am said:

    Hi Tammy,

    Your adventure sounds scary, great and ever memorable!
    My fiance and I will be doing the EBC trek from April 15-30, 2014. Your story of AMS has me a bit nervous, as I had suffered from symptoms of this during our trek at a very high altitude in the Rockies this past summer. Did you take any preventative medication? I’ve heard it helps but I’m not sure if it helps some people and not others.
    Any advice on this? As I have had AMS before, I am more suceptible to getting it again. Would hate to have to not finish what is I’m sure the treck of a lifetime.

    • Tammyonthemove on December 3, 2013 at 8:37 am said:

      I took Diamox which helped me at lower altitude, but not higher up. Best to check with your doctor. Like you said everybody reacts differently. I am prone to getting AMS too (had it before as well). The best advice I can give is to take it really slowly. Our trek was 12 days, which wasn’t enough with hindsight. We had two so called rest days, where you climb high and then lower down again, but I would include more days like that. Although I didn’t make it to Base Camp I still loved the trek. The scenery is spectacular and I am sure you will like it too.

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