After a three day hike we finally arrived at Everest Base Camp. The last three days we spent hiking here through three villages. After leaving Pangboche in the late morning we had a short day of about three hours to Dingboche to an elevation of 14,500 ft. The following day we had another short hike to Chhukung at 15,900 ft. However, that was the last of the short days because the following day it took us close to 10 hours to cross the Kongma La pass at 18,200 ft. We all finally arrived in Loboche very tired, at an elevation 16,500 ft. After a quick dinner most of us hit the sack early.
The following day we left for base camp and arrived in four hours. Everest Base Camp is one of the most unusual places you'll ever experience. There's a trail running up and down and around rock and ice somewhat through the middle of the camps. The camps cover a very large area with lots of space between some while some are on top of each other. There are some flat spots, but the terrain is mostly broken ice and rock. There are no direct routes to walk anywhere without having to go around a drop off of rock and ice. We are surrounded by huge mountains in every direction. Our camp sits up on a small hill away from the main trail and most of the other camps. This is good because it protects us from the herds of yaks passing along the main trail as they deliver supplies to other camps.
Today we had a Puja ceremony with the Lama to bless our safe passage as we climb into the mountain. The Sherpa's will not begin climbing until this Puja ceremony is done. There was much chatting, the ringing of bells, a small drum, the throwing of rice, and plenty of food and drink was passed around. Juniper is burned and a large pole with prayer flags attached is raised. We now have prayer flags crossing our camp in every direction. The food portion of the Puja is really interesting and quite involved. The Sherpa stayed up late and got up early to make decorations out of butter, Sherpa cake, and fried dough. Drinks included milk tea, chang (Sherpa rice beer), Everest Beer, coke and sprite. The ceremony was very festive.
Tomorrow we'll have a practice day to prepare our climbing gear and practice for the Ice Fall. I have been staring at the ice fall for two days now wondering what it will be like to finally climb into it. It's massive and so intimidating looking from my view here at camp.
We're both feeling good and adjusting to the altitude very well. Barbara is still planning to climb Lobuche in a few days and I will make my first trip into the Ice Fall. The internet connection is pretty good and so far I can sit in my tent and connect. In the cold laptop batteries don't last long. Once we get more of our solar panels setup keeping a good charge on my laptop will be easier. Overall, we have a great base camp and Barbara and are settling into camp life. In fact, she's lying beside me snoring as I type.