For those who have just discovered this, the previous posts about my trek through the Everest Region in November 2021:

Kathmandu
Part I: Lukla to Namche
Part II: Namche to Khunde
Part III: Khunde to Pangboche
Part IV: Ama Dablam Basecamp to Dingboche
Part V: Chukkhung
Part VI: Kongma La

Part VII: Gorek Shep, Everest Basecamp, and a snowstorm on Kala Patthar

Day 12

This day was a short(ish) transfer from Lobuche (16,186') to Gorek Shep (16,990'), then an afternoon outing to Everest Base Camp (approx. 17,600'). The next day or so were our biggest "I wish I had the fur of a yak" days. Wool of a yak?
Patient (and warm) yak waiting for the load to go on its pack saddle. Those guys' humps are about shoulder high on a not-too-tall person like me or our guides.

The day's hike started next to the Khumbu glacier's lateral moraine, but soon we were up on the jumble of rocks. The trail was pretty good, but had its moments. Nor was the weather looking promising. Many people do the whole EBC visit as a dayhike from Lobuche. There are good reasons for that, but we wanted to climb Kala Patthar, too, so we'd be staying at our highest lodge.
Hikers without yak fur.

Rest stops were less frequent and much less comfortable than on some days!
Huddled in the lee of a boulder


Down-valley at the Khumbu glacier. We crossed the day before just before the bend.

Gorek Shep turns out to be 2 lodges on the edge of a dry lake bed. They definitely show the effects of life in a place where it never completely stops being winter. The highest, coldest, and least pleasant lodge we stayed at, though part of that was the weather--no sunny afternoon in the dining room!
Arriving at Gorek Shep. Trail up Kala Patthar on the left.

After lunch, we continued on to Everest Base camp at the head of the valley. The wind blew hard across that dry lake bed, forcing us to cover our faces against the dust. Later, the odd bit of precip blew in our faces instead. Our hope was that we would have better weather the next day to climb Kala Patthar before returning to Lobuche.
Approaching Everest Base Camp, which is nothing in November. In the season, climbers are camped throughout the moraine between here and the bend.

The official EBC. It says so on the rock the trekkers are climbing.

The wind was fierce and the cold biting. Most of us decided that looking down on the spot was enough, and headed back to the lodge. The sun did break through late, giving hope of a good day to follow.
A much better time to be at EBC, aside from the part that it would have been dark before we got back.

Evening light on Chang Ri.

Day 13
Sadly, the promise wasn't fulfilled. Morning looked grim when we got up, but most of us headed up the mountain anyway, crossing our fingers that it would clear.


It didn't.

Contemplating the snow beginning to stick.

It was at this point--we are at the famous "Everest View Point" on K-P, a few hundred feet above the lodge and still a couple of thousand below the summit--that our guide hinted that there would be a chance of getting stuck in Gorek Shep if we went on and the snow got heavier.

Group photo at the Everest viewpoint. The author is on the right end.

Meanwhile, back at the lodge, the yaks demonstrate why they have all that fur/wool.

We warmed up with some soup and tea, and headed on down. We were eager to avoid being stuck there, but of course, once we were a mile on our way the snow stopped and the clouds began to clear. We might have been okay if we'd climbed the peak, but there would have been no views until long after we'd have had to come down. No regrets.

Clouds clearing. Still cold.

On the way down, a few of us detoured to check out the Pyramid International Laboratory-Observatory, where a joint Nepali-Italian team is doing research on the monsoon. Since this wasn't monsoon season, it was closed.

Like everything else in the Khumbu, solar power is the only power there is for the research institute.

The pyramid.
 
It felt good to get back to Lobuche, where the lodge felt warm and luxurious next to Gorek Shep (though actually it wasn't near our nicest lodge). And in the morning...


Up next: Over Cho La
 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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