Postcards from Everest Base Camp; Favourite Destinations Photo Series

The last time I stood at the new Everest Base Camp was over a decade ago and the scene was very different. The majority of expeditions were still populated by climbers, commercial guiding was in its infancy and yet a small fabric city was still located on the glacial moraine.

There always seemed to be plenty of activity, climbers carefully preparing equipment or loads for transporting to higher camps, porter briefings, preparing and eating meals, melting snow, moving between encampments or communicating with climbing pairs on the mountain through two-way radios. This was life in EBC city, a busy textile town where the Khumbu Icefall was the commuter route that many took to work each day.

The Khumbu Glacier as seen from Everest Base Camp in the Himalayan region of Nepal on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

A glacier in retreat

It was also an overgrown rubbish tip, with piles of discarded oxygen bottles, and many more were scattered around the site. The residue of man’s attempts to reach the summit carelessly dumped on the moraine of the glacier. Amongst the other rubbish there was masses of human excrement, which being difficult to dispose of made Everest Base Camp a huge public toilet.

The glacier itself had also retreated a considerable distance; since the first time I visited the change is both stunning and alarming. Where once there was striking blue, crevasse filled glacial ice there is now a monochrome world of rock and shattered ice. In the absence of the multi-coloured tents the only change of shade is provided by the green of the soup like glacial pools which pockmark the otherwise barren landscape.

It was already June and as all expeditions have to depart the camp by the 29th May, it was eerily deserted, just our Adventure Company trekking group and a few other late season adventure seekers were present. Oblivious to the moonscape like desolation, busily taking photos to mark the occasion and to prove to friends they had in fact been there.

The site has also been cleaned up quite spectacularly; a number of expeditions have been arranged over the years to remove all the waste of previous expeditions. It has been a great success and a very welcome change, the most visible and obvious difference.

There is little to mark the site as Everest Base Camp, no big sign or banner, just a small etching on an unobtrusive rock. Without any tents it is difficult to accept that it is the correct location and I overheard a few people actually expressing their doubt.

Even on a grey day the surrounding mountains tower above those that have successfully negotiated the altitude and strenuous trek to reach here. Everest is not in view even when the weather is clear, tucked away behind its smaller sister Lhotse. It remains a stark but stunningly beautiful place. The Himalayan giants dominate the view, rock and ice sculpted by nature into geological leviathans causing the already short of breath to gasp at their towering presence.

Sited at 5545 metres, beneath Sagarmatha “Mother of the Universe” and within the planets youngest and undoubtedly greatest mountain ranges, Everest Base Camp is a favourite destination. I wonder how it will appear next time the call of the Himalaya is answered.

Everest Base Camp in the Khumbu region of the Nepalese Himalaya on Mallory on Travel, adventure, adventure travel, photography

Celebrating a successful trek

*All images were taken on a Samsung WB250F compact WiFi camera.

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Comments 8

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      I’m glad you enjoyed it Elaine and agree it is a stark but immensely beautiful place, the Himalaya is pristine and stunning.

  1. Nicole Fandel

    I really like and appreciate your articles and have become a frequent reader of them. Your photos are super, but y prefer them when the colors are natural . Chacun à son goût! Looking forward to your next adventures.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      Thank you Nicole, the camera has a mode for producing rich tones which I used and appears to have been a mistake. I’ve tried to tone them down and will try still harder on future posts.

    1. Post
      Author
  2. silver price

    REI is more expensive than some outfits, but they are also better organized and offer more support. You get what you pay for. As most reviewers note, the Nepali guides and other staff were excellent. With animals carrying gear, the trip itself was almost luxurious. I got sick with dysentery on the trip (probably caught parasites in Kathmandu) so the lead guide walked me to a clinic with a British doctor who gave me some medication, and when I was too sick to make it to base camp one of the other guides walked me downhill. It’s hard to see some of the outfits which operate on a shoestring being able to do that. I completed the trip and didn’t have to be evacuated. The one criticism I would have is that we pitched tents in the courtyards of some tea houses that were dusty and crowded, especially in Namche. REI needs to re-think the model of sleeping in tents in towns and villages. It seems that the days of tent trekking in Everest country have passed as the area has become so economically developed. People considering going on this trip should realize that the Everest region is crowded with trekkers during the clear weather of the Fall. If you want to get way from people, you should consider a different trip. On the other hand, I really liked the chance to visit monasteries and see villages in addition to awesome mountains. I did not find the conditions very cold (though some others in my group did) but I was surprised by how humid the cold can be in the river valleys or as the clouds roll in. I was also surprised by how lush and green the river valleys are, since i was expecting high altitude to equal dryness, but I had not factored in the low latitude. Bottom line: Great trip. Book with REI – they know what they are doing.

    1. Post
      Author
      Iain

      You must have really visited at peak season to need to camp outside? I might suggest that some companies would have accommodation in the teahouses booked throughout the season. Also one of our group not only required to be walked down by the a guide but from Namache needed 15 porters to carry him down to Lukla to see a doctor. I suggest most large companies have this sort of logistic support capability.

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