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Nepal 2014

Day 3. Everest Base Camp Trek. Bhanda to Sete

NEPAL | Saturday, 31 May 2014 | Views [804]

This really is No Country for Old Men!

I was too exhausted to write this yesterday. Trying now, though with another exhausting day behind me.

Overnight the rain had cleared and given us a dazzling day, having dissolved the shrouding smoke haze. Today's plan sounded simple: go to the river, cross it and on to Sete, 6 or 8 hours. The plan was ambitious from the start. For 3 and 1/2 hours we descended through farmlands and forests on a wet and vague trail, fording streams and stone bridges, passing through the front yards of wretchedly poor households. When we finally reached the main river, we were rewarded with our first suspension bridge crossing, small compensation for what we'd endured.

No gym training in the world readies you for walking down grade. What is called for is knee bends, no, single bends for 210 minutes, alternately taking the full weight of your body plus pack on one leg, again and again; sometimes a steep lunge, always an uneven step with a little side twist and ankle wobble. And repetitions? My pedometer recorded 13,644 by the time we reached Kinza for lunch.

We stopped at a traditional Sherpa teahouse along the riverside in Kinza, in various stages of fatigue. This heavy work seems to kill appetite and none of us could finish the veg meals we'd ordered so had little opportunity to refuel, but we did discover the elixir of life: cups of hot lemon and honey, and filled up on that instead.

The next stage was an unrelieved ascent of 4 hours and 8,600 steps (or single leg flexes). If there was ever a moment to ask myself what the Hell I thought I was doing at my age, it was in mid afternoon on the bare mountainside in the blazing heat, staring at the bottomless valley we'd left, with no destination in sight and no clear idea how much longer we'd be tested. Many farmhouse steps became my temporary resting points. A small smoky shop proffered Cokes, which I jumped at, and regretted 20 minutes later when the caffeine wore off and the depressive effect of too much sugar kicked in. I have hellish memories of dragging feet stumbling sluggishly, unrelieved muscle weakness and laboured breathing....

We were spent by the time we fell into Sete. The Sherpa lodge we'd chosen was like all: a sturdy stone building finished internally with rough sawn planking, giant steps leading to the first floor bedrooms with hard plywood beds covered by thin mattresses. Threadbare curtains cover the windows and draughts wander about untamed. There was no power, so we had to prepare everything in the fading daylight. Instead, we passed out in our sleeping bags for an hour before dinner. A selection of Nepalese and approximations to other dishes was on offer. We picked at the menu and recharged on hot lemon and honey. 

Overall we had dropped 600 metres into the valley and climbed 1000 from there to Sete. We can be proud of two 1,000 metre days in a row, but ooh, the pain for that gain!

Tags: bhanda, everest base camp, sete, trek


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