The number of climbing permits granted keeps increasing. 222 permits are now in Everest aspirants’ hands and 389 for all Nepal peaks for all teams this spring. With hundreds of climbers and trekkers on the trails, the Khumbu is busy, but reports are coming in saying overall it feels quiet compared to previous years. The main difference is the absence of so many trekking teams. Some teams will arrive at base camp this weekend or early next week. Look for the first trips through the Icefall around April 15, a bit earlier than usual. I’ve also added a new short feature in the video the Gear Corner where I briefly talk about the gear used on Everest.
Now on April 8, most of the teams are making excellent progress trekking to Everest Base Camp. As you can see in this map, many are between Namche and Deboche after flying into Lukla from Kathmandu. There is still haze reported from the forest fires so teams are hoping for a fast-moving front to come through to clear the skies. While a bit unhealthy, this should not cause a problem with the overall schedules.
EverestLink, the WiFi service available throughout the Khumbu and even at Everest Base Camp is reported up and running. This is such a change from my first trip there in 1997. Now you can Facetime, send videos, email to your heart’s content, or perhaps I should say to the extent of the size of your wallet! Note there is no service at Lobuche or Island Peak.
Many teams forgo a trip through the Khumbu Icefall and acclimatize to what are called “trekking peaks” Familiar names include Lobuche East, Island Peak, or Mera Peak. The term trekking really is a classification that it’s a 6,000-meter peak and not a simple walkup.
The Trek Between Namche and Tengboche
For me, this is perhaps the most beautiful section of a trek to Everest Base Camp. You have it all, deep pine and rhododendron forests, rushing rivers, steep hillsides, sharing the trail with yaks, mules, and Zo, and finally gaining serious altitude. Namache is 11,286-feet and the Tengboche Monastery, 12,687-feet.
Leaving Namache you take the well-worn wide dirt path around a lazy corner only have the world unveiled right before your eyes. Ama Dablam is everpresent but also early on in this section, Everest, Nuptse, and Lhotse stand out if the clouds allow. It’s virtually impossible not to stop every few steps or to take just one more picture, especially of Ama. As I’ve told this story many times before, the first I saw Ama Dablam was on a trek to Everest Base Camp in 1997. I declared that with was impossible to climb, well at least for me, and when I summited on October 26, 2000, it set in motion the start of my serious climbing ambitions.
As you move further, the trail drops steeply into the dense forest. All you can think about is that you have to regain all this lost elevation in a couple of hours because the bottom is a bridge crossing the Dudh Khosi at Pungi Thanga. After a well-deserved break and hearty lunch of fried rice, you begin the steep uphill climb towards the Monastery. If the sun is out, it can be hot, similar to the Namche Hill experience. But after a couple of hours of steady plodding, you take a short left-hand turn, cross under an arch, and – Welcome the Tengboche Monastery!
The Nepal Ministry of Tourism posted these foreign permit tally thus far. As I’ve noted, many teams are still arriving, and some are planning to come in mid-April, relatively late. This is probably due to the massive confusion around Nepal’s COVID quarantine and testing rules. Even with this slow start, 300 Everest foreign permits are expected, with the Tibet side closed to foreigners.
- Everest: 222 on 23 teams (300 expected)
- Lhotse: 47 on 6 teams
- Nuptse: 23 on 3 teams
- Manaslu: 1 on 1 team
- Annapurna: 44 on 4 teams
- Dhaulagiri: 30 on 4 teams
- Pumori: 5 on 1 team
- Tukuche: 1 on 1 team
- Tilichho: 8 on 1 team
I have begun to create my annual team location table and tracking climber’s blogs (see sidebar). If you have a team not listed, please let me know, and I will add them if I can track them. If you prefer not to be mentioned, please contact me. Here’s to a safe season for everyone on the Big Hill!
Memories are Everything
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