Before planes and the Lukla Airport, everyone who wanted to visit mount Everest had to start in Jiri. A tiny town in the mountains where the last street from Kathmandu ends. Nowadays, there is Lukla Airport, and 95% of people fly to that airport and start their journey there. They fly in 20 mins over the trail, which takes six full days and is the hardest part on the trek.
I was different, and I wanted to know it. All by myself without a porter or a guide, I took the bus from Kathmandu to Jiri and started my journey from there. It was me against myself and my 14 kg bag. Mentally and physically, it was a hard fight, and I asked myself more than once why the hell I do such things. But in the end, I made it to Base camp, and I won the challenge, and it was worth it.
In this and the next entries, I’ll tell you everything you need to know. About the way, the challenges, the tea houses, and costs. But first, I start with a general overview of how these nearly three weeks were for me.
I was super nervous before I started and that for a good reason. In fact, it was a little dangerous what I did, and I had no plan if I would be strong enough to manage everything. So, I took the bus with mixed feelings but with proper preparation in terms of clothing, maps, and information.
The bus – the first challenge
There is no tourist bus going to Jiri; only the local bus is departing every morning near Thamel from a bus terminal. There are no online tickets, and you have to go personally to the counter and buy the ticket. I went the day before but forgot that it was the end of October (where a significant Buddhist and Hindu festival takes place), and it was super busy at the bus station. I got the last ticket with a little luck for the next day.
The bus had no aircon and only a few windows to open, and I was to the only tourist on the bus. Local buses in Nepal are one of these things which you can call experience, but one not everyone needs. In short, it was one of the worst bus rides in my 14 months of nonstop travel experience. There were the streets which started getting extremely bad after 4 hours of driving. The bus was shaking like crazy, and the bus was full of dust from the streets, outside and inside because the windows were open all the time. But worse than the roads were the number of people on this bus. Every time I thought that there wouldn’t fit anyone more on the bus, they pushed in 5 more people. At some point mid-way, the bus was so full that two guys had to hang, with their whole body’s, out of the door. A 2-year-old kid had to sit on the floor with her mother and was crying for hours in a row. To be honest, in some moments, I was thinking that these conditions on the bus would go against every human right existing in the world. But eventually, after 11 hours, we arrived in Jiri, and I went to my hotel. My journey in nature could start.
The first six days to reach Lukla Airport
The first 6 days of hiking were by far the hardest ones. In only six days, I ascended 6300 meters and descended 5450 meters. So basically, every day, 1000 meters up and 1000 meters down. The evaluation was low and mostly under 3000 meters, but the ascends and descends were hard, extremely hard, and long. Only after the first day I felt so exhausted and asked myself if this is normal and if I’ll even make it till Lukla. After three days, my knees started hurting so much that I had to do one rest day. And when I finally arrived at that point were the planes landed, I was so exhausted, and I felt drained.
The rest of the journey
After two days of more relaxed hikes, I reached Namche Bazar finally, and I was motivated again. My knees started getting a lot better, and I said to myself that I made it that far so I can reach Base camp now as well.
For Namche Bazar on the problem wasn’t the track anymore, days were a lot shorter and distance too. Now the height and with it, the low oxygen started to get a problem. The higher I got, the harder every step felt. But because I did all the acclimatization days correctly, I had no issues with AMS. There were two days where I had mild headaches, but that’s normal, and nearly everyone gets them. The last day which is over 5000 meters, was hard, though. The air is so thin up there, and every step is hard. The way up to the Base camp is also very rocky and isn’t easy at all, especially not at that altitude. But I managed it with my last energy and felt super happy when I finally arrived at the Base Camp.
The way down was quick, well I got food poisoning in Gorak Shep, so I had to do another rest day. But in general, I needed only three days hiking to get down, and it seemed natural because the oxygen got more every meter I went down.
In general, it was the hardest challenge in terms of sport in my life. The nights were freezing, my knees were hurting, and I got food poisoning. But it was still worth the effort, simply because of these fantastic views and to tackle the challenge.
In my next blog entries, I give more details in depth about the way and the other things.
- Total countries I visited until now: 42
- Planes: 32
- Busses: 51
- Trains: 23
- Boats: 25
- Km driving: 8000
- KM driving with my Tuktuk: 2000
- Km running: 3998