Less than 3 weeks to go now. One month later on this day I should already be in Gokyo Valley, right in the heart of the Khumbu region and in the shadows of 8000m peaks.
This Khumbu trek doubles up as my graduation trip, a treat for accomplishing my formal education. And frankly, if you were to ask me in back in February what I was doing post graduation, I wouldn’t have an answer. True fact. But I knew that the plan was to take the road less travelled. I had a couple of ideas in fact. One of which was to be hired as a boat crew and embark on a voyage. It was actually inspired by an article in the Travel section of The New York Times. The standard practice was to have a license or sort in order to gain employment but there are a couple of boats in the world who actually hire amateurs. The catch though is that you have to pay the boat owner/skipper. Not unreasonable since you’re helping to cover the costs of fuel and nutrition on board. In fact there was just one such boat leaving Singapore in April. My only reservation is a “phobia” of being at sea for an extended period of time. Tidal waves and storms at sea just don’t sit well with my stomach.
Now, I can’t exactly remember the details but I was chatting with my friend Liyana who casually mentioned about the Annapurna Trek. And as I read further into it, I got hooked on to the idea. The Annapurna Trek or Annapurna Circuit (also in the Khumbu region) passes through 4 regions and goes past several mountains including the Annapurna peaks, hence the name. NY Times also covered on this trek, but from the angle that Men are ruining the beauty by laying a road that disrupt a part of the trek.
The wealth of information online highlighted more about trekking in Nepal and the different routes on offer. I was almost sold on doing the Annapurna circuit until I chanced upon a forum where there was a thread on “Annapurna Circuit vs Everest Base Camp (EBC)”
Since a kid, I’ve always been fascinated by nature and none as much as Mount Everest. To me, it is the epitome of human willpower and spirit. So having the word Everest in the trek itinerary definitely kept me glued to my computer screen. But on a more serious note, trekkers are usually divided between the two popular treks. I’ll just summarise the main difference in a two lines.
Annapurna Circuit is more of a cultural walk where you will be able to witness different scenery and livelihood. Everest Base Camp trek is more of mountains and snow.
And with that, EBC was my choice. However, the final itinerary I settled upon listed EBC as only one of the highlights. In actual fact, the EBC is nothing but a campsite that sits beside the khumbu glacier, where most deaths occured for Everest submitters. You will see tons of tents as team prepares for their ascent. Worst still, you don’t get a good view of the world’s tallest peak even at its base camp.
The trek I have chosen has also been called the Everest Circuit. As seen from the map I posted a couple of posts earlier, it basically circles the region. A guide I befriended on facebook mentioned that this route is quieter and offer more sights that just the standard EBC trek. In fact, NY Times again recently published an article on this very topic.
For most part of the trek, I would be staying in teahouses except for the 3-4 days in tents, when I’ll be trying to summit Island Peak/Imja Tse. Although not a technical climb, you’ll still need crampons, ice axes and ropes from a certain point. I will be receiving training on climbing ice walls the day we check into base camp of Island Peak. My fingers are crossed that weather will permit the ascent. Reports are coming in now that Khumbu is colder and snowier this year. April-May is the standard climbing season in the Everest region. Climbers can only reach the top of Everest during this period because for the whole year running, only these two months offer days where wind speed at 8000m + drop enough for people to survive the climb and return safely.
And that’s that. Why I’ve chosen the Gokyo Cho-La Pass EBC & Island Peak Trek.