A designated “rest day”, the acclimatisation hike up to the Everest View Hotel from Namche Bazaar can be a tough day. A fairly step 400 vertical metres to climb, it is a great test for the rest of the hike.
Day 3: Acclimatisation Trek to Everest View Hotel
Our third day on the trail to Everest Base Camp was a nominated acclimatisation day; we planned to sleep at the same altitude as the previous night, but ventured much higher during the day to help our bodies become accustomed to the stress we were placing on them. Scaling the hills that confine Namche Bazaar, we set off for the Everest View Hotel, a lodge that sits close to 400m above Namche, offering as you would expect, incredibly views of the Everest region, including Mt Everest itself. I found this climb to be one of the hardest; while only 400m up, it is particularly steep and consists mainly of stairs until you reach an landing strip that about three quarters of the way up. From there it is a steady incline to the lodge. The views were absolutely stunning, both looking into the Everest Region, and looking down on Namche.
As we got about half way, we came across the dirt runway that sits above Namche. It looked impossible to actually land an aircraft on the field (and I think it is mostly used for helicopters), but it is officially the highest airport in the world. There are stories of people landing and breathing very heavily as it probably sits at around 3,600-3,700 metres above sea level – so a flight from Kathmandu would be an extreme change in altitude. We got some stunning views of Namche as we continued to climb, looking down on the Army base that sat atop one of the hills.
We got some hot chocolate once we made it to the top, took in the views, and just relaxed for a bit. Our guide Deepak pointed out the mountains we could see in the area, including Mt Everest. As seen in the bottom photo, Mt Everest appears just to the left of centre of the photo, and looks like a right angled triangle with the longest side laying horizontal. You can just see the summit, as the rest of the mountain is obscured from view. Ana Dablam is completely visible off to the right of the bottom photo. It is the highest peak in the background with what looks like a cube for a summit. Ana Dablam is a little under 7,000 metres high, but a very technical climb.
As with the rest of the trail, it was common to see porters carrying ungodly loads up the mountain at speeds which made us look as if we were standing still. As we got higher, the views become more spectacular, including the rolling green hills above, and the huge mountain below with the frozen waterfalls to the left. There was actually a town situated on the flatter area on the left of the mountain behind us in the photo below. I believe the only access to the town was via helicopter, and tourists would fly up there for a night or two from Lukla. I can imagine the views of Namche from there would be incredible.
When we came back down into Namche, it was absolutely empty. As the main trekking season doesn’t start until April, we came across very few people in the town. A lot of shops offering trekking gear were unfortunately closed – we had banked on grabbing some extra gear as we got a bit further up the region; we couldn’t even convince some owners to open the stores they lived above. We did find a number of shops and we got the gear we needed, paying via credit card in what seems like the furthest place from civilisation. I’m sure the empty alleyways would have looked surreal to any seasoned trekker of the region who usually visits in the busy months – but we did come across a couple of other trekkers. Throughout the trek we actually came across a number of solo trekkers – they had still hired a guide, but it was just the two of them. I guess as you get older, fewer of your friends are able to commit to an undertaking like trekking to Everest Base Camp – and even those that want to come, if they’re not in the physical condition required, or have the mental capacity to deal with the two weeks, it’s always wise to give their participation serious thought before allowing them to jump into such a trek with you. Nonetheless it was great to see those individuals who were willing to come by themselves – even if it looked like a far lonelier journey (something that might have made it more attractive to them though I guess)(and not saying anything of the Nepalese and their capacity for incredible hospitality and company).