Claire Burgess’s Blog

Kala Patthar

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 9- Tuesday 18th May

Today was a hellish day.  We got up at 3.30am to go to the top of Kala Patthar which is 5500 metres and only has 50 % oxygen.  This is higher than Everest Base Camp.  We all set off in the dark with our head torches on.  It was so hard getting out of the most comfortable bed we had had so far and then when we got outside it almost felt claustrophobic because we could only see where the light was shining in the path.

We walked for about 45 minutes through the cold and cloud when our guide Dawa said the weather was too bad to see Everest or the sun rise so we would only be trekking for the height.  Jemma, Jenny and I were only going for the view, so he told us we could go back if we wanted.  We turned around with one of the guides Krishna and headed back to bed.  Krishna forgot his key so ran back to the group and back again.  We got back to the house and I climbed back into bed.  I had just shut my eyes when there was a frantic knock at the door.  It was Bebek.  He said the weather had cleared up and we should go back.  So we did!

We left again at around 5.30am and managed to drag ourselves up there.  My legs felt like lead and it was like trying to breathe through a straw. Amazingly, I made it up there last but only around 15 minutes behind those that left at 4am.

The view was amazing.  You could see Everest and right across the valley.  I would totally recommend it even though it is a bit of a battle.

By the time we got back to the Tea House it was 8am and I was all out of energy even though we now had 6 hours walking down towards Luklar to do.  Every part of me hurt, especially my knees.  Our guide Dawa literally dragged me along.  Will gave me the mantra F.I.D.O. (from the Marines) which means “Fight It, Drive On.”  All I knew was that I just had to keep going so I could find a bed to sleep.  We were heading to Pheruche which is at 4270 metres and at least had more oxygen at 57%

We lost one of our team today.  Rob had an emergency and managed our 6 hour trek with Krishna in just 2 hours.  He then headed straight to Lukla.  The group hasn’t been the same without him and really miss him cheering us all up and being daft.

Towards the end of the day the clouds came rolling in and it felt like we were walking right through them.  The landscape also started to look more like Scotland than Nepal as the wind whipped around the valley.

I got a massive blister on my little toe from all the downhill walking which is starting to feel more difficult than uphill.  This can’t compare to the porters I saw today carrying so many planks of wood uphill.  I don’t know how they manage.  Some of them look so young.

You will be pleased to know that I had another shower today. Whoop whoop! It was freezing cold though after and I had to sleep with all my clothes on!

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The Last Road to Base Camp

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 8- Monday 17th May

So in the end we were up at 4.30am after vertually no sleep because it was freezing cold even with all my clothes on. For breakfast I had ordered Peanut Butter on toast. I have a massive weakness for the stuff and was so surprized to see it there I had even been dreaming about eating it. Sadly, when we got up for breakfast they had ran out! Ah well, we are on the side of a mountain so these things do happen. It’s only when someone climbs with all the supplies can they get new stock.

After breakfast at 5.30am we headed from Lambuche to Gorekeshp. This was a 3hrs walk across the glacier as the sun was coming up. It was so tiring and seemed like we were walking for an age. The sun coming up was a lovely site though and it was just hard to take in the site of the glacier around us. Although, as we walked everyone became a little distracted as our minds turned to base camp.

We stopped at Gorkeshep for an early lunch and in time to meet a group of Columbians who were celebrating. They had just had two of their team reach the Summit. It had taken 6 months of planning and trekking. It was so amazing to finally meet people who were part of a team who had made it. It was absolutely, amazing then she told us that one of the climberes had a prostetic leg. It was so emotional that we were all holding back tears. I think everyone around the table then wondered if what we were doing could even compare?

After a massive plate of roast potatoes and a trip to what can only be described as the worst most stoumarch renchingly awful toilet I have been to in my life, We set of for our final 3hr trek to Base Camp. I can’t actually believe I’m writing this. We have made it so far. All of us, only 3 hrs from Everest Base Camp.

They felt like the longest 3hrs ever. I was struggling and got a bit of a head ache. I was really thinking I wouldn’t make it. I dragged myself there with the aid of Wine Gums and just using my poles, putting one front in front of the other. 1hour and 1/2 into the walk Will’s sole came away from his walking boots. No one was surprized being as he got them for £30 in Kathmandu. Hr still had 1 1/2hrs to go until base camp. Wondering what he was going to do with his food flapping around when Jenny produced a packet of hair bands and he fastened the sole together. Genius!

I totally didn’t know what to expect but at the same time I did have a picture in my mind of what I thought it would be. It wasn’t like that at all. We made it to 5364 meters and were now at 51% oxygen.  We were at Base Camp!

There was a Base Camp sign and we all stood by to have our photo. a memento to show how far we had come. The sign was all wrapped in peace flags and memorials of others that had made it, and those who hadn’t. We could see the tents of those waiting to climb to Camp 1.

A few of us had a shot of Fred’s Everest Whiskey to celebrate that we had made it. It’s hard to discribe how happy we were to make it after so long. Rob celebrated by giving us a performance of Cheryl Cole’s Fight For This Love. It was so random it was helriaous.

I even managed to get a photo of Harry Hill’s Knitted Character at the top. I can’t wait to send it in to TV Burp.  I feel really proud that we made it. After all the madness, worrying and of course walking Rob said to Jemma and I today that “when some people drink too much they come home with a road sign or a traffic cone, you ended up here.”

Maybe we shouldn’t have but we a couple of small rocks as a momento and got ready to leave. It was so hard to go knowing that what we had come all this way to see this and now we were going.  We turned around and headed back to Gorkershep which is at 5180 meters and 52% oxygen. On the way back I had a great chat with Nick about travels and The Beatles which made the journey back fly by. Maybe, that was because I was still feeling high from what we had done.

Back at the Tea House we are all shattered. The boys are playing cards with Dawa and we are sitting huddled around the stove chatting. Early night for us though as tomorrow we are up at 4am to watch the sunrise over Everest on the summit of Kalapater which is 5500 meters. Night Night.

Snickers, Toilets and Up! The Road to Everest Base Camp

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on July 4, 2010

Day 7- Sunday 16th May

When we woke this morning I have to say I was feeling all walked out. I was tired of the cold, the food and just generally walking. But when I realised we only had to get through the day and tomorrow we would be going to base camp it did seem doable. We had come so far I was just scared I would get sick or give up at the end. After all the chances of all of us making it is very slim.

The mornings walking was quiet easy apart from my head starting to peel so I now have huge chunks of skin in my hair…mmmm attractive. But by this point we were all looking a little deshevled so I was past caring. Instead I was distracted by my first choclate bar of the trip. You have to remember that we can’t stop thinking about food. A Snickers has never tasted so good. I got it from Rob instead of 50Rps he owed me. A bargain because they are now 250Rps in most of the Tea Houses. His Mum gave him 40 snickers before he left the UK and he has been traiding them and selling them since he got down to 29. He’s doing a roaring trade but has to keep it a little quiet so not to upset the Tea House owners.

At lunch Jemma also had an incident where she managed to drop her sunglasses down a squat toilet! Good job I’ve got a spare pair.

After lunch we had a steep ‘Nepally Up’ climb for about 45 minuites. It felt like an age. We were climbing through the Khumbar Glacier and when we got to the top we saw all the stone monuments for trekers who had died trying to conquer Everest. Some had placks and some were just small piles of stones. Our guide Dawa told us that anyone can make a memorial and no one will knock it down.

We climbed onwards and the path got flatter and easier. As I looked around it was exactly as I had imagined  the path to Everest would be. The path had now turned from the sandy path to dark black grey rocks with the clouds coming bellow the mountains.

I have been forcing myself to drink 3 litres plus of water every day which is so hard for me. I really don’t like drinking water but it has to be done because it really helps with the altitude to stay hidrated. This also makes you need the toilet a fair bit. Some people have been going outside inbetween rocks for the whole trip but luckily, today was the first time I needed to go…outside. In between two rocks. This is never fun but nessacery because there is nothing worse than trying to walk whilst needing the loo and there are deffinately worse views you could have.

Anyway, today we made it slowly just one step at a time to Labuche which is at 4940 meters after a 7KM trek that took 5 hours. We now have only 53% oxygen which means if you take the stairs too quickly you are really out of breath. Tomorrow is the big day. We are going to be up at 5am and are going to be trecking for 9hrs. Early night tonight so off to bed for me. Wish me luck!

The Everest Massive

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 15, 2010

The latest from my trek to Everest Base Camp.

Friday 14th May- Day 5

We left Tengboche early this morning and I had massive indigestion from last nights potatoes and vegetables. Initially though the route was really easy and flat. We were only walking 7KM to Dhingboche which is ONLY a 5hour walk I thought. It will be fine.

After lunch it started to get really cold though as the paths opened up a little so it felt more like we were walking up a mountain than ever before. Suddenly, the green paths we had seen in the beginning seemed far away as the landscape changed to something a little more like a something out of Lord of The Rings.

By the times we arrived in Dhingboche we were cold from the wind whipping around us, tired and now at 4350 meters and are at 57% oxygen. I had to put most of my clothes on to keep warm.

We sat up in the Tea Lodge Dining Room area all together and ended up laughing lots which heated us up. I haven’t told you much about the other trekkers in my group yet but here is what I know about them so far:

Rob – Cheryl Cole fan, was a dancer on ITV’s Britannia High, Likes Snickers and water skis for England.

Fred– Loves David Cameron, has a twin that is 6 minutes older and is going to University in Nottingham.

Will– Went to Kings Canterbury with Fred and wants to be a Marine.

Rosie– Was a famous songwriters Nanny and went traveling in India.

Demaris– Is a Fashion Buyer, speaks lots of languages and is very good at organising things.

Nick– Has climbed up Mt Kilimanjaro is an experienced climber and works for an elevator company.

Andreas– Is a Security Consultant from Norway.

Anna– Is also from Norway, is the traveling partner of Andreas and is scared of heights.

Adam– Workes for a travel company, likes dance music, card games and is doing a charity bike ride in the Isle of White

Jemma– Lived in Thailand with me, doesn’t like beer and is amazing at poker

Jenny– Also lived in Thailand with Jemma and I, studied law and has a German boyfriend

Dawa- Is our head guide and has been to Base Camp around 80 times.

Krishna– Is the youngest guide on our trip who is always taking care of those in the middle.

Bibek– Always at the front leading the group, his favourite phrase is “Jaam Jaam!” which means “Let’s go!”

They are all really nice, people . They are all really great in their own way that really makes me think we have been really lucky and have a great group. We have spent lots of time together, mostly laughing until our eyes water and our sides hurt. One of the best things about being with this bunch of travelers is all the stories. Between us we have traveled all over and had a lot of adventures. It was great to hear about everywhere they had been from Mexico to Mongolia.

On My Ipod– My ipod is broken because of the altitude. The battery just went dead then it started to make a lot of noise. It’s going to be quiet without it.

The Day of ‘Rest’

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 11, 2010

This is the latest from my trip to Mount Everest Base Camp.

Wednesday 12th May- Day 3

Today was a ‘rest day.’ We have these built-in to our programme to try to help us acclimatise. We walked up to Syanbocha which is 3800 meters at 60% oxygen. It was only 2 hours up but as soon as we started, everyone seemed to be finding it hard. It just seemed like 2hours of relentless climbing up. Think climbing the stairs for 2 hours! I’m definitely going to be super fit after this.

I was at the back again with our guide Dawa and a few others and fought my way up by taking really small steps. When we got to the top at Syanbocha it was so worth it. It was the first time we got to see Mt Everest. You know, I never thought I would be that in to climbing but today It was so amazing to see it. Not on the telly or in a book.  We stopped for a group photo, a cuppa and some wine gums before heading back to Namche.

Going down hill took only half the time and although it was really sandy and steep we all got back in one piece. When we

got back, there was a Canadian lady at the Tea House. She was on her way back to Lukla from Base Camp. She was the only one out of her group of 4 to make it. God I hope I make it. I will be absolutely devastated if I have come all this way and don’t. She said she just took her time and listened to her body. Oh, and she didn’t eat the rice nearer Base Camp because apparently it is a bit old. I have to remember that.

She scared us a bit so we had a game of Poker to take our minds off it. Now the rest really begun. We also took a trip to the Bazar to pick up some more water purification drops as the ones I bought from the UK don’t see to react like the

instructions say. They save a fortune on bottled mineral water not to mention the massive amount of plastic bottles.

And the best news of the day was that I had my first showers since we left Kathmandu. It feels fantastic to be clean again. Now I’m all ready to climb again tomorrow.

On My iPod – Kylie – Wow

To Namche Bazzar

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 7, 2010

Namche Bazzar

This is what happened when I went on a trek to Everest Base Camp.

11th May 2010 – Day 2

This morning we got up a little later at 6.30am and wasn’t in pain like I expected. Today we set off on a 6 hour trek to Namche Bazzar which is at 344meters above sea level and 9km away from Phakding.

In my head this didn’t sound far but as soon as we started walking it was clear today was going to be a tough day. We were going up hill lots and although I did start using walking poles today, I have never used walking poles before and started with them too long. This meant going uphill was so hard. Once someone pointed this out things were much easier. Still tough though and to be honest I couldn’t really keep up too well. I felt a lot of pressure to go quickly because we were walking as a group of 12 plus the guides and I felt like people stuck behind me wanted me to go quicker. This made it really hard to get into the rhythm of walking.  But our guide Dawa told me that I would find the hills much easier if I took things slowly. Things are much more difficult because of the reduced oxygen  levels and when we are going uphill it makes you feel really out of breath.

One of the other trekkers, Nick, who has a fair bit of trekking experience told me I would find things easier if I just stopped thinking. This was amazing advice. I just put my iPod on and kept on going slowly, only stopping to let Sherpa’s carrying massive loads of bags or wood or even Yaks carrying trekkers bags.  I really don’t know how the Sherpa’s do it. Some of them don’t even have proper walking shoes just trainers and are only paid around 1000RPS per day which is around £10. This is nothing in comparison to the work that they do carrying heaving loads strapped to their backs up the steep paths.

The paths have some amazing views. I really like when we go over the long bridges which cross the valley because there is an amazing breeze as you cross although it does get a little scary because they are so high.

Today was definitely a very difficult day. My heart was beating so fast at times that I struggled to catch my breath and by the time we reached Namche tonight I was about ready to fall down. I’m a little worried as this isn’t even the longest day of walking. Base Camp seems like such a long way away.  Namche Bazzar is full of trekkers. Lots of them are either on the way to Base Camp or on their way back.  This is the place en-route where you can hire things like sleeping bags and buy food supplies.

My Ipod is really keeping me going so I will put in the posts which song has really helped today.

On My iPod – Frank Turner – The Road


The First Day

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 6, 2010

Internet access was either limited or really expensive on the trek and to be honest I just wanted to concentrate on enjoying it so I kept a diary and will write up my all my entries.

10th May 2010- Day 1

We got up at 4am to get the bus to the airport. When the alarm went off it felt like I have only just shut my eyes. I had packed up all my kit in the holdall provided and taken it to the bus. All 12 of us sat there, me and my new virtual stranger friends with the exception of Jemma and Jenny. All I kept thinking is, I hope we all make it to Base Camp. It’s so far. Why am I doing this?

I was struggling massivley and running off adrenaline already because of staying up later than planned to pack my bags anxouis not to forget anything but not to take too much. I would have sorted things out earlier but was busy helping out another girl on the trip, Rosie who had arrived from India and forgotten the PIN number for her bank cards so had no money. In the end we talked a travel agent into selling her a cheap flight to Pokora and giving her the cash she needed if she paid on a credit card. It must have been quite scary to arrive in a country without any money.

When we arrived at the domestic airport the sun was already up and we carried our bags from the bus to the smallest check in area you have ever seen. After which we boarded the smallest plane I have ever been on to take us to Lukla. It was actually a very smooth flight and even had an air hostess who walked down the very small aisle to distribute sweets and cotton wool. It hardly seemed worth it for just the 12 of us plus our Head Trek Guide Dawa. It seemed really funny that even though I was at the back of the plane I could see all the way to the cockpit.

We landed on Lukla runway which is a site to be seen. It has only a 475meter runway that is sloping higher than the other and it is surrounded by mountains with a 700meter drop at the end. I was amazed we made it without any difficulty.

After we landed I had a breakfast of muesli and mint tea before we started walking. I soon realised why it was important to have good boots. The path was hard and rocky but we only trekked for 3hours to Phading which is at 2652 meters about sea level and has 73% oxygen.  We only walked 5k today so it felt really easy. I hope the rest of the trip is as easy as this but I think I can dream on!

The View

The view from the plane

I found a video online of a plane landing there a few years back. It hasn’t changed much so you can see what it is really like.

I’m off to climb Mount Everest

Posted in Claire Burgess, Dubai, Everest, Fun, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on May 3, 2010

This Thursday I’m off to Nepal to climb to Everest Base Camp so I though I would do some posts about everything I have been doing in preparation. This might help you out if you are planning a trip there as I was totally confused by all the information online. It also means you can come along with me for the ride and enjoy it all from the comfort of your own computer.

I decided to go to climb Everest with some close friends I used to live in Thailand with, Jemma and Jenny. When we were in Thailand in 2004 Jemma met a group of travelers who had been traveling for years to locations all over the globe. She asked them “Where is the best place you’ve been to?” They all agreed it was Everest Base Camp. And then in September Jemma got us together and asked if we wanted to go and see what all the fuss was about. Because I don’t like to back down from a challenge (and because I had drunk far too much Rose) I agreed! God knows why? I have absolutely no climbing experience and apart from the marathon I ran 2 years ago and the half marathon I did last year, I have never really been too into keeping fit.

Anyway, peer pressure aside, we signed up to STA’s Everest Adventure which you can find here

This is a 15 day trip which should mean that we aren’t going up too quickly. The trip accommodates around 12 people and because we booked early only cost us just over £500 not including flights. After a lot of research I found that one of the cheapest ways to fly to Katmandu was to go via Dubai. Luckey, I have friends there but even so you can get direct flights from London to Dubai for very reasonable prices if you book in advance or check Travel Supermarket then change onto a Dubai Budget Airline Fly Dubai for the Dubai-Kathmandu leg. This meant our flights came in at £450 return and we even get to stop in Dubai for a night out en-route. We are going to spend a few days in Kathmandu before we start to get over any jet lag and get ourselves acclimatised and a few days after to let our hair down and recover.

There are lots of different treks around but lots of people seem to recommend STA. I will let you know how I found it when I get back. Here’s the itinerary for the trek that we have been given by them:

Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu

Arrive in Kathmandu at any time.

Day 2-4 Pakding/ Namche Bazaar

Heading through pine and cedar woods along the Dudh Kosi to Pakding, encounter your first yak caravans carrying trekking equipment and supplies – including yours – towards base camp. Spend a day acclimatizing in Thame. Intricately carved mani stones mark the path to this large valley.

Day 5 Tengboche

Leaving Namche, the route is unbelievably beautiful. Hike through Sherpa villages and forests of fir and rhododendron to reach Tengboche Monastary, home to Tengboche Rinpoche, a Lama incarnate.

Day 6-7 Dingboche

Walk through alpine meadows of scrub juniper and wild flowers. From Dingboche, the mountain views are outstanding. Hike up the Imja Khola. The fluted ice walls flanking the Amphu Lapcha pass are one of the highlights of the trek.

Day 8-10 Lobuche/ Everest Base Camp

Climbing above the tree line, cross alpine pastures and glacial moraine to reach Everest Base Camp where colourful expedition tents give a bizarre appearance to this desolate place surrounded by walls of rock, snow and ice.

Day 11-13 Tengpoche/ Mongo/ Lukla

Descend the Imja Khola past Pangboche, the highest permanent settlement. Its gompa, the oldest in Khumbu, is built over the hermitage of Khumbu’s saint Lama Sanga Dorje.

Day 14 Kathmandu

You made it! Take a well-deserved rest and enjoy one last day with your fellow trekkers in this bustling city.

Day 15 Depart Kathmandu