From Dingboche we hiked to Lobuche, where we spent a night before heading to Gorek Shep the following day. A haphazard gathering of guesthouses, Gorek Shep is the northernmost village in the Khumbu Valley. Its existence is almost exclusively to serve as the final outpost for trekkers who have come to see Everest. Following suit with many of the other folks in town we made a day trip to Everest Base Camp the same day we arrived. After walking for days and days, all the way from Jiri, we found ourselves suddenly stopped by a huge wall of impassable mountains forming the Tibetan border. Here at this dead end was a pile of rocks coloured with prayer flags and a big “Everest Base Camp” banner. During a normal year the rocky terrain we stood in would be packed with tents and hopeful climbers, waiting for the perfect atmospheric conditions in which to tackle Everest. During our visit there was no such spectacle as earlier in the year 16 Sherpas had been killed in an avalanche in the nearby Khumbu ice fall. The devastating loss of life lead to a cessation of summit attempts for the remainder of the year, as the Sherpa people mourned their fallen friends and family members.
We had the area to ourselves and it was absolutely stunning! Although only a sliver of Everest is visible from EBC the surrounding sun drenched peaks, bisected at their summits by the Tibetan border, formed a snow and glacier covered basin reaching to impossible heights. From our vantage point we could see much of the Khumbu ice fall and hear it cracking intermittently as the large towers of ice called seracs moved at an undetectably slow pace down the valley. The ice fall forms a small but dramatic part of the massive Khumbu Glacier which to our left wound its way up the valley toward Everest, and to our right stretched southward down the valley into the distance. We had paralleled its lateral moraine since before Lobuche. The glistening seracs around Base Camp formed huge shiny white peaks of ice which to Emily looked just like meringue on a giant pie, but maybe that was just a symptom of our monotonous noodle diet.