Hiking to the Base Camp of Mount Everest is a humbling experience – from the sheer grandeur of the Himalayas, to the strength and kindness of the locals. Here are 36 images that attempt to capture the beauty of this incredible part of the world. All the photos were taken by my amazing partner, José Luis Vílchez. This was originally posted on our travel site, here.
After beginning the hike from Lukla, the first peak that catches your breath is Kusum Kanguru (6369m/20889ft).
The rivers that run through the valleys of the Khumbu Region are crystal clean and a soft, milky blue.
A peaceful waterfall scene near the small village of Benkar, between Phakding and Monjo.
A porter carries trekking gear across one of the hanging bridges between Monjo and Namche Bazaar. The amount of weight these amazing men and women carry on their backs is astounding. Often toting between 60-100kg, we felt very weak struggling with our measly 16kg bags.
It’s difficult to describe or show in a photograph the height of the peaks throughout the Khumbu Region. Already at 3440m/11,286ft), peaks like this rise high, high above seeming to pierce the sky.
Every Saturday, the Namche Bazaar market takes place. People from across the region travel to buy and trade goods vital to this high mountain economy.
Ama Dablam (6170m/20,243ft) is a constant presence on the trek to EBC. Sometimes peaking around the side of another mountain, sometimes peaking through the clouds, and sometimes in full, magnificent view, she always seems to be there watching.
Namche Bazaar (3440m/11,286ft) is a welcome sight for both trekkers coming from above or below. A bustling hub of the Khumbu Region, Namche is where many trekkers rest for acclimatization. This photograph was taken from a helipad near town.
Stupas and prayer flags line the trails on the way to Everest Base Camp.
Far in the distance, you can see the town of Phortse (3800m/12467ft). Phortse may seem easily accessible from the shown trail leading out of Namche. But, in fact it is difficult to get to, requiring a hike down and then up a deep river valley.
A woman of 70 years shows the immense will and stamina of the people of the Khumbu Region. Here she is, carrying great amounts of weight in a simple basket, through terrain that is difficult for the young and fit. She is the face of strength.
Ama Dablam looks on as an incredibly strong woman of 70 years carries the days load of wood up the mountainside. Take note of the size of the basket (and the amount of wood it is holding), compared to the size of her body.
The town of Dingboche (4410m/14470ft), another common acclimatization stop for climbers. From here, it is only two more days of hiking to reach Base Camp.
Dingboche from above. Every afternoon, we witnessed a wall of clouds rolling in to blanket the valleys of this region.
The clouds rolling in accentuate the height of the surrounding peaks, seeming to emphasize that they are so high, even they are above the sky.
The last light of day and a sea of clouds on a peak high above Dingboche. The clouds seem to create an ocean wave, suspended in the moment.
Trains of yaks are a common sight along the trail to Everest Base Camp. Carrying everything from kerosene to rice, these hardy creatures are a key player in the transportation of goods between these high mountain communities.
Alpenglow across Nuptse (7861m/25791ft) is striking. When we arrived in Lobuche, tired and struggling to breathe), we were greeted by this sight.
View of Everest (in the center, darker grey) and Nuptse (on theright) from the peak of Kala Patthar (5643m/18514ft). Everest Base Camp is located near the curve of the Khumbu icefall, which you can see on the left side of the photograph.
A stunning panorama of Everest (center) and Nuptse (right) from Kala Patthar. From this angle, Nuptse looks taller than Everest, although she is actually 3240ft lower. In the lower left corner of the photo, you can see the Khumbu icefall, which climbers must treacherously traverse as they begin to tackle Everest.
The sea of clouds that settles in every afternoon never ceases to accentuate the fact that the peaks of the Himalayas reach high above the ‘sky’.
Alpenglow across Mt. Everest (center) and Nuptse (right), from Kala Patthar. Bitterly cold, it is worth braving the peak of Kala Patthar at sunset in order to capture this sight. You can see cloud, wind, and snow blowing off peak of Everest.
The clear night sky from Gorak Shep (5164m/16942ft). The black hill rising in the left of the photo is the beginning of Kala Patthar.
After a difficult journey, we finally reached our destination! Everest Base Camp (5380m/17600ft), the Khumbu icefall can be seen behind us.
Alpenglow across Nuptse as evening sets in in Lobuche (6145m/20161ft). Bitterly cold nights are made a little easier by the warm teahouse and tents scattered across the valley here.
A view of Nuptse and the cold night sky from Lobuche. The nights at these altitudes are very cold, but not cold enough to miss seeing how clear the night sky is from this high up.
Everest Base Camp and the town of Gokyo are on either sides of a mountain range and Nepal’s largest glacier. The trek requires 3-4, including one very long and difficult day across a mountain pass. The rest of the time is like this – high along the side of mountain, among the clouds.
The very portrait of a happy photographer among the clouds. Here is José, between Lobuche and Dzongla.
A yak pauses for a moment of rest after a long day of bearing goods through difficult terrain and extremely high altitudes.
A porter carries gear across the glacier at the top of Cho La Pass (5420m/17782ft). Without crampons or trekking poles, and carrying a much heavier load than most, he deftly crossed this slippery terrain.
The town of Gokyo (4750m/15580ft) from above. Near the center of the photo, you can see the trail leading up to the summit of Gokyo Ri (5483m/17989ft).
The town of Gokyo, as seen from halfway up Gokyo Ri. The sacred lakes of Gokyo are striking in their clarity and color.
Hikers move slowly up Gokyo Ri. The town of Gokyo, far below the clouds, sees a grey sky above. While the peaks above still enjoy a clear, blue day.
Alpenglow appears as fire across this amazing view of Mt. Everest and Nuptse.
A man prepares to load up a yak for the day’s journey. These amazing animals carry hundreds of pounds of goods through difficult terrain and high altitudes.
A final view of Phortse (3800m/12467ft) on the return to Namche Bazaar from Gokyo. Phortse seems to sit on a table tucked against the mountainside.