The Lost Earth Adventures Blog

Everest Base Camp trek raises thousands for charity

Posted on: October 21st, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Trekking to Everest Base Camp raises £43,000 for EY Foundation

Charity challenge to climb Everest Base Camp
Our seasoned adventurer, Nev Shortt, gives us the inside track on leading the trek to Everest Base Camp with the EY Foundation, a charity which helps young people. He tells us what the trek entails, the high points and the low, the challenges and what it feels like to do something extraordinary while helping an extraordinary cause.

Charity challenge group raise money on Everest trek

I’m not going to tell you everything. To be honest, I can’t tell you everything.

This is not so much because of some kind of ‘what happens on tour stays on tour’ code, but simply to cover everything that happens on one of these three-week trips would require a book, not a blog.

So I’m going to stick to what the highlights were for me.

In case even that might be too wordy to distract you from your day, here’s the bottom line: the EY Foundation recruited Lost Earth Adventures to arrange and run a trip to Everest Base Camp (and back!). In the process of completing it they raised over £43,000. I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

Hippie hangout

Everest Base Camp views with EY Foundation

Where to start? Kathmandu, of course!

While once as far off the beaten track as Timbuktu, generations of mountaineers, hippies and fellow travellers have beaten a new track that leads right to the gates of our accommodation; Kathmandu Guest House.

Underwhelming though the name might be, it offers unparalleled service and a guest book of the climbing greats.

It’s directly beside Thamel, the best place to turn dollars into rupees and rupees into treasure… or tat.

While the bustle of Thamel never really slows, its commerce seems to undergo a series of reincarnations. It currently thrives on Chinese-made imitations of top-of-the-range trekking goods. This is particularly useful if you still need kit in-country or for when you return home.

Of course, there’s no end of ethnic clobber, trinkets and statuary. My particular weakness is for the bookshops. You can find the usual international bestsellers, but keep digging and you could unearth an obscure, dog-eared tome left behind by the original hippies generations ago.

The second layer

EY Foundation with Nepali guides
Even Forrest Gump would agree that Nepal is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.

We almost thought we’d have to jump-start our trek with a flight into Lukla (more about the return flight later!). But the vagaries of Nepali officialdom meant that part of the itinerary had to be rewritten shortly before our arrival.

This is when having the support of a truly experienced company like Lost Earth Adventures makes all the difference. Things don’t always go to plan, but our decision that followed was like a whole second layer of chocolates to tuck in to.

The day-and-a-half road transport reveals the scale and complexity of this great country, showing us parts of Nepal not usually seen by Westerners.

More importantly, it means we start our trek not with the throngs at the ‘front door’ at Lukla, but more discreetly via the ‘service entrance’ at Kharikhola.
There we find ourselves happily outnumbered by Nepalis. The Nepalis find themselves happily outnumbered by mules.

Another world

Mules on Everest Base Camp

From here on in the only engines are on aircraft, the only sound of traffic the tinkling bells of mule trains.

These beasts lumber through a dozen at a time. Human porters carry impressive loads, but we are down to day-bags from here on.

The rest of our belongings are packed into holdalls and strapped in balanced pairs across muleback.

And so we walk on. Slowly but surely, we meander into another world.

The immediate relief is that after days of hectic and international travel, the real journey begins. Thousands of miles have been covered while essentially idle. Now we’re on the move, unrestrained.

Everest charity challenge group
We take off the burden of technology and shallow priorities. Instead, we have a simple and honest mantra: look after your wellbeing, look after each step.

Of course, not even the Himalayas have avoided 21st century tech entirely. There are plenty of places where you can get a mobile signal. There’s decent coffee, WiFi and a couple of Irish Bars on this route. Western toilets are now the rule, not the exception. Yet there’s still a choice on offer that allows you to switch your phone off and immerse yourself in one of the most iconic journeys on the planet.

The town of Namche Bazaar

Namche Bazaar

We run into other trekkers on the second day who’ve just flown into Lukla.

By this time, we consider them amateurish interlopers, mere mortals. Another day brings us to Namche Bazaar.

This place might be the most attractive town in Asia.

Set in an amphitheatre that looks out on stupendous views, its serried ranks of granite buildings are layered back on each side of the slope, giving you the impression of being able to see everything that is going on without even turning your head.

The town is the meeting place of different trading routes and when the Bazaar itself is in session, sixteenth-century-looking traders appear. Their pack animals, indeed all the pack animals above here, are ‘dzo’. Aside from being a very useful Scrabble word, that’s the term for a yak/cattle hybrid that is uniquely suited to the altitude and lack of fodder. Wild enough to survive but tame enough to carry a load, these are impressive beasts.

We, however, are not as uniquely suited to the altitude. A two-night stay at Namche with the option of a day hike offers an acclimatisation boost and a first view of the highest peaks including Everest herself.

Like an Arctic tundra

Everest Base Camp views
Safe acclimatisation is the cornerstone of our uphill journey over the following six days.

Though the air thins, the evenings provide recovery time and another rest day certainly bolsters our spirits.

As we ascend, the landscape dries and thins too. Sometimes, even turning a corner presents a completely different fauna and colour scheme. Kathmandu required air conditioning, but after a week it seems like we are walking through Arctic tundra while mesmerised by the tallest mountains on the planet.

In amongst these days is, I think, the sweet spot of this trip. It’s when you become used to the routine and the trekking but the destination is not quite a reality yet. You become easily convinced to fill your days with a cycle of deep sleep, bracing exercise, chai and dahl baht.

But, increasingly, the destination did loom ever larger in front of us.

Gearing up for summit day

Summit day for EY foundation

Another of Lost Earth Adventure’s cunning ploys is to have your last night’s sleep at Lobuche. It means you have one hell of a challenging day ahead—up to Everest Base Camp and/or Kala Patthar and back down to Lobuche—but it makes total sense. Restful sleep higher up is unlikely. And at this stage, our group is more than fit enough for the challenge.

Summit day starts long before dawn. The group divides up according to destination and guide. While Everest Base Camp is on offer (everyone has heard of it, but you don’t get the greatest views), Kala Patthar is a huge temptation. It’s a deserted and beautifully-isolated summit but without the same bragging rights. The EY team choose whether to attempt one, the other or both.

Make no mistake, summit day is an attempt. There’s an almost random element to which even the most-acclimatised can be hampered by altitude sickness. As you continue in the pre-dawn chill, you ask yourself; are you drinking enough? Eating enough? Do you have the right amount of clothes on? These are small decisions, but each one is made to minimise the body’s inevitable stress.

Everest Base Camp charity challenge
Just as inevitable, the sun rises and the landscape regains some colour. Each step from here is a crucial step towards your own spiritual and physical highpoint. Made it!

The way down to Lukla

It’s funny how thoroughly you can lose faith in such a thing as physics while strapped into a twin-engine aircraft at the top of an airstrip that falls away in front of you so severely that most of it is lost from sight.

The pilot’s got the handbrake on while he brings the engines screaming up to full revs. At some point, the chocs come away and we are pulled forwards off the flat and onto this ridiculously-angled runway.

We barrel down it. It feels like a funfair ride. It seems to use every foot of the tarmac until eventually, the mountain falls away below us and we find ourselves not falling at all but flying.

It’s the beginning of our journey home. We’ve created new memories, visions of mountains that we can never unsee, and we’ve helped a truly great charity in the EY Foundation. The group raised more than £43,000. I’m not sure what feels better; reaching the summit or helping a great cause do the same. I’ll go with the latter.

Like no other trek, this is one that ended on a high.

Read more about how the EY Foundation helps the lives of young people here.

Do you run a charity?

Take a look at our charity challenges. Do something different and get involved!

Neville Shortt works for Lost Earth Adventures and is an experienced trekker of Nepal.

Try Night Gorge Walking this Halloween

Posted on: October 7th, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Wondering what to do this Halloween?

Family Night Gorge WalkingSure, pumpkin carving and eating your weight in sweets is one way to spend your Halloween, but nothing gets your heartbeat racing like gorge walking at night.

Join us for our special event this Halloween, October 31st.

Scramble an ancient limestone gorge, clamber cascading waterfalls and take on enthralling rapids with only the light from your head torch to guide you. It’s a spooktacular experience! Think you’re brave enough?

What is gorge walking?

Halloween group enjoy night time gorge walking
Gorge walking with Lost Earth Adventures is a scramble upriver through an ancient gorge. There are steep climbs to conquer, cool, naturally-formed rocks to slide down, pools to swim in and a huge jump. If you’re in a family group or group with your friends, this is serious fun. The activity also lends itself to larger groups including schools trips.

Why do it in the dark?

Gorge walking can be a daunting prospect in itself. But our team at Lost Earth Adventures are always searching for ways to maximise fun. With Halloween just around the corner, it made total sense to try gorge walking at nighttime. We can start when it’s already dark or as it’s getting dark. Either way, there’s something quite magical about relying on the light from your head torch and your group’s head torches as you scramble this amazing gorge.

With limited sight, your other senses are enhanced. We’re not talking superhero stuff here, but the water suddenly feels closer, faster. The wildlife sounds like it encircles you. And the smell from the limestone, formed from millions of years. Does something lurk in the water? Is there a figure in the waterfall? Will you hold your nerve?

This is all of your senses working together to guide you through, and as it does, it makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

So, where is it and what’s included?

Halloween party enjoy night gorge walking
The action takes place in the heart of Yorkshire at Nidderdale near Pateley Bridge. You can get here from Harrogate, Leeds and York within an hour.

We provide all the equipment you’ll need for this one. That’s your safety helmet, head torch and wetsuit. All you’ll need to bring is an old pair of boots and a fair bit of courage, especially if you’re frightened of monsters!

Get involved!

Find out about how you can take part in night gorge walking here, call 01904 500 094 or email info@lostearthadventures.co.uk.

Can’t make the 31st? No problem! You can try Night Gorge Walking throughout the autumn and winter months. We usually start around 17:30 until 20:30.

Trekking through Ghorepani and Poon Hill

Posted on: June 5th, 2019 by Lost Earth Adventures

Nepal: More than just Mountains

Fishtail Mountain LandscapeBy the time I arrived, Kathmandu was in full swing. A symphony of car horns greeted us as we pulled out of the airport and into the chaos that is Kathmandu. Raj, our guide for the upcoming trek, sits in the front seat, pointing out famous landmarks as we zoom through the traffic, dodging fearless pedestrians and suicidal moped drivers. Eventually we pulled out of the chaos of beeps and honks and turned into a quiet side street rolling up to the entrance of Kathmandu Guest House.

Moped Kathmandu Streets

In direct contrast to the busy streets that surround it, Kathmandu Guest House is a quiet sanctuary in the middle of the city’s busy tourist district. Walking through the gates you find yourself in a quiet garden courtyard following in the footsteps of famous mountaineers and movie stars alike who have all favoured Kathmandu Guesthouse as their chosen place of residence while in Nepal.

After checking in, I’m guided back through the courtyard and across to the old wing of the guesthouse. On the way I notice the walk of fame leading up to the old wing. Names of politicians, climbers, explorers and celebrities remind you of the lively history that the Guesthouse has seen.

Jeep Luggage

After freshening up, I leave the peace and quiet of Kathmandu Guest House behind and head out into the busy streets of Thamel to explore. Thamel is Kathmandu’s main tourist district. It’s hectic streets full of locals going about their day-to-day business and trekkers looking for souvenirs or picking up last minute gear before setting off on the trails. Signs that look like they’ve endured the test of time line the streets advertising outdoor pursuits and various wares for sale. Dodging rogue mopeds and impatient rickshaws I potter through the streets getting lost and discovering magic at every turn with dynamic characters smiling and saying hello amongst the chaos and pockets of quiet surrounding understated shrines and temple entrances.

During a traditional nepali meal with my fellow travellers, Raj teaches us all about the wide variety of cultures in Nepal as well as the country’s history, and then we all opt for an early night so we’re ready for the road ahead tomorrow.

The Road to Pokhara

Pokhara Road MountainsThe next morning, we load up our bags and hop in the minibus to head off to Pokhara and ever closer to the trails.

The road to Pokhara is long and winding and we spend most of it passing a never-ending stream of colourful trucks and buses adorned with everything from pictures of Hindu deities, to Manchester United FC Logos. Slogans such as ‘Road King’ and ‘Speed Demon’ written across the front bumper. After a stop for lunch at a popular all you can eat buffet, we’re back on the road and moving much faster now that the traffic seems to have thinned out. A few hours later we arrive in Pokhara, just as the weather is starting to clear, giving an atmospheric misty view over Lake Phewa as solitary fishermen began to make the most of the break in tourist boats on the lake.

Nepal Lake Phewa Mountainscape

After a relaxing night by the lakeside, we set off from Pokhara to the trail head and embarked on our first few days of trekking. Passing through thick Rhododendron forests, quiet villages, terraced hillsides and over surprisingly sturdy suspension bridges as the sun shone overhead. Much of the trail takes you up staircases cut into the sides of the mountains meaning you gain height quickly, leaving the forest behind and giving incredible views stretching for miles back down the valley. Our first two days were spent in the warmer lower terrains but as we climbed higher up to Ghorepani, we started to walk through a mist of cloud. The trail ahead was obscured from view as we ventured on, feeling very much like we were in an Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider movie.

The Trail Ahead

The Trail AheadWe breathed in relief as we reached a sign welcoming us to Ghorepani and marking a reprieve for our calves from the steep staircases.

Raj had paused and grinned at us as we caught up with him. When asked whereabouts we were staying he cheerfully informed us that this was lower Ghorepani and that we were staying in Upper Ghorepani as he quickly made his way up the path. So onwards and upwards we pushed, on to the blue roofs just visible though the clouds, a Shangri-La in the distance, and our beds for the night.

Teahouse on Route

When we reached Ghorepani we were greeted by the porters who had long beat us to it and given hot tea and a dinner of Dal Bhat to warm us up. Dal Bhat is the delicious local dish of steamed rice and lentil soup. It is credited for being the magic behind how the guides and porters manage to take on the steep hillsides in record time day in and day out. ‘Dal Bhat Power, 24 hour’ Aneil informs us with a knowing grin on his face as he brings our food over.

From Ghorepani the trail rises steeply and we stop to catch our breath at a monument at Thapla, at 3165m high and with cloud starting to clear, we get our first sighting of Annapurna South up close and personal.

The views of Annapurna South and Macchapuchare, the holy mountain, are exactly the picture-perfect image that your mind conjures up when you think of trekking in the Himalayas. The snowy giants would be in the background from here until we hit the lower trails in a few days and as much as I enjoyed seeing all the different terrains through the Poon Hill route, the mountains made me catch my breath every time I’d spot them in the distance.

Welcome to Annapurnas

Welcome to AnnapurnasWe reached Tadopani mid afternoon. With cloud obscuring the view and a few hours before dinner I decide to take a quick nap.

An hour or so later I’m awoken by a loud, constant clattering on the roof and as I come to my senses I realise it’s hailstones. I sniff, a weird smokey smell filling the room. Groggily I walk over and peek out the door to see hailstones the size of malteasers bouncing off the terrace in front of me. I stand for a minute or two, just glimpsing sight of the far off peaks through the cloud as lightning flashes and thunder peels around me. Suddenly three guys rush past me, leaving the safety of the covered walkway and into the thick of the storm, the first carrying a chair followed closely by a man with a long wooden pole dragging behind him and a second or two later one rather brave man in a tshirt and shorts runs out with an umbrella. I watch as they run over to the tank on the roof with a now smoking pipe beside it. The man with the pole hops onto the chair and starts fishing down the pipe with the long wooden stick. Hailstones crash down around them and after a few minutes a large bellow of smoke wafts out of the pipe. Success! The three men cheer, pick up their chair and run back down to the teahouse common room.

Raj and Aneil

Shortly after, I follow suit down to the main room to find weary trekkers and tired travellers making the most of the heat. As soon as I open the door I’m hit by a suffocating wall of smoke, my eyes watering as I grab a seat near the fire. The owner of the teahouse is poking the fire periodically with a concentrated frown on his face, trying to figure out what’s gone wrong. With more smoke escaping the metal burner and the occasional orange glow from a lick of flames he eventually concedes and throws open the front door as hailstones continue to bounce off the ground. Gradually, one by one everyone starts offering their own take on how to stop the fire smoking, none of which actually appear to have much success.

The three fearless warriors grab their gear and head back up once again to tackle the problem from the roof. Eventually someone opens another door and the teahouse owner starts lobbing still lit logs out into the cold in an attempt to calm the fire while the teahouse’s resident cat watches on with a look of disinterested boredom. Eventually the fire dulls and comes back under control, just in time for the owner to add a few more logs and start the whole humorous saga all over again.

Over tea and biscuits we trade stories with our fellow trekkers and gather words of wisdom from the more hardened climbers among us. After a hearty dinner, the storm clears and we head upstairs for the night to spot the sun setting behind Annapurna South and Macchapuchere. In awe of the almighty peaks towering around us, I head to bed, my head full of travel stories from across the Himalayas and magical views.

A View of Annapurna South

Annapurna South From TadopaniSunrise gave way to more stunning views over the pair of mountains cheering us on and from Tadopani we dropped down the hillside into thick jungle as the sun came up.

With temperatures rising, we made our way down the sun dappled paths with an accompaniment of bird song and stopping periodically to look at the Grey Langurs crashing through the trees. The downhill lured us into a false sense of security and we were quickly learning that in Nepal, what goes down, must go back up as we began climbing again before dropping down into Jhinu Dhanda.

We arrived just in time as a tropical storm began to pick up and we watched from our teahouse as the lightening passed over us and down the valley. As the rains stopped we gathered together for our last night in the teahouses with a pack of cards to keep us entertained. With everyone in high spirits after dinner, Raj and a few other guides began sharing their best card tricks, delighting trekkers and porters alike before retiring for our last night in the mountains.

When you imagine Nepal, you think of massive mountains, snow and mountaineers but Poon Hill and Ghorepani take you on a tour through a multitude of terrains and different cultures. If you’re looking to see just how diverse Nepal is, Poon Hill is a must as it lets you take in just as much of the famous mountains as it does the colourful Rhododendron forest and dense monkey filled jungle. It lets you see just how much more there is to incredible Nepal than just the mountains that it’s become famous for.

Interested in experiencing the diversity of Nepal for yourself? Book the Ghorepani and Poon Hill Trek, Nepal here.

Tadopani Macchapuchare

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