If we’re out camping in the wilderness and going without washing for weeks at a time then we’re rugged enough to wake up and get started a little bit early for our hike to the top of Kala Patthar. Our guide Pema knows well enough that a whole trek could be ruined by delaying the start just a few hours on the day of the final ascent. Although you could say that the journey is the destination, most of Pema’s clients hired him to actually get to the top of a mountain and get pictures of themselves as proof of the efforts. Add to that the costs of travel and taking time off from their jobs, and the price puts pressure on reaching the objective. The M.O. of the weather patterns up in the Himalayas is to offer clear skies in the early morning through noon, then in the after noon the tufts of condensed water vapor begin to rise up out of the valleys and they bunch up against the slopes.
Sometimes by as early as 2 or 3 p.m. the visibility range slips down to zero. Actually, while our group was hiking above Khumjung one morning we lost our view of the landscape by noon. So we agreed to stick to Pema schedule where we were going to scrape some ice off of our tents so we could get out, then we’d have a little breakfast and tea and depart by 6 or 6:30 a.m. This is still a cushy schedule considering the way things work above Everest base camp, where the trail breaking crews get started by 2 or 3 a.m., and we had gone to bed by about 6 p.m. the previous night. I don’t remember the reason, but we ended up delaying our departure quite a bit, and we were anxious to get started. Of course we wanted to make sure we got a clear view from Kala Patthar, but it was also painfully cold just sitting there in the darkness waiting to go.
We got rolling just before the sunlight tipped over the mountain tops, and it was invigorating to get moving finally. Along the trail we found we were sharing the route with some other very large trekking groups. At one point I found I was just behind a group of at least 50 all together, all extensively geared up. I caught up with them as they were all stopping to adjust their gear and to drink water. The sun had just come out and it was suddenly much warmer. I stopped to watch them for a while, I studied how they handled the logistics of keeping such a large group together, and it must have been tough a struggle.
How do you keep everyone from such a large group together, considering slowest and faster hikers, and if you’re slow or thirsty or you need to relieve yourself for a moment, it’s hard to find a chance to stop. In my experience the complexity and the time factors for getting anything done will increase exponentially as you add group members. 10 or 12 members in our group was sometimes a bit of work, but 50 plus to guide would be a continual management frenzy.base camp camping clouds cold wear extreme cold weather hiking landscape main trail Mt. Everest Trekking in Nepal