Those on the group flight will be transferred to our central hotel. Those not flying with the group from London will join us at the hotel.
This morning there will be a full briefing and equipment check. Anybody who needs to buy or rent equipment will have time today, and your leader will help you with this. Those who have all the equipment will have time to explore Kathmandu. Chinese visas and the climbing permit allowing entry into Tibet will hopefully be issued today
We leave Kathmandu this morning for the drive to the Tibetan border town of Zhangmu. The road takes us north of Kathmandu on the Arniko Highway past Bhaktapur, and then follows the Bhote Kosi (river) to Tatopani. Here we complete the border formalities and cross the Friendship Bridge into Tibet. We spend our first night at Zhangmu.
Day 4 - 5
Leaving Zhangmu the road starts to wind up onto the Tibetan Plateau and we leave the green terraced hillsides behind us as we gain altitude. We spend two nights at Nyalam (3,700m) to allow for acclimatisation. On both days we will go out for acclimatisation walks. One day we head towards Shishapangma South Base Camp from where we get great views of the Jugal Himal. We will walk up to approximately 4,500m. It is important in these early stages not to push yourself too much and to turn back if you are feeling the altitude.
Day 6 - 7
Our drive today takes us up and over the Himalaya. The road climbs steadily for a couple of hours to the Tong La (5,100m) from where, on a clear day, we have superb views looking back over a whole host of snow capped peaks. Shishapangma can be seen off to the west. We are now well and truly on the Tibetan Plateau, a wild desolate landscape that has its own beauty. As we continue along the Friendship Highway a fantastic panorama of peaks, including Cho Oyu and Everest comes into view. We spend two nights at Tingri (4,300m) for acclimatisation. On our acclimatisation day we will hike up to a hilltop monastery and visit the town.
Today we leave the Friendship Highway and head south on a rough road, which was constructed in 1960 for one of the Chinese Everest expeditions. Just after leaving the main road we cross the Pang La, or Guo La as it is called by the Tibetans (5,150m), with some of the most stunning views yet of the mountains including Everest, Makalu, Lhotse, Cho Oyu and Gyachung Kang. We now drop down to Tashi Dzom and follow the river into the Rongbuk Valley. Everest is lost from sight for a while but just before we reach Rongbuk it comes into view again, more impressive than ever. Rongbuk is the highest monastery in the world, and the site of the original base camp for the first British expeditions on Everest. From Rongbuk we start our trek; today is an easy 11km walk to the present day Everest Base Camp (5,200m), the views en route are amazing with the North Face of Everest so close you feel like you can touch it! We may spot herds of blue sheep along the roadside. Just past the army camp is Base Camp and our home for the next three nights.
Day 9 - 10
These days are spent at Base Camp to allow our bodies to get used to the altitude and environment. It's important not to over exert yourself here and rest and drink plenty. We will walk down to Rongbuk and practice rope work and ice axe and crampon skills.
A short three hour walk to Camp 1 (or Japanese camp). The walk starts fairly easily crossing the stony flood plain of the Rongbuk Glacier and then it winds easily along between the side of the valley and the glacier. After a couple of hours we leave the main valley and climb steeply up to camp.
We now follow the East Rongbuk Glacier, called the Magic Highway. As the trek up the valley we see the fantastic ice pinnacles of the glacier which was discovered in 1922 and provided the key to climbing Everest from the north. We follow a river of moraine that flows through the pinnacles. Although the gradient is not steep the altitude makes the going hard. We suddenly see Everest again and the whole of the magnificent North Ridge comes into view. It looks huge from where we are. We camp just below where the trail steepens. Approximately six hours walking.
A shorter but hard day due to the altitude. The trail today starts along the edge of the East Rongbuk Glacier and then we get onto the glacier for a while before walking back onto the vast moraines. As we approach ABC the immense North Face of Everest towers above us and stays with us all the time (weather permitting) at Advanced Base Camp (ABC).
Day 14 - 15
These two days are for more important rest and acclimatisation. We will be sleeping at 6,400m and need to acclimatise to this height. It is quite normal to feel the initial symptoms of altitude sickness, though these should pass after a couple of nights here. We will get up late and drink and eat as much as we can force down and once we are comfortable with the altitude we can trek to the Raphu La (6,500m), at the foot of the north-east ridge of Mount Everest it has amazing views of the Kangshung Face of Everest, Makalu and Pethangste.
As part of our acclimatisation we will make an initial climb towards the North Col. The moraine continues up the side of the glacier, close to the flank of Changtse before breaking out onto the glacier. There are a few crevasses and the going is easy until we reach the foot of the slopes leading to the col. We will not go too far today as this is part of our acclimatisation.
A final rest and preparation day. We pack all our gear for tomorrow and make sure we rest, drink and eat as much as we can.
A long, hard day today as we leave early under supervision of the leader and our climbing sherpas. We trek for a short while to the edge of the glacier where we put our crampons on. From here we continue for an hour or so to the base of the fixed rope (at about 6,600m). The route is fixed in late March each year by the teams attempting Everest and provides security and assistance as we weave up between the ice seracs. Most of the route is 30-40 degrees steep with some steeper sections and there is one part that is almost vertical. There may be some crevasses spanned by ladders. It will be hard work as we inch our way up the fixed ropes with a jumar. However the effort will be worth it and once at the North Col we will be rewarded on a clear day with incredible views across the North Face of Everest, up the north ridge to the summit and westwards towards Nuptse, Lhotse, Pumori and Cho Oyu. We walk along to the fixed North Col campsite for photos a rest and a warm drink before descending carefully to ABC. Today will be at least a 10 -12 hour round trip
A spare day in case of bad weather or we need more time to acclimatise. Group members will acclimatise at different speeds and it is important to allow contingency days to allow all clients maximum chance of achieving their goal.
Day 20 - 21
We have two days to return to Base Camp for a well deserved celebration.
We drive back to the Friendship Highway again. Turning west and then south we re cross the Himalaya. As Everest recedes from view we have a splendid panorama of Shishapangma, the only 8,000m peak entirely in Tibet, the views are spectacular - to the north is a vast open landscape with range upon range of mountains beyond, while ahead of us to the south there is an amazing panorama of snow-capped peaks of the main Himalaya chain. A steady climb brings us to the summit of the Lalung La (5,000m) and then the Tong La (5,100m) as we leave Tibet - from the pass the road drops into a gorge between snow-capped peaks. A long and sometimes steep descent brings us down to Nyalam. If there is time we continue on down the gorge, which narrows considerably - the road is a tremendous feat of engineering - and in less than an hour we leave the stark scenery and pass into an altogether different world, descending dramatically into a forested gorge until we arrive at Zhangmu and our final night in Tibet at a simple Tibetan owned guest house with very welcome hot showers!
We drive or walk down to the Friendship Bridge. This depends on the amount of traffic and road conditions. Usually we can drive most of the way and just have a short walk along the road. After completing the Chinese border formalities we cross the Friendship Bridge and we are back in Nepal. As soon as the Nepalese border formalities are complete, we board our bus. The road follows the Bhote Kosi Valley down to its junction with the Sun Kosi at Barabise. We continue down the Sun Kosi past rice terraces, small villages and scrub woodland to Dolalghat where we leave the river and complete our journey to Kathmandu, stopping for lunch en route. We should arrive in Kathmandu late afternoon.
A last free day in Kathmandu for sightseeing, shopping and hot showers.
For those on group flights, these depart early morning and will arrive in the UK the same day. For those not flying on the group flight back to London they will leave us after breakfast.