Throughout November and December of 2019 I had been on one of my biggest adventures to date – trekking through the Himalayan mountains of Nepal! Along with Jonas Paurell from Terra Photography Expeditions, and 6 participants, we spent 20 days making our way through villages and bazaars staying in teahouses along the way. Our route would take us 20 days from Lukla to Gokyo and then over the Cho La Pass and finally reaching heights of 5364m at Everest base camp before a leisurely stroll back to Lukla via Ama Dablam basecamp. My goal was to enjoy the trek, make new friends whilst photographing and filming the whole adventure.
Arriving in the capital of Kathmandu was a total culture shock! No rules or regulations, just pure mayhem. It was both exhilarating and scary and like nothing I had experienced before.
We spent 3 days here exploring and getting ourselves prepped for what would be one of the most unique treks in all the world.
Setting off for our hike, we were thrown in at the deep end right away, having to experience the plane ride to Lukla, given the grand title of the world’s most dangerous airport! With a runaway of just under 530m long and based 2845m up in the mountains, both take off and departures here really set you on the edge of your seat. With an incline of 12degrees, this serves as a way of slowing down the plane rapidly when landing, along with giving some extra much needed speed to the planes departing right over the cliff edge!
Upon arrival in Lukla we began our trek, heading to the town of Phadking, and experiencing our first night at altitude. Over the coming weeks we made our way through the Sagarmatha National Park, making numerous stops for both photography, and altitude acclimation, including Namche Bazaar, Machhermo, and Gokyo.
At approximately 4800m Gokyo was a stumbling block for me. With everyone feeling exhausted and very cold up at altitude it was hard to distinguish exactly when I started to feel ill. The best way to describe my altitude sickness is like having flu, only you can’t catch your breath and your bedroom is -10ºc. Luckily there happened to be a doctor staying at the same teahouse as us and she immediately diagnosed me with acute mountain sickness (AMS). It was advised that I do not continue on the trek and in order to prevent my sickness developing into a more severe and dangerous form I needed to drop back down to a lower altitude. I resigned myself to the fact I wasn’t going to make Everest base camp.
The next morning, as the rest of the group continued and made the final leg onto Everest base camp, I begrudgingly but sensibly travelled back on myself. Along with my porter, we both spent the next 3 days at lower altitude, he is taking a well-deserved break, and myself slowly gaining my strength and enjoying the extra oxygen.
Once I descended 1000 meters, I immediately started to feel better and I continued on my journey and met up with the rest of the group in Pheriche. On my way, I was treated to some spectacular light on Lhotse and Mount Everest and made one of my favourite images from the trip.
Once I was reunited with my group we had one final adventure together; a push up to Ama Dablam basecamp at 4600 meters.
Ama Dablam is one of the most attractive mountains along the Everest Basecamp Trek and is visible for most of the journey. In my final instalment we attempt to hike up to the basecamp, however it was not as straightforward as we hoped. The difficult terrain and poor navigation meant that we ended up chasing the light, which is never a good situation to be in as a photographer.
This trip was the most challenging I have ever been on. Our accommodation was basic with no heating, no running water and little in the way of amenities. The air was thin and the temperatures were cold, but we were greeted with nothing but warmth and friendliness from the locals. It was a real feeling that you were journeying out of civilisation and reaching heights of the world that not many people ever manage. Although many would think this sort of trip sounds miserable, when amongst friends and photography, it soon makes you realise life is what you make it. We had wonderful views, a few good beers, and made memories of a lifetime.