Phortse seemed relatively well-off on its favoured plateau with an impressive stupa. We watched a young boy learning the skills of yak herding before a magnificent 2-hour long balcony walk high above the Imja Khola. Before lunch in Pangboche we visited the oldest gompa in the Khumbu area. Light snow fell on the trek to Dingboche, cold and bleak under a leaden sky. Morning sun gave a very different picture as we set off along a broad plateau towards the enticing Upper Khumbu. Frozen rivers, high peaks, numerous yak trains, memorials to climbers who perished in the area ... and a tented base camp for a group climbing a lesser summit all heightened our sense of expectation, a little offset by the constant drone of helicopters ferrying seriously ill sufferers from altitude sickness. From bitterly cold Lobuche Sue battled an upset tummy for the final few hours of breathtaking scenery above the Khumbu Glacier to the comfort of the large lodge at Gorak Shep. Snow and wind could not stop us undertaking the 4-5 hour afternoon trek to Everest Base Camp where poor visibility did not diminish our sense of awe. Little did we know that 3 days later 16 sherpas would perish here in a disastrous fall of snow on the Khumbu Icefall.
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