Friday, February 4, 2011

Everest Base Camp (EBC) Trek: Camping Failure

I tried my very best. I tried harder than I have ever physically tried at anything in my life. But I failed.

I reached Everest, but not in the way I originally planned. My plan was to camp the entire way by myself, including spending one night in my tent actually at Everest Base Camp. I had everything I needed for the whole trip, including food and cooking equipment. All was well until day 6, when my back became sore because of the weight of my backpacks and the altitude began to slow down my pace and put me off schedule. At the next village I tried to hire a porter but no one would agree to the job because I was not staying in lodges or tea houses and therefore they would not get free accommodation along the way. So I tried my best to shed some weight and continued by myself, adjusting for my slower pace.

Failure came on the morning of day 8. The previous day I had set up my tent at just over 5,000 meters (16,400 ft), about a hour and a half before the last village before Base Camp. I stopped at this spot because the temperature was dropping quickly and it was beginning to snow. These factors matter greatly when you have to set up a tent and then still put together a stove to cook dinner. Like I said though, the next morning was the real tragedy here. I woke up covered in snow and ice. The wind had blown the snow up under the outer layer of my tent, where it melted, fell through the inside mesh-layer and then refreezed. Fortunately, my sleeping bag, which was made to withstand extremely low temperatures, kept me warm through the night. After removing as much snow as I could from my stuff, I began to pack up my bag in 10 second spurts, in between which I tried to warm my hands back up. Now came time to go outside the tent and begin taking it down...
But as soon as I removed myself and my bag, the tent was gone. The wind immediately took my tent down the valley, stakes and rocks in all. I caught up to the tent but could do nothing, the wind was too strong. I stood there for maybe two whole minutes trying to accept the fact that my tent was now destroyed and I had no other choice but to let go and let the wind carry it away. Just before I was about to let the tent go, four Sherpa men came into view from around the side of closest mountain. I signaled to them, and long story short, they put down the loads they were carrying and helped me take apart the tent and stuff it in my bag. I could not thank these men enough for their help. All was finally settled, and my bags lied there in the snow waiting for me to put them on, but now I could not feel my hands!

I eventually made it to the next closest village, where I checked in to a lodge and my hands were brought back to life through the magic of fire. For the rest of the trek to Base Camp, like 99% of the other people doing the trek at the time, I carried only a small backpack and stayed in tea houses and lodges.

The trek overall was still outstanding, and the negative experience I just shared with you does not compare to the many positive ones I will share with you soon.

Pictures and videos also soon to come. Back from the mountains,

J Bradley


  1. Failed?! How can you say you failed?! You made it to Everest Base Camp, your goal, in the harshest winter weather conditions and survived to tell the story! That sounds like success to me. Loved the video, Everest combined with your favorite... O'Fortuna

  2. Could never have done it myself. Success all the way! And I thought my hands were cold tonight in 17 degree temperatures....geez ;)

  3. I am so impressed and thankful that you survived at all. Wow what a success story. I've been check your blogs everyday since you left for Everest wondering when you would surface again! I'm glad you have already been to Egypt. You couldn't have gone now. Be careful, can't wait to hear from you again soon!