18 November 2010

Trekking back down the Khumbu Region

We had a couple of nights in Gokyo, and on the first morning, we were up at 5:30am to hike up to the fourth and fifth lakes (the village is on the shores of the third one).  The weather was still in a state of permanent cloud cover, but we set off optimistically.  The view of Everest from the fifth lake is one of the best in the region.  We don’t have any photos of it though, as it threatened to show through many times, with windows of blue sky opening up every 10-15 minutes, but snapping shut again as soon as Everest was about to be revealed.

Whatever the weather system is around the summit at 8848m, it was hogging the haze that day.  Our guide politely informed us that it was the first time he’d never seen the peak from this point, and after 90 minutes we wandered back down.  20 minutes down the road, from a different angle, the peak (and only the peak) was briefly visible.  It was a bit of a let down.

We arrived back at the lodge tired (Audrey's boots were falling apart  and needed some emergency treatment with superglue), and resolved to be up early again the next day for our assault on Gokyo Ri, a peak of 5357m (about 600m above our current location).  This was the reason we were here, and this is the view that we had been told about.  Fortune (and the sun) shined on us.  The day welcomed us with clear blue skies, and we moved out early.  Rune set a ferocious pace ahead of us, and reached the top in well under two ours.  It took us just over two, but it was hard going.  We had to hand our backpack off to Raj, our guide, as breathing and walking was so difficult.

Getting to the top was a relief, and the view was worth it:

After getting our breath back, we took it all in for an hour and a half, before starting our descent. It was sore on the knees.  Back at the lodge, we had breakfast, and then set off on our descent proper in the early afternoon (leaving poor old Rune all alone).  It was nightfall before we reached our destination, Dole, and hiking without vision is not a good idea.

It was the toughest days hiking we’ve ever done (and are ever likely too).  Started before 6am, finished after 6pm.  Went from 4850m (Gokyo) up to 5350m (Gokyo Ri), then finished down to 4100m (Dole).  My knees did not enjoy that.  Luckily Audrey's boots where holding up at the repair job (anyone need a cobbler?).

During the last couple of days, as we were on the descent, Raj introduced us to a few of the local alcoholic drinks.  We hadn't been drinking anything on the way up, as alcohol and altitude don't mix so well, and you have to give your body the best chance of avoiding altitude sickness.  We had a few headaches from time-to-time, but nothing serious.  The first drink we tried was tongba, which was fermented millet seeds in a jug, that you poured hot water into. The hot water slowly released the alcohol from the seeds, and you could refill about 6 times.  The strength of the drink increased for the first few fills, and then decreased thereafter, until you felt you'd exhausted it (or had enough).  The next day we had a spirit-like drink called 'roxie'.  I've no idea of the correct spelling.  And on the final day came chang, something I would have a few more times in Tibet, and grow to enjoy.

This old guy above is a wonder of human endeavour.  For the last 20 years he's been building better trails for hikers on their way up to see Everest, and he's done this without any government help, based solely on the donations of people passing through.  He lives up in the mountains in self-made rudimentary accommodation, and is 66 years old.  In the donation book, we had a look through, and couldn't believe that someone had donated as little as 6 rupee (about 5p) to the cause (we also couldn't believe that they would actually write that in the book).

We flew out of Lukla on Day 13, as planned.


Anonymous said...

I wished to have a break of f... art
and do the same and go to Nepal
it feels like anther planet what you guys have
pictured there !
greetings from berlin.
Robert daniela cato and Luna