An early start after a good night sleep. We check the temperature in out room at 4.7*C and there is a thick frost on the ground, outside it is 0.7*C. It is difficult to function in the cold and paired with being high it is difficult to breath. It takes more than an hour before we are in the sunshine and the track seems busier here with a lot of people coming back from Everest Base Camp (EBC). The season is coming to an end when only the brave seek out the cold on the mountain from December to February.
We follow a river all day and even though it is a few hundred metres below us it is roaring loud and such a beautiful blue of contrast white water over yellow and white rocks. The track leads us over many valley passes and around huge mountains. My endurance is good after a few hours in the sun and leave the boys again as I try a challenge to keep up with some of the younger porters. Even with 100kg they are fast and I am left to leap frog for air breaks with an old Japanese lady.
What makes an old Japanese lady (like 70 and apparently single), want to do something like this? It’s not easy and it is not as if the body gets any stonger after your twilight years. But then I register another thought… ‘why not’? – I hope that when I am old like her that I am doing something this great also.
Our trek is pretty uneventful today although I do see an old European man take a stack down some rocky stairs today. He refused my help out of embarrassment I think but he is going to be so sore tomorrow I know it! He fell hard.
At 4000m the trees stop growing and give way to short spiny shrubs. At 4200m we finally reach Dingboche and appear to be the only guests on our lodge. Wa wander up to the internet cafe which costs a huge A$10 for 30mins (as opposed to $2 at lower altitude). On the way back down to our lodge we watch the shinywest face of Ama Dablam as the sun sets. By the time we get inside and the to the dining room the valley has fille with fog.
The old lady of the lodge lights the stove with a bucket of kero for us and I feel at peace with the world (or it could be the fumes). The sky turns pink and our neighbourly yak just outside the window licks dew off the ground. We will acclimatise here for another day where I know tomorrow is going to be a good one.
10.11.09 – We are smack bang in the middle of the Sagarmartha National Park, Nepal and three quarters of the way to EBC. I enquire about the letters ‘che’ after most village names and am told it is from an ancient past when the creator walked the earth and ‘che’ are the footsteps they left behind. I also learn that ‘La’ means Pass. So when you say Cho La Pass you are actually saying Cho Pass Pass. It’s like saying ATM machine!
We are at an acclimatisation day and we head out at 9am to ascend the mountaint behind us. It stands at the peak of 5000m. It is cold – 0.1*C to be exact but it feels good to be outside all rugged up and warm. The paths are all criss-crossed over the mountain side by animals and trekkers alike. It looks like a rabbit warren exists somewhere. Not only this, nothing really grows up here and I feel bad that I know that I am adding to the erosion. It takes us 3 hours to ascend to 4500m from 4100m and does not cope well at this height so we rest and only half way up decide to come down. At this point nature calls on me loudly (which I have been waiting for for some time) – I am thankful because the bathroom at the lodge is a rank and rancid squat toilet. The smell is worse than Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia. NOTE – it is difficult to poo at high altitude – just in case you are wondering!
On our way up I trek with Lucky in my shadow most of the way; he seems to be my silent body guard as Tendi waits with Brett who is taking it slower. As neither Lucky or I speak each others language, although weird, it is amusing me as I picture Lucky taking on a whole bunch on ninjas. Lucky is 46 years old and has six children so I guess it is more of a nurturing presence.
I notice across the valley that the moon is low and moves across behind the mountains when I realise that what I am actually seeing is the earth move. I have seen this many times before but never have I thought of it like this. They say that being high on the mountain makes you feel closer to God but I disagree. I feel closer to myself more than ever and it is a nice place to be.
It takes us 35mins to descend what we have conquered today. It makes you wonder why we did it in the first place. But as thin as the air was up there and as easy as it seemed to breathe, staying up there longer would have been a different story as your body can’t suck in enough oxygen. When we head to Loboche tomorrow at around the same height we will be able to breathe easy and it will be worth it.
Dawa is the loady of the lodge and she is 50 years old with four children. She comes to sit with us around the yak dung heated fire every now and then to chat. She is missing some teeth and her hands are worn and filthy but she is a gem. I just hope she washes her hands before preparing our food after she has fuelled the fire some more. I ask for a tub of hot water and wash my hair for the first time since Namche, it feels amazing!