Meeting a famous sherpa & a lesson in altitude sickness.
Mar 25 Khumjung (3753m) to Tengboche (3867m)
Had a great nights sleep, the best so far. Others in the group seem to have a lot of trouble sleeping and two are currently on Diomoxin (a drug that relieves the symptoms of altitude). My major problem now seems to be the food. I am not sure whether the altitude has caused my loss of appetite or whether I am finding the Nepalese food too spicy but I am certainly not eating as much as I should be. My new sleeping bag is working a treat and I have not suffered from the cold during the night at all. It certainly was the coldest night camping so far as we awoke to frost. The views were spectacular in the morning light as the sun hit the peaks and slowly cast its rays farther down the mountain as it moved across the sky.
This morning we had an optional 45min trek up to the Everest View Hotel and I now felt I had recovered enough from my brief illness to go. I was glad I did as the views were tremendous of Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Nuptse & Everest.
It was a cloudless, clear blue sky except for the moisture that had risen from the Tibetan Plateau and was streaming along Everest’s summit with the spindrift caused by the high Jet stream winds (the Jet stream is a constant wind force that exists 4-6 miles above the Earth, blowing with the strength of a hurricane at 120+mph. It blasts Everest throughout the year and there are only a few opportunities in the season to climb when the Jet Stream is pushed North).
After returning to camp we set off and it was a 1 ½hr walk, mostly downhill to the river for lunch. After lunch it took two hours to reach our destination for the day, Tengboche. It was a hard 2hr slog all uphill along a very dusty, dry track and I made sure I took in a lot of liquid. On thing to note is the large temperature range that we experience here in a day. Today was hot, up to 20 oC , but as soon as you move out of the sun or into the wind it can be very cooling. At sunset, around 6pm, the temperature drops dramatically and within half an hour it can be 0 to -10 oC and it’s out with the jacket and gloves.
Mar 26 Tengboch (3867m) to Dingboche (4410m)
An early morning start and a reasonable gradual climb to Pangboche where we passed through Shomare, spending lunch there. Shomare is situated almost at the foot of Ama Dablam and there are glorious views of the steep face. The walk was a pleasant hike through the valley following the Imja Drengka river. The route is still lined with numerous guest houses and tea shops and they seem no less in their capability the further towards Everest we travel.
At Shomare we were fortunate to bump into Ang Tshering Sherpa (who has reached the summit of Everest seven times and lives in Namche Bazaar). He was on his way to Gorak Shep and then Base Camp to join an American expedition, the yaks having gone ahead the previous day with equipment. At this time of year, it would be the time that Base Camp starts to build up with supplies as it is the normality for climbers to acclimatise for at least one month prior to the major attempts in May.
After lunch it was another two hours along a fairly flat section of the valley towards Dingboche. We could see for the first time the tip of Pumori come into a view. Pumori is one of my favourite mountains which I think is one of the most striking looking.
Here we lost a lot of the warmth of the sunshine that has been with us every day so far. We also lost sight of Everest as we headed up this valley. It was windy and chilly for the first time, requiring windproof jacket and fleece.
I’ve found it certainly is important to have the right clothing of the best standard you can get as being in the Himalayas is most certainly not the Lake District!.
Mar 27 Dingboche (4410m)
Probably the coldest night so far dropping to -5 oC. A few people informed me that their water bottles had frozen meaning they had to go without a drink during the night. Again I slept well for ten hours! waking only twice for toilet breaks. We have been told it is important to drink even during the night and I find a quick drink with a lozenge works well in preventing the headaches. The combination of a lot of liquid however does require frequent toilet breaks which during the night cause a lot of disrupted sleep. The record for someone in the group reached 13 times in one night!
We left early morning to follow the valley to Chukhung taking 3 ½ hrs to walk there and 2 hrs back. It was an enjoyable gradual walk up the valley surrounded on all sides by the mountains. The track aims towards Island Peak and we also caught glimpses of Makalu. At the end of the track is a resting house where we enjoyed a hot lemon drink and admired the views. I felt really strong today and I think I am back to my full fitness after the earlier sun-stroke.
After returning to Dingboche we visited the medical clinic for an interesting talk on altitude sickness by one of the doctors stationed at Pheriche. Here we obtained worthy advice such as only ascending 300-400m each day and every three days or 1000m have an acclimatisation day. Don’t rest on this day, but rather trek higher, returning to sleep at your start point. The best advice if you get altitude sickness? Descend or administer oxygen if possible.