Day 18: Below Renjo La (5100m)(Trekking: approx 4 hours)
As with our previous pass crossings we have the opportunity to take it easy this morning before setting off towards Renjo La. There is another opportunity to ascend Gokyo Peak again for the sunrise before breakfast. The rest of the morning is free and we depart after an early lunch and follow the trail that contours above the northern shore of the lake to the old moraines of the glacier below Renjo Pass. From here we climb steeply on a good trail up to the lip of an old glacier valley strewn with boulders and glacial debris. Keeping to the right of the valley we ascend less steeply to reach camp opposite the large glacial snowfield below two unnamed peaks (5625m and 5906m)
Day 17: Gokyo (4720m)(Rest and Exploration Day) We rise early for an ascent of Gokyo Peak (5360m), a straight-forward but steep climb and tiring due to the altitude. The walk up will take just over two hours and the reward is one of the best panoramas in the Khumbu. From the rocky summit, four 8,000-metre peaks can be seen - Everest (8848m), Cho-Oyo (8153m), Lhotse (8511m) and Makalu (8481m). Countless other towering snow-capped peaks and rock spires fill the horizons including Gyachung Kang (7922m) to the east of Cho-Oyo, Cholatse (6440m), Taweche (6542m) and Kangchung (6103m). In addition, there’s a bird's eye view of the Gokyo lakes and the huge creaking Ngozumpa Glacier, now cutting halfway across the world and snaking its way down the valley far beneath. Time permitting, we may also follow the lateral moraines of Ngozumpa Glacier past Kangchung Peak to a point where Gyubanare Glacier joins in and from where climbing the ridge to the left of the small trail gives us excellent views of Everest’s north face.
Day 16: Gokyo (4720m)(Trekking: approx 6-7 hours) The day begins very early in order to reach the top of the pass in the best possible conditions. From camp we ascend steeply on a narrow trail passing large boulders and huge rock slabs and keeping to the left of the main glacier. There are a number of cairns lining the route to the snowfield and, while the trail is well-defined, it does involve a little scrambling. Once on the snowfield the angle eases off and we soon reach the top of the pass (5420m), where the views are spectacular and include Baruntse (7220m) and Ama Dablam, as well as a sea of lesser peaks. Do not wander around the snowfield as there are crevasses and we may need to rope up for the pass crossing! The descent from the pass is steep and care should be taken as we follow the narrow rocky trail down to the Nymagawa Valley, where we enjoy a packed lunch. From the valley we cross rocky screes and boulders and ascend the short distance to a small saddle that leads downhill all the way on an easy trail to the huts and tea houses at Dragnag. After a welcome break we cross Ngozumpa Glacier to the lake at Gokyo, from where it is a short walk to our lodge.
Aah, snow. I'm sure the scenery is stunning, but I can live without the cold and the ice!
After the tiring day to Kala Patar we take the opportunity to enjoy a lazy start. The walk to Dzongla is less than four hours and a morning spent rehydrating and relaxing before taking an early lunch. After lunch we follow the main Everest trail back down the valley before bearing right to contour round the hillside above Tshola Tso Lake and then descending to the valley floor and the small huts at Dzongla. Upon arrival we make camp and prepare for the crossing of the snowfields that lead to the top of the Cho La Pass.
Day 14: Lobuje (4930m)(Excursion to Kala Patar (5545m) - trekking: approx 7 hours)
Today we leave Lobuje very early in the morning for the ascent of Kala Patar. Initially we follow the broad valley running parallel to Khumbu Glacier to the moraines of Changri Nup Glacier, where we make a series of small ascents and descents to Gorak Shep (5160m). After a short rest we ascend the slopes of Kala Patar (5545m), a small, rocky peak on the south-west ridge of Pumori. A slow, steady pace once again is the best form of attack. The climb is not easy but the view from the top surpasses the wildest imagination. We hear huge glaciers creaking as they move under pressure and will be undoubtedly awestruck at the sheer size and majesty of the surrounding peaks that include Pumori, Nuptse, Changtse, Ama Dablam, Taweche, Kantega and Everest - the highest mountain in the world. For many trekkers reaching Kala Patar is a very emotional experience and we have allowed plenty of time when on top to enjoy the experience. We return to Gorak Shep for a welcome cup of tea and a light lunch, before walking back to Lobuje in the early afternoon.
Day 12: Below Kongma La (5380m)(Trekking: approx 4 hours)
In the morning we have the option of an early morning walk towards Island Peak (Imja Tse) Base Camp. On the other hand, those wishing to take it easy can sleep in and relax around the lodge until lunch. This is taken early before we set off towards the Kongma La Pass. The afternoon’s walk is a long and tiring climb up steep grassy slopes on a small, but well-defined trail. The angle of the slopes decreases as we near camp and the surrounding rocky peaks and small glacial lakes are a perfect setting for our first night of wilderness camping.
Day 11: Chukhung (4780m)
(Trekking: approx 3 hours)
Today is another short day, in order to aid with acclimatisation. From the lodge in Dingboche we head up through the village, following the Imja Khola Valley. The ascent is gradual, crossing small streams and walking through open alpine pastures, with fine views of Island Peak at the head of the valley. We reach the Chukhung lodge in time for lunch, with the afternoon free to rest and acclimatise. Alternatively, you may feel energetic enough to head up valley towards the old moraines that flow down from Lhotse. The views of the massive Lhotse Wall and Ama Dablam are particularly impressive when seen from Chukhung.
I expect that Bob will feel energetic enough!
Day 10: Dingboche (4360m)(Rest and Acclimatisation Day)
Dingboche is a beautiful patchwork of small fields enclosed by stone walls protecting the crops of barley and potatoes from the cold winds. It is occupied mainly through the monsoon months, when large numbers of yaks are brought here to graze in the valley pastures. Behind our lodge the huge rock faces of Taweche seem to soar to the heavens. Our trek leader will advise us on activities for today, but the short excursion up the valley towards Chukung is a worthwhile option. The views are fantastic in this valley; the towering south face of Lhotse to the north, Island Peak in the centre of the valley and the fluted ice walls of unnamed peaks that line the southern end of the valley, all form a hauntingly beautiful sight. In the afternoon an optional hike up the hill behind our lodge will enable us to view the world's fifth highest mountain, Makalu (8481m), which is not visible from the valley floor.
Bob's assessment was as follows:Am writing this from a satellite Internet under cover but open to the elements with light snow falling. Prices here are high by Australian standards and astronomical by local standards (20R per minute for Internet, 350R per minute to use a power point, 360R for a small box of tissues).Have caught a head-cold but am otherwise well. The scenery continues to be spectacular, but the cold weather (it's 2 degrees with a 40kph wind blowing up the valley) is testing. Food is still good (today's lunch was the first meat: tinned) but the lodges we are staying in a very basic. From Wednesday we'll be camping above 5,000m. We are surrounded by snow covered peaks. During the night we hear the yaks wandering around with their bells ringing. The yaks up here have very long fur and travel in trains carrying all forms of luggage.Must go. Don't know when I'll have another chance.
An even more surprising one followed:
Dingboche is above the tree line but the locals grow potatoes in small fields divided by dry stone walls. They're planting at the moment. All the field work is done by women as all the men appear to act as guides and porters for trekkers. As one woman hoes another woman drops the seed potatoes in the ground. We've been eating the potatoes at least one meal per day, and they're terrific.
Last evening, for the fourth consecutive evening, it snowed. On the previous occasions there was just a light dusting, but this morning there was a heavy blanket of snow covering the countryside, including the yaks in the field behind our lodge. As usual we were brought tea at 6:30am by assistant guides, and ate breakfast at 7:30am. As today is an acclimatisation day whre we stay in the same lodge tonight, we headed off to climb Nagartsang Peak, the peak behind the lodge, and then return for lunch. The walk was only 5km, but we climbed 500m, to an altitude of over 5,000m. Five (including me) of the 12 in the group reached the summit as it was hard work at this altitude. Unfortunately the whole way up we were clouded in, but it cleared as we descended, for spectacular views of the nearby snow-covered mountains, and the valleys from where we've walked, and where we'll head tomorrow.
After lunch I indulged in a bucket shower in the open for 250R - it will be at least 4-5 days before the next opportunity.
For the conversion one Australian dollar is around 58 Nepalese Rupees at the moment. (That is: around $4.30 for the bucket shower, over $6.00 a minute to use a power point).
I think that it sounds like a great trip, but I know that I couldn't handle an open bucket shower in a howling icy wind!
Hartley Lifecare Fun Run 5k 17 November Wagga Tri-ants Duathlon 10k/40k/5k 30 October ACTVAC Half Marathon 21.1k 28 August Canberra Half Marathon 15 May injured
Year to Date
Chip Time (3:47:13) Sydney 2005