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!