Sunday, October 31, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Today we were up at the usual time full of expectation (albeit nervous
expectation!!) for a big day over the third pass – 'The Kongma La'.
The team was down to 4, Luke, Colin, Hazel and myself plus our two
lovely Sherpa's Tshering and Nim.
Off we went up over the first hill, with all of us but Luke going up
the steepest part of the hill. Luke went over a ridge which was
kinder and got some lovely photos, overlooking Chhukhung, Island Peak
and numerous glaciers.
A "very big" climb, never seemed to end. Up we went and just as you
thought you were at the top, another higher false summit would appear
in the distance. I thought at one stage that I wasn't going to make it
but then Luke tucked in behind me and with a bit of encouragement I
finally saw the 'true' summit.
Apart from the encouragement from others the other things which
inspired me to continue were the fantastic views on a crystal clear
day, huge glaciers which seemed to meander into eternity, breathtaking
views of clear alpine lakes and water falls which had turned into
icebergs on the way down – amazing.
One of the most special moments of the trip was coming around the
corner of some huge boulders on top of the summit (almost 5 hours
after we left Dingoche) and being cheered on by a large group of
people who were already at the top – awesome!! So obviously the thing
to do was to find a suitable rock (5535 metres up) and do the same to
the others as they made the top.
We stayed at the summit for 3/4's of an hour and just soaked up the
sights – amazying. Took some great photos, ate chapati bread and
peanut butter and just basked in the glory!
Now for the climb down – must be easier I (stupidly) thought!! The
first difference from the climb up was the snow on the Lobuche side so
for about the first 100 metres down we put on our crampons. In the
distance you could see an enormous moraine wall from the "Khumbu
Glacier" which ran between the pass and Labouche – this seemed to grow
in height as we got closer!!
So down we went; once the snow melted we started climbing over huge
boulders, slippery rocks, loose chip – ended up on my bum a couple of
times but just jumped up quickly in the hope that nobody had seen!!
Down to the bottom and the nightmare was realised – we now had to
climb the moraine wall, which by now was about 100 metres high!! Up
we went (not much left in the tank) following Tshering's professional
footsteps and once up the top the view (once again) was breathtaking!!
An enormous glacier to cross – must have been at least 1 kilometre
wide and I wouldn't want to guess how deep – WOW! One could only guess
how many years Mother Nature had spent making such an incredible
After a very tricky crossing (once again all confidence in Tshering
and Nim though) we got to the other side. Colin had gone ahead and
given his pack to one of the porters and then came back to us and
offered to take my pack for me. Normally I would have refused, but
with very little energy left I graciously accepted!!
Yeah we made it to Labouche – absolutely knackered but with big smiles.
BIG, BRILLIANT, UNFORGETTABLE day – Krissy.
Monday, October 25, 2010
The air at 5,500m is about half the atmospheric pressure of sea level and it feels like each lungful needs to be twice as big. We had walked up the 360m from Gorak Shep in about an hour. Running uphill is just not possible. Running down we took it slowly as in a couple of practice runs we had realised how quickly we could end up panting wrecks. Part way down KP we emerged into the sun from the shadow of Nuptse. It was time to change into shorts, shedding several layers.
The Trail quickly drops 1400m and the difference is huge. The barren alpine landscape gives way to Juniper and other conifers and the air thickens. On the down-hills we look like runners as we pass hundreds of trekkers travelling in both direction. We imagine we are skipping lightly down the boulder strewn trails but in reality we probably appear to be stumbling down. On the up-hills we look more like typical trekkers, out of breath and walking steadily. Over the course of a bit under 6 hours we descend 2800m and climb back over 700m in a bit under 40kms to arrive in Namche in time for lunch. Hazel and I are completely knackered.
Colin Rolfe decided to run from New Everest Base Camp and completed somewhat more than a regulation marathon distance in in 5 hours. A very strong effort and he had considerably more energy than us last night.
Today we are sitting in a coffee shop and bakery in Namche drinking in the incredible mountain views and sipping strong coffee as I write. We seem to have packed a huge amount into the last three weeks and there is still a week to go.
A sobering note was introduced two days ago when our climbing guides cousin was killed in an avalanche. He was the lead climber and a very popular member of staff at Sherpa Shangrila. All our guides are upset and Tshering is visiting his cousins family today. It is a further reminder of the responsibilities we have as visitors to set reasonable goals and take part of the risk management responsibility.
Ross 26 October
earlier part of the trip
As part of the easy group we are wending our way slowly up the Dudh
Koshi valley towards Gokyo. Our days are limited by the amount of
height we can safely gain each day (300-400m) so the walking times are
quite short. We share the trail with porters carrying up to 120kgs.
Today we were in a group carrying plywood and other building
materials. Four 20mm sheets or about 15 thin sheets was standard.
Others were carrying kerosine, beer and cheese. At 4000m we are now
above the height where crops can be grown and everything has to be
carried in. As well as porters there are yak trains. Lower down we
passed mule trains, then Zum (cow/yak cross) trains, but now we have
to get off the track for big shaggy yaks. A few days back on the
track a porter was found concussed down a bank after being pushed off
by a mule. With some big drops at the side of the track we stop on
the inside and let the animals pass at their own pace.
Hopefully there will be some pictures with this to show just how
magnificent it is. Even though we are at 4000m the nearby peaks tower
over us by another 3000m. Here in Dhole we are almost at the bush
line. We are still walking through Juniper and Rhododendron stands,
but other deciduous trees are common and these are in full autumn
Keith went off for a stroll yesterday afternoon and came across a deer
and a musk deer just on dusk. Choughs (crows) are common and of
course yaks abound. Its very different from the lower trails where
Colin surprised a snake and several of the group had leaches find
them. One dropped down Jean's front and she proudly displayed it to
all as a an unexpected birthday present.
In the mornings when the sun is out it's warm enough to tramp in
shorts and light top. But when the clouds arrive (currently by
midday) we end up in down jackets and hats inside the tea houses.
There is some heating in the lodges, but as fuel is scarce they
generally don't light the fire till dusk. There was a solid frost on
the roof last night but our sleeping bags are more than up to the task
Will sign off now as battery life is short. Not sure how or when this
will get sent.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Getting to the top of Cho La pass at 8am on a beautiful sunny morning
with amazing views has been one of the highlights of the trip. Frozen
toes and a 4am start were soon forgotten as we took in the amazing
views and sucked in some air - there is rather less at 5360m that at
sea level. We all found Cho La much easier than Renjo La 2 days
before so the extra days at altitude and slower pace were definitely
1000 photos later we scrambled down a small rock face that spooked the
porters with their huge loads and headed across the glacier. The snow
and surrounding peaks were just stunning and the experience was topped
off by seeing fresh snow leopard prints criss-crossing the snow around
100m below the top I decided it was time for a few handstands before
we headed down for lunch.
The group split after lunch with the climbers heading up to Lobuche
and the rest of us down to Dingboche where we collapsed in a heap and
had a very quiet night. The scenic group joined us the next morning
for a very chilled out day in Dingboche.