4.30 wake up call – it’s my wedding anniversary – so very odd not to be at home! Am pleased that say that I had remembered it and that a message and flowers had already been sorted!
Not as cold in the dining area this morning as they have actually put the stove on – but no sign of heat coming from it! It’s cold enough to mean a woolly hat and down jacket essential attire.
The temperatures here fluctuate significantly both inside and out, at times outside a pair of shorts and a tea shirt would suffice but when the sun goes in and the wind picks up I have been wearing an outer shell, down jacket (heavy weight) and two morino wool base layers along with ski gloves, buff and double thickness trousers.
At night the warmth / heat in the lodges vary significantly, they all have stoves which are fuelled by dried yak dung which we see being air dried – stuck to walls and then stored in huge piles; in places they almost resemble dry stone walls. Most evenings, the stoves are fully charged and emit enormous heat which is almost oppressive, but as we have got higher the lodge owners have become more frugal to the point that in Luboche partly due to the number of outer doors and partly due to the lack of fuel being used we were cold to say the leas
The dining areas have a congenial and excited buzz about them, they are a place to keep warm as the bedrooms are unheated and are the place that most people spend their time chatting after the walk and before heading off to bed. It gets dark around 6pm and light at about 6am. We are normally off to bed by 9pm.
But back to the daily report … :
Yesterday’s short walk seems like it did not happen – the previous day’s challenge of the Cho La Pass is still the dominant memory in body and mind. Today we have a long walk but little knowledge of how challenging it might be other than that we have the excitement of reaching EBC.
A quick breakfast porridge with honey and an omelette with the usual chant of “black tea, black tea” before setting off for a three hours walk to Gorek Shep. This was stage one of the day with our second meal – lunch at 9am in Gorak Shep, which seemed a little odd, but not much about this trip is normal – whatever normal is! I also ordered a cheese toastie for our walk to Base Camp – later to play hunt the cheese!
Heading off from Gorak Shep after a leisurely lunch we kept away from the ridge that runs alongside the Khumbu Glacier and thus out of the worst of the wind. A glorious day although clouds were gathering up n the valley!
Closer to base camp we moved on to the glacier and weaved our way round it’s scree covered surface and across some of the small areas of exposed ice.
Walking past Nuptse, a huge and imposing mountain that rises to 7879 metres, you can’t help but think of the 1953 expedition and the other earlier summit attempts and how much harder it must have been for them. Hillary would not have had the clearly defined path to follow, the teahouses to provide warmth and sustenance nor did he have the modern equipment or the diamox to assist combat AMS – and I am only going to base camp!
The profile of Nuptse has changed as we have walked toward it from a triple peaked ridge to a single huge snow covered triangular peak. The snow hangs in places waiting for the sun to warm it and for gravity to take effect. We hear the cracks as large chunks break off and see the danger and beauty of avalanches from a safe distance!
Looking across from base camp we could make out the Kumbhu ice fall and draw on the history of this place.
Climbing back up from base camp I call Gina to wish her a happy wedding anniversary – another luxury that Hillary would not have had – 3G at base camp using a local SIM card!
Back at Gorek Shep and we find our room which is bijoux but comfortable and then discover the toilets which can only be d scribed as horrendous – I have never smelt anything quite like them and hope I never do again!
Surprised that there were much fewer people on the route today than I had expected, also surprised that base camp appeared clear and clean but it is now apparently much more spread out since the avalanche a few years ago. Looking up across the glacier there is still much in the way of hanging snow and we saw 3 or 4 avalanches on Nuptse the largest of which sent clouds of powder billowing out over the glacier!
Having Co me back with good intentions of watching the sun set I fell asleep and only just woke up in time for the evening meal at 6.30, where we meet a team of Aussies have been doing a sponsored walk to base camp, but in a different style to ours – they are being flown back rather than walking back which seems like only half the challenge! One of their team has suffered AMS and was somewhat ill in the dining area as well as being on top oxygen – he, understandably is being flown off tomorrow and is spending the night on oxygen. Two of the others are also apparently suffering the ill effects of altitude – the whole team are being helicoptered down at huge expense. One wonders whether they came up too fast.
Evening meal chips with cheese – delicious, with loads of cheese making up for the lack in the toastie at lunchtime!
An amazing day’s walking with great views!