Thame to Maralung: Hiking up a white coated Khumbu valley & 1st 5,000m peak

I am now a good week into this journey that has taken me from London to Kathmandu and now well up the Khumbu valley. Two more month in ever less civilised lands lie ahead on what is gonna be easily the longest trip of my life. I am loving every moment so far, the occasional headache aside. Just the thought of crossing the magnificent Khumbu icefall and meeting the many like minded climbers in base camp lifts my spirits. We are now at 4,100m altitude – the second highest overnight camp I have been at (only Kilimanjaro’s camps were higher, Mt. Elbrus base camp similar at c4,000m). Hard to believe that this is not even half way to the top of Lhotse. Climb on, as Alan Arnette would say.

Thame @ 3,800m to Maralung @ 4,130m (dist: 10km, asc: 420m, dsc: 90m)
Thame and the Khumbu showed themselves from their sunny again this morning. The white coating from last nights snowfall, however, remained and made for amazing views that should entertain us all day to our next destination.

Given a relatively short day (10km, net 300m ascent), there was no rush and we all enjoyed a good breakfast at 8am before departing around 9.15am. I had a hash brown with eggs, which is basically a good sized potato omelette. Very tasty. The wifi was also working (be it slowly) bringing the bloggers of us to life and letting me sort a few things like my airbnb back home in London (guests from Thailand are due end of the week).

Just moments after we set out from Thame and made our way over a shallow pass we stopped at Passan’s house in Tomboche for tea (as promised yesterday when he came to see us). He suffered severe frostbite when he got stuck on a high pass further up the valley in 1975 while going after his tradesman business. He lost most fingers and all toe’s. Since then he makes a living by painting the Khumbu valley in his own style and he found happy buyers in our group (I think four or five paintings netting him some USD250-300). Stephen, our profesional advertising photographer, used the moment to take some proper shots with flashlights and all sorts of high end kit (and all that after having had a horrid night with a serious bout of stomach problems to put it mildly).

From there the walk was less spectacular as we moved in the rubble and boulder filled river valley (hard to imagine how this would look when the river swells up). Views of sugar coated mountain ranges were never far away though … you just have to turn around.

By 1.30pm we arrived at River View Lodge run by Ank Phurba Sherpa (8x Everest summiteer, last time 2014) – a man 58y of age. He is the dad of the marathon running lady we met in Thamo and speaks reasonably good english.  Quick lunch, then a good sleep (there isn’t much to do anyway).

Riverside Lodge, Marulung

Available

Cost

Comment

Hot shower

NO

Hot water bowl available (R100/200)

Wifi

NO

Recharge

NO

Mobile signal 

NO

not even on the 5,000m nearby we hiked up to

Beer

YES

R800

500l of Khumbu Koelsch, R350 for small San Miguel

Water

YES

R300

By the time I wandered over to the common room, the card game tables were hustling and bustling. The game of the day was Yannith – an Israeli card game I don’t understand he slightest so far. So feel free to reach out to Tim, Rory, Mo, Jon or Blake for insights. I joined another table and played shithead and a bit of Kniffel after dinner. The slight headache I had went away (thanks to two aspirins), which made the game evening so much more enjoyable.

Below a selection of post hike faces …

Dayhike up to 4,980m peak

Today’s day hike is the preparation for the Renjola high pass to Gokyo at 5,360m in two days time. It turned out pretty strenuous. The route led us up a steep path with a total 900m altitude gain and more than 7km distance for the round trip.

The views from the top were pretty stunning. Be it the valley down below or Cho Oyu (8,201m) towering over all other peaks nearby towards the Tibetan border. The altitude didn’t go unnoticed obviously. At last, we were at a higer elevation than you can find in entire Western Europe!

On the way up we all felt shortness of breath for every step. Only solution is to go slow and steady and Tim dished out some tips as to how to use energy efficiently for walking. And still you need to rest here and there. There seemed to be a pretty fixed pecking order in terms of ascent pace. Tim in the lead closely trailed by Jon (who held back he says) and Blake, I followed with some 5min distance, then Billy and finally Rory closely behind me. Chapeau to Jo for pulling through despite feeling very poor!

On the way down we were all careful not to slip, twist ancles or injure knees. Hiking poles came in very handy!

Once back at the hut one could tell that this outing left marks on most if not all of us. Three went straight for a double dose of paracetamol, I had two aspirins and Blake started to diamox (a high altitude drug). I, like many, enjoyed a good nap after rehydrating with tea to recover some strength and felt much better afterwards. I kept the evenig reasonably shorts despite a late starting time coming moring (8.30am breakfast) and rather retreated to my sleeping bag fitted with jot water bottle and my new yak blanket from Kathmandu. I listened to a few chapters of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry  Finn before I disappearing into dream land. Just magic! 


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