After the dull rest day I was indeed looking forward to something new, something different. Once we left Dingboche behind I was immediately in better mood and enjoyed my audiobook amidst great views. On this first day, we’d hike up from 4,350m to just above 5,000m.
We left late that day (for there was no rush and porters needed to setup camp) and enjoyed a last coffee and cakes at the Himlayan cafe & bakery (thanks go to Billy for the treat). By 10:45am we departed leaving Billy behind who was on doctor’s orders to rest more and catch up with us in Lobuche. Half way through the climb a last mobile reception, which most of us used to check out for the coming three days.
At our first restpoint, Tim shared a story of a chopper rescue on Ama Dablam. A German guide and Japanese climber couldn’t move higher nor lower and required help. The German got down, but the chopper went down when trying to get the second leaving both pilots dead. Still, a second heli was sent to fetch the climber. It was a big spectacle at the time.
After 3hours we reached the campground and moved into basecamp-like round tents for two people. Plenty of space for gear too. I shared with Jon again. We all had snacks and lunch and then I wondered off to check out the area. Some good views of camp, where Steve was busy taking pictures of people with his pro gear and the great backdrop of Ama.
Dinner was a short affair and some night photography followed. Everyone was keen to slip into his or her sleeping bag given the freezing temperatures. Getting up at night for toilet routines was nice (given the full moon), but painful. Many people (well, men) used their pee bottles (the 2l inflateable wide mouth Nalgene comes with highest regards), which is fine once one gets used to it (that is both peeing and tolerating someone in the same tent doing so).
The next day started similarly relaxed and we wouldn’t leave before 10:15 for our next campsite at 5,450m (thats 600m higher than Mt Blanc summit!). The hike added some 400m in altitude, but took a mere 1:45h. We arrived in a magnificent valley guarded by Lhotse, Ama Dablam and other ridges. Lunch was excellent with sausages on the menu! Everyone happy, as teahouse menu’s can be monotonous.
I spent all day reading a Beglian/French detective novel based in Paris. It has been recommended to me by a book shop keeper in London and is the first case of Inspector Maigret. I think there are more than 75 from the same author. So much lies ahead. Fun read and by now the third book I got through (well, my philosophy book only half until I gave up).
I was in bed early preffering the entertainment of audiobooks (now, ‘the unlikely pilgrimage of harold fry’). Next day we were to stay here and attempt the nearby 5,800m peak Pokalde.
Our hike up Pokalde next morning turned out brief. Tim was concerned about snow build up on top of already lose rocks and so we went to a smaller peak nearby with great views. Steve did a pro photo shoot with large flash lights that help you balance the bright background. Good shots (hope I can share some later on).
I wasn’t happy to retire at camp at 11am and so I wandered off to a nearby icefall. Pretty stuff. The tall ice walls reminded me of the gates to mordor in lord of the rings. Nice 2,5h hike up and down. Then it was time to relax listening to the adventures of harold fry.
The night was the best one yet. I slept straight to 2:45am. Then a toilet round was required. Overall, still quite relaxing and this time without the plastic bag. I bet Jon was glad about that.
In the morning it was time to pack. We were moving! Right up was Kongma La pass some 100m higher up. While hiking up there one could hear the frozen lake making all sort of noises in the valley. Mo struggled a bit with a cough and found it hard to catch her breath. But this is only Mo uphill. As soon as we started down, she faced past everyone! All good then.
After the pass, the trail took us into the Khumbu valley with its glacier reaching far down though covered in debris. We hiked up and down the morraine. The glacier is just huge and maneuvering through the rocks takes some skill and patience. On the other end, Loboche waited for us.
There is nothing spectacular to be said about this village. No mobile, but Wifi (USD6/200mb). A handful of tea houses that are busy with climbers and base camp hikers alike. Jon and I had a bit of downtime over priced can of San Miguel (U$7-8).
Highlight of the day was the reunion with a fully recovered Billy. Sadly, now Blake is down with fever. Fingers crossed it turns into a one day only affair. Otherwise all folks are healthy though every move makes you breath hard (including getting up the staircase to our rooms).
Off to Kniffel and Monopoly. Tomorrow we hit base camp. How time flies!