Friday, 25 December 2009

Island Peak and Everest Base Camp Memoirs VI

Friday 24th October Deboche to Dingboche (4,420m)

I get off to early start (to avoid congestion) after brekkie getting on the track by 6.50am! Another clear blue, fresh morning and nice to have the track to myself. I wind my way up the Imja Khola River passing stupas and stopping at a couple of villages for tea on the way. In Shomane the kids are very interested in my guide book so I show the local pictures to all 3 of the small boys who are making havoc around me - just playing. I head towards Orsho, the track flattening with beautiful boulders surrounding as I head towards the river crossing to take me up to Dingboche. The upper mountain valley really starts to beckon here and a feeling of seriousness starts to take hold. There are no more trees just scree slopes leading to Moraine and towering peaks. I’m definitely getting closer to the action! I pull into the “Himalaya Lodge” which has epic views of Ama Dablam from the gloriously sunny courtyard – this is a bit surreal I thought to myself. It’s one of the hugest fangs of rocks I’ve ever seen with huge hanging ice valleys that tower above me as I slurp on my Masala Chai. I’m served great Momos (Tibetan dumplings) to boot and a chance to do some washing with the afternoon sun to dry it out. I’m reading Sir Edmund Hillary’s autobiography (one of NZ’s greatest legends and of course the first ascentionist of Mt. Everest with Tenzing Norgay) – a present from my beloved Nan all the way back in Christchurch, NZ. I think of her and my family, feeling very lucky to experience such grandeur and peaceful harmony, what a great spot!

Saturday 25th October Dingboche (4,420m) Acclimatisation Day

I awake to yet another glorious day and Climb up Nankartshang peak (5,040m), the ridge behind Dingboche – with superb views of the surrounding peak and valleys from up there! I can see Island Peak, so named because it was likened to an Island in a glacial sea of ice. There is also awesome view of the two lakes below Ama Dablam. Glorious Sunshine bakes me and I even have my shorts and T-shirt on, to some American’s disgust…of course I had full Gore-Tex gear in my pack but make hay while the sun shines I think to myself! It’s a fair old steep grunt and it feels good to get the lungs working at a bit of altitude in preparation. The views are just sublime and it’s great to get over the magic 5000 meter mark! I return back to the suntrap that is the courtyard in my teahouse; some clouds come in late which adds to the atmosphere as I enjoy my book and chai.

Sunday 26th October Dingboche (4,420m) to Thukla (4,500m)

I Tramp across to Thukla in the awakening dawn after a nice early brekkie hanging out with the Sherpas by the fire in the kitchen. A lovely morning overlooking Pheriche (where the Himalayan Rescue Association is based) and I Cross the roaring milky glacier river over a small wooden bridge arriving at Thukla. While having a chai break I meet a nice guy - Ian from New York and decide to share a room with him up in my next destination, Lobouche. I book into a room in Thukla, dump my gear and hike up to Lobouche (to acclimatise) and book anther room (The “Eco Lodge”) for the next night as the trek starts to bottleneck towards EBC. We return to Thukla and meet “team America”. After 5 beers with Jessie and Ian, having a great laugh (a few people looking on thinking we’re completely mad drinking at this altitude) we hit the hay falling into a drunken stupa!

Monday 27th October Thukla (4,500m) to Lobouche (4,930m)

A steep start after tea and porridge we pace up to Lobouche, drop our gear at the “Eco Lodge” and continue hiking up to Gorak Shep, the last gathering of teahouses before EBC. After lunch at Gorak Shep we take in the beautiful bluebird views of the surrounding majestic peaks – Pumori, the Nupste Wall and Lhotse. We Drop back down the valley to Loboche and relax with some reading. I have traded my book with Ian’s “3 Cups of Tea” about an American ER nurse called Greg Mortenson who builds 55 schools in Pakistan – an admirable read. There’s anticipation at the dinner table as we’re nearing EBC, a good feed of Tuna spaghetti and it’s off off to bed with excitement building.

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