A Travellerspoint blog

EVEREST TREK - FINAL DAY

Namche to Lukla the flight Kathmandu

sunny 4 °C
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Our final and longest walk-day lay ahead and I was not looking forward to a heavy backpack now that Bim was back in the kitchen. But as we consolidated our goods and went down for the goodbyes Bim automatically picked up Andy's bag and slung it over his shoulders... Looks like Bim was coming to Lucky with us! Hurrah! Which meant I only had my small day sack to carry.

Coming down the same route makes you appreciate the scenery so much more because you can take it all in without worrying about what lies ahead. Those precocious thigh-killer steps we experienced on the way up to Nacho were now a fun, downhill, roller coaster of skidding and slipping. The Tangerine woman was still waiting for us at the Everest viewpoint like before, and considering we hadn't come into contact with any fresh fruit since our last encounter we splashed out on a whole tangerine each! What a treat! Once again it is times like this when you appreciate the small things... like Vitamin C; Lights at the flick of a switch; Clean, hot water at the turn of a tap, and a fridge fully stocked.

You will all be glad to hear that on our way through we came across our dear friend Monty. I stroked him with the stick I have picked up along the way and he acknowledged me with a smile and a back stretch. I expected him to join us onto the next village but no sooner had I turned to continue he was off plodding up behind a Japanese Couple! And they call cats fickle. Hhmph! I got over it and we carried on admiring the spectacular views. It was so nice to be walking in the warmth, and funny to think this felt cold to us a week ago. Nacho seems positively tropical compared to Gaudy Sheep.

The season is definitely perking up because we were passing considerably more puffed out tourists. When we stopped for lunch at our first lodge in Fat King they had a party of 15 for the night which nearly filled the place. As they all ordered the local dishes we tucked into pizza and chips and smiled to ourselves... soon they would also be craving normality. As the climate is far more moderate down here it is possible to grow and cultivate more produce, so the dishes are a lot more flavoursome. Still pricey compared to Kathmandu though so we had to resist going crazy on crisps, coke and chocolate bars.

The final slog up to Lucky was in fact very tough and at every village we passed we were convinced it wasn't far. No wonder we thought the route down to Fat King was easy, it's all dowhill! Our hotel was right by the airport and as we rejoiced in our arrival we were joined by a group of lovely, happy, Jappy, tourists. They were also staying in our hotel that evening and provided the most fascinating entertainment. Oscar found them all hilarious with their polite bowing and laughing in unison, especially when one of the little ladies had an uncanny resemblance to Bim. One chap, the oldest of the group at 73, was a keen traveller, and went on trips every month. Despite coming in last he must be pretty fit to do that arduous walk from Nacho, but judging by his stooped posture he was ready to keel over. His guide told us that one night he woke up needing the loo, and after his business he forgot where his room was so he wandered round for hours before giving up and sleeping in a spare room with only a single sheet to cover him! His memory was in fact so bad that he probably forgot what he saw up the mountain by the time he back down. Bless him!

It was sad to think our Everest trek was coming to an end, but it was nice to relax and reflect. While Andy got drunk on his first beer of the trip Oscar drank a glass of the local spirit, which he let us sip and it nearly blew our socks off. We could have done with that rocket fuel for the way up!

Our flight was early the next morning and Bim bid us farewell with these white good luck scarves called 'khata'. He has never been one to communicate with us but I'd like to think he has enjoyed our time together, or even just learnt something for the trip - Never to do it again maybe?

We got front row seats in the toy plane which was breath-taking as we flew off the tiny runway. The last glimpse of the marvellous mountains gave us a chance to wave goodbye to Everest. I am pretty sure I saw a Snow Leopard waving to me from the hills!

Goodbye Everest!

Posted by AndyGem 22:20 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)

EVEREST TREK - DAY TEN

Dingbouche to Namche

sunny 3 °C
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Oh what a joy to be residing further down the mountain! My lungs were so gleeful last night that I couldn't stop giggling at bed time. After living in the same smelly clothes for what seemed like a few years my skin was getting rather itchy. The Indian-Sunshine-Tan, which I was once so proud of, felt like it was rebelling, and I had visions of a full-bodied reptilian skin being shed by the morning. Indeed, when I lifted my leg-warmer and the now transfixed long-johns all I could see what scales! Even Andy said I was pungent, which for his low-smell-threshold must have been bad. Best to just wait till fresh, warm water was in sight before fumigating the little room.

Unlike the steady pace of our ascent we wanted to get the most out of our day and get down the mountain. After leaving Dingbouche (my version: Dingbat) we attracted another mongrel friend who decided to travel down with us. He couldn't tell me his name because his English was poor, so I named him Rudolph after the big, rosy, honker I acquired yesterday:- [As we came through the yak pastures towards Dingbat the bitter wind was blowing hard. I had my hat pulled down, sunglasses on and my baklava pulled up to my chin - so only one thing was exposed to the elements. Needless to say my nose was tortured! Ouch!]

We felt so smug on the way back down, we were practically trotting with delight. Other trekkers we met going up would ask our advice and we'd provide words of encouragement and any tips, (ha! ha! We've done it! Ner ner!). The route descended into the village of Phunki Thanga (my version: Funky Tango) where we paused for lunch of powdered tomato soup due to the bread shortage. Rudolph decided the route up to Nacho was too much for him, and because he knew he'd get no scraps left over he departed.

Although the soup had probably never seen a tomato my bowl certainly contained more powder, because the steep steps seemed to be no trouble for me. Andy grumbled all the way up about having to see my backside so when we got to the top I told him that our relationship is all downhill from here! ha! My jokes are lost at this altitude!

As we have often found when the afternoon looms the clouds come low and we were greeted with blustery, strong winds coming up from the valley. All along the mountain path our faces were bombarded with dust and dirt, which I am sure we will be finding for weeks to come. The familiar sights of Nacho came into view and smiled as we passed the much-needed bakery.

On our arrival back to the Buddha Lodge, Bim was greeted with heroic cheers and laughter. He had certainly earned several boy-scout points for his endeavors, but he was still expected to pick up his previous role as assistant chef that evening. While his mates patted him on the back we sneaked out for a cinnamon swirl and a hot chocolate! Mmm! The taste of glory!

This was the first night we had actually felt the affects of trekking on our legs, which was a good feeling really. In a attempt to bring back protein into his life Andy opted for a 'Swiss steak' for dinner. It was a dubious, tough meat which we heard Bim pounding for several hours before serving. Tasty enough, but portions for Superman it was not! Sadly there was further disappointment when I munched through all my meal. We ended the day with a good reminisce about our favorite foods. Prepare for a feast when we get back to Kathmandu!

Posted by AndyGem 22:19 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)

EVEREST TREK - DAY NINE

Gorak Shep to Kallar Pattar to Dingboche

sunny -10 °C
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As we couldn't sleep properly at Gorak Shep it seemed to make sense to rise early, get up to Kalar Pattar and watch the sunrise over Everest, so off we went at 6am.

It was a 400m ascent from our hotel to the view point at 5548m. To say it was hard going was an understatement, made worse by the fact the wispy Dutch man who we met at Pheriche seemed to almost jog past us on the way up. Leaving us to battle with the voices of common sense saying 'its far too cold, what are you doing, go down!"
The temperature on the top was so, so cold that we couldn't stay for more than a few minutes, the views were breath-taking and we will always remember them. We really should have got a decent picture of both of us with Everest in the background but the weather got the better of us and we begun a hasty retreat back to the hotel for breakfast.

Knowing we had to cover 20km today we marched onwards safe in the knowledge that by the end of he day we would be at 4300m and the sleepless nights and altitude effects would be a thing of the past.

We reached our target destination of Dingbouche at 3pm, a long and tiring but very rewarding day. I had real doubts about making it up to Kalar Pattar but can now proudly say that we both achieved all we set out to!

Posted by AndyGem 22:18 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)

EVEREST TREK - DAY EIGHT

Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Base Camp

sunny 0 °C
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You are not expected to sleep very well at Lobuche (my version: Lobby), which we didn't, but are spirits did not rise at breakfast when we noticed the jam had expired in 2003 and was reduced to a dodgy, crystallized clump. We are truly getting uninspired by the food as we progress higher, and as we endure tougher terrain we require extra fuel. Obviously there is less fresh produce as you get higher up the mountain, but it is difficult eating the same thing day after day. Also, the eggs are definitely having an adverse effect on Andy's bowels - as if we need any more bad smells looming!

Lobby is at 5000m so we really felt the lack of "oomph!" when we starting walking. The path started to get a lot more rocky and the altitude has slowed us again. I wished we had acquired walking sticks at this point, mainly to hit Andy with for talking me into doing this! As with every stretch of this trek the terrain is changing and we start to ascend further into the glacier. Apparently, this part of the trail in particular is constantly changing because the glacier melts and moves every year. You can tell we were tired and a bit fed up because I hardly got the camera out.

The conical peak of Mt.Pumoni came into view and after a few more rocks we made it to the Snowland Highest Inn. I was very surprised by the sandy, flat expanse of our final stop Gorak Shep (my version: Gaudy Sheep), and if you took away the mountains it would look like you had just landed on the moon. It felt like we had walked that far anyway! Normally in February this area would be covered in snow but we have been so lucky that is has been clear blue skies. Arriving at this final destination was both exhilarating and disheartening because although you feel happy it does feel uncomfortable, and you have the looming prospect of the biggest challenge yet. We met a German guy in the lodge who said his friend couldn't climb higher than Nacho due to the altitude, so we did feel a sense of achievement for getting this far. His mate will probably be Mayor of Nacho by the time he returns.

We had a quick breather and ate some chips (Brits Abroad, Woo Hoo!) then we headed to Base Camp. Some people advised us against going there because you can't actually see Everest and they said there is nothing much there. I'd completely disagree, it was a fascinating and completely different prospective from all the other sites we have seen so far. It is a long, 3hr round trip from Gaudy Sheep and you walk along a long ridge until you descend towards the glacier. If I was feeling a bit more spritely I would have liked to do a spot of skating, but maybe next time. For those of you who haven't experienced altitude it is quite hard to describe. As mentioned before it is a bit like a bad hangover, or having the flu, or a bad asthma attack. At times I thought my heart would leap out of my chest and yell "Hey dude! What the hell are you doin??" - My heart would definitely speak like a surfer.

Base Camp is not a specific sight because of the moving glacier, but there is a big, painted rock to show you have arrived! 5360m! Surrounded by these mounds of ice it is amazing to think that this is where you would attempt the summit... this time we were not tempted to continue upwards. A big, black bird joined our photo and we marveled in the icy surrounding. Still no Snow Leopards! We gasped all the way back.

Back at the lodge I made the mistake of going into the kitchen which was a rather dingey, smelly, grubby establishment. The aroma of oil, garlic, egg and bizarrely cinnamon did not help the feeling of unease, but we had another good evening around the yak-poo fire chatting with an English couple. Once again Bim came alive and seemed to be telling fascinating stories to the other porters. He seems to be a very funny chap despite his polite, shy demeanor towards us. If only we knew Nepalise... he was probably talking and laughing about us!

As it was -20 outside... yes -20!! (Andy promised it would only be -10!) I slept in practically all my clothes. We had the prospect of climbing Kala Pattar (my version: Peanut Butter.... stupid version I know but the altitude got to me!) tomorrow so we retired early in the hope to catch a few precious winks.

Posted by AndyGem 22:16 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (0)

EVEREST TREK - DAY SEVEN

Pheriche(4200m) to Lobuche(4900m)

overcast 1 °C
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Today was billed in the guide books as being a make or break day as we had to ascend 700m which is twice the recommended height to gain in one day. This meant the very real possibility of mountain sickness, freezing conditions and sleepless nights due to lack of oxygen - but sure it will be worth it!?

After breafast we made our way along a valley very gradually acsending. I think because the guide and guide book had said how tough today was going to be we were definelty up for the challenge and made great progress until we came to the end of the valley, turned a corner and saw the path steeply ascending the terminal moraine of the the main glacier running all the way to Everest. The moraine was very tough going and our progress seemed to drop to snails pace.
Oscar the guide was very good and soon realised my balance wasn't great, keeping close behind me and grabbing me on several occassions when slipping.

After 3 hours we came across a small collection of tea houses expecting it to be Duglha which is on the way to Lobuche. When Oscar told us it was in fact Lobuche we were so happy! Apparently most people take 6 hours, so our plodding must be the way forward!

The tea house was basic but at this altitude and we couldn't complain. We tried the eat, sleep, eat, sleep routine but the lack of oxygen in the air was causing us problems and the temperature at night was -15 to -20 degrees but we were happy to be only one day away from base camp and as long as we didn't get any worse we were confident of continuing.

Posted by AndyGem 22:15 Archived in Nepal Tagged foot Comments (1)

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