I have been waking up every single day with an added bounce in my step.
On 3rd April, I set out to chart a new territory on my trail from Namache bazaar to Doley. I remember telling my husband this and he said “very Funny” as we Punjabis call upper-arm muscles “Doley Sholey”.
Anyway, the Trek took us (me and my guide Nurbu) about 6 hours from 3450 mts to 4100mts with a beautiful stop at Monla where I remember having the most delicious spring rolls with noodle soup. I have been kind of following what my strong Sherpa eats. The upward climb along with wind and steps did my head in at times but I learnt long ago that this new path along the Gokyo trail to Gokyo peak is the best acclimatisation for me before I reach EBC. The dwindling paths merged into scree terrain where I was very cautious to keep my balance.
Doley was a small village and I stayed in Namaste lodge, very basic and very cold. I had to take out my sleeping bag this time. Met a solo traveller Sanam, who was heading the same way and we did exchange a lot along the way.
I had a early start with hurried tea and biscuits all the way to Macchermo, my next lodge, which took nearly 3.5 hours upto 4450 mts. The way was wide enough to put one step in front of another with sharp drop on one side where you could see rivers flowing from the glacier. Met two German guys who were also stayed in the same lodge, Namgyal lodge, and we exchanged notes on the adventure element of trekking outdoors. Sanam too joined in for dinner and the lounge was full of chitter chatter from trekkers worldwide. What is really amazing is that no matter what the nationality, all trekkers young and old resonate with each other.
I got whistles and admiration when I told them about my climb to Everest. Some said, you look too nice to be a climber, probably meant you look well dressed. Another Czech trekker just laughed and said “you shock me”. I wonder what climbers are supposed to look like.
The stay was beautiful and Gokyo was next at 4800 mts. The weather suddenly turned crazy and it started snowing all the way to the lodge. Passed 3 frozen lakes and the biting cold got worse as we arrived to see such splendour that my eyes could not believe. Gokyo Lake is surrounded by mountains on all sides and in between lies the frozen massive white sheet of snow icy lake with sides which show a hint of blue. One cannot believe the beauty of the place. Luckily the room that I stayed in had the best view in town. I saw some ducks swimming on the side. Hard to believe that they were frolicking around in the icy cold and enjoying themselves. Dinner was overlooking this magnificent lake whilst it snowed. I swear it looked like a ski resort.
Years back, someone I respect very much had said to me “when you are climbing mountains, embrace everything including cold and you will be alright.” To tell you the truth, I hardly have any cold or sniff when I am in the mountains.
Woke up at 0400 to head for the Gokyo Ri peak 5350 mts. Saw a snake of trailing headlamps vertically ascending the route going up. I soon joined the people amidst the biting cold and was well on my way struggling up to keep my hands and feet warm.
By 0630 am I witnessed the most awesome sunrise I ever saw in my life. There was a halo around Mount Everest, some haze around Lhotse, Mount Cho you was very clear and closer with Makalu and Nuptse still at a distance and I was only half way up. Stopped to have boiling tea carried by Nurbu and looked far down to the village I had left behind and up high to see prayer flags in a distance, a distance I still had to cover.
In another hour I was standing up at the top of Gokyo Ri and digested the splendour, took prominent pics with sponsors Vodafone, zoo zoos and WCI and of course, selfies before heading down to a sumptuous breakfast and on to the trail to Machhermo 4450 nearly 900 mts down.
The peace lodge here was so basic that I had to make do until I passed Doley for tasty lunch some silly shopping and all the way down to Phortse.
Phortse was a delightful village, serene, calm and very pretty. The misty lazy haze that enveloped the cascading lodges was surreal. We were greeted to a warm welcome in Namaste lodge which was a surprise after the very basic night at Macchermo. The ambience in the lodge was electric and so many rooms filled up with equal number of people. Someone was staying with a team to build a climbing wall infrastructure in Phortse headed by Conrad Anker’s foundation.
The owner of the lodge Dorjee had climbed Everest twice in his hay days and his son Pemba was gearing for Lhotse this season. There were pictures of veteran climbers including Reinhold Messner all around. Spoke volumes of this beautiful place. My room was the coziest I had stayed in and had the most amazing sleep there. Also met two interesting gentlemen, Kevin and Daryl from South Africa, who are following the trail to EBC.
When I woke up the next day, it was cloudy and (brrrrrr!..) cold all the way to Pangboche, a steep climb for one hour before levelling to a standard up and down. Heading straight to get Lama Renpoche’s blessing for my climb to Mount Everest at Pangboche, I ran into every possible person I knew from last year’s Everest. Met Garret Madison, Sid Pattison, Brent Bishop, Bhola Paudel and all and sundry from Madison Mountaineering. It was awkward for some time but got alright later.
Mountaineering is a very small community and we do get bumped into each other all the time. Met Ryan Waters from Mountain Professionals too with his team all heading the same way. Daryl and Kevin also lunched in the same lodge at Pangboche and we decided to meet in Dingboche. Daryl works for a healthcare and Kevin is a known Koi doctor.
After Lama’s blessings at Pangboche, we had a quick lunch and with a break at Samori for tea, reached Dingboche to settle for next two nights. Those two Africans were also in the same lodge as us.
Dingboche is at a height of 4400mts and surrounded by island peak, Ama Dablam and a few other mountains. The nights and early mornings are freezing cold and it’s a lovely village to walk in with bakeries and small shops. Stayed in countryside lodge the best I have seen in years. The room overlooked island peak, a summit I had scaled earlier in 2013. The room had a large bed with comfortable bedding and blankets with an attached toilet, a real luxury. I had a shower for 600 Nepalese rupees, a real treat.
Went out for a quick walk and bumped into Tashi Nungshi, the mountaineer twins and had a wonderful evening catching up after 4 years. They had last come to see me at home after I had injured myself in Denali. We have followed the same trail till Gorakshep Shep.
My second accclimatization was at Nagarjuna peak 5000 mts starting at 0630 and arriving back at 1100am in the lodge for a brunch.
Lazed around the whole day post that. The Africans followed us on the trail to the peak.
Next morning, had fun on the trail from Dingboche to Lobouche, meeting the twins and their Mother in Thukla and then in Lobouche as were all together in the Mother Earth lodge. I had to share with another climber Tania from Switzerland who is also climbing Everest. We got along ok and followed to stay together in Gorakshep too as the lodges were all full.
Climbed Kala Pathar 5643 mts from Gorakshep 5100 mts as I arrived from Lobouche 4950 mts for the 4th time. The weather was crazy and windy at the top and I did manage to catch the view of Everest.
I have arrived in Everest base camp (EBC) now and have set up my tent after a cold first night. I am facing the icefall and the first rays of he sun hit my tent this morning. Truly blessed .
I have been feeling rested after sleeping well in most of the lodges and recovering today. After 2 weeks on the trail continuously. I think I have lost weight too. Sooooo good!
Catch u next week … fun begins now