Woke to beautiful dawn of sunshine, opened our blinds, and to both sides, snow covered mountains surrounded us. We had no idea what to expect given fog of day before. One of the directions was Lhotse and Everest, looming ever closer. Pinching ourselves, are we really here? Breakfast of Tibetan toast which looked and tasted much like a beignet and was delicious. Enjoyed a cup of black tea as well. Tea is a core bev here (good for settling the stomach too I’m told) and I think I’ve tried 6 different kinds, although I am less partial to the kind you have to chew that have things floating in it for the flavor.
On route by 8am for 5.5 hours of climbing, the initial part with crampons due to the fresh snow. Total elevation gain to destination – 1,640 feet. At these heights, much more common to see yaks. Despite the height and short growing season, farming small plots is common everywhere and apparently by May, everything is lush and green.
Many folks trek and we’ve enjoyed seeing, and hearing, people and languages from a wide array of countries. Japan seems to be the biggest, but many European countries present as well such as France, Germany, the UK, Hungary, and Poland. Americans are here too as are Aussies. Everybody cheerful and most willing to chat. We met a particularly congenial older fellow from South Korea here on his own. He was taking it slow and noted that his guide relayed that a group went through the other day too fast and one was evacuated. “Pole pole” they say in Swahili and“bustari bustari” in Nepalese that both mean slowly slowly. That’s what we are doing. It’s not a race and besides, the views are too amazing to not linger over.
Our general routine is to stop for lunch at a tea house somewhere between 11am and 1pm. We’ve been on the trail for 5 days now and the menus are remarkably similar. Although I’ve generally enjoyed my meals, today’s Sherpa vegetable stew was particularly tasty. I imagine a tasty hamburger in the LA airport on return will be relished however. Although meat is available here, since it has to come in via porter or animal back over a period of days, we’ve been warned not to eat it for lack of adequate refrigeration for so long. I’m eating protein energy bars which helps though.
One section of today’s route this afternoon had a few rockfalls and as it turned out, a few small boulders shot across the trail about 50 feet in front of us. We were encouraged to step lively there and we sure did. Once more, the views were incredible. By now Everest, Lohtse, and Nuptse were socked in at the tops, but our views of Ama Dablam were to die for. How anyone climbs that tall and nearly vertical face I have no idea, but apparently it is popular to do in the fall.
Tea and cookies about 5pm is our normal routine followed by dinner around 6 or 6:30pm. The only time they fire up the stove (so far with wood but higher up will be yak dung) is around that time and folks hover close. Amy and I are finding the only true warm place is inside our -10F sleeping bags with a silk liner and layers of sleeping clothes as well. The crusher is when you need to visit the bathroom in the middle of the night… I wish I were born a camel 😊. Our current tea house communal bathroom (the norm) is just a hole in the floor with a bucket of water to ladle in as the flush. No hot water here so we go without showers until we are back in Namche 8 days hence.
Oddly, we get more hours of “sleep” here than at home. Typically in bed by about 8:30ish and up by 6am. Naps in the afternoon are also something we do when we can to restore energy. I put the word “sleep” in quotes as it can be a fitful one. Last night the Tengboche dogs had an on and off again chorus that sounded something right from 101 Dalmatians. Not sure who their Cruella De Vil is, but we thought they must have spotted the Yeti and were spreading the alarm. The walls are also paper thin so you hear your neighbors cough quite well. So far I’ve been fine, although as I write this, I have a modest headache, but aspirin kicking in.
This evening we heard that there is heavy snow in Kongma Pass, the first of three high passes planned for our climb. A group staying in our tea house had to turn back due to snow waist deep and high winds. Pondering implications now but it may mean being able to go to Everest Base Camp instead and still doing the other two passes. All hinges on weather. Stay tuned.