It was a early start this morning to do the last of our 3 high passes, the Renjo La. The morning started off misty but the sun burnt through the mist as we were having breakfast and it turned into the usual beautiful day we’ve become used to.

The walk started off easily along a path at the side of the lake but then soon started climbing a bit steeper onto snowier ground, nothing too taxing though and we had plenty of stops to enjoy our best views of Everest so far, and probably of the entire holiday. It actually looked like the highest mountain today, Gokyo is definitely the place to go in Nepal.

Another shot for the Gokyo Tourist Board

After some walking through the snow, which is good fun, and very pretty, it was time for the final climb up to the summit of the pass, which was quite steep, but didnt takke long. The top was good and we sat around for a while and took photos and such and I gawped at the phenomenal view, amazing on both sides. I even had a wee scramble up to the absolute summit,

with the obligatory photo.

After this, it was time to go down the other side descending what is possibly the world’s biggest staircase, which was very impressive, there were some absolutely massive rocks that have been somehow put on the hillside to form the steps, After this, it was a relatively flat walk along grassland and even some desert-like sand. We saw some small stone huts that the Yak men use in the summer as the Renzo pass is a major Yak route to grazing grounds. After this flatness there was quite a steep, knee tester of a descent down to Lungde, which is a small, but drawn out village, with mainly stone, croft type looking houses. Also, another pizza thursday was successfully observed :).
.

Woke up well rested again today and had a decadent breakfast of porridge and cheese on toast (Note: the porridge was seperate from the cheese on toast, otherwise the breakfast would not have been decadent, it would just have been foul).

After these delights it was time for a short (2 hour) walk to Gokyo. Our walk was mainly over the Ngozumba (pronounced Nawgawzoomba) Glacier, from which we had views of Cho Oyu and some smaller peaks. After climbing up out of the glacier, (after a short period of very fast walking to clear a section of falling rocks) about 5 minutes of walking on flat grassy land we looked down over Gokyo, hands down winner of the “prettiest place we have visited so far” award.

OK, not quite our first view of Gokyo, but still, what a location.

As you can see, it’s fairly amazing (Note – I hope the Gokyo tourist board will be sending me a large cheque soon). It’s surrounded by mountains, (surprise surprise) and overlooking a (by March) partially frozen lake, the unfrozen bit is a bright turquoise in colour, pretty amazing.

On with the trekking story, after some tasty hot powdered mango juice and a small rest Mike, David, Dawa and I set off to climb Gokyo Ri. Helene and Eric were feeling a bit under the weather today so decided not to do the hike uphill. Talking of weather, it seems to have been fairly predictible up here in the Khumbu region usually. Only one day so far hasn’t started in bright sunshine, and eveno on that day it brigtened up quickly (after we had started off kitted up in full waterproof gear). It is usually bright in the morning and then around 3pm the clouds come and and sometimes there is a little snow, it gets windier in the afternoon too. But anyway, I digress, Gokyo Ri, it’s around 5300m (with the village being at around 4800m). It was quite a steep climb up, I really struggled for breath walking near the top, but it was well worth the extra effort for the stunning views, both on the way and from the top.

Insert “stunning view” picture here

After some photies and seeing a couple of sparrow type birds and also Dawa making a few phone calls. The locals seem to get signal everywhere here, but the network Orange use in Nepal must be a bit crap as the only time I’ve had signal on trek has been at Everest Base Camp.

After these delights it was time to head back down to the teahouse for lunch, and it was the perennial favourite, Sherpa Stew, with the added bonus of cheese and fried SPAM. Top. After that we went and looked at our room, the best so far, only missing a bin. It has the extra bonus of

Panda Wallpaper!

It also wins the room with a view competition as it looks right out over the lake

As I said, Gokyo Tourist board, cheque please

After a wee bit of sitting around, Mike and I decided to walk around the lake. As we started, we found ourselves walking with a small group of Nepalese Army soldiers who were quite friendly really. We soon turned to go round the lake as they headed straight on in the direction of Namche. The walk around was quite nice covering all types of terrain, including snow tracks, a section of the ice on the lake itself (which was well checked beforehand), some bog, and even a beach.

Sadly, I hadn’t packed my bucket and spade

There was even a wee shrine beside the lake. After we had walked round, it was time for some tea and biscuits back at the teahouse. We even ordered a cake for later tonight, we decided a celebration was in order (for no apparent reason whatsoever), good times.

In other news, our plans have changed slightly. We were meant to be staying here in Gokyo for two nights. Walking here one day and hiking up Gokyo Ri the next, but after checking the weather  forecast Phur has decided it’s a better plan to cross Renzo La pass tomorrow as the weather won’t be as good the next day. The extra day will be spent in khumjung visiting a monastery where they keep a yeti scalp and also the five star everest view hotel, apparently the highest hotel in the world. Exciting eh?

 

 

 

I didn’t have as good a night’s sleep last night. I woke up panting for breath a couple of times, was overheating and had some crazy dreams. I don’t remember anything about them, but I know they were crazy.

After the usual breakfast of porridge and toast at 0530, I was ready for the Cho La pass. It started off as a nice gentle walk then we climbed steeply onto the glacier with lots of scrambling up rocks, fun times. Walking on the snow field of the glacier was pretty amazing and then there was a short scramble up onto the summit of the pass, another great feeling 🙂

Glory picture

We keep bumping into the same people, there’s a South African group and their porter carries a golf club, not entirely sure why, possibly just for photo opportunities.

The 7th green was fucking MILES away!

Anyways, after sitting for a while and badly faking some yeti footprints it was time to descend the other side.

Hot on the trail of the elusive Yeti

This was a bit harder as we were going down icey snow and rocks but we got down eventually and had lunch, then a short climb onto a dirt path and then down onto a very arrochar alps style glen to the teahouse as Tagnak, whcih has another awesome view from the window. The view also features lots of prayer flags.

Prayer flags are a feature pretty much everywhere we go, they are set up in high places so the wind will carry the prayers further. After some soup and tea we had a demonstration of the Gamov Bag.

Bag of the Gamov Variety

It’s basically a mobile decompression chamber but for altitude sickness. The air is pumped into the bag via a foot pump, increasing the air pressure inside the bag, effectively reducing the altidude inside the bag. Theres a valve which keeps the pressure inside constant after a certain pressure difference has been attained and so the bag doesn’t fill with CO2, suffocating the person inside. Nice.

 

I woke up today feeling good after a great night’s sleep, ready for an easy day ahead. Our walk to Dzjonghla would only take around 2.5 hours over easy terrain with hardly any climb/ descent. It was a brilliant sunny morning and so we took our time and enjoyed the walk, with great views of Lhotse/ Nuptse, Kala Patthar and (fast becoming my favourite) Ama Dablam. The only slight dampener on a great morning was dropping my water bottle, having it roll downhill and then putting a big dent in it by standing on it after running after it to stop it. But hey, it’s still a good story to explain the dent.

We got to the teahouse, in a stunning location, with great views of Ama Dablam and some other mountains. So we sat outside in the sun for lunch.

A nice lunch spot

Lunch was bake beans, sausages, potatoes and chapatti, they’re spoiling us these days, but that may be because it’s another pass tomorrow, the Cho La, over a glacier but apparently a shorter day than the last pass. Oh, back to the bottle story, that happened whilst looking across to the memorials for the sherpas and foreign climbers that died in the 1996 disaster at Thukla.

Anyways, while we were sitting out after lunch, enjoying the sun….

…an avalanche happenned

Impressive eh.

Today I woke up early after not a great nights sleep anyway to people having a 5am wakeup call.  Our wake-up call wasn’t until the slothly time of 6:30 so I lay about for a while until my bladder got the better of me. So then I was up and quickly packed and ready for breakfast followed by our hike up Kala Patthar. It was quite hard at some points but generally easier than the other hills  and it was fantastic to get to the highest point on our trek (5545m above sea level) and our closest view of Everest and a great view of loads of other mountains.

ADRIAAAAAN! I DID IT ADRIIAAAAN!

It truely felt like the top of the world, even if that was still about 2 miles above me. There was a fun scramble up to the very summit (where I am in the picture)

After some photos we headed back down to the teahouse at Gorak Shep for some soup and then onwards and downwards towards Lobuje, via the Pyramid research centre, which is run by the Italians.

Mountain research base (read mad scientist’s home in the mountains)

They research various things like weather, climate, medical effects of altitude and also geology. After that it was only about 15 minutes back to Lobuje and yet more Tigers and goats action and even a nap. I almost forgot the ultimate luxury, slices of fried SPAM with lunch in Gorak Shep.

I’m not sure, but I think it was 100 years ago today that the Titanic hit the iceberg. Anyways, I’m having a much better day than Captain Smith and Co. I woke up and lay in bed until the 6:30 wake up call, it’s sad when that counts as a lie in.

After some porridge and some toast and peanut butter (which is a major luxury by the way). I was ready for more walking today. Our destination today was Gorak Shep (at an altitude of around 5100m, possibly the highest village in the world, I’ll need to check when I get home, Wikipedia doesn’t seem to agree, that it’s a village, sadly) and we would also visit Everest Base Camp, good times.

The walking to Gorak Shep was fairly simple, nothing too taxing today really, on arriving at the teahouse there, we had an early lunch of Sherpa Stew, which is a fantastic soup full of loads of veg. A note on veg actually, we’ve been on a pretty much vegetarian diet since we started trekking as no animals are allowed to be killed in the National Park the freshness of the meat can’t be guaranteed, we’ve had the occasional bit of salami or tinned meat/fish or chicken soup from a tin, but apart from that, mostly veggie. After our sherpa stew and tea we wandered off towards the base camp, leaving Helene behind as she wanted to save her energy for Kala Patthar tomorrow. Anyways, after a while of some up and down walking we reached the base camp.

We found a rock and wrote base camp on it to fool everyone.

It’s on a glacier, which means it is actually constantly moving, although very slowly. The best way I can describe it is like a tented town. There are hundreds of tents there for the various expeditions and such. There’s a medical tent and even a tent with an exhibition of  photos showing the melting of the glaciers, which is quite dramatic really. After that, (the exhibition tent was BOILING, somehow) I was glad to get outside again. We went to the SPCC (Ice Doctors) tent and sat outside it and had a cup of coffee with biscuits, which was another surreal moment, but very nice. The ice doctors are the guys who fix the ladders and ropes onto the Khumbu Icefall so that the climbers can climb up. The icefall is considered one of the most dangerous parts of the whole Everest climb, as it can give way without warning. Anyways, it was very impressive and hopefully the pictures do it justice.

Shame about the hairy guy in front of it

A rescue helicopter also came in as we were wandering around base camp. Also, a strange thing, my phone managed a full signal there, it’s not managed any at any other point, so I got a text off to Aileen, so good times. We also saw some people practicing their ice climbing on the small  walls of the glacier.

Some ants practicing climbing.

I’m looking forward to going Ice Climbing even more when I get home now, although I’ll need to do normal climbing first, I’ll be wasting away without it :P.

After base camp we made good time back to Gorak Shep for tea and more Tigers and Goats action. When we were almost at the teahouse, we got a close up view of more Tibetan Snow Cocks

Teehee, cocks.

Talking of cocks, on Nangkartsang, someone had drawn a cock in the snow, and it wisnae me, glad to see some people here share my imbecilic sense of humour. I think it’s dinnertime now, so adios.

 

Oh dear, oh dear, as the Chuckle Brothers would undoubtedly say, it’s Friday the 13th. Evidently I’ve survived it so far, I had a slight touch of Deja Vu coming downhill today. Weird, but that’s about the weirdest thing to have happened. Hopefully my mum and Aileen aren’t getting ridiculously worried about me on this fateful day.

Before I woke up I had a dream that Phur came into our room and told us that the weather was too bad to do the pass today and we could sleep in. I think I realised that this was a dream before I was woken up by the early wakeup call. The weather was fine and after breakfast we set off to do our first (and highest) high pass the “Khongma La”. The walk started off as a gentle climb onto high, slightly sloping plains. We had some impressive views of Ama Dablam today.

Ama Dablam, feat Dome’s napper

We also saw Makalu (the 5th highest mountain in the world) and Lhotse (the 4th highest) and Nuptse. We also saw some Tibetan Snow Cocks, which are a bit fat, so it has to walk uphill and can only fly back down. We also saw some Himalayan robins and wrens, and tracks which we thought might belong to a snow leopard, but turned out to be more likely to belong to a dog.

Dog tracks

The last ~30 minutes to the pass were very steep and it was hard going but we made it to the top, 5535m.

I had a slight headache at this point, but nothing as bad as yesterday. I think Helene was feeling a bit less well though, so was impressive stuff by her to keep going. We had our lunch at the top of Tibetan Bread, nak cheese, salami, a hard boiled egg and some biscuits. After that, it was time to descent to Lobuje. The first couple of hundred metres were quite sketchy down slidy snow (and too many rocks to do the patented branagan arse slide technique. as shown below)

Branagan Downhill Technique

After that, it was a fairly easy descent down to the foot of the glacier, then a stiff climb up onto it followed by some moderately soul destroying up and down over the the boulder field of the glacier.

Following super mario over the glacier

I suppose this made finally clearing it and getting sight of Lobuje within 10 minutes walk all the better, specially as I’d just run out of water. It was good to get to the teahouse for some tea and a sit down and a rest. Then a wee rest before dinner and some more cards in the sauna like dining room before a well earned sleep.

Note : If you’ve ever read books on the ’96 everest disaster, Lobuje seems to be universally hated by the climbers then as a hell hole. It’s quite nice now.