Extra acclimatization or move on to Lobuche?
Morning started at 3am. No sleep for me. But, I was feeling a lot better. My headache is only a dull ache now. Though I still feel as though one does after a battle with a fever. I think I’ve beaten my mental barrier on the Everest Base Camp Trek.
Over breakfast the Korean girl announces she was going home and the Canadians announce they were going to spend another day here. The Canadian girl was still feeling sick with altitude sickness and wanted another day of rest. This was a good sensible choice.
The idea of spending another day should have appealed to me too. I discussed it with Narayan. He asked the tea house owner about others coming through. Then looked out the window at the mountain weather.
Snow was our next challenge.
We needed to get moving before the snow came. It was my choice. Something told me it was time to move on.
Breakfast of champions to trek the steep incline
I devoured a plate of macaroni with cheese, a hot lemon and filled up my bottles with hot water. The trail started steeply from early on. And, apparently was going to continue on like this until base camp.
I can only recall the days before briefly now. Rather than impending doom and an invisible wall I just felt a little daunted. But my wasn’t pounding as much so this helped.
Slow steps and lots of breaths were needed. But, we were moving. Until my boots slipped back two steps every other step.
Barren landscapes and a rising wind as we make it up to 4,900 meters
The air is thin and very dry. I am thirsty all the time. Dust keeps blowing, and at times so strongly that it’s hard to even hear the dry dirt under my slipping feet.
All around us is wasteland. Little if anything can grow at this altitude. Moreover the terrain is more of those monotonous ups and downs I hated so much. Turns and twisting valleys of endless barren brown do little to inspire.
We can look down at the vast lower trail from Pheriche. This would be our route back. For now we were headed towards the last of the steep climbs.
Naked Russian spies and the great climb
On approach to Lobuche we run into a team of super Russian soldiers. Well, I really don’t know what else they could be. Dressed in black body suits they are equipped with a satellite radio (the old type in a briefcase), and a host of other strange gadgetry.
Of the team only three laughed and joked. The other four looked mean and serious. Watching everything around them. Including a brief joint, and a very loud striptease plunge into an icy river from the top-tier of their team.
What can I say, Nepal brings out all sorts of people.
Again, please keep in mind I did this trek in the off peak winter season. If you are thinking about trekking in Nepal in off or peak season then please read my article on What to expect when trekking in Nepal
Lobuche the final big climb
It looked daunting. A forty-five degree incline that got steeper on the way up. But, as steep as it looked, I was glad not to be doing the whole up a bit, then down a bit routine any longer.
Just give me the hard climb and keep the laborious monotonous trails
So we set off. A long climb over rocks and boulders. Tough, but the wind was dying down and the sun was warm. What’s more my broken boots didn’t slip on the boulders, unlike the gravel strewn trails previously.
Memorial of the fallen climbers in Nepal
At the top of this mountain trail lies a memorial for fallen climbers. We stood alone surrounded by stupas and small stone walls marking out the memorial area.
It was remote, and solitary. It wipes the smile from your face as you realise where you are now.
The explorers before you are remembered here. Those chasing dreams and paying with their lives.
This was a place I felt deep within my being.
Ode to a dream:
On my journey to find a place to called home many fail to realize the ultimate destination if I fail. This is no ordinary travel blog. This is a true life venture that’s pitted with reality.
I read the brass plate on one stupa:
“May he have accomplished his dreams”
I am not ashamed to stay I struggled to hold back tears.
More than just mountaineers, these were the people who fought for their dreams. A rare place on this planet where their efforts are remembered in solitary glory. A bleak and desolate place at this time of year that few come across.
I cannot help but think of those like Scott, a man who tried to be the first to make it to the South Pole, only to be beaten, and die on the way back. He, and his team, kept journals. They kept journals right up until they died from hypothermia, starvation and thirst. If you have the time I recommend you read this article about Scott of the Antarctic.
Lost in a field of dreams
The wind picked up and told us to move along. My mind was still stuck on the fallen. Feeling the cold as we descended to the camp ahead I realized that I’d left my hat behind. Leaving all our things here, Narayan made the effort to go back for it. If there is one person who goes beyond the call in Nepal, it is Narayan.
From here we trekked to Lobuche for a final night at 4,930 meters/16,174feet.
Surprisingly there were people there. Quite a few. Most coming back from base camp due to the worsening weather. There was an air of celebration about the place. I’d forgotten what day it was of course.
Adding to this … snow began to fall.
What they were actually celebrating was the fact they’d made it to Everest Base Camp before the snow cut it off.
Were we too late?
Everest Base Camp Trek Day 7 ( Disaster strikes in the form of heavy winter snow as we reach the highest altitude on the trek … time to turn back?)
Note this trek took place in late December/early January during the off peak winter season
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