Trek Day 5

 Kyanjuma to Dole  4040m

 

Wednesday 15th November 2006

 

This was where we branched away from the Everest Base Camp trail and we immediately began a 2 hour climb to the Mong La. (3972m)  This was a shock to the system and the party was very quiet as we struggled towards the chorten on the ridge ahead. Then, phew, a respite as we dropped slowly back down towards the Dudh Kosi river and a stop for tea, followed by an easy walk until lunch.  I’ve decided that I’ll stick to soup for a while, solid food has temporarily lost its appeal.  I had tomato soup with Rara noodles, it was a big portion and the noodles would provide some carbs! 

The next couple of hours took us through a huge rhododendron forest.  It was beautiful now but what a sight it must be in spring.  As we climbed steadily the rhododendrons gave way to conifers and then for a while we were walking in a strange forest of lichen covered trees.   This had a very other-worldly look to it and Lakpa told us that the lichen would only grow where the air was pure so the success of the lichen could be used as a barometer of pollution.   We left the trees behind.  Ama Dablam continued to dominate the sky and my eye was constantly drawn to its beautiful shape, two ridges jutting out like arms.  Our sherpas said it was like a woman with outstretched arms wanting to embrace you but after yesterday’s tragedy this metaphor seemed more frightening than reassuring!

 

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Me (in the hat) and yak

"Just one potato?"

Carole and Ama Dablam

Ama Dablam

 

We reached Dole where we were to spend the night.  The lodge was very poor, scruffy and dirty.  The worst we saw on the trek.  We went to our room and were shocked at its tiny size, like a cell.  It held two pallets for us to lie on and there was an 18 inch space between them.  Only one person could move at a time while the other sat on the pallet.  We had the end room of a long wide corridor, other rooms being on the same side of the passage.  On the other side of the wide corridor were raised wooded boards and it was on these that our sherpas, together with porters from other groups staying at the lodge, would have to sleep. There would be no privacy or comfort for them and it was already bitterly cold as there was a wide open doorway right next to our door and already the floor outside was white with frost.  We were all going to be cold tonight.  At the other end of the long corridor was a toilet, not a pretty sight, and steep stairs leading up to the dining room.  

We joined our group as quickly as we could and found to our irritation that the other bedrooms were normal sized, we had just drawn the short straw.  Another small trekking group joined ours and we all huddled round the stove but couldn’t get very warm.  Eventually more yak dung was added and we started to thaw out and as we did we began to talk.  The group was with Explore,  they told us that they were on their way back from Gokyo and had lost three members.  The first had to be helicoptered down with altitude sickness and his girlfriend had flown with him.  The third was a 65 year old woman who had been doing fine, showing no signs of altitude sickness, then on the evening before the climb of Gokyo Ri had become very depressed and emotional.  It had been impossible to reason with her and she had to be walked straight back down with a sherpa.  Funny thing this altitude.

I decided to continue with my soup diet and had Sherpa stew which turned out to be thick with potatos and carrots, followed by tinned fruit.  Strange combination but I just fancied the fruit, it slipped down well. 

As predicted our room was bitterly cold.  I spread my down jacket over my sleeping bag and wore the hat I’d bought in Namche, also gloves and socks.  I still wasn’t very warm and once again I lay awake worrying about whether we would have enough warm clothes for Gokyo.  The Diamox tablets made me visit the loo three times during the night, our door creaked loudly when I opened it and I had to walk along wooden boards past the long row of sherpas to the loo and then ‘clump clump’ back again to torture the door once more.  Thank goodness they are such polite people, even so I could imagine what they were thinking!  Carole’s pallet was hard and she couldn’t get comfortable.  Eventually she sat up and in sheer rage and frustration pummelled her knees.  Unfortunately she had her head torch in her hand and it came apart, the batteries flying under my bed.  Nervously I wondered whether I should feign sleep but realised a working head torch was a must, so I braved her temper to find the batteries and we eventually got it, and her, back together again.  Not much sleep tonight! 

 

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"With arms outstretched.."

Edmund Hillary Hospital

Prayer Wheels

Strange lichen

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