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Montag, 20. Dezember 2010

Himalaya reloaded 2011 - 8th day - Lobuche

8th day of trek, 20th of December 2010
Dingboche (4.360 m) – Lobuche (4.930 m)
Solo trek, 19 kg backpack – 5 long hours

-10°C in the room and -16°C outside in the morning at 8, in Dingboche. No sun, no move ..... all around seems to be stuck in cold and silence and shadow. A stunned time in a frozen area. Am I still on Earth?
After a new crumbed and sleepless night – still only twice going outside -, at 6,20 I gave up my struggle to fall asleep and I remained squatting in my warm sleeping bag, still having the desire for a deep and long sleep. At 6:50 a.m. I dared to leave my warm bank, tired of looking to the ice flowers on the window :-). I started to pack again. After a while, when you have a lot of stuff and the mornings are becoming earlier and colder, you start hate packing, believe me! But there is always the compensation of a wonderful day on the trail, which you will never forget! In the middle of the action, before 8, I went to the dinning room for ordering my breakfast, then I returned to finish my work. Two fried eggs (250 rupies), 1 sherpa stew (350 rupies) and a small pot of boiled water (200 rupies). I added the rest of the potatoes I couldn’t eat last evening. The owner was very surprised about my idea to keep the rest of the food til next day. He said, it is not a good idea to let it in the kitchen, because it will be totally frozen, I should take it in my room over night. I let it in the dinning room and he just warmed it again in the morning and it was just perfect for me. It was safe and I saved some money. I knew a long difficult day expects me, so the breakfast was very important this time.
At 8:15 I started to eat, very slowly. The Danish guy came, at 8:30 came the British couple too. Peter’s intention was to have a rest day in Dingboche, Claire and Andy changed their plans, so they planed to go to Chhukhung and stay over night there. This was meaning, we should meet tomorrow in Lobuche, eventually. The people on the trail do not remain connected, even if they start the day together. Changes can occurs every time in the name of freedom. So, I understood I have to leave solo again and to find my way in the wildness.
See the retreat of the morning cold shadow over Dingboche and Imja Valley
My trail today started in front of the lodge, steep climbing to the top of the hill, behind the white chorten. I sat inside finishing my rich breakfast and sadly looking outside. It was already 9 o’clock and still full cold shadow over the area, some wind. I had a strange feeling this morning. The fire in the dinning room was started very late, after 8 a.m., because the owner did not bother to be earlier for us today. For the group yesterday, they did the fire much earlier.
To be very honest, this morning at 9:15 I reluctantly started in my dawn jacket, following the steep path to the sky. The sun’s light up on the top of the hill, higher than the Nangartsang Gompa – the white chorten -, gave me some courage. After ten minutes without looking behind, I stopped to see what is happening with the sun, I wanted the sun light, the sun warm. Still hidden behind the majestic AmaDablam, the sun seemed to groan in its own rhythm, but it was a very promising day. I really waited for the sun as never before and I was very happy as it fully came outside after other 10 minutes longer, flooding the entire valley and village of Dingboche. Because of too heavy backpack, I reached the ridge of the hill only after 40 minutes and I took a break for 10 minutes, removing all dawn cloth and preparing myself in a much lighter equipment (but heavier backpack now, of course) for a long trail along the valley that opened down to my feet.
 I looked around to the east, greeting for the last time the Imja Valley and the Island Peak (last peak on the right of this picture, very small), I said “good bye” to the Dingboche and the big lodge, I took some memorable pictures, I saluted AmaDablam again, saying a grateful “thank you for the sun!” and I started my descent on the other side of the hill. The adventure goes on to the higher levels of the Earth and Senses.

Periche Village down in the valley
Due to the map – not the best one, unfortunatelly, but good enough – on the right side there are the peaks of Nangkar Tshang (5.616 m) and Pokalde (5.693 m). After 15 minutes I could see the Periche village far away in the down valley left, behind me. I imagine myself for some minutes walking along that very long valley of Phalang Karpo (a quite impozant peak of 4.340 m that accompanied me all the trail til the river cross) and I remembered about the terrible days I spent on a similiar valley two years ago, going to Jomson. These are usually very windy areas and you almost have to keep going with closed eyes because of the fine dust.
If I’m not wrong, also due to the map, the mountain chain on my left were formed by Taboche and Chola Glacier with Taboche Peak inbetween (6.367 m). The trail was very pleasant, sun and wind behind me, my backpack protected me very well. I crossed through the long dry valley for 2 hours, enjoying very minute. The path coming from Periche joins the trail from Dingboche and contours down to a stream, crossing it on a bridge just before Dhukla (4.620 m). I stopped on the bridge admiring the various colors and forms of the ice, large or small icy caps and the water seemed to angry boil under those, upset that its freedom of movement was limited by the ice.
I stopped for only 5 minutes here, leaning the backpack so that I don’t feel it anymore how heavy it is. Lord, how stubborn can I be sometimes .... I do not understand myself. So, after two hours of walking without a break, although I clearly see what a terrible climb expects me for at least one hour, I do stop for a rest only for five minutes?! Not even removing my backpack?! Unbelievable! Sometimes I think, I feel that on the mountain, in certain situations, another person stands out from my inside and works for me. And I have to humbly admit that it makes thinks working great in the end! It must be an angel!
Dhukla - The HRA doctors at Periche urge everyone to stay a night at Dhukla to aid acclimatisation. The elevation gain of 700 m from Perische to Lobuche (600 m from Dingboche) is twice the recommended rate of ascent for a day.

From Dhukla the trail goes directly up the terminal moraine of the Khumbu Glacier for about one – one hour and half. No technical skills needed, but it’s long and steep and dry and rocky. Like the climb from Ciucas Cab (1.560 m) to the Ciucas Peak (1.954 m) as I remember for 25 years ago, but here you are “just” about over 3.000 m higher and this is the difference. I didn’t rush, it would be silly to rush in such of places, you just kill yourself for nothing. So, I took every step, every rock like I’d knitted a shawl! Who ever did knitting in his life, knows exactly how much time and attention and patience you need for finish it. So is the trek through Himalaya like. You are middle on the way and you may not stop and stay there, you have to go forward or backward, it doesn’t matter really. The direction, so far the right one, is not important. Important is to keep walking before you are too tired, before the night is coming and so on.
After one and half hour under the shinny sun I reached the memorial area known as Chukpilhara, on the top of Thokla Pass. It was 1 p.m. There is a row of stone monuments in memory of six Sherpas who died in an avalanche during the 1970 Japanese skiing expedition on Everest. There are many other monuments to climbers, mostly Sherpas, who have perished since then. 
Two new large chortens memorialise the American climber Scott Fischer, who died in the 1996 Everest disaster, and Jangbu Sherpa, who was killed on Everest one year later. I felt so emotional in that place, so I stopped for about 20 minutes to walk around. The place is fantastic, I imagine spending a night there in a tent.
After I ate a small isostar snack I had in the pocket, I went further to the single way it seemed to have connection to the trail. From the wide large plateau I entered then a narrow path along a rocky wall and in front of me a total different scenery opened. I walked on a somehow high hanging path leading to a broad  mild valley, which seemed as endless as the valley that I had come for two hours until the bridge before Dhukla. One of my type of landscape, so much freedom, emotional freedom. You just forget about your tired or hungry or lonely stats. You live the life and every drop of it.
At the moment I took this picture I had no idea that I will reach the feet of that  
"big white guy" in the background, the majestic Pumo Ri, border point to Tibet 
(as the entire range of mountains there, of course). 
I will never forget that white giant in front of me for several days. 
I was walking along the Khumbu Glacier, which streched itselft behind the hill on my right. On the left side, Awi Peak (5.245 m). After about half an hour along the valley, following a path that became  increasingly narrow, I only met three peaceful yaks in that desert of dry frozen everything. Then I began to get ideas about being on the right or on the wrong way, because the perspectives in front of me were without any end indeed. Having a feeling of dimensions, I knew that today was to short for reaching the mountain range at the horizon. It was strange not to meet any Sherpa, any porter, any nobody and I expected the sun will be gone in about one hour later, that was the only problem. When the sun is gone, everything is changed, including your brave mood. So, I have to admit that in such of situations I am dependent of the sun light and warm. On the other hand, on the path’s dust were a lot of shoes signs, so the area was visited or even crossed also by people, not only by animals. I shooted a short movie, in case of something and I began to start about taking into consideration an overnight under the open sky, without any food.
It was about 2 p.m., so, after I’ve got used with the idea of sleeping somewhere outside I decided to go forward, not backward to Dhukla (it was a rational option, of course).
I had planed a trek of 4-5 hours today, taking into consideration the much higher level I gained in just few hours. The general strong advice in the highlands is that after you have passed the threshold of 3.000-3.500 m above sea level you must keep moving every day for several hours, but avoid gaining in altitude higher than 350-500 m, because your body will collaps in a few days. And indeed I heard about such stories in Namche Bazaar, as some brave tourists didn’t feel the danger of the high altitude and refused to stay in Namche for 2 nights. They then had to return from Tengboche or Dingboche to lower lever and stay there for a while, before going up again.

I still expected to reach Thokla Village, although on the map was clearly mentioned, that Thokla is not a village, but a pass. This can be one disadvantage of trekking alone: a few seconds of misunderstanding or not paying enough attentions to your map! Thokla Pass was behind me. But as I didn’t trust myself to reach over 4.900 m today, of course I was relaxed about the distance.
When I saw the first blue roof of a building it was about half past two. Then, far away on the background I located two aluminum opened hats, those where the locals boil the water through the raw sun power. Then I knew I will find a lodge for the night. It was still very early ..... I always say, that the time is purely a matter of relativity. I entered the village full of joy and I tried to find an inscription to be sure about the name of the settlement. No tourist to be seen. I counted about 3 very small lodges and 3 big hotels, one of them quite a new building, terrible hostile, ugly light yellow building, I wonder how they can build such an unaesthetic thing here, at the end of the world, why don’t they just respect the environment colors and context, the local architecture and colors and forms .... awful building, I am very-very sad about this. Because it is Himalaya, not a doesn’t matter what big city, you know? Bad idea! They thing only about making more and more money, they don’t want to learn from the lesson of so called “civilised world” and its disasters. They want to be blind.

I walked among all the shelters looking for an appealing one. The big hotel made from river stone, where I saw the aluminum huts, was located over the river and as I supposed it is too expensive for my budget, I didn’t even go there. After checking almost everything I still was undecided where to go. Suddenly I saw an inscription: “way to Above the Clouds Lodge” and I remembered what Anna said: “I meet you tomorrow at that lodge in Lobuche”. So, I am in Lobuche .... already?! (what a joke, right? “already” after five hours!). I followed that direction and I saw an old terrible small lodge: “Above the Clouds Lodge (Lobuche 4.930 m)”. 
I dared inside and I remarked the ingenious system of “automatic closing door”: on the old pulley principle, a bottle of water took care the door was closed behind you. This funny detail of closed or open doors becomes quite important in such cold locations and it is very annoying when it is very cold, inside just becoming warmer from the evening fire, but the people who are entering or outgoing the room don’t care about closing the door. It is a waste of energy, why do you care about fire then, if you always let the door open? But of course, the local people do not care about such of things, they enjoy to have warm inside, but they cannot warm their houses. They do some fire only when they have several tourists inside, otherwise they don’t do it. So, they are so accustomed with the conditions, that it’s almost impossible to expect from them to take care of this. This is why I was really surprised about this ingenious idea here. n the small dining room was a young man, under 30 y.o.
I asked if this is really Lobuche and he confirmed. I asked about the room price (50 rupies per night) and the toilet location and I checked in. I realized it was terrible cold inside, the rooms were colder, because got no sun, but I promised Anna to meet her here, so I stayed. I ordered a soup, I brought my sleepig bag in the dinning room and I comfortably lied on the bench parallel to the glass window that covered half of the wooden wall of the dinning room (yes, glass window, no mistake! You don’t see everywhere glass windows, but wooden “windows”). And I started to study the map and the lonely planet book, then to write about the day. In the lodge, no other tourist. I was alone with the young Nepali who barely spoke some poor English. But I understood he is not the owner, just an employee and he is going to have holiday for one month starting 20th of January, so the lodge will be close. His home is 3 days walking down (for me probably 5 days). I wondered such a primitive lodge is opened in the winter. Made only from thin sheets of wood and tin, the lodge can be pleasant for the summer, but can be cancerous cold for the winter nights. And I was right, unfortunately. 
The sun gone down at about 4 p.m. and I couldn’t write very long, after 5,30 I gave up, my fingers were frozen. I felt very good, almost happy because I was able to reach that point today, alone. Very sob, whimper and wrapped in my sleeping bag, having again breathing problems due to my old cold, losing blood through the endless mucus, at 7 p.m. I decided it was time to sleep. I was tired. This cold steels a lot, a lot of energy. I feel stupid about insisting, but this is a real diary, not a marketing story. And I am very sensitive in front of cold and frozen air.
I found terrifying the thought of retiring to my dark room, so I took advantage of being the only guest and I spent the night in the dining room. It was the first night when I kept my dawn jacket on. And it was the first night when I could really sleep!
Costs of today:
Breakfast: 800
Lunch in Lobuche: rara noudle soup (350), S.M. lemon tea (300)
Dinner: vegetable fried rice (400)
Total: 1.850 NRP / 27 USD
My advice for such of trekking trips in Himalaya: 
Buy the services of a local travel agency. 
If your backpack is over 12 kg, hire a porter. 
Think about hiring a local guide. 
read here the daily schedule of the entire trail 
My first adventure in Himalaya can be read March 2009

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