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Samstag, 18. Dezember 2010

Himalaya reloaded 2011 - 6th day - Dingboche

6th day of trek,18th of December 2010
Tengboche (3.870 m) – Dingboche (4.360 m)
5 hours slow trek, backpack 19 kg

As I left the dinning room yesterday evening at about 8, going outside to my room, for 5 minutes I thought: ”It is so pleasant outside, not cold at all! Superb full moon, billion of stars, peacefull .... what can you dream more? You are actually in Shangri La!”. The entire range of the Himalayas Giants opened in front of my hungry eyes, hudge white shadows in the dark under the moon light: Kwangde (6.187 m), Tawachee (6.542 m), Everest, Nuptse (7.861 m), Lhotse (8.501 m), AmaDablam (6.812 m), Kantega (6.779 m) and Thamserku (6.623 m). After five minutes I felt already frozen. It was very cold indeed, maybe minus 10 degrees Celsius.

I had a difficult night because I had to clean my nose every ten minutes, it was terrible stuffy. In the morning at 5 I had to go outside to the toilet, the biggest challenge of the winter nights in Himalaya. Pitch dark, no sound. Only a light on the path moving up from Dingboche. So cold, so dark, but somebody was on the way to Namche probably. A man in the silence of the cold night .... It is such an emotional fragment of life.
I could sleep for about one hour, at 6:20 a.m. I was awake again and I didn’t feel able to leave the bed, so I lingered one hour longer and after 7 a.m. I started to pack my backpack. But it was too cold, so I gave up at 8 and I went to the dinning room to see if the others are on their feet and to order my breakfast.
I was surprised to see that everybody was there and they even already had their breakfast. And the biggest surprise was the warm room, the nice owner did the fire early in the morning. Wow! So, I went back to my outside room, I took all my stuff and I brought it to finish packing in the dinning room, much better!
For breakfast I ordered only a chapati and 2 eggs. I had to buy a new toilett paper set for my nose (80 NRP). I felt confortable about saving money again, because yesterday I had spent less than 2.000 rupies, so I left 40 rupies tipp to the nice owner family. They were really great! Oh, and in my room I left some soft bonbons and a small toy, a plastic teddy bear, I hope they will smile when will see it :-), this is the main idea.
We started all nine guys from different corners of this world at 9 a.m. following the descending path to Dingboche and meeting very soon an icy trail segment that needed special attention from our side. It was the first morning when I started having the gloves on, the hat and the wind stopper. We expected a short trekking day for only 4-5 hours, but an altitude difference for 500 meters.
From Tengboche it is a short and steep descent to Devuche through a forest of birches, conifers and rhododendrons. I like this kind of forests, I find them very interesting, very different actually. The very few houses and the gompa of the tiny village of Devuche (Deboche) are off in the trees to the west, and the nunnery is up the hill to the east. I saw a small house as a kind of “hospital” (in the picture above), but I saw no human soul anywhere, no sign that was inhabited, no smoke, no move, nothing.
After 15 minutes from our departure I  remained alone behind the group and I didn’t meet them again til the final destination of today. I was interested to take pictures and movies, to enjoy every second, every step, and I had a heavier backpack, so I couldn’t keep the line with them, but I wasn’t worried at all.  They talk and talk, I don't remember the subject, but they focused too much on talking and walking, not at all on the way and sceneries. From this point of view, I wanted to find my peace and to feel everything around me, even the cold air and the dry dust. I took a short break for taking off my wind stopper and gloves, I kept the hat on. I suppose here I lost my valuable stick for the sun protection, it will be a problem as I have no other protection for the face, especially lips and nose.
From Devuche the level trail passes many mani walls in a deep rhododendron forest. Watch the leaves curl up in the cold and open in the morning when the sun strikes them. After crossing the Imja Khola on a steel bridge, swaying a terrifying distance above the river at a spot where the river rushes through a narrow cleft, the route climbs past some magnificently carved mani stones to Pangboche at 3.860 m. Just before the village are two chortens, a kani and a resting place. East of the chortens is a monument where you can see the footprint of the patron saint Lama Sange Dorje preserved in stone – due to lonely planet, because I didn’t see it at all.
“Pangboche is the highest year-round settlement in the valley. The Pangboche gompa is the oldest in Khumbu and once contained relics that were said to be the skull and hand of a yeti. These items were stolen in 1991, so another chapter of the yeti legend continues unsolved.”
There are two different villages: lower and upper Pangboche. On the way to the Everest you choose better the lower route. When I returned, I went to the upper Pangboche, a very different trail leading to Gokyo Lakes.
Beyond Pangboche the route enters alpine meadows above the tree line. Long way. All the time you are going up you think about at least three elements which are against you: the altitude, the heavy backpack and the ascent itself. I could add the strong sun, the cold, the wind, stuffy nose and lonelyness. I met very few people on the trail.
Leaving Pangboche I met a local men. He was worried about some water pipes, so far I could conclude. It was a small frozen river and from there some thin pipes to the village. The man was checking them out. My eyes were drawn to his shoes. He wore white socks and varnished black shoes! I just was probably suprised about that, but it seems that such of things are happening all over the world, I saw it in Tansania, in an isolated village of Romania, in Ecuador, now in the highlands of Himalaya.
I felt on the trail today the presence of Hillary again. A wooden inscription informs you about the”primary school established by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1963”. Quite touching, I have to admit this. Again. You don’t realize the impact of this man until you go and see all these things he acchieved here. I feel touched by the fact that the locals still respect his role in their lives.
 It was a short trekking day, but somehow a long trail today. Probably because of the intensity of every step I did. I had to cross about three dangerous spots on the very steep and narrow high path, which creeps acrobatically up on the level curve. And I even filmed while walking, crazy thing. On my right, deep down was the river and the left side was dominated by the mountain wall.

At 12:30 I entered a large alpine desert and I had to stop to get dressed, it was very open space and too cold wind. Unfortunately I couldn’t take pictures, the small camera had probably frozen batteries by now (I filmed before for longer time) and the bigger camera was inside my backpack, too much trouble to get it out. I walked further for about 45 minutes, no soul around. I can imagine how beautiful and warm can be during the summer, for sure billion of edelweiss flowers!
I passed through Shomare without stopping for lunch, but stoically climbing further on the trail. After 10 minutes I left behind a single lodge in Chejungma. It was locked, nobody seemed to be around there.
Orsho (4.130 m) is actually just a single big lodge, 3 buildings. I didn’t know that at the moment I reached the locked building or I missed something. It was suddenly too windy on the open plateu and I just was looking for a spot to get out my wind stopper and the gloves. Going to the building with the strong shiny sun in front of me, I couldn’t see the name of the place and I thought I will find an inscription to the other side of the lodge, so that I will have the sun behind me. But I saw no other inscription and I didn’t want to go there to see exactly what place it is. I just supposed a long way expects me, so no time for unnecessary stops. When you are alone on the trail, the judgement is quite different as when you are a couple or several people together.
From this point, some further down actually, the peak of Everest can be seen peering over the ridge of Nuptse.

Beyond Orsho the trail divides and you just have to pay attention – as I didn’t, I was just lucky to reach Dingboche, as no signs or inscriptions are available! -. The lower, more important-looking trail leads to Dingboche, while the trail to Periche goes up to the left, through the front yards of a few herders’s hut, over a stone wall and climbs a small ridge before descending to the Khumbu Khola, crossing it on a wooden bridge. From the ridge it is a ten minutes walk, usually in the wind, to Periche, at 4.240 m.
Dingboche is 100 m higher as Periche, so it is a better base for acclimatisation. As my initial plan was to climb on Island Peak and as from Dingboche you are only one day away from that mountain, it was a logical matter to go directly to Dingboche, climbing up instead of going down. Except the fact I started to cough, I felt quite acclimatisated and I don’t know if my bad condition was because of the cold winter or just because I had left Kathmandu having already a cold. I assume the combination was not a happy one.

So, beyond Orsho I stayed on the large wide trail and after 15 minutes I descended to a bridge across the Khumbu Khola at 4.150 m. The path is climbing about 40 up to 50 minutes from the bridge to a crest and traverses to the lodges at Dingboche. The funny thing was that as I first saw the roofs of the lodges I had no idea it could be Dingboche and it was about 1:40 p.m., so a little bit late. I intended to stopp for a short lunch. I entered the big village about 10 minutes later and I looked amazed to the first lodge on the right side. “Peaceful Lodge” is a complex location, big yard, having a wooden high gate. At the gate, inside, on the paved way, an old man was sitting on a chair and revolved in a constant rhythm a prayer wheel. I looked at him and I walked further. On the lodge I read the name of the place: Dingboche. I was very confused, as I expected to be in Orsho! After some steps I heared my name. It was Claire, the British lady. They arrived one hour earlier hier and expected to see me. She confirmed to me I reached Dingboche and I exploded for surprise, I felt relieved, although I was in the mood for a further 2-hours walk. But yes, I felt relieved. I was hungry, it was 2 p.m,, the clouds got closer and closer, so it was excelent that I reached today’s destination. I was walking for 5 hours now, time for a hot drink.
There are several great lodges in Dingboche. I wouldn’t stopped by the first lodge, but it was a very good idea, as the trail to Lobuche starts in front of it, climbing the hill to the high ridge to be crossed.
I’ve got a wonderful small room with a single bed, on the sunny side and as I entered the room it was pleasant warm inside. The toilet was also inside the building and as I had this big problem of going out 3-4 times every time, it was an important matter for me.
It was a very long afternoon and evening, I missed having a good book with me. I had that political science book, but not appealing enough. I spent the entire time in the dinning room, where a big group of very young Australians cherried the atmosphere, but in a less pleasant way. They were very noisy, bad mannered and ignored all other guests in the lodge. When the fire were started after 5 p.m. and it began to be warmer inside, their group monopolized the entire space around the stove, the other tourists felt marginalized. On the walls were some small hanging lockers and inside the thick, colorful, warmkeeping blankets. But a note claiming “not for use” stopped us to use it. I had my own sleeping bag down with me, so I didn’t care too much.
A very old Sherpa man came inside, I suppose it was the father of one of the owner’s family. He didn’t see very well. He approached a tourist who was reading and started to star to his book. The tourist let him the book and the old Sherpa began to study the book all over, looking for pictures. I didn’t hear the old man speaking during the 2 days I spent there.
Costs of the day in local rupies:
1 cup hot chocolate 65,
1 vegetable cheese fried potato 395
       1 small pot boiled water (1 l) 200
         READ HERE about the next day                   
1 night single room 100
+ breakfast in Tengboche 350
TOTAL: 1.110 NRP (16 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.  

My first adventure in Himalaya can be read March 2009


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