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Sonntag, 26. Dezember 2010

Himalaya reloaded 2011-14th day-Gokyo Ri

14th day of trek, 26th of December 2010
Gokyo (4.790 m alt) – Gokyo Ri (5.550 m alt.)
A sort of rest day

So, yesterday evening was probably not a very happy one, but all these belongs to any adventure in the wildness. Somebody asked me once, if I am not afraid of going alone. The first thought I had and the reply I gave: “If you start being afraid of something it could occur on your way, you better stay at home. You have to be mentally prepared for everything, to give and to get everything is possible. All or nothing! You are in places where you cannot negotiate, so simply is that.”
As I entered the dinning room last evening there were five persons inside, sitting around the big warm ancient stove. I entered the room and I went straight to a corner and, looking on the large window over the big dark lake, with my back to all others, I cried and I cried and I cried and cried so intensively, until I was too tired for crying. Nobody said anything. I felt lonely. I felt safe. But lonely. I suppose all of them were shocked or something, otherwise I cannot accept the idea they were simply indifferent. After I stopped, I asked somebody to take a picture of me in that bad position, all face only tears :-). So, this was already a sign that I actually felt pretty well or taking pictures doesn’t matter under which circumstances is just a reflex of mine when I am traveling (?). Even if I ‘d feel I die in the next 5 minutes I will think about being captured in a last picture.The idea is to remember also about the tough moments, because life is a big tough moment actually.
I calmed down after short time and I joined the others near the hot stove. After a while I began to get off my dawn clothes.  I ate a tasty Sherpa stew, I ordered a small pot of ginger tea and the dinner. I had a bad idea ordering lasagna, I couldn’t eat it, I didn't like it, so I paid 500 rupies for nothing. I was very sorry for their effort to prepare that lasagna, but I really couldn't eat it. I wonder they offer such sorts of meals which they even cannot prepare. I ordered it from curiosity and I ended the day going to bed with an empty stomach. My choice, my mistake, that was the price for it.
Namaste Lodge is the first lodge on the left after you enter the small settlement on the right side of the 3rd Lake. It’s a quite large building on two levels, horrible dirty toilett inside, without any electricity and, as almost all over the places, the dinning room is the best place because you get some heat from the stove there, but only in the evening for 4-5 hours. I’ve got a small, dark and frozen room, being the only guest on that part of the entire building. I could probably choose a different room, but it wasn’t so important to me, all of them are similar cold actually and you stay in the room only for the night sleep.
This is Gokyo Ri - 5.550 m. The way up is not easy at all.
I could sleep pretty well last night and although I had to go three times outside to pi, it wasn’t so terrible cold as I expected, I mean ... maybe -15 / -20°C.  I left the bed only after 9,30 a.m., going in the dinning room. The lodge was empty, all tourists were already on the trail. Very sunny at ten in the morning and the large Dudh Pokhari Lake streched out with a fantastic combination of colours, turquoise-blue and white from the icy cover. The heavy ice mass moves permanently and the sounds are so unreal ..... on the dark giving you an unearthly feeling.
Rattle and freating ice, squeaky and creaky ice, wavy echoes, clouds covering and ”discovering” the strong sun, offering the lake a permanent game of shadows and shades. I have the feeling of being in another universe, totally weird in the good sense of the word. I watch to myself and to my fascination. I just observe myself as I would be a different person, not myself. Then I see how I decide to go out, anwering to that call to the highlands. I can’t remain, I can’t stay, I can’t sit near the sun heated large window, enjoying the rest of the day, a fantastic panorama view and a good book. I can’t imagine myself sitting inside all day, although I am sick. I gotta move, go out, take pictures, touch what can be touched. I simply have to touch the air there, up on that brown mountain. I could go to the upper end of the village, over Ngozumba Glacier, the apparently longest glacier in the Himalayas – 24 km of huge outflow of ice masses – or I could go to the highest point of this area, the Gokyo Ri. From there it can be seen the spectacular panorama of the Himalayan summits: Everest, Kangchenjunga, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Renjo Pass and so on.
I ordered a jasmine tee, an omelet with cheese and two slices of bread, then I finally left the lodge going to the lake. It was very late, 11 a.m. Too late for seeing other people there, in December there are only very few tourists. I wonder how the both Polnish guys are feeling today (one of them seemed to be altitude sick yesterday, pretty bad), because they wanted to go to  Cho La Pass and cross to Island Peak, dangerous route because of the massive ice fall on the pass. Their guide told us yesterday evening that already in October some tourists died there, sliping down. This is actually why I had to find another solution for reaching Gokyo from Lobuche, avoiding the Cho La Pass. Being alone, Cho La Pass was no option for me.
I cannot stop to repeat how glamurous the day is, the light sun and its reflection in that big surface of turqoise water, all the colours around me: brown, some dark red coming from sporadic vegetation, grey rocks covered by white snow, magnificent blue sky patched with some white clouds looking like the fur sheep :-)
Totally different scenery comparing with Gorak Shep. I compare Gorak Shep with Gokyo because from these two different points the perspective over the highest summit in the world, the Everest, is almost the same. But from down here you can’t see the summit of Gokyo Ri (5.550 m), you start your slowly climb and have to pass over 3 levels until you finally reach the summit. Every 10 meters you climb up and gain higher altitude change the view over the area and because of this I took a lot of pictures, surprinsing different shades and shadows over the frozen lake.
About 12 o’clock I met the British couple coming down very fast. They were tired, they didn’t reach the summit, they wanted to have a quick lunch and leave Gokyo, trekking back to Lukla as fast as possible. They were generally tired and not in the mood anymore to enjoy the time in the highlands. They hopped to reach Dhole today, but I doubt they can do this, it was to late for today, you need at least 4 hours to climb down and overnight in Dhole. So, we official say “good bye”. Claire promised to let me some medicine for my bad cold. Half an hour later, I did the same with the Danish guy, who did reach the summit and run down to catch the British couple. So, although I knew I am alone, I felt a sort of being “more intensively alone”. It sounds stupid? I was alone and lonely in the high Himalayas and my soul was to sick and to small for such a marvellous experience which I will never be able to describe ..................
look how small is the tiny village at the feet of the longest glacier of Himalaya. How the people nestled here .... isn't ut amazing? Is this not one of the unforgettable places on the Earth, you could touch?
About 3 o’clock o relevant side of the lake was free of ice and on the icy part of it were various lines drawings due to the water movement under the thick ice blanket. If you stop and sit down for a while watching the landscape stretched to your feet, you can surprise violent wind crises gambling the tones of dust, sand, pulver snow and water waves. It is the spectacular show of the nature and the background is the permanent dialogue between the ice, wind and the echos flying up to the blue sky.
As I reached again the lake shore the sun was almost gone and it was terrible windy in the valley. I crossed again the water jumping over the stones arranged like a ground bridge to the village and I went inside again.  I was surprised that Claire let me some medicine indeed. It was a terrible dark and windy evening. A big Aussi group, wearing red Peregrine Jackets, populated the big lodge, so it was an active evening around the warm stove. We all, including the Sherpa woman owner of this lodge looked a little bit worried because of the wind, as the dinning room was very exposed out of the building, on the way of the winds coming from all directions. We often felt we all could be blown in the air and windows could be violent broken by the winds.  But nothing happened to the end and we spent a very nice evening. I ordered a Dal Bhat and I was very happy with this choice, it was the best, the tastiest and the biggest Dal Bhat I ever had in Nepal (the smallest was in Namche Bazaar, shame of them, really!). I also had a big cup of hot orange and hot greppfruit, a delicious combination. I observed that some requests are difficult to be understood by the locals, they are not used to be asked for new things. For instant, the normal request is a cup of hot orange and a cup of hot greppfruit or lemon, what ever. If I said that I wish a small pot of combination, orange + greppfruit, it was too confusing. You have to explain how they have to do it for delivering the final product. Not because the locals would be stupid, but because they are not use to think further than they normally do. I was for sure the only person who ever wanted a combination of those drinks, I don’t have other explanation.
I think about going to the 5th lake tomorrow, but it really depends how I sleep and how I wake up in the morning. If I feel worse, it’s clear that I have to leave Gokyo and go down.
Speaking about the breathtaking panorama of today, looking from Gokyo Ri over Ngozumba Glacier and all those mammuth summits of this planet, I looked for more information which I want to write down, as myself I find it very interesting.
That big, high and somehow crooked snow covered summit  on the left in this picture should be the 3rd highest peak in the world: The Kangchenjunga (8.586 m alt.). 
The huge Kangchenjunga belongs to Nepal and India and it was climbed for the first time in May 1955 by George Band and Joe Brown from UK. 
· The name translates “Five Treasures of Snow,” referring to Kangchenjunga’s five peaks. The Tibetan words are: Kang (Snow) chen (Big) dzö (Treasury) nga (Five). The five treasures are Gold, Silver, Precious Stones, Grain, and Holy Scriptures.
· Four of Kangchenjunga’s five summits top 8,000 m.
· Kangchenjunga is the highest mountain in India and second highest in Nepal and is the easternmost 8,000-meter peak. 
·  The first attempt to climb Kangchenjunga was in 1905 by a party led by Aleister Crowley and Dr. Jules Jacot-Guillarmod on the southwest side of the mountain.
· The 1955 first ascent party included famed British rock ace Joe Brown, who climbed a 5.8 rock section on the ridge just below the summit.
·  The first ascent party and most subsequent parties stop just below the summit to respect the Sikkemese belief that the top is sacred space.
·  The 2nd ascent was by an Indian Army team up the difficult northeast spur in 1977.
·  In 1998 Ginette Harrison became the first woman to summit. Kangchenjunga was the last 8,000-meter peak to be climbed by a woman.
·  Mark Twain traveled to Darjeeling in 1896 and later wrote in Following the Equator: “I was told by a resident that the summit of Kinchinjunga is often hidden in the clouds, and that sometimes a tourist has waited twenty-two days and then been obliged to go away without a sight of it. And yet was not disappointed; for when he got his hotel bill he recognized that he was now seeing the highest thing in the Himalayas.”
  About some climbing attempts at Kangchenjunga:
In 1930, an European expedition consisting of German, Austrian, Swiss and British mountaineers made an attempt to scale Kangchenjunga, it failed. Years later a writer came across an extract from the diary of one of the climbers, who wrote:
  “Kangchenjunga (Kanchenjunga) had beaten us… we had examined every portion of the faces above the Kangchenjunga and Rathong glaciers; nowhere was there a chink in the armour of the giant. Others sceptical as to the truth-may follow… like us they will lie awake at night and tremble, even as the ground trembles at the roar of great ice avalanches that seek their destruction… their hope and optimism… ruthlessly crushed beneath the icy heel of Kangchenjunga.”
  In June, 1955 a British expedition under Charles Evans sent a telegram to the ‘Times”, it read:
  “Summit of Kangchenjunga less five vertical feet reached on May 25. All well.” The expedition stopped short of the top-they had agreed to respect the religious feelings of the Sikkimese who regard the mountain as sacred and had undertaken not to desecrate the immediate neighbourhood of the summit.
  Sir John Hunt, who reached the peak of Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norkey, has described it, a mountain more difficult and dangerous to climb, than Everest itself. 
 The Everest Summit (left)
Mighty Majesty
The people of Sikkim depend on the good humour of the deity enthroned on a summit - ‘has he not the power to destroy human habitations with devastating floods and avalanches… and ruin crops by sending terrible hailstorms’- he is portrayed as a fiery red counteranced deity with a crown of five skulls, riding the mythical snow lion, and holding aloft the banner to victory. Seasoned mountaineers hold Khang-Chen-Dzod-Nga in awe and credit it with a cordon drawn around the summit beyond which man may both enter. 

   There is an annual festival of ritual and dance dedicated to the ‘Worship of the snow range of Khang-Chen-Dzog-Nga, during the early part of Autumn. As in the classical days of Greek Gods who danced atop Mount Olympus, Lamas dressed in the impressive masks and broacades of the God, prance and whirl against the backdrop of the mountain itself. 

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