Down and Around

After making some arrangements to trek out of the snow with some other folks, we set off through the still hard snow into a beautiful sunny day, surrounded by snowy peaks and reminded of the weather in Gokyo as almost 20 helicopter trips were needed to fly trekkers out of the 5.5 feet of snow. Once below snow line I got into the pace to make miles, from Machermo to Pangboche in a long day. To stay out of the snow, I had decided to focus on seeing some more of lower country and spent a few days touring various monasteries and seeing familiar faces.
After an overnight trip to Thame to get off the beaten path I started working my way down to Lukla and this morning flew back to Kathmandu, ending my trek, but not my trip just yet. Reunited with a hot shower and cotton clothing feels pretty nice.

Gokyo and Snow

I arrive in Gokyo mid morning with my temporary trekking buddy Sophie to find blue skies and thin air. Higher than I’d ever been before, my pace was reduced to a slow plod. Gokyo is situated next to the 3rd of 6 sacred lakes in a chain fed by a glacier and high in copper, leaving them a brilliant blue hue. After a bit of tea, Sophie and I headed up the ridge to see the dry glacier (covered by dirt and rock) and Gokyo from above. Solo once more as Sophie made her way down towards Namche, I caught some time with my book and writing a postcard or two.
After an uneventful evening for me (the two poor doctors had to evacuate 3 people by helicopter and keep one in a PAC bag overnight) I woke up at 4 to make an attempt at Gokyo Ri for sunrise. Seeing heavy cloud cover, I decided to hold off for the next day, and hike to the other lakes later in the morning. When I awoke, I was feeling the altitude amd decided to lay low as the snow started. And kept coming. Next morning it was mid-thigh deep and still coming down hard, I decided that today was the last time for a while I had a chance to get down, but the trail down to Machermo was treacherous, known for the avalanche that killed 13 Japanese trekkers a few years ago. If I was going to do it, there was safety in numbers, so we grouped everyone leaving into one pack and made our way down to the bridge, the start of the slide zone. From here the next kilometer was an adrenaline-enhanced blur, running from terrain trap to terrain trap. I was 10′ from a porter who was caught in a slide and pushed off a cliff into the river below, amazingly okay. The next slide buried a few trekkers and killed a yak or two but I had one thought, get myself down ASAP. (I later learned that all the humans caught in the slide were rescued safely). Once in Machermo, I headed for the rescue post to deliver some messages from the doctors in Gokyo, warm up, and help pump the PAC bag for yet another victim of altitude sickness (HAPE in this case). After a long night at the post, and getting roped (literally) into climbing onto the roof to clear the solar panels to charge the O2 concentrator, I was ready for bed.

Onward and upward!

Greetings from Machermo (13,850′)! A very short day today from Dole brings me to a beautiful high village bifurcated by a glacial stream. I had an unpleasant run in with a bee a few days ago and had balloon hand. In Machermo, there is a small medical outpost, where I was able to dose my hand in hydrocortisone and the swelling is receding! Last night I spent the night in a lodge with a group of fellow Americans and a young Dutch woman.
You can tell that we are going off the beaten track now, no power, no running water, only small farming villages. The views continue to be impressive and tomorrow I will make the trek to the famed village of Gokyo (15,800′) nestled between a holy glacial lake, Gokyo Ri and a dry glacier reaching down from Cho Oya, the 6th tallest mountain in the world.

So it begins

After a long slog across the world to get to nepal via dubai, and two nights of sleepless in Kathmandu, I’m finally in the beautiful Himalayas. Flying in a STOL Dornier twin turbo prop I catch my first glimpse of the snow capped peaks contrasting with the green of the lush valleys. Coming into Lukla, I see the famed runway of the Tenzing-Hillary airport, all 1500′ @ 15% grade of it. A rough touchdown and heavy braking brings us to rest in Lukla.
I don’t waste any time, making my way NW on the highway that is the trail from Lukla to Namche Bazaar. My first meal of Dhal Bhat in a small tea house is a lesson learned, dhal bhat is too big of a meal to walk on, it is a better dinner than lunch. Regardless, I waddle on, clutching my full belly as I head to the village of Monju where I get a room and settle in for the evening, befriending a few fellow trekkers, one Spanish, two Dutch. No problems sleeping tonight as I begin to drift off in the warm dining room at only 7. I excuse myself and shortly thereafter I am abed.