October 20, 2012
At 0730 we headed up the steps from the Namche Hotel in Namche Bazaar headed for the Everest View Hotel at an elevation of 3880 meters. There were at least 48 switchbacks along the way. We passed the Syanboche Airport, the highest in the world. After tea on the terrace, in the sun with stunning views of Mt Everest and the rest of the peaks we hiked down through the Rhododendron forests to the village of Khumjung, at an elevation of 3810 meters. After leaving our gear at the Valley View Hotel rooms we gathered for lunch. The hotel had a common toilet, but of the western variety, twin beds and blankets, but we used the sleeping bags anyway since the rooms are unheated. The afternoon weather pattern of clouds soon drove us in from the terrace into the dining room.
After lunch and a brief rest we walked into town and visited the Khumjung Gomba, where for a fee we were allowed to see, but not photo the "Yeti Scalp". We then headed for the Hillary School on the other side of the town, but since it was Saturday, everything was locked up. Hillary died in 2008, but his foundation is still active and other organizations still contribute to expanding the school. By the time we started back from the school the clouds really dropped in, and visibility dropped to a few hundred feet at times. When the sun disappears, the temperature really drops and it is cold. On the way back we watched women hoeing in the potato fields, but they declined to be photographed.
We met our porters again this am when we arrived. Most of the time they pick up the bags while we are breakfast and deliver them to our rooms at our next destination and are gone until the next morning. Not at Khumjung! They sat with us in the dining room and watched soccer on the TV with us after dinner. All three porters are from the Lantang area of Nepal and are "Tamang", not "Sherpa". They work in Lukla during the trekking season and live in a town called Sulleri, a 25 hour walk from Lukla the rest of the year.
As the cloud layer settles into the basin, everyone is putting on layers and stocking hats, even in the dining room, which is heated by a stove fueled by Yak dung. The Sherpa who owns the lodge is Pema Chosang Sherpa and has summited Everest three times, with an Italian, Swiss and Norwegian team, as well as working with Russell Brice who is featured on the Discovery Channel series "Everest – Beyond the Limit".
October 21, 2012
We had a 0630 wakeup call in our rooms with our assistant guide delivering hot cups of tea. Breakfast was at 0700 with departure from the hotel at 0730. We initially descended and then climbed up to 4000 meters to a place called Mong La where we stopped for tea. After a relaxing stop we descended steeply down to the Dudh Khosi river to Phortse Tenga to the Riverview Resort for lunch. Crossing the river we then ascended steeply back up to Phortse Village at an elevation of 3810 meters. The village is situated on a sloping plateau and is a series of houses and fields separated by stone walls. If it was not so brown, it could have been Ireland.
Our lodge this evening is the Tashi Delek Lodge. This is the most basic lodge so far. After our arrival we washed our hair in cold water from a bucket in the sunshine outside, but it was still cold. We had several hours before afternoon tea so Sean joined Paul and Emma in a photo walk around the village. After our afternoon tea we sat around the dining room and enjoyed the warm temperatures since the rooms are unheated and like ice boxes.
Our diet since leaving Kathmandu has consisted mostly of noodle, rice and potatoes, with vegetables, cheese or egg added. We have had little if any meat since refrigeration is non-existent up this high.
Sleep comes quickly since there is not much to do, the high carb meals and the tiring days trekking all put one to sleep.
October 22, 2012
We were up early under sunny but frosty skies and headed out on an initially easy trail that soon turned into the narrowest steepest trail either Sean or I had ever seen. We wrapped around steep rocks and the river bed was at least 2000 feet below us. We finally arrived at the village of Pangboche where we stopped for tea before hiking another 2 hours to Shomare where we had lunch outside in the sunshine. From Shomare we headed up 4 kilometers and 400 meters of elevation to Dingboche at an elevation of 4450 meters, our stop for the night. By the time we arrived at 1530 the wind was blowing and the temperature was cold. Dingboche sits right at the base of Ama Dablam, so the views were stunning. The lodge was full and the dining room crowded, but we had a reserved table for our group and since it was cold, we stayed in the dining room and learned to play a Nepali card game.
October 23, 2012
Dingboche is a rest stop where we spend 2 nights acclimatizing, with a training hike on the rest day to a higher elevation. We headed up the hill shortly after 0900 and reached an elevation of 4880 meters, higher than our next stop. Then it was back down the hill for rest, lunch and getting cleaned up.
There is no cell phone service in Dingboche, but there is purportedly internet service, so if this blog publishes, there is. Pictures will have to wait for better service, probably in one week in Namche Bazaar.