Kathmandu, being very sick, flight to Lukla, trekking to Namche Bazar and onto Everest Base Camp and Kala Pathar
26.11.2012 - 07.12.2012 0 °C
We were out the door and into a taxi just after 6am going through the empty Delhi streets to Indira Ghandi Airport T3 where sailed through security, spent last rupees on water and a chocolate bar then, as already boarding, walked straight onto the SpiceJet SG041. Despite neither of us having a window we could easily see part of the Himalayas including the Annapurna Range and Manaslu (many killed on its slopes recently) making my heart beat a little faster.
We came down into Kathmandu Valley and touched down at 10.35am (15 minutes ahead of India?) where being smart and already having exact money and immigration forms filled out meant straight through to baggage and out the door in no time at all. Unwilling to part with 650 Nepalese for a pre paid taxi (bastards) it didnt take long to reach a realistic figure of 400 (one guy said 200 meaning he was a hotel tout as that simply doesnt happen in Asia with no haggling) to get through the bumpy, muddy streets to Thamel and Bag Packer's Lodge smack bang in the centre of it all. In a common room overlooking the commotion below I unpacked every single item then used map/book had drawn over during the flight so knew where to go and begin organising things for the trekking. Each street looked remarkable similar ('same same but different') as jam packed with trek offices, clothing stores, souvenirs, hotels/restaurants, countless signs and oh so many foreginers.
After a sandwich and very milky tea we followed the 'walking tour' in my Lonely Planet that took us past Stupas, 1500 year old shrines (casually by a TV shop and hard to see), coins in wood, markets, unbreathable pollution, temples and a 5 foot gap in a wall that enters a residential square full of flags dangled across and where the children played a game to tap us on the shoulder.
Getting dark (earlier sunset) our tummies rumbled so purchased big packets of biscuits then tried street Momo's not once but twice inevitably leading to disaster. I got cheap polarised sunglasses, enquired about down jackets and on an empty rooftop enjoyed a cold Gherka Beer. Thinking we had a nigh on perfect day it all started to unravel in the room when shivered uncontrollably under all covers and a jumper thinking it was a flu bug leading to a horrible night having to go to the bathroom occasionally, not moving and struggling to sleep.
Drained, tired and going through untold amounts of water then seeing Daria in a similar state it didn't take long to conclude we had gotten food poisioning from the fucking Momo's; so much care went into eating in India that it didn't occur to me that Nepal would be my downfall! Argh. I plucked up the strength to do laundry and buy fruit juice then could do nothing but lie there till John arrived all happy at 3pm making me feel worse that I couldnt welcome him properly with a smile on my face. We met Harri at LifeDreamAdventure (spent all day looking for the sign and turns out was a hundred yards away) to pay for the flights to Lukla then I got 35k cash out at SBI Bank (only bank to give out more than 10k) as John changed GBP/CAD/EUR/USD he randomly had. We looked at some restaurant menu's then I purchased a £50 Mammut jacket from a very likeable guy who disuaded me from buying other things (not average salesman). With Daria's Taiwanese friend, Jane, here the four of us went to Dolce Vita for dinner but I was unable to eat half a spaghetti bolognese (not like me at all) then came down with severes sweats and couldnt lift my head at the table. In the relative comfort of the hotel I had the worst night of living memory culminating in passing out in the bathroom and falling onto the hard, tiled floor where lay for a number of minutes covered in blood from a gash above my right eye. I woke Daria up saying 'can you fix me' so she cleaned the wound and put whatever plasters to hand over it unable to stop the bleeding completely.
Upon close morning inspection it was clear I required stitches so at once emailed Harri to delay the flight by 24 hours then went over to the close ManMohan's Hospital where had an x-ray, and half a dozen people looking at my forehead (funny system as had to buy gloves, razor etc from pharmacy for doctor to use) as the minor surgery took place involving 2/3 of my eyebrow being removed and 6 stitches put in- fantastic. I was given a big list of tablets (including strong antibiotics) to aquire and was pleased it was over so could rest and get the TIMS Permit from the Tourist Travel Centre near Ratna Bus Station. Able to walk to Old Town we rented a sleeping bag and jacket from Shona's for John (heard a -20c figure) then, along with Daria, hibernated on the bed not able to eat but still constantly go to the toilet making it through the night unscathed.
As the girls went on an Everest flight John suggested going for a walk but as only 7am there was no chance in hell I was going to put my body up to that so stayed in bed then began the arduous process of figuring out what I needed for the next two weeks in the mountains trying to keep weight to a minimum. I was nearly sick from porridge upstairs as such an empty belly then tried helping JB with money problems nearly losing my card in the process as machine swollowed it then told me I had reached my daily limit when clearly hadn't. He spent hours going to different banks, trying to open up accounts and finally it was the shop I got my jacket from that gave him an advance minus a steep 10% fee but what choice did he have?! Just wanting to get out this 'prison' and wanting to be 100% and me again I had a bandage change at hospital then caught up with impatient John and Jane at Fire & Ice Pizzeria where actually finished a whole Margherita (if any food going to help its pizza), thanked the owner enthusiastically, did journal and feeling nervous, worried and excited went to bed sort of ready for adventure mere hours away.
The beginning of my adventure didn't get off to the perfect start with john waking me up ready as apparently Nepalese time is 15 minutes different to Indian meaning had no time to wash- just shove things in the pack and attempt to prepare my head for the day. With my other things safely locked away I hugged Daria in the street and got into a waiting taxi at 5.15am for a drive through the very polluted, smog filled streets to Kathmandu's Airport. Typically the doors hadn't even opened yet so had to wait amongst a number of others before could check in at Tara Airlines, go through security, buy some water (no time for refill) and wait by Gate 2 with the sky getting slowly lighter. Soon we were on board a bus for a drive past all the small aircraft to our green and white 12 seater Dornier 228 twin propelled plane. Making sure we were first we sat near the front on the right hand side then the cabin was checked and weight distributed well enough to satisfy the captain.
With the engines running we taxied to the end of the runway, did a 180 turn and accelerated quickly, praying for no stray vulture's (cause of recent 'no survivors' crash) as we ascended over the city going due east. As the sun gleamed through our window the Himalayas came into view on the left (fail) and was a smooth flight till we rounded a large hill and gusts of wind threw us about violently enough for me to cling on to another chair and think the worst; women screaming helped no end. Soon enough the tiny Lukla Airport was visible so videoed the relatively unscary landing on my GoPro. We vacated the plane with the engines still running so that return passengers could momentarily take our place (quickest change over ever) then we collected our bags and moved over to the nice looking 'Nest' to re-group, drink some tea, take tablets and use the toilet facilities (I needed to for both ends!).
When the sun had reached us and I was as ready as ever going to be we were pointed in the right direction (literally had to ask- and we are here how I thought to myself?!) through Lukla itself dropping into the Khumbu Valley towards a picturesque white top peak along wide paths past fields, villages, yaks, donkeys and other, fitter, trekkers. I was doing ok for the first 90 minutes or so taking it all in and using my camera but then my limited energy began to wane so stopped on a wall by a guy fixing a chair in Thadokoshi.
The flat sections and down hill parts were ok but the occasional stairs or slightly steep verticals really took it out of me and so 3 hours in decided it was best to stay in Phakding. Just before the village a young man, Michael, put us up in Green Valley Lodge for 100 rupees each where instantly climbed into bed under a thick blanket for a rest. Patient John forced me out of my pit for some hot tomato soup before a while longer spent nice and cosy, being summoned down for dinner at 5.30pm which constituted a sandwich I just about stomached. Feeling better in the evening I wrote in my new journal near the wood fire oven till back to bed about 10pm worried about the climb tomorrow to Namche Bazar.
Not in any mood to venture into the cold it was a mission in itself to pack my bag, eat porridge with raisins and get the courage to begin walking again at 9am (bills less than 1000 rupees each- good start but WILL get more expensive). Every step higher was tiring with nearly 20kg on my back and as solely focused on just getting to the destination I wisely chose to leave my cameras in my bag the entire day (not like me at all). We encountered an unruly Yak train who would bug us for much of the way but as needed repeated breaks we kept catching up to them (herder throwing stones at them and using stick to get them moving- they didn't care).
Following the Dudh Kodhi river a sign at Benkar showed time had already been lost making me a little more down in the dumps and it was here that I reluctantly agreed a porter is the only way to complete the trek. Over a prayer flag covered bridge and a further half hour away we reached the settlement of Monjo and the Sagarmatha NP entrance station so paid the 3000 rupees (increased from 1000 earlier this year), got told a porter just to Namche was not possible and had to make myself sick by Jorsale at the end of another 'Indiana Jones' bridge as felt bloated and could only perform shallow breaths (waist strap not at all helping).
With an extra kick in my step we motored on to the start of the 600m hill where lost all enthusiasm when saw the initial leg to the Larja Bridge that hangs precariously over a canyon; forced to wait for a 'yak jam' to clear first. Now stupidly out of water this added an extra, much unwanted dimension to our troubles that was only partly overcome by a group of friendly Australian's (almost only nationality we saw) going the same sort of pace who provided me with H20; jelly beans added bonus (yummy). John foolishly tried carrying both packs for short stints leaving him out of breath and also waterless on the never ending dusty, shit filled path that zig zagged its way up the valley side; local men and women going past with more awkward loads was telling. Catching a glimpse of Everest half way up through the trees couldn't stop me feeling so incredibly miserable and sorry for myself but I progressed and was surprised to see the first buildings of Namche Bazar (3440m) at 3.45pm at a TIMS checkpoint. New Yorker Lym (made it from Lukla in one day!) joined us the final few minutes as we entered the 'home of the Sherpas' seeing many gear shops, cafes/bars, hotels and a medical centre (hopefully won't be needing their help). We ate at Namche Hotel but as they were full the night after next we settled on ex president Jimmy Carter's recommendation; Khumbu Lodge for only 200 a room and there was some warmth inside giving great first impression. Obviously more tired than we realised we slept till 8.50pm when knew some more food would be sensible. Forgetting usual dinner time is prior to 6pm the mama of the house had to call the chef in to make us noodle soup which we ate in the kitchen itself as everything was well and truly shutdown; we were very thankful. I looked at the map, figured changing the route anti-clockwise would be best (most chance of success) and went to bed.
With my stomach not gargling as much and generally feeling a couple notches better (strong antibiotics) I met John and Lym in the chilly kitchen for porridge then as the sun rose over the hill and lit up the restaurant area I sat there writing a plan on the back of the original flight confirmation stressing as to whether we had enough time to do what we came here to do. Eager to check out town I found a great value 'Deuter' day pack (£14) sold by very nice Anu Sherpa (told me he would find a porter) and used it straight away to climb the short way past a lovely little dog to Namche Gompa Temple, with its many prayer wheels, and the helipad perched on the edge of the valley making for a great lookout point of Namche and the Thame Valley.
Knowing we should begin eating right I opted for a Yak curry rice dish then typed the first days of my blog into the Kindle (useful tool) before meeting Anu's guide/porter Chhongb. Once happy he was 'our guy' and spoke good enough english we shook hands and settled on $20 a day (more than hoped but he is more than just a bag carrier). Still too early for dinner we chilled in the room till 5.15pm then went over to Namche Bakery to use fast but intermittant free wifi (bought a manly butter roll for privelage) managing to chat to mum eventually and wisely forcing myself to eat a whole salami pizza in preparation for tomorrow as know eating right is a key to success up here. The pub music was blaring but no one was about on chilly, dark streets as went to the hotel feeling much more confident in things.
Sleeping well till 6.30am, within half an hour we were in the vast cold restaurant ordering fried rice with vegetables (filling but bland). At 8am on the dot Chhongb Sherpa arrived, assessed there was no room inside my bag for his (John's mammoth 4/5kg rental sleeping bag took up empty space) and got us moving momentarily up numerous stone flights of stairs making us remark 'fuck stairs!' which we would use on many occasions during the trek as they appear not just in villages but when your legs least want to encounter them. Feeling near myself again I had the SLR handy already as to not miss anything. The steady path contoured the hill round to the Tenzing Norgay Memorial Stupa where we stopped, took off a layer and faced Ama Dablam whose presence we would be in for the next few days; beautiful mountain of sheer rock and ice with two colossal shoulders and a head like top keeping us safe as we walked beneath her. Gliding past a big group of kids (unfortunately would see much more of them soon) I took photos using a Polarising filter (Sherpa good too...added bonus) then at the important 'junction' leading to the Gokyo Valley you could see far up the Khumbu to Everest, Phortse and our destination at the top of the next 'hill'.
As they jogged all the way down to the river I took my time as to avoid hurting myself necessarily dodging wood carriers of all ages and a man carrying two huge bits of piping atop planks of wood. Over a footbridge (Dodh Koshi again- following it to source it seems) we stopped for cheese fried potato lunch at River Side Restaurant basking in the warm sun before a semi punishing, sub 2 hour climb, to Tengboche (3860m).
Arriving at only 1.30pm before everyone else was very rewarding marking a turn in our fortunes we hoped. At one end of an extensive plateau we were in room 1 of Tengboche Guest House but had too much energy to simply lie down. We snapped away at the village and surroundings then looked in the visitor centre before undigested spuds meant I required a lie down.
Hearing chanting outside we went inside the famous monastery for last minutes of prayer in the wonderful painted main room with a Buddha at the end; tourists all seated on right and shoes outside. Making most of the sunlight we played Rummy outside but finished in the room when couldn't feel hands anymore (tied 4-4 'as is tradition').In the full restaurant we heard how the old British group over from us had come from Kala Pathar the same day and were also jealous of their extensive food. It was cosy, bright (wood oven still) and a hot towel given to each of us made it real nice for a tea house. I ate ok salami tomato spaghetti, wrote in journal then both chatted to Irish girl Ashley about her trek (almost finished) and our respective trips before the staff called bedtime at still relatively early 8.15pm. From now on I was sleeping with all batteries so prepared them into socks, wrapped big blanket around me and slept with feet enclosed quite snug except for going to the toilet about midnight briefly distrupting things.
Thinking it was the middle of the night it was a surprise to see on the face of my watch that it was 6.10am so looked out the window to see a nice purple glow behind the mountains coupled with scattered clouds. Clearly in no rush I had begun reading 'Miracle In The Andes' (John already well into 'Iwo Jima') when the lady enquired if we wanted any breakfast so just went with a plain omlette knowing the Apple Crumble from the famous bakery next door was my real food to start the day- couldn't have it warm due to poor microwave (service up here?! Lol) but still great and worryingly the first fruit consumed in days. With Chhongb patiently waiting we managed to pay and leave quickly for an initially quite depressing walk though a corridor of creepy, leafless trees, patches of ice and no life to speak of still devoid of sun. Somehow we each were alone for a time, seeing a solitary black dog go eerily past, then things changed for the better when on west side of the river (would be rest of day) in daylight.
Little over an hour in we inexplicably halted by a lodge in Pangboche for twenty minutes so he could speak to some friends- sat on table not even ordering a hot drink. I eventually rose to initiate momentum with the trail being easy going, not steep and no traffic except for overtaking slow groups. Noticing JB taking it easy and not his usual hyper active self I thought it best to enquire but he told me it was just lack of sleep so hoped that's all it was. At about 11am I was ahead but having just set foot in the town of Syomare waited for the inevitable call for lunch which came as standing by place of choice- Sonam's. I grew increasingly agitated sitting emotionless in my plastic chair looking at the going's on around me as, once eaten a small but good sandwich, noticed the immense loss of time doing nothing seeing people obviously quite unfit and weaker effectively going the same pace (one girl so sick she soon will have to descend). A herd of yaks contempt at going their own way and strange clouds forming at the top of a nearby peak distracted me briefly but then I filled waters up in the kitchen myself and asked Sherpa to make a move with John not at all fazed- stupid of me as here to experience not rush and just used to a different style of itinerary.
Once above Syomare the route stayed gradual as soon just us and a couple guys carrying utensils/ supplies/gas bottles going north east. Many interlocking paths (presumably made by livestock) spread out in front for a time then it was the same old descent to water source and ascent to destination we are beginning to get used to but this time it was quite easy and very picturesque. Mere minutes from Dingboche (4410m) we sat admiring what was around us feeling quite small to say the least- Lhotse, (the fifth highest mountain on the planet) to the north east, Cholatse to the south west, one side of Ama Dablam looming over us, and up the valley was our future trek points; found out Chhongb has in fact been up Everest with a Korean expedition in 1989 (too cool- legend). At the farthest end of town with a view to climbable Island Peak (over 6000m but not got enough time) we put our things in spacious room 118 of Valley View Lodge. Initially pleased it was to our horror hearing the school group arrive and two noisy teenage girls being in the room across from us ('we have our own toilet' - think again sister its shared!). We soon played cards outside till forced in the lodge when sun gone only to be in a poorly lit, yak dung heated room listening to bad conversations all evening. I went over the map with our Sherpa (can to Renjo La Pass as well as Cho La- sweet), wrote in journal and ate fried potatoes before sharing a crappy ketchup filled pizza as we watched the group get bowls of pasta and great looking pizza- so jealous and feel hard done by considering price were paying ($6 it cost us!). I finished chapter of my book, filled waters and got us extra blankets as looked up at the clear star filled sky on way to room to type and try and keep warm at very late 10pm.
After a good dream I woke to the reality of my smelly, bearded self sleeping next to an American in the same state high up in the Himalayas- life is funny. I lay under my blankets staring into space till we rose at 8am to read and eat fried rice with egg in the restaurant. By mid morning it was time to get on with things so packed a day bag and had Chhongb lead us above Dingboche to Nangkartshang Gompa where he pointed us up the mountain and left us to our own devices which was a refreshing change. Starting significantly later than others meant we were soon the only humans up there. Following the well defined path we soon came to a man made set of stones precariously placed on end of a stone slab making for funny/timed pictures with an impressive backdrop of Tabuche, Cholatse, Arakam Rise, Awi Peak and the clear as day ChoLa Pass; not bad.
Gaining in altitude constantly I was convinced we had past the landmark 5000m line I so dearly craved to reach as Mt Kenya was 'only' 4985m- yay! Passing a chilled out black yak (unexpected and two brown ones grazing close by) we reached the ridge I aimed for right at midday that was the deadline I set us. However, me being me could see the walkable summit and didn't need a second thought when already powering my way there taking many tiny breaks as went solo for that leg. Taking less time than anticipated I scrambled over solid and loose rocks and boulders, putting the GoPro on my head for final few metres when reached the 5616m summit of Nangkar Tshang! Feeling a sense of achievement it was only when locked hands with my good friend that the scale of making it to the top of our first meaningful mountain together dawned on me.
Future, tougher challenges lay ahead but this was the start and also highest point on our itinerary making it kind of special. We gazed at the 360 degree view in awe of the landscape we were deep within and prayed for these mountain gods to keep providing perfect weather and moments like this so the next 8 days of trekking would be memorable for all the right reasons.
Getting off to the worst possible start I realised my zoom lens had been left near the bottom making me very angry at myself for being so stupid but upon descending in only 40 minutes (over 2 hours to ascend) and avoiding getting cold enough from the sharp ever increasing wind a teacher told us to go to Family Hotel. Upon literally circumnavigating the frustrating Dingboche layout (stone walls around every plot but no openings to pass through) I was initially left deflated when the group there knew nothing but found out through their guide Miller one of his porters had aquired it so handed over 200 rupees to a pair of weathered non English speaking men who came in and sat playing with the tables even after had tried hugging one awkwardly. We gambled ordering tasty Buff Chowmein (bascially you have to eat where you sleep or room prices skyrocket) that was several notches above the shit we've been used to, making for a productive lunch, then out the back door we were a mere two minutes from our place so hoped no one had seen us! I lost badly at Rummy so threw my toys out the pram and reorganised my things better before pouring water over my shirtless body the moment sun disappeared in an effort to feel just slightly less dirty (first change of underwear too). In the restaurant we spoke with young Holly who was intrigued by us, ate some sort of macaroni cheese, wrote in journal and listened to random talk till retiring at 7.50pm.
Despite not sleeping as well as the previous night I still felt the urge to get the day moving early so could get out this crap lodge asap. Ready forty minutes later, as John was still like a large worm in his sleeping bag, I sat down amongst the noise to read to the end of the chapter and enjoy warm porridge with cinammon (best meal had in Valley View). JB joined, ate an omlette and then finalised things in the room before paying the 4000+ rupee bill as just purchased toilet paper. We followed Chhongb back to the Nangkartshang Gompa and continued onto the wide plateau going northwest just behind the other groups. Taking my jacket off in preparation from shade to sun the temperature rapidly increased once out of Ama Dablam's shadow making us almost power walk past everyone else till reached a group of rustic, stone farm buildings at Dusa providing me with great photo opportunities of the locals who spend their lives working the desolate land using the yak for almost everything (dung essential heat source as we are finding out in the lodges).
We relentlessly carried on at pace arriving into Thukla in half the 3 hour estimated walking time. We gazed over the serene, part frozen river that drains off the Khumbu Glacier and were pleased that our Sherpa gave us the choice to just rest here for a bit as not hungry at all for lunch just yet.
More than ready to tackle the immediate climb up the Dughla Pass (only 200m gain in altitude) I led as John went at an almost snails pace to conserve his legs. Through a gap of two piles of rocks I was confronted with a large area of memorials and tombstones well spread out and on a ridge. I put my bag down and took a good look around at all the names, nationalities and year they died of both climbers and sherpas alike including a Canadian women who perished coming down off Everest in May this year. Seeing Scott Fischer's was most poignant to us having read 'Into Thin Air' but I also found interesting a recent memorial dedicated to Kazakhstani climbers and one to a Bulgarian who died in 1984 the day after summitting having gone solo on the hardest ridge (below). These men and women dedicated their lives to these mountains, either to achieve personal goals or helping others achieve theirs and it was a stark reminder to the dangers that surround even us and are around forces far from our control.
It was less than an hour along the side of the start of the glacier when we reached Lobuche before half 12 at an altitude of 4910m which is higher than Europe's highest mountain; Mt Blanc. Chhongb redeemed himself by picking small, homely Above The Clouds Lodge (no chance of the kids being around) where I put bags in the room and secured extra blankets then ate tasty tomato soup with backs to the sun. As John rested I moved a plastic chair to gain most rays as got well into my book about the Uruguayan Rugby team that crashes in the Andes and resorted to eating their dead friends in order to stay alive themselves which made for compelling reading. Gusts of wind and dust forced me inside then it was time for 'shaky hands Brennan' to take my stitches out using a tiny sterile blade. Filming it with my GoPro and using a hand held mirror he did a good job taking the 6 blue ties out with only last two hurting slightly. I cleaned up the well healed wound with iodine and an alcohol wipe and put a bandage on for protection then we played more Rummy as we shared expensive but good fries. I wrote my journal and kept being drawn to my book ever thinking I need to make it last at least next two days. Enjoying a 'small' pot of hot lemon tea that produced 6 full cups (300 rupees) I briefly popped to the very cold room, did kindle blog where the warmth and people were and at 7.30pm went to the freezer to listen to my Ipod.
When I saw a faint light through the window I knew it was around 6am and therefore time to get up into the ice box. I packed away the sleeping bag liner and changed out of the fleece pants, clean thermal top and thick socks to walking trousers, smelly thermal and socks been wearing since started the trek; still not showered in December! I sat by the fire to warm my hands, took Diamox, poured glucose into water and ate porridge then we left. With gloves and hat on I kept head down to stop nose from running besides to look at the way the sunlight lit up Mehra Peak to the east (so impressive). John's stomach and legs were giving him grief keeping him firmly at the back for most of the way to Gorak Shep as we followed a faint path around rocks only having the sun on us half the time but still chilly enough to keep my jacket on the whole way.
Once we saw the first view of the glistening Khumbu Glacier in its entirety we were quite excited even when at same time a rescue helicopter flew over to save someone presumably because of AMS. Up and down and over loose rocks, glacial streams and material deposited many years ago we made it to nice, well laid out Yeti Resort (full on trekkers haunt with big flags covering the walls and signatures everywhere) for a lay down, soup and some writing; still can't get head around how high we are (5140m) with so many mountains still around much much higher.
At 11am Chhongb set us in the right direction towards Everest Base Camp (EBC) over a flat, dry lake bed and along the western ridges of the glacier getting quite tired in the very thin air from even small climbs. We descended and crossed part of the glacier itself seeing large ice holes (threw rocks but just slammed solid surface) and thick ice just below the surface we were walking on making sure not to slip anywhere. We were the only ones at EBC (5364m) and to be honest it was a disappointing site considering it is the point most people's entire treks aim for- no tents/gas bottles/climbing equipment/ anything to tell us this is an important site. There was just multi coloured flags and stuff written on to tell you that person was here recently- great: wrong time of year. The beautiful and extremely treacherous Khumbu Ice fall, Nuptse (7800m peak) and seeing the route up to Everest made the excursion worthwhile and I couldn't help but go mad using all the cameras and lenses with me.
As the wind grew in strength we left and returned to Gorak Shep in little over an hour where used the toilet instantly and tried mentally preparing myself and a shattered John to leave for Kala Pathar in a matter of minutes to make the sunset. I put on my brand new Mammut down jacket and somehow we were on our way with Chhongb at 2.45pm. With JB panting and literally taking baby steps, progress was slow and upon seeing more and more clouds roll in towards the landmark mountains I made the executive decision to stop. We still got the blue jackets out and used tripod as light very good but I was frustrated when at the bottom seeing no clouds and amazing colours presenting themselves so had to live with my decision.
I scanned through photos in the room (could see Everest through window- wow!), changed and focused on the map when heard another un nerving report on the dangerous ice covering Cho La. Upon Sherpa saying conditions were not good we miraculously came up with an alternative plan where would still see Gokyo, cross Renjo Pass and make it back in time to not need to change the flights; only casualty was Kala Pathar as still considered doing it at sunrise- shit happens! Excited I wouldn't miss out on anything I ate unfilling boiled spaghetti with tomato/cheese/canned tuna, found out one of the guys from the group we keep bumping into may well need an air lift cutting short their $2000 trek as one big family group and went to bed at a reasonaly hour knowing could sleep in now not getting up for sunrise.