This is the third post on our adventures in the Himalayas. Read about Everest Base Camp and Kala Pattar here.
Day 11 – Lobuche (4900m) to Dzongla (4800m)
An easy day today retracing our steps towards Dughla, before veering off on the balcony route to Dzongla, but I really struggled with tired legs and a nasty cold. Had an afternoon nap but still not feeling great, which is bad timing with Cho La tomorrow.
Binod’s on the mend but Jamie’s just starting to feel it as well. Just finishing off a huge plat of Dal Bhat to fuel for the climb. Managed a couple of games of Ludo (Binod, the board game champion, is ridiculously good) and off for an early night as soon as possible. Too tired to write any more!
Day 12 – Dzongla (4800m) to Tagnag (4600m) over the Cho La Pass (5300m)
Thank God that’s over! Totally shattered but feel like a huge weight has been lifted and it’s almost time for the downhill!
The pass was very hard, easily the hardest day so far, and it didn’t help that I still feel terrible, but we made it!! I’ve been worrying about this day for months so I can’t explain how relieved I feel now.
A very tough climb this morning up icy and loose rocks, followed by a sketchy trail in the snow along the edge of a glacier and an even harder descent down more ice and loose rocks. I think we’re starting to lose it a little from tiredness – Jamie kept daydreaming about rocks that looked like blue cheese, and the bubble bath-esque snow triggered a long half hour of fantasising about fireplaces and cosy evenings.
Took us a total of seven hours to Tagnag but we’re here, we’re eating giant hash browns and spaghetti, and we’ve tackled ¾ of our big peaks! So excited for Gokyo tomorrow now that I know we’re actually going to make it. My body seems to know the worst is over and I feel much better tonight, although sadly Jamie is now feeling pretty terrible. He’s starting to look very skinny too and we’re both finding ourselves thinking more and more about beaches and where to go next to get the best food!
Off to spend a few hours reading, too tired to play cards or do anything sociable and I’m doing that thing where I write the same thing over and over again.
Just can’t believe we actually made it!
Day 13 – Dzongla (4700m) to Gokyo (4700m)
Our legs are officially reaching their limit! Took a long time to cross the glacier into Gokyo today, partly because the route is quite unclear thanks to the ice changing, and partly because our legs just didn’t want to go. Slightly sketchy climbing up and out of the glacier with a steady stream of loose rocks coming down in a few places nearby, we knew we needed to get through there quickly but the legs just wouldn’t cooperate.
Gokyo is even more beautiful than we imagined, and we have such a good lodge for tonight! The view from our room is amazing, our first flushing toilet in days, TWO yak dung stoves and there’s even, bizarrely, an amazing Italian pasta menu. There’s also a TV so, as I write this, the boys are watching something very strange called Saigon Bodyguards.
We took a stroll down to the first Gokyo lake this afternoon, where we watched some nutter walking on the frozen ice, but kept it short and came back to rest this afternoon.
We are all starting to smell pretty bad again and that Lobuche shower feels like a very long time ago now. Would love a shower here but there’s just no way to get our hair dry and don’t fancy hypothermia. Jamie’s really struggling with a cough and cold, too, and sounds a bit like Darth Vader already. Luckily it’s our last peak tomorrow and then it’s time to get back down to warmth and oxygen. Can’t wait!
Day 14 – Gokyo Ri (5300m) to Dole (4038m)
Feeling on top of the world today! Not only did we smash Gokyo Ri but we also powered it down the hill to a more palatable altitude.
Gokyo Ri should have been as hard as Kala Pattar but I think a combination of the fact that we’re finally acclimatised and the energy from it being our last big climb kept us going and we overtook everyone on the way up.
Base Camp, Kala Pattar and Cho La have all been incredible, but the views from Gokyo Ri alone would have made it all worth it. Easily the most stunning panorama I’ve ever seen and a view I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
The highs kept us going the whole 25km down to Dole and, despite the snow and wind, we flew past all the miserable looking people on their way up. We’re all desperate for the chance to sleep better tonight which also kept us powering on through Macchermo and on to Dole and those alluring low altitudes. You can really feel the oxygen already, and we’ve gone from feeling terrible to feeling amazing in just a few days. I see what everyone means about the descent being the best bit now!
Day 15 – Dole to Namche
A massive day of walking through snow and wind and rain but we made it to Namche!!!! A week ago it didn’t feel like we’d ever be back here again, but it’s suddenly real! After all those days of dreaming about low altitude, we’re back at 3440m. Looked at my old diary entry earlier and can’t believe I actually thought this was freezing ten days ago. What a fool!
We even treated ourselves to a couple of beers this afternoon, which may not have been the best idea given we’re still pretty high but they seemed to go down OK. Chatted to a Sherpa who runs the bar – he told us that he used to support climbing expeditions and was working his way up to Everest but he’s the only son and his mother forced him to stop after the earthquake.
Day 16 – Namche (3440m) to Lukla (2860m)
Decided to push through all the way to Lukla and try and get early flight. An insanely long few days, having covered over 65km since Gokyo Ri, but making it back to the start is just the best feeling in the world. We did it!! And we don’t have to get up at 5am in the freezing cold tomorrow, yippee!!!!
A couple of Sherpa beers this afternoon and we’re now totally exhausted and ready to crash in our wonderfully oxygenic lodge.
Day 17 – Lukla (2860m) to Kathmandu (1400m)
Lukla is just the funniest and most informal airport you’ve ever seen. We went down early this morning when the guys told us that maybe after another six flights we might stand a chance. We spent the next five hours sitting in a café, playing Yahtzee and watching the planes, counting the number of flights on our airline. They come in batches in breaks in the clouds and for a while we thought we weren’t getting out, but Binod worked his magic with the office and we made it!! Feeling very very lucky considering that some people have been stuck for days.
Unbelievably, I’m now writing this from our hotel in Thamel. We’ve just been out for a huge plate of steak (no exaggeration, Jamie had 3) and we’re exhausted beyond words. Feels very surreal to be back in Kathmandu after everything and I’m feeling too many things to be able to think about writing them down now. Tomorrow is our dedicated day for sorting out the pictures (in between naps) and so hopefully by the time you’re reading this we’re all sorted. Jamie’s putting together a video of the trip too so brace yourself for lots of shots of us looking smelly, tired, but very, very happy.