Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar
From Lobuche, Everest Base Camp is a days walk away. However, I went up to Kala Patthar on day 9 instead of visiting base camp. I, instead, went to Everest Base Camp on day 10. Any how, the trek up to Lobuche was a tough one. I was borderline hypoxic and extremely cold near the end of the day. It was a great hike with fantastic views, as you will see. Feel free to pin any of my images to your Pinterest. Without further ado lets get to day 8.
Day 8: Trek to Lobuche
The day started out exactly the same as yesterday with a hike up to Nangkartshang. Once again, I was amazed by breathtakingly beautiful landscapes. We took a 5-minute break at the gompa at the bottom of the hill to enjoy the views before setting off. Instead of hiking north up the mountain, we turned onto a side trail leading west through a yak grazing pasture. It is uncanny how beautiful the mountains can be.
This part of the trail is relatively flat and it seemed like we glided over the landscape with surprising ease. We passed temporary stone houses that looked like relics of the past. We trekked along the Chola Khola river or at least what I am calling the Chola Khola river. It is not marked on my map. Periodically we had glimpses of Pheriche, which is a village vary near the river. The entire time we were trekking, Tabuche, Cholatse, and Arakam Tse were just out of reach across the river.
As we approached Thukla, we had excellent views of Awi Peak, and Louche East. At times we could also see Lobuche West, but it was shadowed by Lobuche East. We could also see the top of Nuptse, which was like seeing a Christmas present under a Christmas tree but knowing what’s inside. My anticipation grew wildly. Coming up to Thukla we crossed glacier melt from Khumbu and started our ascent of the boulder strewn path.
The trail led to an area dedicated to the trekkers, guides, and porters who died attempting to summit Everest. It is labeled “Tombstones” on my map. Tombstones may be too strong of a word for it. I think memorials or dedications would be better. I will have to contact the folks at Rand McNally and petition them with pictures. If anyone would like to join my petition, please share this blog post.
Coming over the top of Tombstone ridge we were greeted by Khumbu Glacier, and excellent views of Changri, Pumo Ri, Lingtren, and Nuptse. We descended onto the glacier (now a small frozen stream), and quickly crossed to the moraine on the other side. Our views of the upcoming mountains only got better with each step taken. Unfortunately, the weather started to get bad. A heavy cloud blew in. The temperature quickly dropped along with the visibility.
It was right about this time we made it to Lobuche. All I wanted to do was find a warm tea house and settle in for the night. I had a headache, my hands were swollen, and I was cold and miserable. I’m laughing at it now, but we kept on trekking. We continued trekking for another 45 minutes to 8,000 Inn, an Italian research station and tea house.
I admit, it was very nice. The entire structure looked like it belonged in Las Vegas instead of in the middle of the Himalayas. They had internet, and cable tv. They did not have a cook or running water though. The manager was happy to fill in for the chef and make the food. He also doubled as the resident scientist. He managed the weather station, and seismometer. He also had a health care station inside the hotel. He could give altitude sickness medicine, and put people in a hyperbaric chamber.
The hotel manager saw that I wasn’t feeling well. He used his pulse oximeter to read my blood oxygen levels and heart rate. My SaO2 was 77%, which is just below normal for the area. My heart rate was 90 beats per minute. He offered altitude medication, which I declined for Ant Man, currently playing on tv, and a good night’s rest. I found it hard to believe, on the boarder of disbelief, that after two days of acclimating in Dingboche, I was having altitude issues.
After I finished watching Ant Man (great movie, check it out if you can), I managed to drag my body and its belongings to an upstairs room. The rooms are always upstairs (sigh). The room was small, approximately 100 square feet maybe smaller with two single beds. The room did have an attached heater cooler. After about 20 minutes of trying to get it to work I asked my guide and he said they were broken. The room also had charging outlets, but I didn’t check to see if they worked.
Down the hall from the room was one squat toilet and 3 western style sitting toilets. The plumbing was backed up with frozen water and poops. It was a little gross so I opted to use a squat toilet instead. There were also a series of shower stalls in the bathroom area. I was told they had hot water heaters to provide residents with hot water showers. All the showers were not in working order when I stayed there.
The beds in the room were fairly clean. I did, however, find a few stray hairs between the sheets that were not mine. I slept in the protection of my sleeping bag with the provided blankets over the top of me. I slept in multiple layers of warm cloths and wore a beanie hat. I warmed up fast as the night time temperatures quickly plummeted to -17 degrees C. I felt hygge for sure. Everyone on the Everest Base Camp Trek Trail was not as fortunate as I was.
The day before, a Chinese group of 4 people and a guide were trekking along Everest Three Passes Trail. Three of the trekkers started to feel ill. The guide helped the 3 ill members back down the trail. The other member of the group decided to continue without the guide. He managed to stay on the trail long enough to find a lodge for the first night. The second day he got lost somewhere between Kongma La and Lobuche. He spent the night on Khumbu Glacier.
Somebody found him the next morning and took him to 8,000 in for medical treatment. I met him in the 8000 Inn. He was very friendly and polite. We watched Discovery Channel together. Looking back at it, I can see the irony in watching discovery channel. I still don’t know how he made it out of his situation without losing a finger or toe. He must have had some really great gear or a lot of layers on.