Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Easy hike up to Lobuche--we are getting close now at 16,200 feet

It’s Wednesday afternoon on April 11th here in Nepal and our intrepid team finds itself safely resident in the tiny village of Lobouche.  The town sits under the quite impressive North Face of Loboche Mountain (in case you’re wondering, I’ve seen it spelled in three different ways).  To the North is the impressive peak of Pumori, a very difficult 23,500 or so foot mountain.  To the northeast is the dominating ridge and southern exposure of Nuptse.  Tomorrow, when we travel a little further up valley we’ll be able to see on the other side of Nuptse—this is where we’ll find EBC, the Khumbu Ice Fall and the classic views of Lhotse and Everest.

But that’s tomorrow.  Today we awoke in Dingboche for the second time and had nice breakfast of pancakes, eggs and soggy bacon.  That plus a lot of Joe.  Anders slept well, but I was less successful, probably getting 3-4 hours—no big deal though.  We both feel pretty darn good, especially given the tough climb yesterday.  Also for the 11th straight day, we awoke to brilliant blue skies!  On the other hand it was about 25 degrees in our room when we woke up, which makes for a challenging start to the day.

The hike today was straightforward and easy.  In total, it covered 5.7 linear miles and about 2,200 feet of ascent and 300 feet of descent.  It took us 3:34 including two breaks—one for lemon tea and another to observe the numerous chortens about 1.5 miles from Lobouche.  Lobouche, the town, sits at about 16,200 feet.

The early hike, after climbing up above Dingboche, was over a gently rising and very broad plain.  We all spread out and I soon found myself walking alone and enjoying the pleasant pace and incredible views.  I could see Anders and Brent up ahead for a while, but they soon moved beyond my line of sight.  I made really good progress and was pleased that my legs had snapped back from yesterday’s test.

About mid-way through the hike I rolled into a small village (think 6-8 buildings) and saw Brent, Anders and a couple of others sitting down for some tea—for once I was up towards the front of the group.

After 15 minutes of tea, Brent, Anders and I continued up a much more sharply rising hill above the little village and when we had climbed the 600-800 feet we came upon a good 30-40 chortens that had been erected through the years to honor those who had lost their lives in the mountains around us.

Notably, we saw the memorial to Scott Fisher (the American guide who along with Rob Hall from New Zealand are famously memorialized in the book “Into Thin Air”.)  Scott was a very good friend of Brent and they had summited Everest together in 1994, two years before the tragedy of 1996.  Brent cracked open an Everest beer, took some sips and poured the rest at the base of the chorten to symbolize having a beer with his departed friend.

This was, as you might expect, a sobering experience.  I wandered around and looked at many of the chortens there—all recognizing those who paid the ultimate price not far from here.

After 20 minutes or so, we headed further up the valley and all eyes were to the left as we gazed at Loboche base camp and we could visualize the initial path and then the main climbing line towering several thousand feet above us.  A little while longer we rolled into the town of Lobouche where we all entered our home for the night—the Oxygen Altitude Tea House.  It’s actually pretty nice, considering Lobuche’s reputation, and we had a tasty lunch of noodles, spring rolls and Fanta Orange soda.  I was able to charge my laptop for $10, which has allowed me to make this post.

We have a quiet night planned and a relatively easy day ahead tomorrow as we trek up to Gorak Shep—our last stop before Everest Base Camp.  If all goes well, tomorrow afternoon we plan to climb Kala Patar, a modest peak of about 18,519 feet from which we will be able to view EBC and it’s surroundings for the first time.

Thanks for joining us on our journey!

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