I woke up to a towering Ama Dablam peering into my window nudging me to get a move on. It was cold even though the sun was out and the sky was clear.
After climbing out of Dingboche the path pretty much flattened out with Ama Dablam guarding our backs and some new peaks – Kali and Khangteka – to accompany us to Lobuche (feel free to follow me on strava to track our route).
The landscape comprised shrubs but one could with closer attention see some reds and yellows which spring brings. Many trekkers were making the same trip so there was a reasonably festive atmosphere. The chilly air required another layer, inner gloves and beanie.
We came across a stream soon after hiking across some rocks, something different. The gurgling stream rushed towards the sea unware that it’s pure waters would soon be poluted. I could hear some ground birds but could not locate them. I dipped my hand in the icy water and wished it well.
We were exhausted and as we looked up realized that we were at our lunch stop in Thukla. A cumulative sigh of relief could easily have caused an earthquake.
As we entered the Yak Lodge for lunch, we carefully looked up to view the stunning halo created by the sun. A little lower was a colorful rainbow like a smile for the halo. Another gift from the mountain.
On entering the Lodge, we noticed a Palestinian flag proudly displayed on the wall. Support in a very unlikely place. Our moods lifted.
After another delicious lunch – potato veg with cheese, we headed towards Lobuche but first had a tough climb ahead – Thukla Hill. Despite the sun, it was bitterly cold.
During this torturous period, our inner demons surfaced, questioning the wisdom of coming in the first place. Conditions are tough very tough. Aside from day to day descending and ascending, one has to contend with communal ablution facilities not always clean, low toilets, long drops, icy cold water, occasional hot showers, basic accommodation, same food and cold temperatures more so at night. It is much much harder for the women in our group. Salute. Salute. Salute.
You are required to dig so deep and sometimes you are overwhelmed. Tears well up and you cry. But, you find something, anything. And, you hold on to it. You soldier on. You have to. You have no option. You’ve come so far. And, you’re so close.
A kind lady walking down and seeing us struggle said ” you’re nearly there, it’s worth it, it’s beautiful”. It temporarily lifted our spirits and our steps.
Enroute, we stopped for a few minutes to pay our respects to those brave men and women that perished on the mountains. The two names I noted were Babu Shiri Sherpa and Valery Rozov.
After climbing Thukla Hill, there was a flat few kms to Lobuche. The stream beside us was iced and the wind picked up. We began to understand ‘wind chill factor’. Thankfully, it was on our back but it found weak points and determinedly pressed the cold into our bones. Breathing was especially hard, our steps slower, measured and we could afford no rest. We trudged on with the demons fighting in our heads.
We reached Lobuche in 5 hours 17 mins covering 8kms and climbing 540m. It was by far the toughest day, an exhausting and exacting hike. We’ve reached 5000m and as I complete writing it is – 10 degrees outside.