Mt. Everest in all her glory

December 3, 2009 at 6:08 pm 1 comment

Tangboche to Dangboche

A bleary eyed Eri with Mt. Everest in the background

Kanccha had dragged us from our beds at 6 in the morning with a gleam in his eye that we hadn’t seen before. With little or no explanation he hurried us to get changed, dress warm and bring our cameras. Up until this stage he always seemed rather disappointed in the mornings because he knew just how much we wanted to see the beauty of the Himalaya and almost took it personally when the low hanging clouds robbed us of the view he knew was there. Today however he walked with the languid gait of someone who knew he was about to deliver and his banter had an unusually excited air about it.

Struggling over rock and building material piled high behind the guest house we made our way to a raised area flattened with crushed rock about 5 metres across. “ helicopter landing pad” Kanccha said with a smile. Thank god we had walked here because landing on this little patch of rock would have been scarier than Lukla by a mile and not a proposition I would ever want to contemplate.

Straight out of bed it can be a little difficult to catch your breath at these altitudes and it wasn’t till we got to the landing that we were able to look up and start to take in the view. With all the skill of a circus showman he first pointed us down the valley and named and numbered the peaks that we had been walking between with a pride only an ageing local can carry off. After a minute or two and with other excited trekkers coming into view he casually said “ Look over your shoulder.” We both turned around expecting more of the same or more likely incoming clouds. What we saw instead was truly breathtaking. Before us was a narrow valley, walled by impossibly high mountains. Framing the view at the end was a sheer wall of snowed clad mountains, tiny in the distance and yet gigantic. Perched above it all was the unmistakable peak of Everest, unencumbered by clouds or fog. The dull white of snow slowly turning a deep gold as the sun rose slowly to the east. Even more so than yesterday, this was an incredible moment when you tried to comprehend that we were mere kilometres away from the base yet due to its immense height the peak seemed so far away.

Everest towering over the valley

It was a humbling to think that people at that very moment were trying to scale her and yet the mountain seemed strangely indifferent to them, the whole world, and us. As infantile as it is to suggest that this monolith of snow and rock could appear to be affecting such human emotions, for the first time in my life I truly began to understand why peoples all over the world have always seen god like qualities in natures form. I don’t think I will ever forget that feeling.

We stayed up there, oohhing and ahhring for another few minutes until surrounded by other trekkers and the moment was lost. Strangely the scene reverted to just a glorious landscape, ripe for the photographic picking of western tourists in a place where we were strangers and in many ways didn’t belong.

With breakfast finished, more photos taken and bags packed we set off up the valley for our final day below the tree line. It was a fairly uneventful day, strolling up the valley across roaring rivers, through picturesque villages and our now ever present friends the Tibetan Yak.

Above the tree line.

As we gradually climbed higher our surroundings began to change. Not long after lunch we at last broke through the tree line and stood on the border between the world below and a new and foreign place. A place so sparse, so rugged and so quiet we felt like intruders in a fantasy land that was to big for the mere likes of human beings.

Isolated house above the treeline

Dingpache

It was cold when we awoke the next morning and the lack of oxygen, meant that our movements were slow and conversation limited until after breakfast.
Despite the frigid air the sky was clear and our walking quite easy through the stone walled fields being tended by the local Sherpas. This was the last point of what we might call agriculture. From here on in we would only see wild grasses, shrubs and yaks. The sheer emptiness of the place an ever-present reminder of the harshness of life up here for man and beast.

By mid afternoon we had reached our next lodge at Dingpache nestled at the junction of the paths for Everest base camp and the Imja Glacier. We were now so close to Everest yet oddly we couldn’t see her. Between us the massive wall of Lohtse, the 4th highest mountain in the world and one of the most challenging climbs known to man. It was sobering to walk along the path and see so many stone memorials to those who had left their dreams and lives on its sheers cliffs.

Another good nights sleep followed only interrupted by dreams filled with anticipation for tomorrow’s final push to Chukhung and our chance to stand on the great Himalayan glaciers that we were here to see.

The final walk and our first glacier.

It was cold when we awoke the next morning and the lack of oxygen, meant that our movements were slow and conversation limited until after breakfast.

Words escape me when i try to describe how beautiful these mountains are

Despite the frigid air, the sky was clear and our walking quite easy through the stone walled fields being tended by the local Sherpas. This was the last point of what we might call agriculture. From here on in we would only see wild grasses, waist high shrubs and yaks, the sheer emptiness of the place an ever-present reminder of the harshness of life up here for man and beast.

Our pace was slow, due mainly to the fact that we were continually stopping for photos, brief rests and a chance just to ogle at the beauty of the mountains around us.

We reached Chunkhung in the late morning just as the clouds started to role up the valley. We thought that might be the end of our day but by 2 o’clock the sky had cleared and Kanccha suggested we go on up to our first glacier. We couldn’t wait and we were about to see firsthand the real effects of a warming climate on this beautiful land.

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Entry filed under: climate change, environment, himalayas, nepal, trekking. Tags: , , , , , , .

Ever closer to Imja.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Dummy Jim  |  February 18, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Dear Cycle For Change

    What a great adventure! This is impressive and I respect the motivation also.

    I made an epic trip too. I cycled into the Arctic Circle, starting out from Scotland. It looks as if there might be a film made about my journey – there is already an impressive website which retraces my steps, to be found at DUMMY JIM.

    I hope this finds you well.

    Yours aye

    Jim

    Reply

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