Saturday, 24 December 2011

Gokyo Sacred Lakes and Cho La Pass

Wednesday 23 November (day 9): Rather than going directly towards Everest I've decided to take the scenic route via Gokya and Cho La Pass then return to Namche by the Everest walk-in route, so I part company with Matt and Lorraine who, short of time, are taking the more direct route. Due to the altitude gain it's a short up and down day from Namche, via Mong La Pass 3,975m (13,117ft), to the basic Gozumba Guest House in Phortse Thenga.
Thursday 24 (day 10): Phortse Thenga to Dhole 4,090m (13,497ft). Another short but all uphill day to the pleasant Yeti Inn in Dhole where I have time to finish Chris Bonnington's 1976 book Everest the Hard Way.
owner is friendly Sherpa who tells us that his father, who had climbed Everest several times, threw him out of the family home when he refused to follow in his footsteps (most Sherpas say that they climb so that their son's don't have to). He does have on display, together with some of his Father's vintage mountaineering gear, a treasured photograph of himself, as a young man, with Sir Edmund Hillary. Nice man who believes in Yetis the same way I believe in the Loch Ness monster. Here I meet David and Kate, a hippy father and his daughter from California, a happy pair.
Friday 25 (day 11): Dhole to Machherma 4,410m (14,553ft). A short uphill day to the warmth of Yeti Lodge in Machherma where a Yak train is tied up for the night.
Saturday 26 (day 12): Machherma to Gokyo 4,750m (15,675ft). Another uphill day to Gokyo where, after lunch, I climb Gokyo Ri which at 5,360m (17,688ft) is around four times higher than Ben Nevis. It's an exhausting experience and I'm forced to stop frequently to take deep breaths. The summit's only other inhabitants are a pair of finch-like birds, Alpine Accentors, who are undisturbed by my presence but the real reward is the breathtaking views over to the Everest range and downhill to Gokyo's pretty lake.
In the evening, for warmth, we huddle round Namaste Lodge's dung-burning stove and later I dream that I'm struggling for breath, drowning in a tank of air with a brain-splitting headache. Slowly I realise it's not a dream, I'm awake. I sit up in bed for several hours taking deep breaths. If this persists tomorrow I'll need to descend.
Sunday 27 (day 13): Gokyo. I spend an acclimatisation day reading the Dalai Lama's book, The Art of Happiness, I feel not only rested but more content.
Monday 28 (day 14): Gokyo. Feeling better today I hike north along Ngozumba Glacier to Goyko's 5th lake and up to Scoundrel's Viewpoint, 5,000m (16,500ft), for spectacular vistas of Cho Oyu's icy wall and the fang-like Cholo. The creaking glacier and my footsteps are ignored by a flock of Partridge.
Tuesday 29 (day 15): Goyko. I return to the summit of Gokyo Ri to catch Everest in the sunset - it's spectacular but there's a dark and chilly descent back to the comfort of Namaste Lodge's dung-fired stove.
Wednesday 30 (day 16): Gokyo to Thangnag 4,700m (15,510ft). A short but fascinating day I head east across the creaking and cracking Ngozumbo Glacier (I can't believe how loud it is) where amidst the grey morraine little Pika or Mouse-hares dart between the boulders.
An Austrailian couple and their two daughters, who I meet later, tell me that when their guide took an old path across the glacier they were obliged to wade, chest deep, across a melt-water stream wearing just underware and their socks for grip. I navigate my way across easily. Local guides can be a bit hit and miss.
Thursday 1 December (day 17): Thangnag to Dzonglha over Cho La Pass 5,368m (17,714ft). A long tough day which, with hindsight, would have been better tackled with an ice axe and a pack lunch. A steep breathless scramble over jagged rocks leads to Cho La's icy saddle where a slippery hard-ice path crosses an high-altitude glacier before continuing steeply down towards an open valley and Dzonglha's fairly cheerless Green Valley Lodge. Finally, much needed food, I've made it.
Photos of Gokyo Lakes and Cho La Pass.

No comments:

Post a Comment