Tag Archives: himalayas

Day 9: Kala Patthar (Gorak Shep) to Pheriche

11/16/2015
Summit of Kala Patthar 5643m/18514 ft.
Pheriche 4371m/14340 ft.
10km, 6.2 miles, 3-4 hours hike time

When our group descended Kala Patthar we found the rest of our team packed up and waiting. Even though we were headed downhill it was getting late and we wante to get to Pheriche for the night. We hurried to grab some tea, replenish our water, and get going.

The summit of Kala Patthar had been windy, cold, and dry and by the time we left I felt my chest constricting and a rattling in my lungs. Departing Gorak Shep took us up a small rise, and as I climbed I kept looking around and lifting my earmuff to listen for a repetitive, soft whistling noise that was bugging me. I thought it was coming from someone’s pack. When I finally took my earmuffs off and heard myself breathing I realized I was making the noise. I laughed. When I go to the doctor’s office with my all too regular bouts of bronchitis, they ask if I’m wheezing. I tell them I don’t think I am because I don’t know what that sounds like. Well, apparently it sounds like this, and I knew it instantly since so many people have described it to me.

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Day 9: Kala Patthar (we made it!)

11/15/2015
Gorak Shep 5164m/16942 ft.
Summit of Kala Patthar 5643m/18514 ft.

Kala Patthar is brown, snow covered Pumori behind, Gorak Shep bottom right corner Image: Nepal-dia

From Everest BaseCamp you can’t actually see Mt. Everest, it’s blocked by smaller, closer peaks. The only place for a rookie like me to get a good look at the peak – besides a distant view from Namche Bazaar – is by climbing a ridge above Gorak Shep called Kala Patthar. This is really the goal of this trek but since nobody has heard of Kala Patthar it’s just easier to say you’re going to EBC.

Kala Patthar is just a small peak, too small to qualify as a mountain, and it’s part of a ridge up to the mountain Pumori. The “summit” is 18,500 feet but we started from 16,900 feet at Gorak Shep, so it’s a steep 1,500-foot climb that takes 90-120 minutes. Many people leave pre-dawn to catch the sunrise over Everest but, after a long day yesterday we decided to sleep in. We left at 6am.

Last night was quietly joyful as we reveled in our success and also worried a bit about our friend who was on oxygen. You definitely notice the altitude here through the cold, dry air and a slight headache. It was no surprise that the bedroom here was the coldest yet. I so wished I could just curl up by the wood stove in the dining room. Even though I was in the habit getting into my sleeping bag before changing into the long johns I slept in I was still shivering. I used my clothes and jackets as a makeshift blanket on top of my bag.

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Day 8: Base Camp

After a quick stop for tea at Gorak Shep a few of us hurried on in the late afternoon. And here we are at our first goal, 17,600 feet, the site of the Base Camp for Mt. Everest expeditions! (And yet this was not the most exciting day, stay tuned for tomorrow.)

I’d forgotten that the weather window to summit Everest comes in the spring so was surprised to find the area deserted. A pile of stones strung with prayer flags marked the unofficial entrance, overlooking the Khumbu glacier and icefall, and the rocky valley floor where camp is built. After brief disappointment, the isolation and history of the area turned the moment magical.

Base Camp is set up in the flat area circled in black in the center of this photo. The Khumbu Icefall, which is the first step up to Everest, follows the red line, and the Khumbu glacier follows the green line on the right. Continue reading

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Day 8: Lobuche to Gorak Shep to Base Camp

11/14/2015
Lobuche: 4930m/16175 ft.
Gorak Shep 5164m/16942 ft.
Base Camp 5360m/17650 ft.
6-8km, 4-6 miles, 7 hours hike time

Terrain: A steady sloping up on a rocky trail that alternates between valleys and hillsides.

A fun surprise for us at Lobuche as we reconnected with two team members who’d split off at Namche wanting to move faster and skip Base Camp on their way to climb Lobuche peak. It was fun to catch up and hear that they’d made their goal and were safe and sound.

The teahouse was the most crowded yet, not unlike a Colorado ski lodge during spring break. I noted the ratio of women to men, probably in the range of 4 to 1, and most people looked like serious climbers. I suspect this must be a launch point for expeditions to many of the nearby peaks. Continue reading

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Day 5: Deboche to Dingboche

11/11/2015
Deboche: 3867m/12687 ft.
Dingboche: 4410m/14468 ft.
9km, 5.5 miles, 6.5 hours hike time

Terrain: Much of the trail follows along the side of the mountains offering gorgeous views of mountains and valleys. Flat, with a gradual upward slope. The crowds thinned out a bit.

It was a quick night at Deboche and I was restless and ill. Up and down between bed and meals, cold in the room but hot in the dining area, back and forth to the bathroom, which was not a pleasant place to be sick.

The next morning four members of our team turned around to head back down the hill. The full trip was long – 21 days – and some people couldn’t take that much time away. We’d started the trip with 21 people and now we were down to 11. Both Jagat and Tricia (TFK’s Ops Director) were leaving, along with two fun-loving guys we’d enjoyed. This made the group a bit more intimidating since there were now only two others who weren’t fairly serious climbers. Continue reading

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Initial concerns: Heart and bone

I mentioned previously that I was going to be transparent about my concerns as I prepared for this trek. My major obstacle is an anxiety disorder, but I’ll address that in another post. Today, an update on the two other issues I mentioned: low back injury and cardiac PVCs.

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