Ups and Downs
(day 7: Tengboche to Dingboche
day 8 acclimatisation walk to Chukkung
day 9 Dingboche to Lobuche)
It's a funny feeling, not being able to catch your breath - scary and irritating. I remember actually having to really concentrate on breathing today after a minor panic attack brought on from hefting my huge bag about 10m to our tea house room.
The rest of day 7 was impressive - down the valley and up again to Dingboche in snow so dry it is like white powdery dust. The river we walk along is flanked with massive icebergs and the water is that bright glacial blue.
Before dinner, Dom announced that Susan would have to go down the mountain, as she started to experience the onset of pulmonary oedema - altitude-induced fluid on the lungs. We are gutted, but not as much as she is. After all the effort and real grit, she will retrace our steps up, and meet us in Kathmandu.
On day 8 we had a short acclimatisation excursion to Chukkung and back, taking around 4 hours and getting back to the tea house for lunch. It was hard work - we are getting really high now, and it is cold. The landscape is really monotone after the snow and we are above the tree level now.
Our afternoon was free, allowing some to try to get their strength back. Lisa taught a super-slow dance class - the highest I ever heard of. We played some get-to-know-you games after dinner, and reinforced the group spirit, which is high. We are having a tough but amazing time, and I realise that I laugh like a hyena 100 times a day: am up much more than I am down.
Rosie and I were kept up by the cow bells hanging around the neck of the Zokyo (yak-cow beast of burden carrying our bags) sitting outside our bedroom window. We were greeted by Laila and Lisa's customary morning routine through the thin plywood wall this morning: "day 9. The housemates are cold...again. we are having a good time, having a good time..."
Going to the loo is getting treacherous - we have to flush them using a jug of icy water which creates a pissy ice-rink across the toilet floors. Only one person was brave enough to own up to falling over on it....
The long walk to Lobuche on day 9 involves another increase of 600m elevation to 4930m. The walk was hard but stunning: breathtaking in both senses of the word.
The route starts with a very steep climb for 45mins or so, then a long steady climb around a mountain, past some fabulous scenary. We entertain Laila by graffiting in the snow.
This evening, we sit drinking mint tea in the tea house, looking at the sunshine turning Nuptse different colours out the window and looking forward to tomorrow - the big day...
extra marvellous pic: