I have made it above 16,000 feet. It’s actually not as crazy as I thought it might be either, considering there’s 50% less oxygen up there than there is in San Francisco. And, it’s already colder at 5pm than it was last night after the sun went down.
Today’s highlight was the Thokla Pass. It was about an hour straight up a steep hill and some steps. In reality, it might have been half a mile, but felt like a marathon with the altitude. We took it slow, and took several breaks, and it really wasnt as bad as I thought it might be after yesterday. And as we talked about all through lunch (we had lunch at a lodge and looked at the hill the entire time). I’m still worried about making it up Kala Patthar though.
At the top, we were treated to not only a great view, but also to memorials of fallen climbers decked out in prayer flags. There was one for Scott Fischer, one of the guides from the ’96 tragedy, one for the Nepalese descended Canadian climber who passed away on her way down from the summit a few years ago. It was interesting to see the memorials of the people I’ve spent a year reading about.
And, I just watched a guy ask the lodge keeper if he could use the rest of his daughter’s shower water to wash his hair, rather than pay for his own shower. Dude, it’s $5, pay the poor lodge lady and go have your shower.
Speaking of the lodge, it’s a nice change to be staying in here rather than the tent. It’s nice not having to crawl in and out of my bed, and be able to see the stuff in my bag without digging. The lodge lady makes beautiful hats, scarves, and more out of yak wool. I bought a pretty scarf that will keep me warm in the chilly office. She also charged my phone and camera battery for $6. They also have a horse for hire….perhaps I can hire it to take me the rest of the way….haha…
I tried to go for a walk after we had our tea. A couple of the others from our group said there wasnt much to see…just a horses, yaks, and some stray dogs. I made it a few feet, and realized that the dogs must have run away with the yaks, because all that was out there were three horses.
The cook made us pizza for dinner tonight. Delicious at 16,000 feet. I had another sherpa sauna, hopefully that helps with the dust as well as the congestion. One of my fellow trekkers brought a pulse-ox meter so we’ve spent the evening trying that, and then decided that we needed to try it out on the sherpas. Of course, they knew what was up…and they had ridiculously low heart rates for the altitude.
Tomorrow, we head to Gorak Shep for lunch and then to either base camp or Kala Patthar (depending on the weather). Then, the other the next day, and then down we go. I can’t believe the days we’ve been hiking all this time for are almost here…