Monday, 27 July 2009

Day 9 Trekking Day 8 Dengboche to Lobuche

So today we're up early to get a start on the trek. We follow practically the same route up to the stupa that we did yesterday on our acclimatisation trek but then we go over the hump and along a ridge following the valley floor. The landscape is breathtaking. You have to stop and look around you to see these mountains which seem to rise out of nowhere like a stone titan's surfing waves.

Dr Lord gave us a little speech about the next section as we were in the Khumbu valley and from here on in it gets pretty dusty, if anyone brought facemasks, then this would be the time to wear them.

We're following another river and eventually we cross it as a rocky point over a low wooden bridge. Someone noted that we more-or-less walked straight over. Usually at this pass we'd have to wait for people on the other side to cross first and it'd be the Himalayan traffic-jam. We see that above is an outpost called Duggla (or Thukla, depending on where you read your maps) where we had a memorable meal of spicy noodle soup. It was probably the best thing we'd had so far on the trip - It wasn't pasta and it wasn't potatoes. Noodles in soup with a smattering of vegetables.

While we were eating we could see the trek ahead. A rocky hill that just seemed to go on forever. We were watching other trekking teams ascend and roughly timed them on their ascent. They seemed to take forever to disappear. Some of them we smaller than ants and weren't even halfway up the hill. It looked very daunting. I wasn't looking forward to it whatsoever.

I was developing a slight headache so I tried sleeping for a bit and taking a paracetamol or two. I think I managed to sleep for about 15 minutes before I was woken up to gather my things and leave. Much refreshed and headache seems to have lifted slightly.

(me and Dr Nick have 40 winks. Or maybe it was just about 20)

Simmo(nds) wasn't feeling very well so was left behind with Dr Isla Cox to rest for a day in Dukla (Thuggla). It was decided that he does have AMS and was presenting all the classic symptoms but we all went ahead leaving him in Isla's capables.

The rocky hill that stretched above us was a bit of a chore but we took frequent rest stops. Trekking in the Himalayas seems to be a constant struggle to stay at a comfortable temperature. I'm wearing quite a heavy tog NorthFace down jacket, a windproof inner layer as well as a technical underlayer and generally when I'm stood still, it's fine but moving and especially with uphills, it gets pretty hot and sweaty zipping and unzipping the windproof, taking the down jacket off, gloves, hat, pack, moan, moan, moan.... it's beautiful here at the top. This a a holy place.

We're resting for half an hour at what seems to be a basin shaped plateau (which, I guess, isn't technically a plateau) at the top of the rocky hill. At the crest of it we turned around to see the teahouse which looked like half a postage stamp. I hope Simmo is okay. There are prayer flags stretching from one peak of the crest to the other, forming a welcome gate to this place. There's a stupa here with more flags flying. In the base of the rocky basin there are what looks like granite boulders with carvings on them. We look around and there are memorials and monuments all over the place. Everyone seems to recognise names of people, perhaps more famous climbers that have tried scaling Everest. Walking around, I find a boulder tucked into a far corner where I find a simple carving to someone. It's stupid to cry over people you don't know but I guess, it's like watching films where you invest in the truth of the film and something sad happens, I can't help but cry. I don't know who this person is but I've invested in the truth of this mountain that it can be unforgiving and that there are dangers on it. I can only imagine what went on. Did they only make it this far? No. Surely not. These people are surely more heroic than I, though I am reminded that that some have fallen before this point of the route up to Everest. I suspect that our little trek is nothing to what ever Alex Lowe had gone through. If I get back down I will find out who this person is and what they did and why an anonymous friend carved their name in a rock. It's simple but beautiful, out of the way of the main route through this place. And sitting by the rock, looking around, it's like we're being watched by the Gods on all sides in their towering majesty. No wonder they chose this spot as the place to place the monuments to the fallen. They can rest protected.

When we continued our journey, we are all a little subdued and more than moved by the sacrosanctity of this hill.

Further along after much deep thought and subdued walking, I finally hit on the answer.

"Mansion House. The tube stop with all the vowels in the alphabet is Mansion House!"