In the alpine zone at 4,000+ meters
Khumjung Travel Blog› entry 3 of 5 › view all entries
Shomare – 4,010m
Trekking in the 4000 meters zone was a lot more tedious than in the lower altitudes. The air was much thinner and breathing became more laborious. Weather was cold and windy most of the time and it was very difficult to get out of the warm sleeping bag in the morning. Heating was available only in the common dining area and heat was generated by burning dried yak dung.
Scenery was just as magnificent as in the lower altitudes and the mountains were just as majestic with their 6000m to 7000m+ high peaks.
Dingboche – 4,410m
Dingboche was the next stop where we stayed two nights. The trek from Shomare to Dingboche was actually very pleasant as the ascent was quite gradual and one walked in the vast and open landscape with relatively easy trails.
From Dingboche and as part of our acclimatization program, we made day trips down the mountain to the next village, Pheriche at 4,270m where the Himalayan Mountain Rescue (HRA) Clinic was located. There were three volunteer doctors from the UK who were there to provide medical service to the local communities and to carry out a study on altitude. In addition, they also provide free daily lecture on altitude sickness.
We contributed by participating in their studies and had my oxygen level tested at the same time. It was 88% at that altitude which was not too bad. Until then, I did have any headaches or any signs of altitude sickness.
Thokla – 4,620m
The trek to Thokla on the moonlike and open landscape with sparse vegetation was equally pleasant. We had fantastic views of the Taboche Peak (6,367m). We had a one night stay in this village.
Lobuche – 4,910m
The toughest part of the trek in the 4,000m zone was trekking up the Thokla Pass which was a very long uphill moraine. It was not difficult but just very strenuous due to the thin air. Even the yaks had to be coaxed at some point to move up the moraine. At the top of the moraine was a memorial place for those who had perished in the mountains including local sherpas and foreign climbers like the famous Scott Fisher who perished up on Mt Everest in the big storm of 1996.
That was a reminder that mountains are not forgiving and all climbers and trekkers need to have the strength to turn back if the weather does not permit further ascent or if their bodies do not allow them to proceed further.
On our way to Lobuche at 4910 meters, we encountered a snow storm and by the time we arrived at the lodge, we were pretty much covered with snow. There were only a few lodges in this place and some of them were really small and dirty. We were lucky to be able to get the last room in Lobuche Eco Loge which was the most comfortable of all the lodges in this village. We finally were able to have a warm shower after going without one for two days. At the high altitudes, wood had to be chopped and burnt to boil the water and hence showers were expensive and a luxury!