Same routine of getting up around 6am, after getting ready and packing, down to the dinning room for breakfast at 7am and out on the road by 7:45am. After a quick climb of stairs we were out of Namche and on the way towards first tea/rest stop Kyangjuma. On the way we can see the tip of Everest on a clear day. It takes around 1 hr walk to reach Kyangjuma over relatively flat road, yes they have started building a relatively good roads on this stretch. And there was the old fellow sitting there with a donation box, same guy as I saw in my last trek, for the road work. Soon we reached the fork in the road, one going towards the Everest base camp other going steeply up towards Gokyo
and third one going to Khumjung.
The path towards Gokyo looks quite intimidating from here, going along the contours of the mountains all the while climbing up steeply. We started the climb and soon reached a small bridge after which there are stone stairs. The path from here is wide enough for a comfortable walk but still need to be careful as the valley on one side is really deep. After what seemed like an unending gradual climb for just over 2 hours we reached the top at a place called Mong-la just around 11:15am. We stop for lunch, it's quite windy up there and there are only a handful of lodges.
After lunch we start our walk down the mountains to reach Phortse Tenga around 12:10pm. This side of the mountain does not get much sunlight so will find frozen ice patches at some places.
Tip of Everest
The walk down the stairs can be covered fairly quickly and we reached a fork in the path, one going towards Dole and other to lodges in Phortse Tenga. Here we checked with one of the locals on the time needed to reach Dole, he informs it just around 2 hours. So now we had an option of either to stop at Phortse Tenga for the night or move ahead. The time was around 1pm so we decided to walk slowly towards Dole hoping to reach there before 4pm as this would give us some extra time to spend at Gokyo or while crossing the Renjo la pass.
This was a big mistake due to which we suffered later, we should not be gaining altitude too fast once we reach above 3000 meters. The advice for high altitude trekking is to climb gradually, not more than 400 meters each day, giving enough time to the body to acclimatize.
Tip of Everest
We did not stick to this rule and had to pay the price the next day.
Soon we realized that the climb will be really really tough and a bit dangerous. Again due to thick trees the sunlight did not reach the pathways and there were patches of hardened snow all along the way which made it a bit difficult to walk at normal pace. I am not used to walking on ice and my guide had to help me a few times, holding me while crossing the frozen ice path. After some time it started getting cloudy and windy, sun disappeared behind the clouds and the temperature started dipping fast. We had no choice but to walk upwards as there is no village or loges on the way. After some time it started to drizzle snow and rain which made matters worse. Water on frozen ice is not a good combination; add to that the chilly weather.
We had already walked for over 2 hours but still the village of Dole was nowhere in sight as the path was covered within trees and on one side was a deep valley reaching the river below gushing with water. We just kept on climbing slowly and were soon joined by some more trekkers after which it became a single file walk for all of us since the path was covered in slippery mud and ice patches with snow flakes and rain coming down on us. Everyone was huffing and puffing as we were gaining altitude, getting covered with snow flakes which were melting and we were getting wet. Still we looked at each other to gain some solace and confidence and keep walking ahead.
I normally travel alone, or with a guide, but sometimes its situation like this when you are really glad to move along in a group, everyone trying to encourage each other, help each other.
Tip of Everest
Finally we reached the top of the mountains and Dole amidst snow flakes and freezing cold just around 4:30pm. We reached inside the first tea house and tried to settle down. This place was kind of run-down but other places were either full or closed so we had to make do with whatever was available. Outside it started snowing more and we tried to get comfortable inside which was quite tough in this weather and altitude. We all huddled into the small dinning room, trying to keep ourselves warm near the heater. After some time the snowing stopped and I walked out to take some pictures. The scenery around was simply breathtaking. We were surrounded by snow capped mountains; fresh white snow all around, the snow was already over 1 feet deep. After taking the pictures, walked into the dinning room to warm up.
I had not realized this earlier but had started to feel a bit uncomfortable at this place, a bit disoriented. Soon we ordered dinner felt would not be able to eat dal-bhat today, so went for Veg monos, which was also the choice of all other trekkers as well. We waited patiently for the dinner to get ready, reading books, chatting passing time. Again I didn’t realize then that I was feeling more and more uncomfortable. Dinner was a quite affair and I had some garlic soup as well to take care of the high altitude effects on my body. Felt a bit better after dinner and so went off to bed around 9pm. Around 10pm started feeling really restless and so popped a Diamox tablet. Had a small walk outside adoring the bright sky, after the snowing stopped in the evening, the sky had cleared by now giving way to all the stars shining really bright. Was able to sleep for some time but then around 3:30am started feeling breathless and a bit dizzy. Bad signs so popped another Diamox but was getting the uneasy feeling that something was wrong. Drank more hot water and tried to get some sleep, the water helped and started calming down.