Day 9 - Gokyo side trip - The Sacred Lakes and Scoundrel's Viewpoint
Poor Simon had picked up the inevitable tummy problem overnight that most trekkers suffer from at some point on a trek in Nepal. With energy lacking, we decided to save the climb up Gokyo Ri til tomorrow and opted today for the Sacred Lakes walk to Scoundrel's Viewpoint.
It felt good to leave the full bags behind and to just take what we needed for the day - sun block, camera, down jackets and snickers bars. We scrambled over the rocky path, losing our way a little as the path kept disappearing in the scree. We knew we just had to keep going north along the bed of the valley where a glacier once laid.
Simon and Everest!
The route was mostly flat going, other than the sudden rocky hills we had to scramble over but we were still gasping for air at almost every step. The thin air was really hitting us now as we were staying at 4800m at Gokyo. We took our time and allowed plenty of short breaks to get some vital water in and to catch our breathe as best we could. The landscape looked like what we imagine the moon to look like, where the glacier has receeded leaving lose scree and rocks. The views were incredible, mountains all around and so many glimpses of Cho Oyu looming to the north, so close now.
After about 1.5 hours, we came across Thonak Tsho at 4870m, the 4th lake (the 3rd lake is the one at Gokyo). The lake is the same emerald green as the Gokyo lake, just beautiful surrounded in the mountains and not another sole in sight.
The path seems to go on forever, over the lose scree and over the boulder-strewn hills. Eventually we reached the 5th of the Sacred Lakes, Ngozumpa Tsho (4980m), with Cho Oyu looming right over it. Now we could see some prayer flags on the hill to our right so we staggered up to the top and carried on a little way. In our exhausted state, we realised we had reached Scoundrel's viewpoint and as we looked to our right, there in front of us was Everest. The north face of Everest was just there, completely unobstucted by other mountains or clouds. Just there. We sat and stared and hugged and cried and couldn't quite believe our eyes. It was a magical moment, a truly incredible point in our lives that we were stting gawping at the world's highest mountain with noone else around us just the clear blue skies, the birds soaring above us and the cold thin air.
Not only were we staring at Everest but also Lhotse, Nuptse, Makalu, Cho Oyu and the beautiful 5th sacred lake. What a perfect place to sit for an hour! It was odd to look at Everest as it had the least amount of snow on it compared to its neighbours. We felt so incredibly lucky to be sat in this awesome ampitheatre surrounded by some of the giants of the world on such a beautiful clear day.
Obviously we took about a zillion photos of the 360 degree views, took some set up photos of us together and ate our chocolate bars with the most fantastic view to look at. Not a bad morning really!! We thought we could hear the sound of an avalanche somewhere close but couldn't see any falling snow.
After about 1.5 hours of sitting at this incredible viewpoint, the chill is starting to get the better of our super down jackets (Rab make (UK) if anyone is interested) and we sadly head back to Gokyo leaving our ampitheatre behind us.
On the way back, the path is much easier to follow and we managed to stay on the path the whole way back to Gokyo. The slight descent makes the going easier and we are also blessed to see a Himalayan Griffon (a huge condor) circling the sky, which we identified by its 2 white circle of feathers on the inderside of its wings. Simon also spotted a pika, little rodent thing that looked like a guineapig scurrying about between the rocks.
it took just 1.5 hours to get back and we were so glad of our Rab down jackets as the freezing glacial winds really picked up on the way back to Gokyo. We would have frozen in the cutting winds if we hadn't had the right coats on - you have been warned!!
As the Gokyo lake (Dudh Pokari at 4750m) rolled into view we felt relieved to be back as we wree very hungry and tired. After a much-needed hearty lunch and lots of water, we had am afternoon nap before spending the evening in the usual way - scrabble, food, hot drinks and chatting with the kerosene stench and dung fuelled heater filling the busy dining room.