The Himalayan M25
Trip Start Sep 23, 2004
77Trip End Ongoing
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The cloud finally decided to give us a break, and I was treated to some awesome views of Ama Dablam, the Lhotse- Nuptse wall and Cholatse. This was my first sight of one of big guys- Lhotse is the world's fourth highest mountain. The beautiful wedge-shaped peak of Ama Dablam was queen, however, and remained in sight (through varying degrees of cloud) all the way to Dingboche.
We lunched at Orsho, a solitary lodge on a plain perched between some big mountains and a valley. We were the only people there- they don't get very many visitors- and the food was amazing. We also managed to get a lodge to ourselves in the evening; the Ama Dablam lodge in Dingboche. More good food and lots of lemon tea (it was what got Hillary and Tenzing to the summit of Everest, so we hoped its power would aid us in our quest a bit lower down!). Our peace was shattered the next evening; returning from an acclimatisation walk up Naghartshang, taking us to the lofty height of 4600m, we found that an invasion had taken place! Two groups had descended on the lodge- a bunch of mountaineers heading up to Island Peak, and a trekking group coming down from Everest. The main room in the lodge consisted of three tables in a horseshoe shape. Oli and I were sat at the middle table of the three, and squished up when 24 more walkers plus support staff came flooding in. It was then that we witnessed a perculiar manifestation of the herd mentality. Sixteen walkers from the trekking group were trying to squish around a table intended to seat ten at a push. We invited the group to make use of our table too, but were met with great reluctance
Our walk during the day was great. The views of Ama Dablam were amazing, with snow clinging to its almost vertical faces. We watched birds soaring beneath us, and trains of yaks ambling across the landscape. Looking at the mountains around us, the sparse scrubland below, and feeling the biting wind, it felt miraculous that anybody manages to eke out an existence here.
Following our rest day, we headed east to Chukkung, in the Imjatse valley. Island Peak was impressive- a mound of rock in the midst of snow and ice. We had great fun stream hopping over glacial meltwater and watching the Imja Khola shrink away. The landscape was desolate, covered in scrubby little plants and boulders deposited by glaciers. Ama Dablam felt close enough to touch, and we were surrounded by snow covered giants
My stomach betrayed me during the night, so in the morning I had to forgo our ascent of Chukkung Ri. Oli headed up, and I passed the time sketching the mountains and talking to a German trekking group heading off to Island Peak. An amazing gentleman gave me some pills to settle my tummy, and told me that Island Peak was going to be the last time he climbed a mountain over 5000m. He was 67 and felt that 'I'm getting too old, I'll just climb the Alps now'. Which are of course known for being small and easy. Then again, this guy had climbed Nanga Parbat 30 years ago- after reaching 8126m I guess most mountains are fairly straightforward? I think I'll keep my feet on the ground and gaze upwards!