This is one in a series of posts about my recent Trek to Everest Basecamp (EBC). If you wish to read the previous posts you can access them at #EBC2017
March 24. After my failed attempt to photograph the sunrise over Mt. Everest while in Tengboche, it was time to hit the road toward Dingboche—a town situation at 4,410 meters above sea-level (500 meters above Tengboche). It was, so I was told, a steady 5-hour climb toward Dingboche. I got up with a bit of a headache earlier, which I treated with a pill of Panamol. It normally worked quite fast to take the edge off, so I didn’t mind taking these pills on a daily basis (though I hate drugs!). A shower was not an option last night and using the shared bathroom was a bit of a challenge too, though I am sure it is more of a challenge if you’re a woman. There is no running water system (plumbing) to flush the water, so you need to use a cup of water and hope gravity would do the rest. Sigh, not the prettiest site :). I met a group yesterday that just came back from Everest Basecamp who shared with us how cold it is there. I lived in Boston for 8 years so you cannot threaten me with a cold curve ball, but still, it was good to know what to expect.
As we climb to Dingboche—crossing green paths, mysterious forests, and friendly terrain—Mt. Everest reveals itself in front of us. It is a beautiful site that kept me motivated to move forward when the mind and body told me to stop. It motivated me to keep moving forward. We have reached the town of Sonam after a few hours climb, and about 200 meters ascent. At 4,100 above sea-level, I had another breakdown. I felt extremely tired due to lack of oxygen, but also because I didn’t sleep much the night before (I kept waking up because it is hard to sleep in these altitudes if you’re not used to it). I sat down to eat lunch and felt I needed to take a nap. I also didn’t feel much like eating, but I knew that not eating is not an option for me remembering the episode I have experienced when I climbed to Namche. As I lifted my head up I could see Mt. Everest on the horizon, and that helped me work on my mental state. I decided to take a longer lunch break in order to close my eyes a bit and give my body some rest. I cannot say it helped much, but it did feel good to not move for 20 minutes.
As we got closer to Dingboche the environment started to change drastically. The terrain has become rockier and sandier, and strong winds were blowing thick sand mixed with tiny stones on my face. It was a good thing I wore my sunglasses throughout the climb. The sun was up above my head producing extreme heat that burnt the skin on my hand, causing small blisters to appear. The wind has picked up speed too, which made the temperatures drop significantly as we kept climbing up, and there were times I simply had to stop moving because the wind was so strong that it pushed me off the road; it was better to stop than to use my energy to walk against the power of the wind. There were no houses around us, just sand, rocks, yaks, and big mountains. It felt secluded, but as the same time very pretty.
We have reached Dingboche after a 5-hour climb. I was exhausted when I finally reached the gates of the city. After getting the keys to my room I sat on the bed feeling feverish (a common reaction after every climb) mainly in my eyes, but at this point I was already accustomed to this type of reaction and had a Panamol ready at my disposal. I used this time to rehydrate my body by drinking the 4th litre of water for the day and ate another Cliff Bar to replenish the carbs I lost during the climb.
The next day I woke up with a big headache. It was our acclimatization day, so it was good to know I had a day to rest and take care of my headache. It snowed a bit the night before and it was very cold around -10 celsius. It was not the coldest weather I’ve been to, but considering my body was tired and somewhat weak it felt colder than normal. Luckily I was not sharing the room with anyone, so I managed to have two blankets (from the extra bed) to help me keep warmed.
I decided to skip the short climb we were scheduled to do on our second acclimatization day in Dingboche and chose to stay in the hotel. I used this time to walk around town, and I ended up sitting on top of a hill for almost two hours just watching the beautiful view around me and reflecting on my life. I had plenty of time to meditate and reflect, which I consider priceless and precious moments during this trek. 30 minutes into sitting on that hill it finally struck me how peaceful the place was. There were no sounds of cars, people, loud talks, planes, trains, people screaming—there was nothing! All I could hear was the wind, some bells that are attached to the Yaks’ neck, and myself thinking. I don’t remember the last time I heard myself thinking. At some point, during the beginning of the trek, my guide told me that Nepal stands for peace and love, which is exactly what I felt when I sat on that hill. Another thing that struck me while sitting on that hill is that I suddenly realized that I couldn’t remember things that I am used to in the everyday life routine. Things like cars, people, shops, roads, work, were completely foggy in my memory. It was strange, but yet divine, feeling that I happily embraced.
The rest day in Dingboche was much needed, I felt. Tomorrow we were planned to embark on a long climb to a town called Luboche. It was going to be tough, but yet a beautiful trek to a place that claims to have the most high-altitude bakery in the world. It was also the only place I actually tried any kind of a cake…stay tuned
To be continued.