Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Camping at Tengboche

I was now beginning to feel some effects of being at high altitude. Normal actions seemed to take much longer and I was surprised how rapidly one becomes out of breath when walking up a gradient. Everything required more effort.

It started to rain a little (low cloud) on the afternoon's final approach to Tengboche. Arrived about 3.45. Drink to stave off altitude headache; thankfully it went almost straight away.

Bitingly cool this evening, especially with the damp air. Dinner was in mess tent at about 6.30 pm. Many other parties here. Tengboche is a regular stopping point for treks.

Had found lunch a little hard to digest (again an effect of altitude). Dinner this evening comprised bombay potatoes, coleslaw, bread pancakes and banana delight. Always hot juice when we arrived at campsite, and tea and biscuits in tent. I bought a can of Sprite for extra liquid.

Went to see sort film about Tengboche monastery but fell asleep. It was warm and the chairs were relatively comfortable.

Everest still seemed a distance dream but after first light in morning we should have a stunning view from the campsite, given clear weather.

It’s 9 pm. Sky is now clear. Giant mountains are silhouetted by twinkling stars. Several of us had discussion about coming days and how we would make it to Basecamp. Determined to keep going.

Some of our party started taking Diamox tablets to help thin the blood and thus combat some of the effects of altitude. Along with others I decided to wait and see how things went the next day.

Last night I slept from 11 pm until 0530 am without a break. Socks staying on tonight as colder but will try to save really warm clothing for the severe cold higher up. Others are already using long johns, hats and gloves etc at night.

Can't imagine what the coming days and nights are going to be like. For us ’office guys’ this is a test of determination and character.

Probably not enough pre-trek training with hingsight - and some more gym work might have helped as tiredness kicks in very quickly. Daytime walks are not technically difficult, though.

Our Yaks are tied up this evening near tents. Their thick shaggy coats glistened in the frost as we turned in. They are lying down but the bells clank every now and then - a comforting sound.

Awoke at 0540. Cold overnight in sleeping bag but only woke a couple of times and didn't need to venture out. People now out of tents. Sun just catching tops of mountains - looks like it will be an excellent day.

I took a short walk to top of the Tengboche site to view the sun rising on mountains. Monks in their colourful robes were gathered outside to witness the rising sun too, a daily ritual. Our campsite is white with a heavy frost and we wait for the warmth of the first swun rays of the day. It happens quickly, like the end of an eclipse. In the sun it iswarm but in the shadows still bitterly cold.

I can see the distant Everest from this campsite but it is dwarfed by other mountains in the foreground. The first part of the trail today is down through woods on sandy ground. Then across a suspension bridge. After crossing we contour around a mountainside, with a fast flowing icy river below.

There is a string of high mountains opposite, with Everest in the distance. The mighty mountain is becoming a familiar, if a little discreet, in the range beyond. Most of this part of the walk is dominated by the mcuh closer to hand and distinctively-shaped Ama Dablam.

At 12 noon it has turned a little cooler and we stop for lunch. By the time we leave an hour later the sun has disappeared as the afternoon clouds build; it will be much colder in the afternoon.

I can hear but not see the roar of water below. By now I have neck ache and a pounding lower head; not sure whether result of gaining altitude. I struggle to walk quickly after lunch. The gradient has become hard work.

The scenery is turning to barren tundra as we lose trees and vegetation. I’ve developed a severe headache in back of neck and have bad indigestion.

We come to a small wooden bridge across a raging tributary. I took a short break here and drank a can of Sprite bought at the campsite shop that morning. Then it was a steep climb up onto open land. Taking it steady, I tried to establish rhythm.

My own head had cleared now but a number of our party  werenow suffering bad headaches and stomach upsets. As a result we will probably stay extra night at our next scheduled stop - Dingboche.