Day 12: Dingboche to Lobuche

It was another full day of hiking as we climbed out of Dingboche (4350m) and headed for Lobuche (4940m). It started bad, with a really crappy night’s sleep. As mentioned already, we added foam pads to try and make the sleeping experience better. For me, it resulted in a slope on the bed such that I felt like I was falling out of the bed all night. This induced dreams of rolling off mountains and all sorts of other falling dream badness, which kept me waking up regularly through the night. Anne didn’t fare much better and so we were both slow to start the morning.

Dorje brought us a hot cup of Tiger Balm laced water, the follow up to the previous night’s Tiger Balm vapor therapy. With a slow breakfast we strung out leaving till the sun at least close to peeking out from behind the valley, hoping the sun would help warm everything up and help make breathing easier for Anne. Then we packed up and made a very cold trek up to the top of the ridge overlooking Dingboche.

I stormed up the hill, trying my best to get and stay warm. It didn’t take long to gain the first bit of sunlight hitting the ridge where I warmed up and waited for Anne and the rest to join. From that first ridge, most of the walk to Thukla makes its way slowly upward over grassy plains, wide open with intertwined and myriad paths to choose from. The walk also looks over the valley below, full of empty yak pastures and stone houses. In the summer, this is where yaks are brought to graze.

We ate lunch in Thukla, a convenient stop since it is immediately before an arduous climb up an old moraine ridge to the higher valley that Lobuche sits in. Anne was still not feeling her best, so I grabbed her camera to try and lighten her load as much as possible and slowly trudged up the steep path. Renche and I bolted ahead at the paces we were comfortable with, Anne making her own slower pace with Dorje.

At the top of this climb was a whole field of stone memorials, marking the passing of climbers who had perished on the surrounding slopes. We found the marker for Scott Fischer, founder of Mountain Madness who died as part of the disaster on Everest in 1996. I placed a stone on it to honor his memory. It was a moving place, sitting under the view of high peaks like Pumori, Lhotse, and Nuptse who’d taken these people’s lives. An unerring reminder that you don’t conquer mountains, they allow you to climb them.

The rest of the way was mostly flat, following the non-glacier side of the moraine up the valley. We rolled into town and started the search for a lodge. It’s an unnerving process since it’s impossible to judge the real quality of the lodge from the outside. Often it takes overnight to know the place sucks. However, we lucked out and landed a nice and new lodge with rooms upstairs from the dining area that catch the evening light and allow them to stay toasty warm late into the day. Indeed, the room was so warm we could wear just our base layers.

There were a couple interesting happenings as we started to relax. The first was a helicopter rescue of two trekkers suffering from advanced AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). They’d apparently been up Kala Patthar and gotten severe nausea and vomiting on the way back. They loaded these two onto the helicopter and lifted them down to lower elevations. A third trekker suffering less advanced symptoms was also there, and they were being escorted down to lower elevation that night.

We also had an interesting misunderstanding with our guide and porter about the timeline we were on. We thought they were trying to cut us short a day of our trek by telling us we had to fly out on the 19th day (we’d paid for 20 days). We wrote out the schedule and were able to clear it all up, but was an indication of exactly how problematic some of the trip was given the very basic level of English that Dorje spoke.

Tonight, hopefully both Anne and I will sleep well. Getting a good night’s sleep for the day tomorrow would be nice, since every night at higher elevation makes sleeping harder…

Stats for the day:
Miles: 4.91
Ascent: 739m
Descent: 175m
Total Time: 5:20
Moving Time: 2:53