Day 7-8 Dingboche to Gorak Shep
Day 7: Dingboche to Lobuche, 4 hours
We left the warmth and comfort of the cozy Dingboche lodge and the sweet old lady who kept us fed and warm the past 2 days. We stuck together with the other trekkers we met at our lodge and all headed out in the early morning hours for our long hike to Lobuche. Life after Dingboche continues to get harder and harder. The weather really deteriorates (it gets COLD) and the air is noticeably thinner. When trekking the two things you need: warmth and oxygen. The Everest Region happily take these both away from you! The day’s hike ascended 1,600ft(500m) to the small tea house town of Lobuche which sits all alone at 16,000ft(4,900m). We stopped for a short snicker break in Duglha, and sat sipping hot tea while scouting out the hell of a hike ahead of us.We huffed and puffed our way straight up 650ft(200m), stopping at the top to catch our breath in a huge memorial area. Prayer flags flapping, little Buddhist stupas everywhere (smaller stones stacked perfectly), with plaques and small shrines dedicated to the fearless climbers who have lost their lives on the mountains around us. Scott Fischer’s memorial particularly stands out in my mind, a symbol of accomplishment, inspiration, and a reminder of the great devastation these mountains have caused. A somber feeling swept across our group for the rest of the hike. My mind was occupied with thoughts about the daring souls who so boldly climb these white beasts, their dedication to the sport they love, and the mountains unyielding dangers.
Our only goal at Lobuche was to keep warm, drink lots of water to fight off the light headedness due to the altitude, and pass the time with lots of card games. Card games are key to passing the hours. Hiking 4-5 hours a day starting at 7am means LOTS of down time stuck at a cold tea house with other trekkers from all over the world. The Israel card game ‘Yanif’ is great for these hours that seem to crawl by. Best card game ever. If you’ve done any traveling in Europe or Asia, chances are you’ve played it. If you haven’t played it, google it, and learn it. You’re welcome. To sum up Lobuche, it is small and cold. Most people are just trying to get in and get out, spending as little time there as possible. I will admit… the sunset at night was as mesmerizing as ever. The setting sun turned the white peaks ablaze in deep oranges and reds with the moon shining bright in the mystifying blue sky. For the first time in the hike, I could definitely feel the altitude. Rhys had a splitting headache and took to sleeping it off while I ignored the symptoms with game after game of yanif, lots of lemon tea, and Sherpa stew. We were both feeling 16,000ft., but still confident about our climb tomorrow to Gorak Shep! The last leg of our hike and the jumping-off point for both Kala Patthar and Base Camp. So close, yet so far away.
For some reason, (that has yet to be explained to me) not only does the altitude make you feel a little shaky, but it makes you pee like you’re a 6-year-old on a 20 hour road trip. Throughout the night I snuck out of bed at least 6 times for toilet runs. A toilet run at 16,000ft. with no heating in your room means de-mummifying yourself from your sleeping bag that took you 10 minutes to get into and zip up around your nose. Than you have to bang into a few walls looking for your cold boots to put on, walk to the OUTHOUSE that is even colder than your room, and slide around on the ice as your try to pop a squat between a missing floor board. The floor in and around the outhouse is an ice rink. Try doing that at least 6 times a night. Damn altitude!
Day 8: Lobuche to Gorak Shep, 3 hours
We wearily got up to our 6am alarm clock and pulled on our smelly fleeces and disgusting socks for our climb to Gorak Shep. We hit the 16,500ft( 5,000m) mark and every step required so much effort from there on out. The terrain changed as we approached the Khumbu glacier, and the last hour was up and down, up and down, trekking over fallen rocks from the mighty mountains around us. We were walking on a glacier! It was eerie listening to it croak and groan around us, but made the day’s hike so surreal. This was it. Everest Base Camp was only a couple of hours away. We would leave in the morning.
Gorak Shep (17,000ft/5,150m) was our last tea house town. At this altitude there were only 3 tea houses for trekkers to scrap over. Gorak Shep is the point where trekkers can summit Kala Patthar (18,200ft/5,500m), which offers the best view you’ll ever get of Everest (if you’re not insane enough to actually climb it)! Most trekkers are advised to wake up at 4am and make the 2 hour climb to the top of Kala Patthar for sunrise on Everest. This is a mistake. A BIG MISTAKE. Go for sunset.
- It’s SO MUCH WARMER at sunset. At 4am your water will freeze in your water bottle and you’ll be climbing with no H2O. It is THAT bitterly cold in the mornings.
- Sunset on Mt. Everest is one of the most beautiful things you will see on the entire climb. Th sun doesn’t lie, and as it sets turning all of the mountains dark with night, surely enough Everest shines bright orange alone, before the sun finally sets on the highest point in the world.
- Waking up at 4am is never fun.
That last night I tossed and turned from a mix of altitude, 6 bathroom runs, and base camp jitters running in my head. It was finally time for the last 8 days to pay off!
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