Trekking in Nepal- Everest Trek Schedule 11

Saturday 4th November
Last night I slept like a log. I had a much needed shave, washed my hair, and had breakfast. Marcia gave me directions to her hotel in Kathmandu so that we can meet up on 12th November. Paul, Peter and I agreed to leave for Dragnag, our overnight stop before tackling the Cho La, at around 2 p.m. After packing my rucksack I decided to climb up Gokyo Ri and take some photos of the Second and Third Lakes from the summit. Unfortunately I had ran out of film on my previous trip.

The trek up Gokyo Ri was considerably easier in daylight. On the way up I desperately needed to go the toilet and had to make do with crouching behind a rock! Being environmentally friendly I burnt the loo paper after finishing with it. My original intention was to only go as far up as was necessary to take some photos, but I ended up going all the way to the top. Paulo, Jill and Tania were at the summit and we all took photos of each other. As usual I was in shorts while the others had down jackets and trousers on. Tough as old boots aren’t I? There should be some good photos of me with Mount Everest in the background.

Back at the lodge I chatted away to Windy, from Seattle, who is heading to Tengboche for the Sherpa festival. Brent went up Gokyo Ri this morning for the sunrise and enjoyed himself. Marcia said that Peter had already left for Dragnag, which appeared a bit odd, but I did not think anything of it. Lunch was a light affair: a pancake and some tea. Before leaving I exchanged addresses with Paulo. Paul and I said our goodbyes, hugging everyone before we left. At least most of us will meet up again in Kathmandu.

It was about 3 p.m. when we set off for Dragnag. The cloud was coming down so we quickened our pace. We made the most of a spectacular photo opportunity when we found a yak grazing beside the lake enveloped in cloud. Paul goes like a steam train and I did well to keep up with him. We stopped for a breather between the First and Second Lakes just before setting foot on Ngozumpa glacier.

The journey across the glacier really was something else. It felt as if I was walking on the moon and in another world. The scene was reminiscent of a lunar landscape, and reminded us of the science fiction programme, ‘Space 1999’, that we used to watch when we were kids. It was incredible and the clouds added to the sense of adventure. We were the only people crossing the glacier.

Ngozumpa glacier is a rock glacier but there were lots of frozen lakes to be seen. For the first time I could hear the ice breaking up, which was amazing. The others could hear the glacier moving at night back in Gokyo, and had told me about it. But I could not appreciate the noise until I was actually on the glacier.

The path across the glacier is well used but not easy to follow. We followed the rock cairns and the footprints in the sand. The path loops around and at times seemed to double back on itself but we stayed on course. We then came to what seemed a dead end at the edge of a large frozen lake. There were footprints all the way to the other side. Several routes were available to us. We had a debate on which one we should take. There was a fast flowing stream through a narrow channel to another lake below with rocks leading across it. This was the shortest route but it looked rather dangerous. Another option was to cross the frozen lake, but how thick was the ice? The only other alternative was to backtrack and take the long route round, but it was getting late and we did not want to waste time.

After some misgivings we gambled on walking across the lake. Paul made the first tentative steps on the ice after throwing several rocks ahead to check its strength. Of course they bounced off on impact! Paul looked at me and told me how nervous he was. By this time I realised that we could not hang about too long in case the ice buckled under our weight. So I took up the gauntlet and made rapid strides across the ice with Paul in tow. We virtually sprinted across the width of the lake.

On approaching the other side I noticed that the ice was a little thinner at the edge so leapt for solid ground. Bad mistake! After unceremoniously flying through the air I slid across the last five metres on my backside! It certainly shook me up but no damage was done. I got up and brushed myself down. To mark the occasion we took several photos. We had been scared stiff to start with, but what a memory and a story to tell the folks back home.

It took us about twenty minutes to recover from the rush of adrenaline. After we had composed ourselves we left our names in the sand for anybody who might come after us, and continued on our way. Dragnag was only ten minutes further on. Peter was there to welcome us. We entered the Himalayan View Lodge and Peter showed us to our room. There was a ‘Happy Birthday’ decoration hung on the wall. What a lovely surprise! Someone else had left it behind. Peter made sure we got that room because he knew it was my birthday tomorrow.

After the afternoon’s excitement I had a slight headache so took a couple of paracetamol before dinner. I was hungry and ate well: tomato soup, fried noodles, fried potatoes and a liberal helping of tomato ketchup. We told Peter of our trek across the glacier. He had taken the easier route over the stream. Paul listened to the BBC World Service on his radio for a bit. He said that last week when he was listening, United and Middlesbrough were all square and Roy Keane had been sent off. But he had not heard the final score. Apparently Newcastle are four points clear. And in the Rugby League World Cup final, Australia had been leading 14-8 with ten minutes to go when he fell asleep.

Before going to bed I went outside to brush my teeth. There was a full moon and countless stars that lit up the sky and the mountains. It was a wonderful sight.