Himalayan Travelogue Part 7 – Higher than I’ve ever been

Posted: January 26, 2011 in Himalayan Travelogue
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Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.  ~Lao Tzu

We headed out of Namche on what passes for flat in the Himalayas, this then led to a climb, a very long climb up to Mong La on the top of a mountain for lunch (12,795 ft) this was the highest elevation I’d ever achieved and it felt great.  I needed the rest at that point and we had a leisurely lunch.  Then it was down, down, down to the river and then up a really magnificent hill to Phortse at 12,400 ft and a really great lodge.  My favorite part of the lodge was the owner’s grandson who was a bit of an urchin and who was utterly fascinated by my beard which he proceeded to try and pull off of my face. 

Himalayan Beard Pull - photo credit Mark Laws

Also had my first experience with an Asian squat toilet, they’re hell on the legs, must be one of the reasons the locals have such strong legs.

Asian Squat Toilet

The next morning I made the mistake of running up the stairs and suddenly felt lightheaded, so I grabbed my pack and went outside to try and get my breath back and feel a bit better.  About 10 minutes later one of our guides, Lhakpa, comes jogging around the back of the lodge to get me, the group was already well up the mountain ahead of us.  The adrenaline burst took my mind off how I felt and I slowly climbed my way back to the group.

We spent the rest of the day on exposed trails heading to Pangboche, a really difficult day hiking for me as I started out feeling off and running late.  Plus exposed trails really wear me out mentally, not to mention that we ended the day at Pangboche (13,040 ft), and during the day on the hike we hit (13,500 ft)  my new highest point, a recurring theme for the next couple of weeks.

We’ve been passing a peak from different angles over the last couple of days and it is quickly becoming my favorite, it’s called, Khan Tiega and it is pictured below:

Khan Tiega in the Mist

Took a very cold shower in Pangboche and then walked out to take some shots of some truly magnificent vistas behind the lodge, an example below.

 

We would be doing an acclimatization day in Pangboche and the optional hike was to go to base camp for Ama Dablam, the mountain shown below.  The peak of Ama Dablam is over 22,000 ft and features a huge ice climb.

Ama Dablam

Upper base camp at Ama Dablam which we visited is at 14,800 ft, which is higher than any mountain in the continental United States, so I decided to go and here I was only a few days into my Himalayan experience standing at a point higher than anything in the continental US.  It was an accomplishment that hit me at the time, one I was proud of and also hit me because I was feeling the effects of the altitude and was happy to drop back down the 1500 ft back to Pangboche.

My actual notes for the day:

“It was cool to see base camp at Ama Dablam today with all of the tents set up.  Walking through the valleys it was amazing clouds, snow and 6-8000 meter peaks (20-26,000 ft) and so quiet, except for the sound of the occasional far off avalanche.”

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