Himalayan Travelogue Part 9 – Lobuche, David Breashears and a Surprise

Posted: February 2, 2011 in Himalayan Travelogue
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In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. ~John Muir

I was feeling better this day as evidenced by my appetite returning with a vengeance, I ate a big breakfast, a big lunch and snacked constantly all day until dinner where I ate well.  The walk was long and beautiful, down through Dingboche again lunch at Thugla and then up a really tremendously large hill behind the lodge.  At the top we were in a field full of markers that commemorate lost climbers, it was a truly somber and beautiful place.  We stopped there and took some time to recover from the hill and take in the monuments.

We proceeded up the valley to Lobuche(16,190 ft) and got settled in for the night.  We had noticed that David Breashears was also staying at the lodge and it created quite a little buzz in our group.  If you don’t know who he is you can check him out at the link below:

http://davidbreashears.com/

The group got even more excited when Breashears came to join our group, turns out he had previously met with one of the people in our group.  David was kind enough to sit and talk with us for quite a while and tell us about his glacier project.  David is taking comparative photographs of glaciers, essentially taking the same picture that was taken decades before and comparing them to determine how much the glaciers have retreated.  It is an interesting project and I was fortunate enough to meet with David again this fall and they are really making a lot of progress with the photography and the development of the website should be pretty amazing.  You can get a little more information at the following link:

http://planetsave.com/2010/07/18/then-now-photos-show-melting-of-himalayan-glaciers/

The next day was a hard walk, it was windy and cold and we moved slowly up the mountain along the valley containing the Khumbu Icefall.

Khumbu Ice Fall

These were my exact thoughts when I hit Gorak Shep (16,975):

“This place (Gorak Shep) is stark.  It’s a climber’s place lots of reminders of past expeditions and treks.  Seeing some familiar faces from the trail, met a beautiful Spanish girl who is heading for base camp at Island Peak.  It’s cold here, and going to be a cold night’s sleep.”

The day was also my friend Mark’s birthday, Mark is an incredible hiker and even with a pretty severe chest infection led our group most days.  He’s pictured here below:

We had put together a little bit of a celebration for Mark scrounging together some candy, chocolates, cheeses etc… and a couple of us who knew in advance were carrying small presents for him.  The manager of the lodge even put together a little present for him.  Unfortunately as I went back to my room I got the sudden urge to go to the bathroom, I say unfortunately because the urge trailed the action.  I moved as quickly as I could under the circumstances and spent the next couple of hours squatting in the lodge’s bathroom.  My lack of energy two days previous now made sense, it was when the intestinal infection I had picked up took hold and zapped my energy.  That I had picked up the infection was not a shock, it’s common in fact and I came prepared with ciprofloxacin and that little miracle antibiotic would cure me in less than 24 hours.  The real issue was my soiled long-johns, it was cold and base-camp was up next and there wasn’t a lot of heat in the lodge.  The solution was to do some impromptu tailoring by cutting the soiled portion of my long-johns away with a knife.  It wasn’t pretty and surely not to become a fashion (sorry I called you Shirley), but it was necessary to stay warm in the mountains.  Sometimes adventure isn’t pretty.

The second surprise of the evening was that the snow that had started as we reached Gorak Shep was picking up.  The reason this is surprising is that November is typically a pretty dry time in the Himalayas and one of the reasons the treks run at that time of year.  I slept hard that night and let the medication work its magic.  The one thing I really liked about Gorak Shep was the view at sunset:

Sunset at Gorak Shep

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