Dingboche

A Trek to the Everest Base Camp – Part 3 – Days 5 to 7

…contd from Part II

DAY 5 NAMCHE TO DIBUCHE

We were now eager to get back on the road. Acclimatisation days always come with mixed feelings – while the trekker wants to reach his or her destination earliest, the guide has to slow the pace down to let the trekker’s body get accustomed to the physiological rigours of exposure to high altitude. Having begun from Lukla at about 9383 ft AMSL, we were now headed to Dibuche at an altitude of about 12500 ft & were going to be climbing higher with each passing day.

The day began early as usual. I had managed to get myself a hot water shower the previous evening for the first time since leaving Kathmandu & so was all refreshed. The showers are no elaborate affairs – just a little cubicle with an overhead shower rose connected to a gas geyser, or, in the higher altitudes a hot water bucket bath! You are timed, you have to pay (more as you go higher) & you can’t complain!

Today we got our first clear view of the Everest in all it’s mighty glory & we couldn’t stop clicking pictures. Conquering Mt Everest is every mountaineer’s dream, his pinnacle achievement! It was still distant, many kms & valleys away, almost looking subdued by Lhotse to its right, but it knew that it was the tallest & greatest & didn’t need to assert its dominance.

Mt Everest
The first clear view of Mt Everest

Yaks were our constant companions on the trek. They had the undisputed right of way. When you heard them coming by the distinctive tinkling sounds of the bells hung around their necks, you knew that you had to step aside unless you fancied a little toss, a summersault & a few broken bones 🙂

Yaks carrying load
A procession of yaks

One amazing thing about the EBC trek is that however tough as it may seem because of the altitudes that it reaches, it is reasonably easily doable. We saw people of all nationalities & ages right from 8 years old (accompanied by parents) to 80 years old (some of them being repeaters!) on the trek. The most inspiring sight however was to encounter a totally blind man from the US who had a guide leading him throughout ringing a little bell & giving verbal guidance! What more can one speak about human willpower?

The journey continued past picture-perfect settings to Dibuche. Passing pretty stupas, hanging bridges, path-side markets in quaint villages, catching sights of carefree children flying kites & fog settling down into the valleys, we finally reached the Tenngboche monastery just short of Dibuche.

A stupa in the mountains
A stupa against the back drop of Mt Everest (by now you know which one it is :))

 

A pathside market near Tyangboche
A pathside market selling junk jewellery & trinkets

 

Children playing with kites
Little kids flying kites

 

Hanging bridge
The underbelly of a hanging bridge

The Tyangboche or Tenngboche monastery is also known as the Dawa Choling Gompa & is the largest gompa in the Khumbu region of Nepal. Originally built in 1916 by Lama Gulu, it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1934. It was subsequently rebuilt but faced another destruction by fire in 1989. It has been rebuilt a third time with the help of volunteers & international assistance.

Tenngboche Monastery
In front of the Tenngboche Monastery

We took a little time off to visit the prayer hall, pay obeseiance at the statue of Buddha, say hello to the monks & were soon descending towards Dibuche, our halt for the day. It was getting dark & the clouds looked ominous. We had been lucky so far to have escaped rain & didn’t want to spoil that record! We made it in time, settled down in our room, had an early meal of dal, bhaat & rice were soon off to sleep. It would be a tougher climb the next day.

DAY 6 DIBUCHE TO DINGBOCHE

The morning began to another spectacle of the ‘peaks on fire’ & we set off on the trek marvelling at the astonishing landscapes & visuals created by nature. We were now entering Amadablam territory, the presiding deity of the region.

Amadablam mountain
The mighty Amadablam looms in the distance

 

A stupa framed against the backdrop of Amadablam
Weary trekkers pass a stupa framed against the backdrop of Amadablam

At this altitude the wind & sun were big deterrents to trekking. Though the day wasn’t cold & one could easily trek just wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt, the wind speed was such that it cut into your face & the UV radiation & strong sunlight could soon tan your skin badly. Hence it was really important to keep yourself covered & expose as little of your skin to the elements as possible.

Protection against wind & sun
A face muff, anti-uv goggles & hat…a trekker’s survival kit

The Amadablam, standing guard over the Imja glacier & river continued to present us magnificent & majestic photo ops at every track bend & I couldn’t resist taking some more pictures.

Mt Amadablam & Imja river
Mt Amadablam standing guard over the Imja river

The load carrying carrying capacity of sherpas continued to amaze! While we were struggling to even carry our day packs of 7-8 kgs, these hardy men almost trotted along at these altitudes with 40-50 kgs on their backs!

A sherpa carrying mattresses on his back
A sherpa or a yak?

The trek continued crossing gushing ice cold rivulets & rickety bridges.

A wooden bridge over a rivulet near Dingboche
Gushing rivulets & rickety bridges

We were happily surprised to meet our porter Rai Jeet who had already gone ahead of us, dumped our big kit bags in the hotel & come back to hang out with a friend.

Funky hairstyles at 14000 ft
Hairstyles at 14000 ft matched the latest city trends

By around 12.45 pm we approached Dingboche where we were to do our second acclimatisation halt.

Dingboche
A stupa guards & protects the entry to Dingboche

We were under strict instructions from Lokendra to not sleep in any of the afternoons so that we would then sleep early at night & wake up well rested the next morning for the day’s trek.  So after a well deserved lunch we stepped out to explore the little village & its few shops where I hunted in vain for a liquid handwash but chanced upon this little shy kid enjoying a packet of wafers.

Little kid eating wafers
A shy kid at a shop in Dingboche

The sight of a local galloping away on a horse much in a cowboy style presented another opportunity to fish out the camera.

A horse rider at Dingboche
Horses were used both for carrying loads as well as a means of transport

By evening we returned to our hotel. A hot water shower beckoned. It had already been booked by time with the hotel reception. Thus refreshed, we proceeded to the hotel restaurant for an early dinner & were soon in dreamland by 8 pm.

DAY 7 ACCLIMATISATION  HALT AT DINGBOCHE

The activity scheduled for the day was an acclimatisation climb to at least 15000 ft. I woke up early in the hope of catching a glimpse of the peaks on fire again & stepped out of the cozy sleeping bag & the room out into the open. I was rewarded. Looking south towards the direction we had come from the previous day, I could see the whole range glowing brightly.

Mountain peaks shining brightly in the morning sun
Peaks on fire again

After a light breakfast we commenced our acclimatisation climb to the neighbouring mountain. The views presented were picture postcard perfect & I stopped frequently to capture those sights.

A view of Dingboche
Early morning view of Dingboche with Mt Lhotse on the extreme left

 

A yak standing on a rock
A yak posed for us in a very Mufasa from Lion King style

Taking frequent stops to catch our breaths, take in the views & fill our city pollution clogged lungs with fresh mountain air we were presented with some more mesmerising sights.

Buddhist prayer flags flutter in the wind
Prayer flags flutter in the early morning wind

 

A gathering of spithuks
A gathering of spithuks in a little clearing

The winds were strong & biting & exposed skin stood no chance against the elements here. I shuddered to think of the hardships which the Everesteers face when they climb to 28000 ft plus!!

Imja river valley
The masked man posing against the backdrop of Imja river valley

Here’s a little video of the climb.

 

And then it was time for a photo-op & record the climb to 15000 ft, a first for me!

The lightening bolt pose
One for the camera – aka Usain Bolt style

 

A casio watch showing an altitude of 15000 ft
15095 ft! Yoohooo!!

Having taken in the views we returned to the warm comfort of our lodge & the restaurant, the hub of all activities on the EBC trek.

The restaurant of our lodge at Dingboche
The restaurant was the big melting pot where trekkers chatted, planned, played, ate, relaxed & drank copious amounts of black coffee!

Today I had my second hot shower of the trek, the second in 7 days! Every paisa of those 500 bucks was worth it!!

Dinner done, we retired to our room, tucked ourselves into our sleeping bags & were soon off to sleep.

To be contd…

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