Saturday 15 Apil 2017
We woke up to a white world; it had continued to snow overnight and there was a couple of inches on the ground. The walk was supposed to take around 6hrs but progress was slow as this part of the trail is mainly boulders and uneven ground and with all the snow it was not possible to see the path. In some ways the snow made it easier to navigate because instead of having to pick our own path we just followed the trail that people who had left earlier had created. Feeling some trepidation about walking a whole day in the snow on slippery rocks I decided to stick directly behind Sherpa Gite and basically followed his footsteps all day. The weather was pretty good, I tried to ignore the harsh glare of the reflected sun on the snow by looking at Gite’s shoes and surprisingly enough I quite enjoyed the days walk, despite now having a cough and minor chest infection!
As the surroundings were totally white I couldn’t recognise the landscape that we had travelled the previous few days. We descended around 1,000m in total and it was interesting to see the change in the flora and fauna. We started with bare rock and by the time we got to the ridge above Dingboche there were small shrubs / bushes like gorse or heather – it reminded me of Scotland!
It took eight and a quarter hours to make it to the Lodge, as we entered our rooms we were very excited to see there was an en-suite toilet – of course it was too good to be true, there was no water! Haha. As we warmed up with a hot lemon in the communal area, Amanda crossed the room to speak to someone and suddenly she was surrounded by feathers and there an acrid smell became apparent …
In the Lodges there is only one room that has heat and that is the communal room where we eat. A wood-burning stove, with a pipe that goes up to the ceiling and out to the roof, is usually located in the middle of the room and the Sherpas feed it wood all night and it gets really, really (really) hot. This particular communal room was quite small, it had chairs around the edge of three sides of the room with tables in front with the stove in the middle. As the feathers continued to float to the floor we realised that as Amanda walked across the room she had brushed against the pipe with the arm of her down jacket and it immediately burnt the outer material, exposing all the feathers. She didn’t realise for a few seconds but as the arm started smouldering she hurriedly took it off and one of the boys whacked it a few times to put out what could have become a fire. Bearing in mind that the Lodges are made entirely of wood – that would have been a disaster! Someone had some duck tape and the big rent in the sleeve was repaired, poor Amanda had to walk around with a very strange looking jacket for the rest of the trip!
Once the excitement had died down, a few of us decided we needed to recover by having a cake at one of the bakeries up the road. Compared to the conditions we had been living in this bakery was positively luxurious, it was warm, had seats with cushions and a TV with some DVDs stacked up next to it. I wouldn’t have minded sleeping there the night! Someone got talking to the owner and he agreed to let us come back after dinner and watch a DVD. Movie night! We were so excited.
We ate dinner (pasta, veg and roast potatoes) and rushed back and then had the hard choice of what DVD we should watch. I wasn’t party to the discussion and didn’t see what was available but, inevitably, we ended up watching ‘Everest’. You know, the one based on events that took place in 1996 where various groups of people tried to summit Everest and the majority of them died! It was actually quite poignant, we spent the early part of the film happily re-living the trek we had just done to Base Camp and then watching in horror as the catalogue of disastrous events leading up to their deaths unfolded. That day we had walked back through the memorial to the fallen climbers and it was strange to think that the people represented in the film were remembered in that place (see cover photo for today).
We walked back in a somber silence until we got back to the Lodge where we found we were locked out! When we eventually got inside we didn’t realise how much of a maze the place was and confusion ensued. With no lights in the corridors we had to rely on our head torches and it was quite perplexing to go down a corridor thinking it was the one where our room was only to find completely different numbers on the doors. At one point I was convinced I was actually dreaming; with the altitude and exhaustion, coupled with my cold and cough it wouldn’t have surprised me if I had woken up in my bed at home with the sun streaming in the window (or as it was April, more likely hearing the rain on the roof and the wind buffeting the window). You’ll be pleased to hear we finally found our room, sank into our welcome sleeping bags and tried to get some sleep.