We awakened this morning to frosted windows and a frozen crust on our Nalgene bottles in Pheriche, elevation ~14,000 ft. We started with our usual tea, leucine, Tibetan bread and left for another day of trekking towards Lobuche. The initial ascent was gradual thru the valley along the partially frozen Dudhkoshi River, passing yak groups and a small settlement of stone homes along the way. The landscape is stark as we are above vegetation level, leaving only ground brush and boulders. Our ascent towards Thukla was very steep, and after crossing a bridge over the river we stopped for lunch, which was just over 15,000 ft. After lunch we continued our steep ascent thru the Thukla Pass, leaving all of us winded no matter our age or conditioning. Thukla Pass has dozens of memorials to both Sherpas and mountaineers from all over the world who have lost their lives attempting to summit Everest. The memorials consisted of stacks of stones, prayer flags and bronze plaques – one of them read “Always Aim High”. The day was cold and grey, matching the emotion that the memorials elicited in us all.
The rest of the trek towards Lobuche was gradual, but frigid and the snow flurries began. In total we ascended just over 2000 ft today and ended the day at about 16,000 ft. Just as we were getting settled in with hot tea around the fire, most of us, under the persistent encouragement Wongchu, took a brief acclimatization hike up the hill behind our teahouse. The views were stunning. We had a moment of sunshine that lit up the mountains that surrounded us in every direction. We could see from our vantage point Kallapathar (our destination tomorrow), Pumori, Nuptse, Cholatse, Cheangje (which is in Tibet), Lo-la, and the Khumbu Glacier, where EBC is located. Amazing!
After dinner we had a brief CME group discussion of helpful medical tips we have learned in our clinical practices. We also had an opportunity to try out our group’s portable ultrasound. Everyone departed for bed, all looking a little tired and ready for a good night’s sleep to get ready for another great day of trekking tomorrow.
Carrie, Mark, Bhanu, Hulbert