On the Road to Ama Dablam…..
Over the last few days we have crossed back over from the Hinku Valley back into the Solokhumbu. We climbed from Khote to a small town / teahouse called Thuli Kharaka. This involved dropping down from Khote at 3550m to about 3300m before climbing back up to 4300m again. Thuli Kharka offers 1 nice teahouse with a number of kitchens for trekking groups to cook from. There are also plenty of tents sites and cloud ….. lots and lotds of cloud.
As we were planning on making an early start over the Zatra Lha (4610m) to avoid the heat of the day and potential wet avalanches, we ended up sleeping on the tea house floor / benches again to avoid getting all our tents wet and to make a faster get away in the morning. Thuli Kharaka also offers an insight into how people are acclimatizing, or rather, not acclimatizing as they make their way from Lukla to the Hinku Valley and onto Mera Peak. Despite the huge amount of snowfall, there were still a steady stream of groups heading up towards Mera Peak. All these groups were in different states of fitness, from being quite happy to being fairly ill. The happy groups were the ones that had taken 3 – 4 days to climb from Lukla (2800m) to the pass (4600m) before dropping back down to 4300m at Thuli Kharaka.
Our team were quite pleasantly suprised at the ease at which they were able to climb back to to 4300m and up to 4600m to cross the pass, barely breathing heavily apart from normal due to the steep nature of the terrain. Perhaps staying for 3 1/2 days at 5000m was worth something afterall.
The actual crossing was reasonably easy, however the large amount of snow and early morning temperatures meant that crampons were essential. The pass itself traverses across and above steep terrain where a fall would not be very pleasant. Our porter team were all wearing instep crampons as well. There were also about 3 groups coming up the pass from the other side and it was with some horror that we noticed that nobody had any crampons on. From the terrified looks on their faces, it was plain to see that they really wished that they did have secure footing. We were able to simply step off the semi formed path and walk on the frozen snow above them as they slipped and slided their way across the terrain.
The actual pass drops from 4600m down to 3400m to a small town called Chutanga (means below the pass) and from there another 2 hours saw us walking back into Lukla to comfy beds and great meal from our excellent cook Dev.
It was also time to say goodbye to all our porters, re-arrange all our gear and pack the delicate equipment into barrels to be loaded onto Zupka’s (cross between a Yak and a Cow) for the journey up the Khumbu Valley to Namche and then onto Ama Dablam Basecamp.
Today we have spent the day slowly walking along, people watching, as all the fresh groups of clean trekkers were dropped off by plane. We’ve taken our time and are now sitting just below Monjo (park entry point) at at town called Benkar.
We are all pretty tired with sore legs but also very keen to be getting the trip back on track. Having heard that West India had been hit by a category 5 Hurricane – it was easy tio understand why we had such incredible weather at Khare.
It almost feels like a whole new trip at present. The Khumbu valley offers some very easy walking, loads of tea shops and funny sights as we watch other groups head up valley as well coming down valley.
Till the next update!