We needed to head back to Lukla before making our way up to Pangboche and on to Ama Dablam. All the main passes had been closed by the storm but we were planning on climbing uop and over the Zatra Lha (4500m) from Khote (3500m). Rumors were flying about the Zatra Lha being closed and incredibly deep snow making travel very difficult.
In reality we had no issues with our team making it over the pass – the main concern – as always were our porters. Large loads, deep snow and steep trails are not the most compatible. Before crossing the Zatra lha we stopped at Chuli Kharka. This was a small teahouse and camping establishment designed purely for trekkers and porters crossing the pass.
As we were fully acclimatised it was very easy for us to all make it up and over the pass – other groups coming the other way were not so well sorted. The evening in the teahouse was filled with sick looking people, headaches and complaints – the price paid for climbing to 4500m to fast.
The country side leading up to the pass is also amazingly spectacular. Climbing up out of the steamy jungle and into the alpine a convective storm started to again put snow down on our heads – less than awesome. The Journey down the other side of tyhe Zatra Lha was covered in a hell of a lot more snow and became very steep. It was here that the team again saw the difference between our logistical setup – most (not all, much to my annoyance) of our porters were wearing crampons – all the groups coming up the pass were not – including western clients. People were not looking happy and the potential for a long sliding fall as always present – our team was able to sidestep everybody and walk comfortably on the frozen snow.
The long descent to Lukla took it's toll on out legs – but not until we had arrived in Namche! Once back on the main Khumbu trail we quickly got into the swing of people watching, and looking out for our Zupka's and baggage! Once again, being fully acclimatised meant that we were able to walk comfortably uphill- past groups crying out (between panting) " Fast walkers! – Move aiside!"
It took us 3 days of easy, if long walking to reach Pangboche. The weather was amazing, clear skies and no wind, with Ama Dablam hanging above us. Everybody was excited and amped to get on and up to base camp, but even more excited for arest day!