Published: October 22nd 2008October 22nd 2008
Nuptse and Everest
together with one of the American guys I was with at Gorak Shep
Firstly, apologies for more blogs so soon, but I'm off again in 3 days time, and so want to get this done before I disappear. Feel free to ignore them :)
So Gorak Shep (5100m) is a grotty little place which I would never dream of going to if it weren't for its spectacular location.
Right next to the Western face of Nuptse - truly one of the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen.
What this place is famous for is the small hill behind town (Kala Pattar, 5500 metres) - from where you get killer views of Everest - including Base Camp, the South Col, the Khumbu Ice Fall and of course the summit.
A semi-interesting fact is that at 5500 metres there's only 50% the amount of oxygen that you get at sea level. Which means that many rather sick-looking people can often be seen staggering around, or collapsed on the ground.
After one day of depressingly bad weather (no views) I woke up and tried to open my curtains to check on the weather - only to find that the curtains had frozen to the windows during the evening. This could only mean
Last light on Everest
together with some weird clouds
one thing - a cold, clear night. Three ascents of Kala Pattar later (sunrise, afternoon, sunset) I had managed to take some decent pictures.
For once, this place justified all the hype. Highly recommended.
Anyway, time for a few random observations and notes from the first two weeks on the trail:
1) As previously noted, the whole Everest region is hugely commercialised - apparently around 90% of people living in the region earn their income from tourism. The almost inevitable consequence of this (in every country I've been to, not just Nepal) seems to be that peoples' natural friendlieness, generosity and "genuineness" sadly diminishes. Nonetheless, I did experience some experiences of traditional hospitality (although all on the Jiri to Lukla portion of the walk)
- the lovely old lady who took me into her house, gave me a huge pot of tea, and then filled every available space in my bag with freshly picked apples
- the two Tibetan nuns who were carrying around hundreds of packets of biscuits, and were freely distributing them to everyone they met
2) The most unpleasant toilet experience yet experienced (outside of China that is, where the level
Nuptse (right), Everest (centre)
plus the South Col (between Nuptse and Everest), and Everest Base Camp (bottom left - you can just about see the tents)
of disgustingness knows no bounds) where going to the toilet involved pulling up one of the wooden floorboards and aiming through the gap towards a mammoth pile of you know what directly below
3) Being engulfed by a great snowstorm en-route to Gorak Shep
4) And lastly, showing just how much of a cheapskate I have become: at Gorak Shep the prices for everything are ridiculous (at least by local standards). So, a room for example costs 300 rupees (about 2 pounds fifty) - compared to 50 rupees every single other place. Well, there's no-way I was going to pay that so I got talking to a porter and managed to convince him to invite me to stay in the porters' dormitory. It being me plus 11 Nepali porters (who, let's say, have a rather unique smell having carried 70 kilos from Jiri to GS) it wasn't the most pleasant night ever spent. However budget travellers develop a rather weird (on reflection ridiculous) sense of delight in saving unnecessary expense.
It's a weird life I currently lead.
By the way, if you've got this far in the Everest saga, don't worry - there's only one more
blog for you to struggle through. Bear with me!
There are more photos below