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Published: September 4th 2010
DINGBOCHE TO CHHUNKHUNG and CHHUNKHUNG RI
31/6/10: We were up at 5:00am to witness the first clear view of Aba Dablam and its early morning sunlit peak. I raced to get ready, grabbing my coat, gloves, beanie, balaclava and camera. By the time I was ready, 5 minutes later, it was shrouded in mist, Doh! It pissed me off, but I needn’t worry too much about unclear skies.
Breakfast, what will I have this time, oh I know packet noodles! We finished breakfast quickly and started to walk up to Chhunkung for our acclimatization day. We left our packs in the room and walked only with a day pack. Chhungkung was roughly 4730 high and took 2.5hours to walk up the shallow incline valley. It was great to walk without our big packs, it made a huge difference.
Jacinta had a headache during the night but when we started to climb it soon came back. By the time we reached Chhunkung she really struggled, she couldn’t manage a pace faster than a 90 year old man with a walking frame; it really was pathetic to watch. We both felt so useless and tired. When we finally arrived at Chhunkung we happily
stopped at a lodge. After 20min and a nice hot tea, we ventured back outside to witness an unbelievable view. The cloud and fog disappeared to leave an unbroken view of Island peak, Aba Dablam, Chhunkung, Pokalade and many others.
It was now time to climb Chhunkung Ri which is around 5160m high. Before we even started to climb the steep hill Jacinta had real trouble trying to breathe again. With a few words of encouragement she made it 20m before breaking down in a pool of tears. She felt so weak; she tried desperately to catch her breath by hyperventilating. I sat with her for 10mins until she regained her strength then we carried on aiming for a smaller ridge three quarters of the way up; It wasn't Chhunkung Ri but it was close enough. We were way above our daily acclimatization limit and I really started to feel the altitude myself. Half an hour later a weak feeling and light headedness started to set in only meters from the ridge. All of a sudden we were exposed to the below zero squalling winds which took away any warmth from our bodies. By the time Jacinta made it up
the hill I was fighting for my life to try and get out our thermal down jackets and gloves. It was blowing 35 knot winds, if you compare this to the sheltered valley only 50m away where it was 15 degrees with no wind it was a rude shock. Our lips and ears froze forcing us to wear a bandana around our face. Apart from all the bad points we had a 360 degrees view of the whole valley. From Aba Dablam to Island Peak was incredible, Pokalade, Nhuptse and Chhunkung was just as impressive behind us. There are really no words, photos or videos that can express how one feels in front of a mountain system like this; you almost get choked up. I remember sitting there and just looking at how amazing nature can be, also thinking at the same how great it would be sitting in a chair with my favourite beer and a pair of binoculars; I really don't think I would have come down. All the peaks were above 5800m high with Nhuptse at 7732 the highest in view to the prettiest Aba Dablam at 6856m. We stayed 30 minutes taking as many photos as
possible until the winds sucked all the heat out of us. From our highest point we reached 5050m before rushing back down to the sanctuary of warmth only 50m away. By the time we got back to Dingboche it was 1:30pm, just in time for packet noodles. The weather had already turned bad and the cloud and fog hid any view of the mountains. It all seemed like a dream by the time we got back; we looked out the window at the fog and cloud. We were happy with our efforts today, walking 12km in high altitude was tough but tomorrow is going to tougher.
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