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Published: September 15th 2010
CLIMBING KALA PATTHA (5550m high) 50% oxygen and onto DZONGLA
4/6/10: Up early and once again packet noodles for F&%#n breakfast, just for something different I had chicken flavour. The morning was cloudy so we left as early as we could. Within 100m of walking up the hill the physical excursion from lack of oxygen was so intense that I almost thought I wasn't going to make the top. After awhile I settled into a rhythm, putting left foot in front of the other, then the right foot back in front again. It was like this the whole way up, pausing for a rest every 10-20 meters. I was determined to be the first on top of Kala Pattha for the morning, so I picked up the pace and passed another guy 50m in front. I carried on as fast as my screaming lungs would let me. I forcefully hyperventilated myself all the way up.
There is only 50% oxygen at Kala Pattha, and my body felt it. It was probably one of the toughest things I have ever done and pushing myself to be first up the hill didn't help either. Most people do it in 2 hours but I
manage to reach it in 1:22min which was not that fast all. At normal altitude you could climb this in 45min and run up in 15min. The higher I got the more I felt like passing out. I reached the very top trying desperately to catch my breath the whole way. My legs weren't tired but I was totally stuffed. After I summited I sat on a rock and rested, I didn't think I was going to recover. After 3 minutes I was able to slow my breathing down and I felt more puffed than exhausted by now. I climbed right to the top rock trying not to get tangled in the mess of prayer flags. I was extremely careful at this point because I was still dizzy from the altitude and was looking down a 150m sheer cliff. On the opposite side of Kala Pattha was another huge valley with incredible views. The cloud started to close in and it was only 8:00am, I could see it creeping up the huge valley and it follow huge Khumbu Glacier like the mist from a bad 60’s horror movie. I quickly took as many photos as I could and waited for
the view of Mt Everest’s peak to appear from the higher cloud. Mean while a few more people made it to the top congratulating each other on making the climb. It would be another 25min before Jacinta reached the top. I waited patiently as her little pink beanie walk a few meters stopped for a minute than walked another few meters stopping again until finally I could see her chest panting and the strain on her face. She climbed the last few rocks and looked at me shaking her head as if to say “this is hard” we gave each other a congratulatory hug as this was the highest we have ever been and would likely ever be. I was proud of her for doing something as tough as this and even though it was really hard in some places she did better than I expected. By the time she made it up the sun was higher in the sky and Everest had a slipstream of cloud over it from Mt Nhupste just next door. Every minute gave a new and more exciting photo of the changing pillowing clouds. Every now and then, Everest summit peaked through the clouds to
give us some idea of her immense size. Somebody had put a toy figurine of a green King Kong on the prayer stones in front of Everest making for a very funny photo. The clouds didn't improve too much from there so we headed back down the hill so we could make our way to Dzongla another 6-7hrs walk or 15km away.
It only took me 30 minutes to return the same journey back down the hill. The weather turned even worse, the bighting wind forces us to cover up as soon as we stopped walking and our body temperature cool. We meet a really nice Mexcian lady named Azaret, she had been trekking on her own and she also wanted the climb over Chol-La Pass but was worried about the weather and the dangers. She trekked with us to Dzongla later becoming great friends after stopping at Lobuche for lunch which was noodles. We packed our packs and left Gorak Shep, we carried on to Dzongla. We passed yet more beautiful mountains and glaciers that can’t be described with words. We arrived at Dzongla to 3:00pm to sloppy weather and threatening clouds. Tomorrow was the dreaded Chol-La Pass but
we wouldn't be doing it alone, we meet a New Zealander (James) and his guide (Shanker) on Kala Pattha. We all agreeing to stick together over the Cho-la, it made everyone feel more comfortable that they wouldn't be along in this dangerous place. Only 2 weeks prior, a porter got killed from falling rocks so everyone was uneasy about the whole thing. Dinner was mac and cheese but it was not the same as Buddha Lodges Mac and cheese. Dzongla was the only lodge open at the time and they tried to charge us 300NRS instead of the normal 200NRS for a double. Some quick bargaining took care of this bringing the price back down to 200NRS. We got to know James and Shanker a little better and between Azeret, Jacinta and I we all chipped in 750NRS for Shanker to take us safely over the pass. We asked if a lonely Russian that stayed in our same lodge would like to chip in 250NRS for Shankers guide experience as it was safer than going along, with a typical Russian attitude he denied any help to get over the pass, dismissing any danger and choosing not to pay the equivalent
of $3.50USD. We later found out he got lost on the Glacier for 3hrs....
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