Relatively late start- 0835. Dhana thinks it will be quiet at EBC when we get there as most people tend to arrive early afternoon- given that we were completely alone at the top of Kala Patthar yesterday we are inclined to take his advice. Chitra is coming with us this morning so the 4 of us set off, we retrace our steps of yesterday across the moraine. Spot a beautiful coloured bird amongst the common sparrows and choughs, might be a common rose finch. Moraine gives way to rocky, icy terrain but we cover the distance with relative ease. We are surrounded by the Khumbu Glacier, parts of which form huge walls of ice in different colours and formations. We walk along the ridge for maybe 600m - actually I have no idea how far it is- not only am I lousy with direction, I can't judge distance either! The ridge is pretty much flat with loose rocks down either side. We pass a series of frozen glacial lakes- it is an immensely beautiful landscape. We scramble up and down the trail for a 200m gain in elevation. We meet no one other tourists. The peaks tower and threaten avalanche, there
are a lot of groaning noises going on- groans of the natural structure variety!!! not me, Mary, Dhana or Chitra. After just under 3 hours we arrive at EBC and there is not another soul in sight! We have been so incredibly lucky to have had these moments to ourselves on this trek.
The site of EBC is so familiar- the prayer flags, the rocks, the flags from other countries, the prayer scarves..... I've seen the image in countless photos yet finally I am here- it is now my scene too. Strip off a couple of layers to make for more colourful photos then get them right back on again- although it is beautifully sunny it is still damn chilly. There is only one actual expedition camp (comprised of a few blue tents) to be seen off in the distance and there are no signs of movement at all. We decide to stay put and end up picnicking pretty much right on the iconic EBC banner- very surreal. We spend the next 45 mins by ourselves in absolutely perfect conditions before we see a lone trekker coming along the path towards us. The trekker turns out to be Koji-
we take some photos for him - they are a more solemn picture series. When I suggest to Koji we should take a "Japanese Style" shot he looks perplexed- I don't think he knows the term. We share some of our picnic with him. He then gets down to business and he places his scarf at the site and we wonder what his particular story might be. 20 mins later a group of 3 arrive- it's Elliot, the Australian American (we first met at KTM airport) sans Akubra (he is now wearing a much more sensible woolly hat) and his friend plus their new friend. More photos- they totally get- Japanese style. Mary and I tie our prayer scarves to the pile already there, we make a duerali and I add a couple of significant little items to the spot.
We reluctantly start the hike back to Gorak Shep. We see a small avalanche and a small rockslide, they both make a fair bit of noise- I can't imagine how loud a big one might be. We also get to see 2 little pika- they are fast, darting, guinea pig like, furry little rodents. Very cute. Very speedy- I
can't get a photo. The walk back is not so deserted- we pass maybe 30 trekkers all up, as well as numerous yak trains. The animals are totally loaded up with expedition supplies- O2 cylinders, boxes, barrels, etc all labelled "Lhotse Climbing Expedition". Arrive back to Snowland about 1.15 pm. We were so lucky this morning getting EBC to ourselves. It's only us again at the lodge. Down a quick vege noodle soup and we are back on the track again.
We retrace our steps from yesterday back to Lobouche (energetically this time), it is a really different journey though- the clouds have rolled in up the valley and the temperature has dropped dramatically. The ice on the ground is refreezing and we have a couple of snow flurries. Add my down jacket to my layers- layer number 6. After 40 mins of walking Chitra realises that he has left his torch in Gorak Shep- he drops the packs and runs back - seriously- he RUNS back!!!!! to retrieve it. We wait with the packs for a short while before Dhana convinces us that we should keep going- we think someone will steal them- Dhana doesn't. Mary and I
head off with our fingers crossed. Chitra reappears about 45 mins later with the packs (intact). It is a quick trip back to Lobouche! I feel really, really good but chilled to the bone. We get the same room- #14, unpack and go in search of food. Revive and warm up around the wood stove with fried macaroni and grated cheese- it is sooooo good. The owner of the lodge and a bunch of his friends sit around the stove with us- they are drinking rakshi- we're drinking tea, both groups equally elated I think.
What a great day. Awesomely good. Pretty cool achievement.
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