Bistari, bistari 2.0 - A second trip to Nepal - Dzonghla (4830m) to Upper Pangboche (3900m)

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March 6th 2013
Published: May 16th 2013
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Room Service??????? Who'd have thought? The porters are still all asleep in the dining room so we get tea and porridge in the room. I think the porridge has kerosene in it, therefore NPI score of 1/10. The 1 being for the fact that it is hot. We are out the door just after 8am, delay is due to 'discussion' over a 750 NPR (about AUD$9) bill for a camera recharge! We reach a 450 NPR stalemate. Our boots have frozen hard during the night- makes for chilly toes this morning.

The walk out of Dzonghla was an absolute treat- the sinky, slushy snow of yesterday is crisp and hard this morning and really easy to walk on. It's nice to make your own track in this kind of snow as opposed to the channel of everyone else's steps when it is harder going. We followed the frozen Chola Lake then picked up a pretty fast pace across the valley, stripping off early in the bright sun. As we reach the turning point around the hill the snow gave way to partial snow and turf then to stones and then river. Stopped for a short picnic about an hour before we reached Pheriche (starting to wonder if this a tactic to reduce our food bill???- certainly the prices are higher on the EBC trek** than the Annapurna Circuit but we actually don't eat that much!). Anyway, it was nice to sit and enjoy the warmth and the vista.

The approach to Pheriche was very easy walking, pretty flat, easy terrrain. We pass several grazing huts. My fascination with walking on ice ends wetly when I test out an ice covered puddle -shoe and fresh sock now soaked. Squelch into Periche passing a few houses. One courtyard has a mum, little girl and baby all sprawled out on a rug in the sun. We sit with them for a few minutes. Arrive at an exceedingly upmarket teahouse- it could actually pass as a hotel, for lunch. There is a lot of spring cleaning and painting going on here ready for the season- it's looking like Disneyland after Dzonghla! There are also a bunch of sun loungers in the courtyard!!! Take the opportunity to dry out the shoes and socks and recline in the sun. Lunch is really good - omelette chapati then it's off again in the direction of Shonare.

We are back on dirt and mud trails. The trees return to the landscape on the other side of the valley- they are sparse initially then the green kicks in. Rhododendrons reappear- beautiful walking conditions. Yak trains and porters are back- the porters we pass on this leg are laden with plywood sheets. There is a woman with a huge basket of dried out grass. We pass our first fellow trekkers of the day- a large group, maybe 20, Koreans. They are so well dressed!! The Koreans we have passed so far tend to be in large groups and much older than other groups- some of these ones aren't looking too fit. We are virtually running at this point as it is down hill and the altitude is so much lower. An hour an a quarter brings us to Shonare, we have a quick drink and talk to the grass carrying woman, we offer her some chocolate- some of a prized Boost bar- she has a bite and gives the rest to Chitra!!! Who can not love a Boost bar??

As the afternoon progresses the clouds roll in and our mountains recede- I am soooo glad that we still have Gokyo ahead of us, I am not ready to say good bye to the mountains yet! We hit some more hill climbing- piece of cake!! The river reemerges as we approach Pangboche, we can see the vilage of Lower Pangboche and the helicopter landing pad as we climb. We detour past chortens and flags up to the Korean School and new Buddha statue at 4100m. I spot a small brick building and assume that's the school- pretty damn small for a school. A whole gaggle of kids come running down the hill- can't imagine how they all fit in such a little building. As we get higher it becomes obvious the litte building is in fact the toilet block! The school is 20 times the size! Looks like the Koreans have visited recently- all the kids have balloons, bubble makers and other assorted paraphenalia. We keep climbing to the gompa, the snow coming in as we reach it. It's a pretty magical spot. The monk comes out and greets us. The buddha statue is so opulent, so gold... Wander around for about 20 mins before making our way downhill in thick cloud.

Around 5pm we reach the Trekkers Holiday Inn - seriously fantastic- very clean, very comfortable. Our room has a wonderful view of the village's red and yellow gompa. Spend the rest of the evening in the dining room. There is a toothless grandma who keeps the wood stove going with dung- it's really cosy. There is an Austrian couple staying here- Regina and Martin, we enjoy their company. Play some yahtzee. Head to bed at 8pm and listen to..... the rat/s running in the ceiling above us. I don't see 9pm- great sleep. Great day.

** I have compiled a food price list for the EBC/Gokyo Trek- will add it to the end of EBC blog**

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