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Published: December 4th 2019
People coming back from failing to go over Gondogoro La
Goro II Sleeping Altitude:
4380m Trekking Distance
: 26.4km - YES YOU READ THAT RIGHT - 26.4km Day
It's a heavy cloud, heavy atmosphere morning. There is still a lot of discussion about going over the pass even at this time of the morning. Traditionally you leave in the early hours of the morning because it is a 10 hour day and you want to be over the difficult sections before any risk of the sun thawing snow and avalanche ensuing. We watch the group that tried to leave earlier come back in. There is great disappointment within my group, but on a personal level I am glad that we are making the decision to be safe, especially when it is not just us but the health and safety of the porters that were to accompany us too. Breakfast is solemn as discussion is now aimed towards getting back to Askole by the 20th. It has transpired that Juma has been instructed by Kamal that he needs to leave our group in order to pick up his next group back in Skardu as well as re-provision by the 19th (Danny and Lynton are part of
Weather's coming in
this new group which means NO break for them at all- it's the Snow Lake Trek - very difficult and a completely ruthless schedule for them!!)! We are all pretty pissed off about this - it makes no sense that we are stripped of our guide before our trip finishes. Our new guide with be the head kitchen porter! The only person to benefit is Kamal, it seems it has become more about the $$$$. The new plan is that we will walk back to Concordia to hopefully catch up with the others and then walk on to Goro II. The next day will have us back at Khobuche (21.6km), then 27.6km to Bardumal with a final push of 35km to get back to Askole.
In snow flurries we leave Ali Camp and retrace yesterday's foot steps back to Concordia, it only takes us 3 hours. No one is heading towards us. Gen keeps us on a sugar high with his stash of almond M&M's (seriously a great hiking snack- we make a short video about their merits, it's a fun moment). We overtake the Irish group that left a bit before us. The trickiest part of the morning
is once again navigating the glacier and icy hill immediately before the Concordia Camp- it is treacherously slippery. I wish I had my little mini slip on crampons, they would have been perfect (I repeat that same wish to myself another hundred times later that day). It remains cold and the cloud is really low. We arrive back at Concordia around 11:30 to an unexpected reunion with Mary, Fernando and Chisato. No helicopter today! Immediately have to get another layer of clothing on with the wind kicking up and sitting immobile. Lunch is low key, the camp is pretty much packed up already as we hoe down the noodle soup, etc, etc.
After lunch we start off in a couple of distinct groups - I'm off second with Anthony and Fernando which just about kills my morale because I know that I am going to be way too slow for them. Mary, Ian and Chisato will follow on the horses. The walking is now back on stones but it has become way more slippery than on the way up. I manage to slip up a couple of times but right myself in time. The cloud starts to get lower
and lower and is raining fairly relentlessly after the first hour and a half, it is also much, much colder. I have made the rookie error of not having everything prepared- as in my wet weather pants and heavy gloves, they are warmly tucked up in my duffel bag with the porters. I have all of my available clothes on and my hopelessly thin gloves and I am pretty cold, also the wetness has seeped up my pants (thankfully with long johns under them) and is adding to the general discomfort. The 3 of us have strung out but Anthony remains in sight and is waiting for me from time to time, given the weather there's a real sense of urgency to get into the next camp. The horses and their riders overtake us in what is now near blizzard conditions and all of a sudden I take a massive slip and fall onto my right knee and thigh- it seriously, seriously hurts -I actually scream (I am NOT a screamer (!) so this surprises me a little- on reflection later I put it down to frustration). I'm confident there are no broken bones, but it hurts, I've torn my
pants and I am really annoyed with myself- it makes me cringe writing this down. Lose it a bit at this point but get up and keep going, no idea of how much longer it will be and I am pretty much by myself now. Visibility is still good enough to see Anthony off in front for a while, but not for long. Fernando is long gone. Furiously plod on, slipping and sliding and freezing. To my relief, another few jackets appear out of the white - it's the Irish, their guide says it's not much further....
It is immensely satisfying 15 minutes later to spot our tents set up . It's nearly 4:15 -only 8 hours including the lunch stop since we left Ali Camp- we have actually made really good time in these conditions. The porters have got the burners turned up really high in the cooking tent and the group are all in there drinking hot chai and drying off boots and jackets. I am pretty much beside myself at this stage and can barely look at anyone. It takes half an hour to speak, Mary knows to not push the point and has given me
some space. A tiny bit warmer I peel off out of the kitchen tent and find our tent, strip off and get into my sleeping bag. I feel emotionally worn out, my knee hurts, I need space.
Get a call about 6:30 to come get dinner, feeling much better and have gotten it together again. On the dinner menu is spaghetti carbonara- my favourite meal of the trip- all is well in the world again... except that my knee hurts and we have to say goodbye to Juma. He has been a great guide, such a nice man, I feel really bad for him that he has to leave in the middle of the night and walk 80km in 2 days! We hope to see him in Askole. We give him his tip from the group and sit around chatting for another hour or so until it's too cold to sit up any longer.
The rain has stopped.
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