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Published: August 29th 2010
MONJO TO NAMCHE BAZAAR
28/5/10: A bad night sleep after waking up at 1:00am with a tickling cough and blocked nose. We didn't get out of bed until 7:30am as we were both still trying to get over this sicknesses. Jacinta’s stomach cleared up but my flu was still on its last legs. We purchased some boiled water and mixed it with our noodles; nothing is free in the mountains. We were out the door and trekking by 8:00am, we only got 50m up the track before stopping to catch our breath. We paced ourselves and slowly found our rhythm, it wasn't too long before we arrived at the junction of two major rivers, Bhote Koshi and the Imja Koshi River and we would later trek to the source of both rivers. Yet another long suspension bridge (109m long) before a torturous 3hr trek up to Namche Bazaar. The whole way up we were interrupted by yaks transporting goods up to Namche for the Saturday morning Hat Bazaar markets. As we slowly climbed to 3440m in altitude, some 600m above Monjo, we started to feel the altitude and really run out of steam. At 3500m there is only 64% oxygen and
we desperately needed the other 36%. As the air got cleaner, my sinuses started to clear for the first time since I got sick, I wasn't fortunate enough to lose that annoying tickle and cough. Jacinta trekked really well, often having to wait for me after I had rested.
We arrived at 11:00am and quickly found a lodge called Khumbu Lodge for 200NRS. Most of the prices were all around 200NRS for a double or 100NRS/person. We had a quick break before taking a walk up to our first acclimatization point, Namche airstrip, situated above the town at a healthy altitude of 3720m high. We climbed the steep steps through town and found the trail, it felt great to walk without the packs but the altitude still really made it hard. The whole way up we could hear the constant tapping and clinking of hammers onto chisels and chisel onto stones, there was a hive of building activity going on in Namche. All houses are built out traditional materials like granite and slate, the granite is shaped from an unrecognisable rock into a beautifully shaped block; is almost artwork but very time consuming. It only took an hour to reach
the air strip. We sat back on the grass looking at the view while we let our bodies get use to the altitude.
Back down to Namche after an hour acclimatizing, lunch and a quick walk around town. You can pretty much buy anything you need form Namche; for a mountain price of course. We were desperate to talk to someone about their experience at Everest Base Camp (EBC) particularly the path to Gokyo via the Cho-La Pass, we managed to speak to a few people that had come back down from the same trek, they all had grim news, saying not to go over the pass because of the freezing conditions and hidden dangers, if we did choose to cross, take a guide. I started to worry if we were going to actually get over the Cho La pass, there was no one going the same way as us and I thought maybe we would be alone, and the more we heard the less and less comfortable we were going by ourselves.
We met a foolish lady from USA that was heading in the same direction as us, we originally invited her to walk with us for additional company,
soon after we realised this was the wrong thing to do, she was so unprepared for the trek she only made the decision to trek EBC two days prior. This was ok but she didn't have a map, guide book or guide, warm clothes or sleeping bag. We told her about the freezing temperatures at base camp also stressing the importance of a warm sleeping bag. We were not going to be a baby sitter for an unprepared stupid 25year old, the decision wasn't hard to make when she walked for half the day in a pair of flip flops, and needless to say we dumped her the first opportunity we got; we later found out from others, she didn't hire any sleeping bag or warm clothes from the last possible place to acquire these items, (Namche Bazzar) and froze. The stupidity continued, we sat in the restaurant for a meal, 19 Indians sat next to us and we got talking to them about their trek, we found out that they had no guide or guide book, no map, no sleeping bag and no clue about the effects of altitude sickness (AMS). They were convinced that they were going to
just keep walking all the way to Everest Base Camp (EBC) without any acclimatization stops. They were all extremely friendly people; the ladyies were concerned about the effects of altitude after I stressed the importance of the acclimatization. The ladies took the time to listen, I drew them a quick map showing them were to sleep for their acclimatization; I later found out that they carried on not stopping for acclimatization, only six, of the nineteen made it to EBC, they all had AMS and nursed massive headaches. I can now start to understand why people die from AMS when it is probably the easiest illness to avoid.
Dinner was served; we ordered fried potatoes with veg, cheese and egg and fried rice with veg and egg. They were both soaking in butter; that's why it tasted so good.
Everywhere there were expeditions coming down from Everest, we were lucky to be able to talk to one western guy that summit Everest. He was quiet friendly and explained it as being the top of the world feeling. Still in the lodge, I spoke to a lady that I thought was trekking up to EBC, she turned out to be the
Base Camp manager of the British expedition. I tried to speak to her about the recent climb but instead got the cold shoulder. I got the hint after a couple of minutes when I may have well been talking to myself. We heard from other trekkers of the same thing happening to them; two months living at 5340 high on a glacier must do that to you, especially if you have to do it for a job.
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