Everest Trek part seven, Lobuche to Gorak Shep

June 2nd 2010
Published: September 15th 2010
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2/6/10: It was another bad night sleep for both of us. Jacinta’s altitude sickness had gotten worse, she had woken up with a swollen face and her head was pounding violently and she was extremely tired. Lobuche is where most people have so many troubles with altitude so we were cautious about her situation. We already made the decision to stay another night but when she had got up and had some tea and breakfast everything went away, she felt a lot better so she made the decision to carry on to Gorak Shep only 2 hours away. I was a little sceptical asking her several times if she was alright to continue up the hill. I knew she was fine when she snapped at me for asking too many questions. We packed our bags and got changed out of our thermals. It was the first evidence of needing a shower when I took off my thermals in the morning light; a plume of dry skin filled the air dancing around the room like a plague of insects - yuk. We left Lobuche around 7:30am, the morning sun had already melted the ice off the outside tables and chairs, the roof had a constant stream of water trickling from every corrugate giving a waterfall affect. Ice that had frozen in pools overnight was now slush, it must have been cold.
We walked steadily on the flat ground for the first hour until we came to the Lobuche pass, as we started to climb the rocky hill it was another cruel reminder that we were above 5000m high. The physical effort to climb even the smallest of rises almost stopped us in our tracks, hyperventilation was the only option, and the feeling was that we were never going to catch our breath. 30 seconds later it was if though nothing had happened, until you started to climb again. We were both slow but Jacinta had a lot of trouble getting used to the altitude. Instead of getting to Gorak Shep in 2hours it took 3hours. The track followed parallel to the Khumbu Glacier. The Lobuche pass was cruel; there was no evidence on the map that it was steep, rocky and hilly. I felt so cheated, I got the map out again just in case I read it wrong. The pass was a large glacier that had spewed out onto the Khumbu Glacier. As a result we had to walk once again through a massive pile of rubble until we crossed the glacial melt water over and crossed a small bridge. It ended up being fine because the track was well worn from yaks and porters carrying supplies to and from EBC. Gaining height again we were now above the moraine ridge that ran the entire length of the Khumbu glacier, this gave us astounding views of glacial ice formations. The clean ice and dirty ice mixed with rocks the size of houses that seemed suspended it time. Every now and then you could hear ice and rocks breaking under the huge pressures of the glacier; chilling. We finally came around the corner giving us the best view of Gorak Shep, Kala Pattha, Khumbu Ice fall and EBC, it put a very big smile on both our faces. We arrived at Gorak shep around 12:00 midday, we found a room at the Buddha Lodge, everyone had recommended it on the way up because of its huge meal portions so it was perfect. We dropped our gear in the room and collapsed on the bed. Lunch was on the cards and once again we had to endure the marvellous flavours of packet noodles with added MSG. After 10 minutes I was bored and walked outside to look at the view. Jacinta stayed in bed for the rest of the day, she was so wasted from the altitude she could not move. I took advantage of this taking my journal to the very edge of the glacial cliff; I sat and stared at the view in amazement. I caught up on my blog while I sheltered beside a huge rock from icy wind. Out of the wind the sun was warm; it forced me to take off my down jacket. As I wrote small landslides and rock falls crashed down on the mountain opposite to me. I could hear them but never saw them. I started to wonder how there could be any mountains left if this happened every 5 minutes or so but the Himalayas were getting actually getting taller and taller every year. After an hour I went back to check on Jacinta, she hadn’t moved an inch, she wasn't asleep she just lied there feeling weak and with a headache. We later went down to the common room. While chatting with other trekkers we had a New Zealand couple walk in. They had just arrived; they walked from Periche to Gorak Shep in one day. The walk should have taken two days because of the altitude and acclimatization but they foolishly did it in one. My first thoughts were how incredibly stupid. I then heard that they walked from Lukla airport to Gorak Shep in 5 days, this should always be a minimum of 7-8 days depending on the individual. I asked them about AMS or altitude sickness? They said they felt fine, fine now but the onset of AMS can come 6, 12 or even 24hrs later. I shook my head and wondered how stupid people can be. I immediately thought about the American girl and 19 Indians I had met at the start of the trek, this added one more to the list. That night we realised the rumours about Buddha Lodges were true. We both ordered macaroni and cheese for dinner costing 450NRS each. It was the biggest portions we have had yet making a hungry stomach very happy. We gladly retired to our room hoping we would sleep.

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