Rest Day... time to tackle Nangkartsang Peak
May 5, 2008
|Day 8: Dingboche, 4260m.
The "cell", as Room 110 had become known, does have its advantages. It was a lot warmer since it was a small space. The Irish lads had a different approach to keeping warm, with all four of them in a dormitory-style room. I suppose there are some secrets that will never be revealed.
What happens in Nepal, stays in Nepal.
The snow had given way to beautiful wisps of steam in the dawn light, giving the ground we were wandering around appear to take on a surreal dry-ice stage effect.
Well, it was another one of those *ahem* rest days where we had to get some altitude into us. I wouldn't exactly say "had to" but I knew that I may fare worse later if I don't. The routine of breakfast had settled in (Jeetay and Deepak had a good laugh when they saw what Room 110 was like!) and today's climb was most of the way up Nangkartsang Peak, aiming for a small rocky plateau just shy of 200m from the 5083m summit.
I was beginning to wonder whether it was the cold/'flu like symptoms or was I ignoring the onset of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Subal studied my condition and cleared me of it, asking if I'd still wanted to go. The rest of my body was abhorred by my stubborn decision to slog it out!
As we hiked high-left of Imja Khola (Imja River) to push east, my spirits were buoyed to be part of the group again and the general chatter. The climb started, and as I briefly paused to take a swig of water, I had the chance to survey what was around me. What was conspicuous in its absence were trees. The highest growing cover were shrubs only a foot high, and even then they were being thinned out to reveal some moss and lichens underfoot. As the group sauntered past, a quick headcount revealed that Ted, the American, was not with us and had declined to be part of today's trek. I was such in a rush to get ready and figure out how much water to take with me (or leave behind) that I didn't even notice his absence.
Deepak was at the rear today, his trademark grin was already offering to carry my pack. At the end of the trek, I asked Subal what his name meant, and he stated that it means "The Light". Couldn't be more apt at the moment.
15 minutes became half an hour, as I saw the rest on the ridge heading up Nangkartsang. There wasn't a trail to walk up, just general direction. Gasping up to the top (with Deepak patiently walking beside me), I looked up to see that the others had made it. Well, I think that was what happened since Jenny was looking down from above, shouting encouragement every step of the way. As I crested the plateau, I was greeted to cheers and the blasting icy wind. The whole group had found scattered shelter amongst the rocks from the wind, but the view was gorgeous.
We were cradled below Ama Dablam to the south, Chhukhung Ri further east and beyond was another famous summit in the Himalaya, Imjatse Himal (or Island Peak). They were so vast and took up your entire view. Even at this altitude, we had to crane our neck upwards and around to take it all in.
And that's where we stayed for a good half-hour. Last time we did something similar was when we made the ascent to the plateau north of Shyangboche, the day that Dave injured his knee. Made me wonder what he was up to and I was wishing he got back ok.
Soon, the call of "juum juum" was made by Jeetay to return back to Dingboche, as we scampered out of the cold. My feet dragged (old injuries to both my ankles starting to haunt me!) as I walked, tripping over the smallest rocks. I managed to keep up with Stevo and Marty at least as we made a small group with Deepak and Subal to head on down.
As we approached the Sonan Friendship Lodge where we were staying, a hand had shot out from someone walking past, grabbing my arm and succeeded to completely startled me. The blue lenses of polaroid sunglasses were pushed up to reveal blue eyes and a smile.
"Hey Gavin, how's it going?"
It was Amanda, the Brisbane lass I'd struck up a conversation with at Bangkok International Airport (Gate C3, if memory serves me correctly) as we waited for hours to get on that Kathmandu flight.
Last time I saw her, she was being whisked away into a taxi at the airport being followed by the touts who were shouting for her patronage. It was amazing to see how well she'd adapted and was thoroughly enjoying herself on her trek. Both groups patiently waited as we chatted about what we'd seen and hoping we'd catch up later on that evening since she too was heading out for her acclimitisation hike.
I was only too glad to hand over 250Np for a hot gas-fired shower when I got back, my last being at the hotel in Kathmandu. There is only so much a bowl of water can do, and the hot water was a welcome way to shake out the cold in my bones.
The dining hall of the lodge was packed with other groups, polar-fleece laundry hanging like multi-coloured flags to dry off. Another group had put on the IMAX Mt Everest movie that was shot in 1996, the same time when Scott Fischer and Rob Hall took up the expeditions that led to tragic consequences (as in the books Into Thin Air, Left for Dead and The Climb). To Subal's chagrin, no mention of any Sherpa or porter is made or are their efforts recognised.
Glancing at my watch, I was feeling it was time to climb into the bag. There was less than two days before we'd be standing at Base Camp. Flicking through my digital camera, I cursed to myself when I realised that I had not taken a single photo that day.
I had also completely forgotten to meet up with Amanda as promised earlier this afternoon.