Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Everest Calling - Namche to Dole
20th April 2011. Towards Dole.
After a few minutes of walking, we had to stop abruptly. Our tour guides doubted that our luggage had got mixed with the luggage of another group that had gone a different way!
We waited for our porters to arrive, and identified our respective bags and when all had confirmed that their luggage was there, we moved.
There was Ama Dablam, the mountain with twin peaks watching over us all along the trail.
And this was our very first view of the Everest.
Slightly to the left of the centre, the small cap like top of mountain, mostly hidden behind a wall that is another mountain – that’s Everest.
In this picture, the peak at the left of the picture is the Everest.
All of us agreed unanimously that Everest is just the highest of mountains not the most beautiful. There are so many other peaks we have seen that are more beautiful – Bhageerath peak, Shiv Link Peak etc. Looks are not everything said someone. Really? I mean, in case of mountains, looks alone matter since they have no other utilitarian value for man. Isn’t it?
Can you see the black spec on the patch of snow on the taller peak of Ama Dablam? Someone got the idea that it was a mountain climber summiting Ama Dablam. The pair of binoculars that someone had on him suddenly came to be in demand. People looked through it, zoomed in and out until they got a good look at the climber!
It took me some thought to realize that the spec was probably a 100 feet tall rock or boulder, given that the mountain itself was thousands of feet tall. A five feet man would not be visible from where we stood!
There were villages on the way and loads of stone jewellery on display. I put off shopping for after base camp.
Half a diamox the previous night had proved to be a mistake. A costly one. A diuretic, it killed my sleep for the night. Sleep deprived as I was, the day’s trek became a pain - much less enjoyable than it should have been. I felt neck and shoulder pain, as I usually do when I am sleep deprived.
We had lunch at a place called Mongla. I ached for rest and sleep but the group was already moving.
Phortse Thanga. At Phortse Thanga a sign board showed two directions: one, left, upwards towards Dole and the other, right downwards to a charming hotel by a blue green river.
As per the original plan, we were supposed to halt in Phortse Thanga that day and move to Machermo the next day. But someone suggested that would be a lot of altitude gain so it was decided that we would not halt in Phortse Thanga but proceed to Dole, halt there and the next day, cover the distance from Dole to Machermo.
As I took the left, I looked down at the river and wished we could halt by it in the charming hotel.
After Phortse Thanga, the ascent gave an ever widening view of snow mountains.
Water streams cutting our trail had turned into ice at places.
There were stones rolling on to our trail and when I looked up, I saw workers above.
I was almost sure there was Everest in this picture though the guides denied it.
The one to the far left, I thought might be Everest.
This one, Thamsherku, I was sure would turn pink or orange during sunset and I hoped we would still be on the trail by then and more importantly, this one would still be in view and not disappear during sunset.
We were nearing our destination. It was getting dark now.
We walked and walked. And at last, reached Dole. It had been a long day and everyone who entered the hotel was cheered by others who had reached before. There was laughing and singing and some dancing in the hall.
Dinner was served later.
‘We will take a happy picture before everybody starts eating’, said Swami. That should tell you something about how our enthusiasm for the food had plummeted down after just 4 days.
After dinner we gossiped (something I usually don’t do). About someone that used to chant Om in the bathroom on the toilet seat, another who had asked the guide to sing and dance on the way, another who had stood before a Yak and said ‘excuse me’, and so on...but it was all in good spirit.