An early start, as always today. After breakfast the walk climbs sharply out of Dingboche and then levels out. Aside from the other walkers, the area is a lunar landscape, bereft of any life beyond that of some patches of grass. At this point we are clearly above the snow line, although there is no snow on our path. Boulders scatter across the landscape but there is no sign of shelter anywhere. The exposure here is palpable.
After a couple of hours of this, we pass over a mountain stream on a very makeshift looking bridge and climb for a couple of minutes to our lunch destination.
After lunch we travel onwards and upwards through the same landscape. In places there are steps up the hill but in others you must weave your own path through the boulders and rocks. All the while this is made harder by the extreme drop in oxygen levels in the air. At this altitude the amount of oxygen in the air is roughly half that of air at sea level. You really notice this as your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest and you’re gasping for air with every step and slight incline. I’m extremely lucky in that the altitude isn’t effecting me as much as my fellow travellers. In extreme cases the altitude can cause fluid to build up on the lungs, or even more seriously, the brain, which requires that the affected person is immediately taken to an area of lower altitude. Luckily, it seems that none of us are that bad yet, although I am worried that one of our party is teetering on the edge of a lung problem.
Along the way in the afternoon we pass an area of memorials, for climbers that have either fallen on the mountains, or maybe more tragically in totally unrelated incidents. One memorial is for a trio of climbers that had summitted 10 of the world’s 8000m peaks, only to be killed in a terrorist attack in Pakistan. Another memorial is a very well known name for anyone who has seen the movie “Everest”, Scott Fischer, the character that is played by Jake Gylenthall.
Moving on after about 20-30 minutes, we continue across this lunar landscape, gasping for breath until our destination for the evening comes into view, Lobuche. Here you can find, allegedly, the world’s highest bakery. Of course, we had to try this out. We can confirm that the Chocolate cake is amazing and the cafe itself is lovely and warm. The cafe plays documentaries every night to anyone who is interested in the TV.
Again, we are sharing the tea house with the large group of Russians, one of whom has carried a guitar all the way and has been playing various songs including various Beetles hits, which have gone down a storm.