The day started for me at 6, with an early start to climb Kala Patar. From the top, or even halfway up you can see the peak of Everest as the sunrise illuminates it. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t in my favour today and there was cloud cover over the summit. The effect was still dramatic and there were plenty of photo opportunities. The extreme cold did make it difficult to use the camera though; either I had to use it with my very thick gloves on, or risk taking them off and feeling the associated pain. In the end, the only task that I failed to accomplish with my gloves on was to remove the lens cap, which took mere seconds. I managed to get some great shots on both cameras (I hope, I’ll have to wait to see the film shots).
The extreme cold did have another weapon up its sleeve, Lithium Ion batteries, like the ones in my digital camera, are very susceptible to rapidly discharging when they get cold. The battery in my NEX6 went from 41% to 1% in the space of around a minute. Thankfully, I’d planned for this and brought spares in my inside pocket.
After returning down the mountain and having breakfast the trek back to Lukla could start. As expected, the first section is fiercely inhospitable with extreme cold and wind requiring all of our warm layers. Pretty quickly though the weather began the change and we could start to remove layers. Vegetation returned, first as scrub then as small plants and eventually trees.
We had a choice to make after 5 hours of trekking. We could either stop where we were or continue for another 2 hours to a lower teahouse, with the associated warmer weather and cheaper prices. This would also remove 2 hours from tomorrow’s trek, which would have a number of uphill sections.
We decided to press on to Pangboche, where we found a delightfully quiet teahouse with lovely food, ready for a good night’s sleep. The first in a while!