Thursday, April 3, 2008

Dingboche Down Day

With the exception of an acclimatization hike along an adjacent ridgeline, today's a down day in the lovely urban metropolis of Dingboche, population 200. This town is above the tree line in a wide open area of the juniper scrubbed Imja Khola river valley, in the shadow of Lhotse, due north of us. There's an Internet Cafe' here, advertised as the world's highest and a scattering of hotels are here, too. As with everything, costs have gone up as we continue to trek further and further from civilization. Recharging a laptop battery costs you 250 Rupee here, versus 100 Rupee in Tengbuche. Sodas, candy, etc all increase in cost understandably. Sending two emails, I learned, cost you 500 Rupee- just short of $10.

Yesterday after we rolled in, both Francisco and I had raging headaches that we worked through by hypersaturating with water. It took me about four hours to get over mine, Francisco had his a little longer but was the savior that volunteered up Tylenol that finally kicked it for us. I credit my headache to the speed hike to the monastery yesterday- a dumb move in retrospect. Given that my last name isn't "Sherpa", I deserved what I got.

It was also yesterday at the height of our headaches that Joe volunteered up about something called a "Hypoxemeter"- you wear this contraption while working at home, etc and it can simulate up to 29,000' or so. Joe had been wearing this thing for weeks leading up to the trip, and feels great! Francisco and I feel like a truck ran over our head yesterday. Thanks for keeping that a secret, Joe. We love you anyway. Francisco and I hydrated like crazy and finally pushed through mid afternoon. You could tell when we were doing better because we sat there like lumps until the headache broke, and then -poof- chatty. True to form, Francisco found four great trekkers to talk with: Anna and Xavi from Catalan, Federico and Luisa from north of Lake Como. They are staying in our hotel and are headed along the same schedule to Everest Base Camp. They left this morning for Lebuche, so we'll see them again tomorrow.

Spending the rest of the day lazing around and preparing for tomorrow, the weather turned quickly- which seems to be a trend. This morning we didn't even have a breath of wind. By noon, clouds had formed in the upper reaches of the hills- specifically Lhotse, which is right in front of us. At 4pm, snow was falling and the temp dropped like a rock. Then by 8pm, the wind had died off and it was fairly pleasant, although still cold.

On our acclimatization hike, we ascended up to around 4,800m, or 15,700'. This, to prepare our bodies for higher climes as we go. All along the ridge there are mini stupas and cairns to mark our path, which made for a nice measuring stick as we went.

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