Friday, April 4, 2008


Left Dingbuche this morning at 8 for the trek to Lobuche at 16,100'. The team moved strong, and we moved quickly across the wind swept Phuung Karka Valley where we gradually gained altitude and were mashed in with oodles of other trekkers. It's funny how we all seem to be on the same schedule, and we constantly see the same band of IMG, three Russians, and even the German lady who is absolutely in love with Francisco. Every time we see her, she gets all sparkly eyed and says "what beautiful black eyes! and black hair!" It's funny to the rest of us, but I think it weirds out Francisco who patiently smiles back and steps up his pace. The trail moves along the edge of a steep drop-off on the east side of the Lobuche Khola valley, the head of which is dominated by the massive Chola glacier moraine. We all move along, iPods cranking as we wrap around the corner and vector in on the little village of Dughla- a two hotel/ tea house destination midway to our objective.

In Dughla, Francisco, Lhakpa and I grabbed a quick lemon tea before continuing up and bumped into one of our cook staff enroute to Base Camp. He's friendly, energetic, and Lhakpa tells us is among the best. Francisco jumps on his sat phone to make a call while Joe continues on up the hill where the trail gains 600' in altitude. It's not a lot all things considered, but at 15,000' it's a serious lung buster.

After clearing Thokla Pass, site of choltins to fallen climbers, dedicated to those who have died on surrounding peaks. We continue on, slowly, entering another valley and hiking along/ through the moraine of the Khumbu Glacier. This is the glacier dominating the entire southern flanks of Mt. Everest, as known from the Khumbu Icefall and Western Cwm that we'll soon be climbing. No more trees or even Junipers now, we only see grass and snow hidden among the rocks.

Finally, we make the Eco Lodge at Lobuche. To our right, Nuptse dominates the horizon, and we are only about a 6 hour trek from Everest Base Camp from here. The lodge is amazingly nice, including a menu that has Grilled Cheese and Chicken Cordon Bleu! The lodge manager is unfriendly and Lhakpa tells me that last year in Kathmandu the teams tried to get her fired, but no luck. Guess finding lodge managers to park themselves this far out aren't exactly growing on trees. Joe whips out his poker chips and takes us to town, insisting that he's all about putting on the world's highest World Series of Poker in a few weeks. He also pulls out another contraption- an Oximeter (?) which measures oxygenation and pulse rate. It's truly a hit as one after another puts it onto their fingers to see how much oxygenation is going on in each of us. Kathleen, an Australian nurse who has been trekking along with us is surprised to see all of the people who just arrived pulling in numbers like 72% oxygenation, 110 pulse and mentions that a 75% oxygenation rate in her hospital back home would result in a person being thrown on O2 immediately. Then does the test herself and comes in with a 71%. By tomorrow, as we acclimatize our oxygenation rates should be somewhere in the 90s. The human body is such an amazing machine.

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