Day 9 – Dingboche (14,295 ft – Map) to Lobuche (16,164 ft) – 5.1 miles – 3 hours 40 minutes
Our next overnight stop in Lobuche had us gaining almost 2,000 more feet and we noticed as we pulled into Dingboche that we had left the tree line behind us, which meant we would have less cover from the sun and frigid wind as we continued upwards. During our stay in Dingboche we met multiple groups of people who were starting to feel the effects of altitude, but thankfully just with the headaches at this point and no other sign of severe issues.
We, on the other hand, having reached new heights of 16,651 ft on our rest day climbs above Dingboche left town feeling a sense of confidence that only comes with preparation and taking our time (dare I say we are getting old). The day’s hike turned out to be a great one, barely noticing the elevation gain as we headed across the top of the plateau with sweeping views of the valleys below.
Making it into Lobuche with half the day to spare we had plenty of time to walk around the small town and try to do some shopping. We had started the hike with more than 70+ iodine pills but had managed to burn through them all by the time we reached Lobuche. Having gone door to door in hopes to find more supplies we turned up empty handed. Our options were to drink boiled water or buy $3.50 water bottles (normally $0.25 in Kathmandu). Seeing how we would go through about 8+ bottles a day we found a third option when our fellow hikers came to our rescue.
Back in Namche on our last rest night we made friends with a Swedish doctor, named Per, who was about about our age. He and his fellow doctor friend had started the hike together but when his friend fell sick to altitude Per continued on his own. Being more prepared and having extra supplies Per came to our rescue with some AquaTabs (the local water treatment pill, based on the smell of the water we think it’s mostly chlorine based). Unbeknownst to us, Per would soon become our new best friend over the next few weeks. We look forward to when we can visit him in Sweden or have him visit us in the States.
Day 10 – Lobuche (16,164 ft – Map) to Gorakshep (16,929 ft) – 2.9 miles – 2 hours 30 minutes
Day 10 was a two part day, first we would hike the short 3 miles to our next overnight spot where we would drop off our luggage and grab an early lunch. Then we would continue our day to reach our final destination of the trip; Everest Base Camp.
A scary reminder of just how high we had made it, during our stay in Lobuche we saw rescue helicopters come and go as well as we met a few middle of the night hikers who after trying to tough it out at higher elevation had given up and hiked down in the cold of night to relieve their altitude symptoms (there is a great story here about just how good hearted the Nepali people are, remind me to tell you over a beer sometime).
Personally for me the day was my favorite of the trek, starting with so much excitement and adrenaline that only increased as we neared Gorakshep. We also got to see our first view of the Khumbu Glacier field that stretches from Everest all the way down into the valley. No disrespect to the Black Glacier we saw while visiting the northern region of Patagonia, but this is how I always envisioned a glacier field to look; endless and so massive that it’s almost impossible to capture on camera.
Having dropped off our bags and filled up on 24 hour Dal Bhat power we headed back out to receive our reward for the miles and long uphill hiking days we had endured. To describe the feeling of reaching a goal is not something easily conveyed or at least not by the writing skills of me, but to do my best in summary it’s the proud swelling feeling you get after crossing the finish line of a long run or dipping your front tire into the ocean :).
Another highlight beyond that fact you have reached EBC is how close you get to the start of the actual Everest trek. One of the most dangerous spots for Everest Peak hikers is taking the first steps across the dangerous ice field as it requires make shift ladder bridge crossings with deep drops into endless crevasses. Having no desire to be eaten alive by a crevasse I opted to go lower down in the ice field where you can get right up next to the glaciers and get a real sense of just how small you are.
Safely back to Gorakshep we settled in for the night on what we knew would be the coldest and shortest sleeps of the trek, as the next morning we were to wake at 4:30am to get a start to the highest point of the hike. Oh yeah and as the title of this blog might indicate for several reasons we just didn’t find our regular grooming habits applicable during this trek (another story over some beers 🙂 ).
More great pictures from Days 9 and 10 of the hike in the slideshow below (not visible in email subscription).