view from the throne
Altitude: we left the Shangri-La and went down 800m to the gorge. Then up 600m to Kharikola town to camp.
Weather: Oh Boy – 35-38 degrees with the sun beating down for the ascent. The clouds chased us but never caught up today.
We had a slightly slower start to the day today. Normally wake-up is around 5 but today we woke up at 530. Got packed and left the lodge at 730. We descended to just below 1500m altitude (800m down) and it was like dropping into the tropics. There were leeches on many branches and Yanick had one attach. One of the porters had a leaf with a leech on it – about 0.75 cm long and 0.25 in circumference. But boy do they grow. You can get them to do a dance by holding your skin above them – they will stretch and stretch to try to get to your skin.
The gorge was quite beautiful. The waters are fed by Everest – green and cold. We then climbed up the other side for lunch (potatoes, our soon to be available at a Dale and Heather’s Tibetan Bread Store bread, veggies). Then the slog up hill under the heat of the sun. The team started to stretch out over the climb. Dale and I reached the top where there is a spectacular monastery with many kids running around. Traditionally the 2nd son and the 2nd daughter must become monks/nuns respectively. Although this is slowly changing this has always been the way. The monastery was so colorful– perched on top of a hill overlooking 3 separate valleys that converge.
We arrived in Kharikola were our camp is sitting overlooking a deep three pronged canyon. They have set the tents out in two slightly distinct groups – those of us who brought tents on one side and the Trekking company tents on the other – we prefer to think of our side as Park Place – certainly location location location holds!
On a serious note Charles has significant sleep apnea. As part of the research that is being done on acclimatization we all wore oxygen saturation monitors for our first night over 3000m. Almost everyone had levels in the 88% or > range. Charles’ oxygen levels dipped quite low, in a rhythmic way, during the night. Last night (he roomed with Dave) he had apneic episodes (stopped breathing for a period of time). The decision has been made, for his safety, for him to proceed to Lukla and on to home. That means tonight is the last night with the team together. Tomorrow Charles will go in one direction, accompanied by a Sherpa, and the rest of the team will move on towards Mera. It has been quite an emotional time this afternoon, and I personally can relate having to come off mountains now on 2 separate occasions. The disappointment is immense. However, the single most important thing is that everyone comes home safe. He did an amazing job, and is absolutely fine, dejected but fine, this is completely out of his control.