My Demons Return, Part 2.

As I clambered aboard my rescue helicopter, I looked around for the last time at the brown, barren landscape and windswept village of Dingboche. I was pretty sure this would be the last time I would see this scene. I can say that I wasn’t taking away many good memories. After three days and two sleepless nights of gasping for breath and shivering in the sub-freezing cold, I was looking forward to thick air and long sleeps.

One of our porters, Bhanshu, climbed aboard with me, apparently he drew the short straw. As the chopper roared back to life, we slowly rose into the thin air. One other passenger was aboard, a Nepali, who did not appear to be an evacuee. I also noticed that the pilot, a 50ish looking fellow dressed in a flight jacket and wearing a lanyard with an official looking ID, was wearing a nasal cannula supplying him with supplemental oxygen. The US FAA requires oxygen for pilots flying flying above 12,500 ft, so this made sense. The US FAA also requires passengers to be provided with the option of having supplemental oxygen above 14,000 ft. Apparently, the Nepali FAA (assuming they have one) has no such rule, or at least don’t enforce it. I was left to continue breathing the thin air. This was very surprising seeing as I was being rescued for AMS. Fortunately, I was sufficiently distracted by the adrenaline rush of flying in a helicopter, even though we briefly flew above 18,000 ft.

I know that Dip, when he called in to request the helicopter, also requested that they give me a “tour” of base camp before flying me down to Kathmandu. I was dubious that they would do this. Why waste the fuel, and why take a passenger being rescued for AMS to an even higher altitude? It became obvious that I was wrong when the pilot turned and climbed the helicopter up into the Khumbu valley.

What a ride! I may have started dying in the thin air, but with the rush of the scenery in the crystal clean sky, I did not notice. In just 10-15 minutes we flew up the valley, directly over Dhukla, Tengboche, and Gorak Shep, the villages I was scheduled to stay in over the next 3 nights, then onward to Everest Base Camp, marked by a city of hundreds of orange and yellow tents strung out for about a kilometer on the Khumbu glacier’s lateral moraine. As we approached Gorak Shep, with the viewpoint-hill of Kalapathar rising to the left behind the small collection of lodges, the enormous hulk of Nuptse hove into view, and seconds later Everest. Nuptse appeared as a giant icy black pyramid against the pale blue sky with Everest, obviously being blown by a strong wind, lurking behind. “Wow” doesn’t, begin to describe my wonder. This is a scene that will always be with me, burned permanently into my memory.

Once over Base Camp (such an inhospitable-looking campsite), we made a sweeping U-turn and retraced our path back down the Khumbu Valley. It took us only a few minutes to pass by each of the villages that were about a day’s walk apart. Down, down we went, finally pulling to the left of Namche Bazaar, over the evergreen forests we had climbed through several days before, and into Lukla, where we landed on the helipad next to the ski-jump of a runway at the Tenzing-Hillary Airport.

This was a scheduled stop on the way to Kathmandu to drop of my porter and to refuel (and drop of some small cargo items). I was told that it would be 30-45 minutes for the stop, so we climbed some steps up to the same lodge we stopped at after our landing at Lukla several days before. As we ate, I watch the clouds roll up the valley. Not good. After lunch, we rushed back down to the helipad, just in time to watch the last passenger load into our helicopter. Apparently, I had gotten bumped to the next flight, which I was told would be taking off shortly. The chopper roared to life…..but I could see the pilot looking intently down at the clouds rising toward Lukla. Suddenly, the engine powered down. The pilot got out and talked earnestly on his cell phone. He then climbed back into the pilot’s seat and shut down the engine. Apparently, no one was going anywhere soon.

After a wait of about an hour watching the fog swirl around and envelope the airport, we retreated back to the lodge to wait out the weather. It very much looked to me like I was going to spend the night at Lukla instead of Kathmandu. I was wrong though.

Part 3 to come…

The tiny trekkers village of Tengboche with the Khumbu Glacier in the foreground.
Everest Basecamp marked by yellow tents sprawled along the lateral moraine.
Everest (with snow blowing off summit) peaking out from behind Nuptse.

My Demons Return

I am now back in Kathmandu, having failed once again to reach Everest Basecamp. As I have mentioned before, this blog gets more interesting when things go pear shaped. This year’s flameout was a bit more dramatic than last year’s walking retreat.

On April 2, we arrived in Dingboche at 4,400 m elevation. I wrote a short post that night because I felt very cold and not very energetic. That night, while trying to sleep, the demons from the year before revisited, with a vengeance. Sleep was impossible. As I lie in the the bitter cold, with sleeping bag and blanket piled on top of me, every 30 seconds or so a feeling of suffocation would overwhelm me, and I would gasp for breath. My plan for this eventuality was to pop an Ambien. Unfortunately the Ambien gained me only 2 hours of complete unconsciousness, followed by several hours of gasping and panic.

The next morning, April 3rd, I felt tired and woozy. Following a mostly uneaten breakfast, we saddle-up for an acclimatization hike up the steep mountain behind our lodge. I was very slow, constantly gasping for breathe. For most of the 250 m vertical climb, I took 3 breathes for every step, and stopped to pant every 100 steps. The day was crystal clear, but I have almost no recollection of the magnificent views of the high Himalaya. Upon our return to the lodge, I ordered a half-eaten lunch, then retreated to my room armed with two hot water bottles to snuggle with under my pile of insulation. In spite of my preparation, I shivered uncontrollably for 1 hour before my body temperature returned. But sleep eluded me. Instead, the gasping periodic breathing returned accompanied by suffocating panic.

The feeling of not getting enough air is the most scary of my life. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to go down to where there was more oxygen. When I finally gave up trying to nap and went down to the common room to await dinner and the lighting of the stove, I had already made my decision to bail. I called a meeting with Tom and our guide Dip. After a discussion of the options, I elected to call in a chopper, provided my insurance agreed to cover the cost. To the great credit of Dip, and the owner of Nepal Hiking Team, Ganga, it was all arranged within 2 hours, including a scheduled helicopter for early the next morning, and approval from my insurance company (World Nomads). I now only needed to endure another night.

My symptoms that night included headache, lack of appetite, shivering, periodic breathing, and gasping panic. These are common symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (ALS). I managed about 4 hours of Ambien-induced sleep and about 5 hours of tossing and turning and trying to breathe. I finally gave up trying to sleep, packed up and went down to the dining room to await the dawn and my evacuation. I knew that I really needed evacuation when Tom called me a wimp and I agreed with him 100%.

My chopper finally arrived at about 10 am on April 4th after various delays. Little did I know that my evacuation adventure was just beginning. To be continued….

At my highest point, over 15,000 ft. I look way better than I was feeling.
Dingboche
My savior.

Cold

This is a short post today because I am COLD. Today we hiked up to Dengboche sitting at 4,400 m (14,436 ft) in a broad windswept valley. We are now in the alpine tundra zone where most of the vegetation is no higher than your knee. The temperature from the start of our hike was well below freezing, judging from all the ice on the trail. The day began clear, but as is par for the course, clouds began building by noon, and an icy wind brought a few swirling snow flakes.

Upon arrival, I was chilled to the bone. I got myself organized, had a cup of hot lemon tee in the dining room, and went up to my cubical of a room and crawled into my sleeping bag with all my warm cloths on and I even threw the woolen blanket on top for good measure. I almost dozed off, but the cold awakened me, I just could not get the chill out. This is a likely side effect of the thin air. I went down to the common room, which is marginally warmer due to body heat, had a hot chocolate and plate of popcorn, and now I feel much better.

Today’s hike was not difficult, but the thin air kicked my butt. Last night I did not sleep well, so I am hoping tonight will be better. I have Ambien waiting, but don’t really want to use it, at least not yet.

Alpine tundra on the way to Dingboche

Windswept Dingboche

On the Khumbu Interstate

Today started under bright blue skies and crisp cool air and finished under gray skies, cold wind and swirling snowflakes. We are now safely ensconced at the Tashi Delek Lodge just 50 m from the famous Tengboche Monastery. I had a chance to go into the monastery today (last year it was closed to visitors when I passed by). The main room with a huge Buddha in the back was the most colorful temple I have ever been in – and I have been in many. The walls were adorned with intricate full-color drawings from floor to ceiling. A lone middle-aged monk sat in the middle of the room, wrapped in dark saffron robes to ward off the 0 C chill, solemnly chanting from an ancient-looking book. Sorry, no pictures were allowed, but it was a magical scene.

Today’s hike was both pleasant and brutal. The first half of the hike was mostly down hill under sunny skies; the second half was a brutal trudge up the hill into the thin air to the high ridge where the monastery guards the entry to he Everest region. We both took it really slow, but still arrived by 3 pm. We are now sitting in the large dining room of the lodge next to a wood-fired stove, sipping various hot drinks. I still feel chilled to the bone, and it’s only going to get colder.

Tom and I were chatting the previous night and he mentioned that the trails here were not what he expected. He expected trails like Americans encounter in our national parks, well graded, switch backed to avoid steep sections, and, except for the most popular, largely devoid of hikers.

The “trails” in Nepal are their roads. They form anastomosing networks of pathways that connect every inhabited village in the rugged terrain that characterizes the vast majority of Nepal’s area. The paths that connect more densely populated areas and/or popular trekking areas, particularly here in Sagamartha National Park, have sections of trail that are dirt paths through pine and fir forests, but many sections are paved in stone.  The steeper sections of trail consist of long stretches of stone stairs, engineered to withstand the hordes of boots and hooves. Everywhere, human and beast pack the trail.

The route to Everest Base Camp is akin to an American Interstate Highway. As I marched along today, it reminded me of the section of interstate 15 that connects the LA megalopolis and Las Vegas. Like that section of highway, a variety of transport plies our trail. The Yaks are the 18 wheelers of the Khumbu, carrying the vital supplies to feed and otherwise support the hordes of trekkers. The porters are Nepal’s pick up trucks. Just like in the USA they come in a variety of forms ranging from overloaded Ford 350s lumbering up the trail (porters can carry up to 100 kg – more than twice their weight), to trekking-company porters analogous to lowered Toyota pick-ups, complete with boom boxes blasting out the latest Nepali hits. Then there are the flat-bellied climbers and guides, the Ferraris of the Khumbu, flying by with crampons and ice axes dangling from their $400 back packs.

While I was a grad student, I took a term off, sold everything I owned, and went to Alaska and climbed Denali. When I returned, I was flat out broke. I bought a 1963 Ford Galaxy off a downtrodden used car lot in Missoula, Montana. It was 17 years old when I bought it for $200 cash. The seats barely kept your ass from scrapping the pavement and it’s muffler was partially intact and partially swinging in the breeze. But it ran…kind of. It blew blue smoke, and steered like a drunken party boat on Lake Mead. Every 100 miles or so I pulled into a service station and filled up the oil and checked the gas. Today, as I slogged up the trail, huffing and puffing in the thin air, I felt like that 1963 Ford, leaking oil and sucking air, amid the late model transport blasting by me. But I got here.

Scenes from the Khumbu Highway

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Blue skies and snowy peaks!
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Entrance to the Monastery at Tengboche

Acclimatization

Last night, following dinner and blogging, I headed back to my room about 8:00 pm with more than a little trepidation. Last year, my first night here at Namche was miserable. I struggled the entire night with a phenomenon called periodic breathing, which happens at high altitude when your body gets confused about your blood’s CO2 and oxygen content. This year, I came armed with an inhaler that I use to prevent exercise-induced asthma. It seems to have helped, I slept quite well and awoke very rested. I am still at relatively low altitude (3440 m/11,286 ft), but it is a very hopeful sign!

Today we will spend a second night at The Nest, our lodge in Namche Bazaar. Like almost all the lodges in the Everest area, It consist of very basic rooms, bare but for a cot or two, and a table with no heat. The common room is where everyone congregates for evening meals, conversation, and just hanging out in a space made warm by the many bodies. As I write, the Nepali guides and porters are engaged in a raucous card game that I am pretty sure involves gambling. Most of the time spent on a trek is in common rooms such as this. With 8 hours of sleep, and 6-7 hours of walking, that leaves 9-10 hours to kill lounging around these rooms. As you hike to higher elevations, where the air is bitter cold, yak-shit-burning stoves replace body heat as the main source of heat. It is the interactions in these rooms with your fellow trekkers that make trekking more of a social rather than wilderness experience.

We are lucky because we have upgraded rooms in The Nest, that include en suite bathrooms AND (a first for me while trekking) hot showers! Life in Namche is pretty luxurious. There are fancy climbing gear stores, coffee shops, and even an Irish Pub. The luxury ends tomorrow as we head up towards base camp.

Today, to facilitate acclimatization, we took a day hike up the mountain behind Namche to see views of Everest and the high Himalaya. Last year, following a sleepless night, I struggled mightily with exhaustion. This year was night-and-day better. The hike, while still strenuous, was 100 times easier than last year. Tom did quite well, but, because of his high-center of gravity (he’s 6’3/188 cm tall), he goes down hill gingerly, to put it kindly. We were both back enjoying a relaxing lunch by 1 pm.

Tonight I am hoping for another restful night, then tomorrow on to Tengboche, site of a famous Buddhist monastery. Note however that unless internet connectivity has vastly improved during the last year, my blogs may be posted well after the fact, and perhaps not at all for several days at a time.

Namche Bazaar from above.
A monument to one of the world’s true dudes, Sherpa Tenzing Norway. Hillary would have never made Everest’s first ascent without this guy.
Another minor hero….

Namche Bazaar

I know that this blog is probably at its most interesting when everything on the ground is going to shit. Sorry to disappoint my readers, but today went very smoothly. We have arrived at the famous Sherpa trading post of Namche Bazaar without any misery or mishap.

For me, it started last night with a pretty good night’s sleep, in spite of an annoying barking dog. The weather was cloudy but with not much wind and cool but not cold temperature that was perfect for hiking. The first half of the hike was gradually climbing. We stopped for lunch about 11:00 am then continued up the switchbacks for an additional 600 m of elevation gain to Namche. I am not sure why, but it seemed easier for me this year, which doesn’t really make sense because I am not nearly as physically conditioned as last year and I’m carrying a significant beer paunch. Perhaps the fact that I am using my asthma inhaler this year is making a difference. The proof will come tonight we see how well I sleep. In my last attempt, I slept very little at Namche, with symptoms similar to sleep apnea. The lack of sleep and resulting exhaustion forced me last year to spend an extra night here.

Tomorrow, we will day hike up towards the Everest View hotel for our first views of the Everest peaks. We will spend an additional night here in Namche for acclimatization.

A word about our guide, Dip. He has been way better than my guide last year. He speaks English much better, takes great care of our every need, but gives us plenty of breathing room – much better than my hovering guide from last year. Tom general hikes a bit slower than do I, so Dip tends to hang back with him while I hike ahead. Dip must have told one of our porters, Bashu, to keep a close eye on me, which would have been fine if he wasn’t listening to tinny Nepali music from his phone spear all the way up the trail. We arrived in Namche just as I was about to grab his phone and fling it into the abyss.

Good view of my beer belly. To bad you can’t see the 200 m drop from the bridge to the river.

Namche Bazaar

A well earned treat after a long climb.

Day 1 – to Lukla and Beyond

We were up this morning at 5:30am for our early morning flight from Kathmandu to our trek starting-point in Lukla. Our guide picked us up at 6 am and a 20 min white-knuckled van ride brought us to the chaotic domestic terminal of Tribhuvan Airport. Our guide Dip navigated us through the terminal, through security to the waiting area, where we proceeded to wait. Just it time, the thick smog of Kathmandu lowered visibility and they closed the airport. For a while it looked like we would not get out today, but suddenly it was hurry hurry hurry. We were hustled on to a bus and driven out to the small planes (19 passengers) parked on the tarmac. The planes that fly into Lukla are special purpose planes capable of landing and taking off from short mountain runways. After another short delay as we waited for our plan to taxi in, we were hustled onto the plane and took off for Lukla.

We quickly climbed above the clouds and the high Himalaya filled the horizon. After about a half hour of flying, the plane banked steeply and navigated up the steep valley leading to Lukla. The landing at Lukla was more of a controlled crash. The runways is literally built on the side of the mountain. Nowhere is flat, so the runway slopes at a precarious 10 degree angle. We landed uphill and slammed into the runway and screeched to a halt in the small parking area at the runway’s highest point. We had arrived in Lukla.

We piled out of the plane and walked with our gear over to a lodge next to the airport. We relaxed in the dining room of the lodge, and Tom learned about the effects of reduced air pressure on sealed boxes of Pringle’s. As Tom cleaned Pringle’s crumbs from every nook and cranny of his backpack, I purified water. Soon our lunch came (fried noodles for me), then it was time to hike up the Dudh Koshi Nadi valley toward Pakding. The route was familiar to me because I saw it both coming and going last year. But this year it seemed much easier. Last year I came from much further down the valley and came on the day after my nightmare-filled night. Appropriately enough our lodge in Pakding is the Beer Garden Lodge. Tom enjoyed a beer, but I am tee-totaling until our descent. Tomorrow brings the strenuous hike up to the rarefied air of Namche Bazaar. Hopefully I will sleep well tonight.

Not exactly a jumbo jet.
The high Himalaya
Tom at Lukla
Our trailhead at Lukla.
Tom beat his phobia of high, swinging suspension bridges.

Unfinished Business

I am once again sitting on the veranda of the Dom Himalaya hotel in Kathmandu just over one year since I left here with my tail between my legs. In March of last year, I attempted a trek all the way from Jiri to Everest Base Camp. I turned around 1 day short of my goal. You can read about that trek here.

About a month or two after my return to my home in Chiang Mai, and after a week spent at the Beach in Samui, the regrets started to seep into my mind. Not reaching a goal that was so close at hand began to eat away at me a little at a time – finally I had to seriously consider coming back to finish what I had started (and 95% completed). I happened to mention my thoughts to my good friend and golfing buddy, Tom Prouty, as we sipped beers after a hot round of golf last summer. He confessed that hiking to EBC had long been on his bucket list. This was the push I needed to make my return possible. To make a long story short, after a bit of cajoling, we both placed our deposits on a an EBC trek for April 2019. So here we are.

My 2018 trek began at Jiri, which adds an additional week and over 10,000 vertical feet of up and down to the EBC trek. This year we will fly into to Lukla cutting out the week-long up and down and up slog from Jiri. This also means gaining altitude from Kathmandu at 1,400 m to Lukla at 2880 m in about 45 minutes. Hopefully this short cut will leave me fresher for the high altitudes to come. Also, I hope it will help me to avoid catching a cold that morphed into a severe cough on last year’s trek. We will see about the rapid altitude gain.

I will have to admit to more than a little trepidation this time around. I’m not nearly as conditioned as I was last year due to the dense smoke in Chiang Mai this March. I am significantly overweight, but hopefully my legs and lungs are good enough. Last year I had issues with breathing while trying to sleep, so this year I have come armed with sleeping pills (purportedly safe to use at latitude), and an inhaler to ease my asthma which kick-in in cold dry air. I will also forgo taking diamox, which makes me pee every 20 minutes, unless I have significant symptoms of AMS.

Tomorrow morning, we fly into Lukla. Success on reaching EBC will depend mostly on motivation. Hopefully Tom calling me a wuss will be sufficient. We are also taking a couple of extra days for acclimatization above Namche Bazaar. Still I am apprehensive. I’m a wimp in the cold, and it is freaking cold up there. I’ll keep the world informed as best I can via this blog.

With our guide, “Dip”, and Tom at the Dom Himalaya Hotel. Notice my paunch.

Why I Couldn’t Breathe

The long walk from Namche Bazar to the airport town of Lukla took all day. While mostly downhill, the trail climbed in many places because of the rugged terrain. I had plenty of time along this tiring march to think about the last two weeks, and why I couldn’t complete the trek.

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My lunch stop on the last day.  Lots of ups and downs going along this valley.

About 15 years ago, one afternoon I went out for a run and found myself gasping for breath after only a few minutes. I fought through it, and my breathing improved and I was able to complete the run. For the next couple of weeks, the same thing happened, it was as if my lungs were closing down at first, but then would improve if I went slow and relaxed. I went to my family doctor and he suspected I had some kind of asthma. He prescribed an inhaler to be used twice a day. It worked like a miracle. I told the doc on my follow up that it was like having 25 year old lungs again. A few years later, after a long bout with bronchitis, my doc referred me to to a specialist, who confirmed my asthma diagnosis. I had feared that I had COPD, but the specialist said that the inhaler wouldn’t work on that, and that his testing indicated asthma. Relieved, I still suspect that this stemmed from growing up in a miasma of second hand smoke from my mother. For the next several years, I used the inhaler only before vigorous exercise and it worked very well for a very long time.

After retirement and my move to Thailand, I found out that I no longer needed the inhaler. Being older, I didn’t exercise so vigorously, and my lungs seemed to like the moist hot air of the tropics. The bag of inhalers I brought from the USA with me got stashed in the back of a drawer and forgotten. A couple of times during my preparations for the trek, I thought to myself that I ought to take an inhaler along “just in case”. But that item never got on my list, and I didn’t remember again until I was in Kathmandu. BIG MISTAKE. My guess is the extremely cold, dry air triggered my asthma. I was ok while hiking if I started slowly, but it seemed to kick in again while trying to sleep. This would explain my lack of headaches or other typical symptoms of altitude sickness. It also explains why my sleeping troubles began at just 2500 m – it wasn’t the altitude alone, it was primarily the cold dry air. If I had brought the inhaler…..anyway, it’s done now. I have no regrets about turning back.

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The narrow streets of Lukla.  No motorized vehicles except for planes and helicopters.
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The picture does not capture the true slope of this runway.

I arrived at Lukla about 4:30 pm after hiking in the light rain for several hours. The lodge was literally 50 meters from the runway. Lukla’s airport is unique in that it is not level. It slopes wildly in fact – more than 11 degrees! It looks more like a ski jump than runway. Planes land uphill and take off downhill no matter the wind. Planes landing have only one chance to get it right because an aborted landing is made impossible by the mountain rising of the end of the runway. Many consider this airport the most dangerous in the world.

I bought a few beers for my guide  Bhakta and my porter Gokul. Gokul had a few more than a few, and was very loose by the end of the night. Apparently he had a reputation as a brawler in his younger days, he could take on 4-5 others with no problem. Good to have him on my side!

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Bhakta, Gokul and me celebrating the end of the trek in Lukla.

The next morning, after an E-ticket takeoff, and a scenic flight back to Kathmandu that brought home just how high and immense the Himalayas really are, Bhakta and I arrived safely back in Kathmandu (Gokul turned around and went portering back to EBC from Lukla with a new group of trekkers). Thus ends my adventure. I am back in Kathmandu for one night already, and though the flights are full I will try and get back to Thailand tomorrow. I will be writing another post in the next few days on the equipment I brought that might be useful to future trekkers.

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Walking to our specially designed short take off and landing Sita Air plane for the flight back to Kathmandu.

So what next adventure should I start planning for in 2019? 1. Patagonia? 2. Cruise to the Galapagos? 3. Cycle New Zealand. 4. Golfing in Ireland. 5. Drive the Alaska Highway? 6. Something else?  Leave me a comment with your suggestions.

Back to Namche

Written March 20th, USA time.

It’s amazing how having an additional 3000 ft of air over your head can improve your respiratory system. Also, I ditched the diamox. The result was only two trips to the loo, and 6 whole hours of sleep last night . I think when I return home I will sleep for a week!

I was feeling refreshed, but I could still not stomach the breakfast of a single “cinnamon and sugar” pancake. Really it was just fried dough with a few grains of cinnamon powder and no sugar that I could tell. Did I write yet that the food while trekking sucks? Most of the time while hiking, my brain is perusing menus of 5 star restaurants. I can’t wait to eat my first pad grapow when I get back to Thailand.

Our goal for the day is Namche Bazar, which is quite a long distance, but except for one short and one moderate climb, is all downhill. You can easily hike twice as far on the return as you could going up. Our lunch stop came, after a long down hill from Tengboche, at 11:00 am at a small lodge next to the Dudh Koshi River. I ordered a pile of fried noodles which I consumed in about three impolite bites.

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Another in a series of dizzying suspension bridges above Tengboche.
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The enterence to the ancient monastery at Tengboche.
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These dudes are tough….

The afternoons hike included the last long uphill segment, about 400 m up and over the divide down to the basin where Namche Bazar lies. The skies had turned cloudy, although I suspect at higher elevations it was clear, and a cold wind blew. But the site of Namche Bazar nestled below as we came around a bend warmed my heart.

At our lodge, I had a fantastic 38 degree C shower, then headed out to Himalaya Java. Alas, the last brownie of the day was ordered in front of me. The chocolate cake made a passable substitute. Later after dinner at my deserted lodge, I wandered over to the Irish Pub, said to be the highest such establishment in the world. I order a $6.00 beer, and watched groups of very loud young trekkers celebrating the end (almost) of their trek. Some won’t enjoy there march to Lukla tomorrow. I was tucked away in bed by 8:00 pm.