Local Time: Tues 11th April
Weather: Overcast, up to 10C
Hi everyone, it’s Fiona here,
Today Paul and I left our low altitude respite lodge and headed back up the Khumbu Valley to Lobuche.
After a breakfast of eggs on toast, we set off this morning towards Lobuche. At first we were dismayed because the uphill climbs still feel like such hard work and we were disappointed that we hadn’t acclimatised better. However, we soon noticed that we are taking much less time to cover the same amount of ground (up to twice the speed of our first ascent here). That made us feel much better! In fact we went from Pheriche to Lobuche in 2 hours and ten minutes.
We rested for a while in Dugla and chatted to a couple of Aussies we bumped into. Then continued up to Lobuche where we met up with the portion of our climbing group who had been away from base camp for the last week climbing Island Peak. They seem like they’ve had a great trip and everyone of them made the summit. Congratulations all, and farewell to those Island Peaker’s and Trekkers that have now descended!
We’re all staying at the same lodge so we had lunch with them and then played some very silly word association games (very difficult and funny when you throw in the language and cultural differences) and another game that would be much more fun with a bottle of Schnapps and shot glasses! After we all tired of this, we retreated to our rooms for naps and reading. I think I have already read more novels on this trip than I have in the last 10 years!
The Political Situation Here
You may have heard news of the political situation here so I thought I’d give you a perspective from here.
In Kathmandu the Maoists’ planned strikes and curfews seem to have gone ahead as planned. These are not targeted at tourists and we believe that most tourist services are still operating (airports, taxis, hotels, etc). However that doesn’t mean that the activity is not having an effect on tourists.
We dropped in at the medical clinic in Pheriche today and were told that a Swedish trekker was seen yesterday suffering from HAPE. When they tried to get a helicopter in to evacuate her, they found that the pilot wasn’t able to get to the airport, so they couldn’t evacuate her. Fortunately the treatment they gave her overnight worked very well and she was able to trek out today but it could have been disastrous.
As far as we can tell from speaking to people, there is currently no Maoist activity past Lukla (the town we flew into). There is a scant report about curfews in Lukla and two people being abducted there but no-one seems to have any real knowledge about whether this is true.
In the Annapurna trekking region (not near us but very popular with trekkers), the Maoists are very active but so far there has not been any violence – despite the fact that they carry weapons. Apparently, they come into lodges and demand a certain amount of money per person – for which they issue a receipt. If they again ask for money, they are satisfied if they are shown a receipt. It doesn’t seem too bad at the moment but could easily get out of hand. Hopefully the demonstrations in Kathmandu will end soon so that the city can return to normal.
Answers to some Questions
Kerri – the bathing facilities here would definitely be classed as appalling by your standards but considering what we’re working with, I’ve been pretty impressed. At basecamp, our group has set up a shower tent (complete with changing area), and provided you give a bit of notice, you can have a hot shower long enough wash your hair. Definitely no hairdryer though and by the time I’m finished here, I’ll be very much looking forward to a long bath!
We were also asked whether we’ve seen any dogs around. There certainly are lots of dogs on the trek in and one of our team members reported going to his tent after dinner one night to find a dog curled up in the vestibule of his tent. Someone else reported having seen a dog halfway up the icefall on a previous trip. We’ve also seen dogs at high altitude on other mountains – on the top of Aconcagua and on Mont Blanc. I think sometimes they are in training for avalanche rescue, but other times it is a bit of a mystery what they are doing up there. The dogs here seem to be more scavengers than pets so we are keeping well away from them in case they carry diseases.
Someone else asked about sleeping at basecamp. We found the first few nights to be pretty restless and yes, we’ve both woken up on various occasions gasping for air (this is called Chetenne Stokes breathing). But now that we’re pretty acclimatised to that height we’re both sleeping well (aside from having to get up to go to the toilet because we’re drinking so much during the day!)
Well, that’s all for now. Hope everyone back home and logging in here is well.