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DAY FIVE Thyangboche, 12,700 ft. to Dingboche, 14,200 ft.
Today we leave for Dingboche (ding bo shay). After a hearty breakfast
we are out of camp and on the trail by 8:00. This will be a long day,
maybe six or seven hours of hiking . . . now we will start to gain some
The trail going out is beautiful. We pass
through several little towns and are continually forced to step off the
side of the road to let the yak trains pass. We stop in the town of Pangboche,
elevation 13,200 ft., and are served a hot lunch as a cathedral of some
of the highest peaks in the world surrounds us.
Following lunch and a short siesta we're
back on the trail. Topping a 300 foot hill out of Pangboche
it seems like the whole world has just opened up before our eyes. We are
now above the tree line and literally surrounded by mountains with Everest
dead ahead. There's no way to describe the beauty as we walk along this
narrow trail, the Dudh Kosi River flowing 10,000 feet below us,
yak bells filling the air around us.
It seems that everybody has a cough, some
worse than others, referred to as the "Khumbu cough." It's a very dirty,
dusty trail, and when the yaks or porters go by they kick up a good dust
storm. I wear a bandana around my neck which I use to cover my nose and
mouth when a yak train or group of porters kick up a dust storm. Some
of those who climb Everest have been known to cough so hard that they've
broken a rib. I doubt that any of us will reach that stage, but the cough
is aggravating and makes it difficult to get to sleep.
Most of the communities through which
we pass are deeply involved in the growing of potatoes, the basic staple
food of the region. Every family has their yard very neatly fenced in
with rock walls, some of which are as much as six feet high. This is done
so that during the snow season they can determine their property lines
and find the potatoes they planted earlier in the season.
Arriving in camp I see that my tent is
situated so I can look out and see Lhotse (low tse), the fourth highest
mountain in the world, and I have almost a complete 360 degree vista of
the mountains towering over us. It is one of the most spectacular sights
I have ever seen. The weather's nice, the sun is out, and I'm in a short-sleeved
Less than one hour later I have my fleece
jacket, fleece pants, and down jacket on. The temperature has dropped
from a high of 55 degrees, which in the sun seems like 75 degrees, to
38 degrees, which with the wind chill makes me feel like I'm at the arctic
Tom and Bert are facing mild symptoms
of the "Himalayan trekker trots" as a result of imbibing on Chang, a potent
milky-looking drink concoction served at a teahouse we visited. Maureen
has a case of mild altitude sickness, but other than that everyone is
in good shape. Camp 5 stresses hygiene and will not permit you to drink
any water, tea, hot chocolate, coffee, etc. for which the water has not
been boiled and treated, in some cases with iodine. Before entering the
dining tent it is a requirement that every team member wash their hands
in a disinfectant water solution. Mike told us, "If I don't put it in
your hands, you don't eat it or drink it." As one who has experienced
the revenge of Montezuma many times in the past, this was a big concern
for me. Fortunately, I had no problems on this trip -- give me a beer any
time, but I think I'll pass on the Chang, thank you very much.
Tonight we have a dinner of "baht," a
typical sherpa dinner consisting of rice and potatoes marinated in a small
amount of curry. This is their diet -- two meals a day, 365 days a year.
When they visit the United States many of them get sick on our food and
water. It will be interesting to see who the first person is in our group
to mention a steak.
say you don't sleep very well at high altitude.
I am in my sleeping bag at 8:15 and don't wake up until the young
sherpa boy knocks on my tent at 6:30 the next morning.