Trip Highlights Everest Home Home

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 serious elevation.

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 shirt.

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 circle.

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.

They 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.