Day 11: Gokyo Ri
Route: Gokyo Ri Peak (5483 meters) ➔ Tagnag (4465 meters)
Distance: 6 km (estimated)
Total Distance: 64.68 km
Time: Gokyo Ri: 2 hours up, 45 minutes down; to Tagnag: 2 hours over glacier in light rain
Morning came quick and we were off early in the 6 o’clock hour. Two hours up to the peak of Gokyo Ri, the highest elevation of our trek, but we were foiled by foggy weather. It was a rather steep climb abd the top was littered with prayer flags.
An old dog followed us up all the way and sat snoozing on the top.
It was a little disappointing considering the amazing weather we had so far. We occasionally caught glimpses of a near chain of mountians, but the much heralded view of Everest remained allusive.
Back down we go. It cleared a little and we got some good views of Gokyo and the lake it sits on.
We decided to push on to Tagnag with the father and son team we met from Israel. They have a guide/porter and we need to cross the sketchy glacier back towards Machermo.
Light rain comes down as we enter the glacier, which is rocky and dotted with white sand dunes, spots of water, and oretty fast moving streams. It felt like another planet.
The most treacherous part was in crossing a particularly raging section. Stepping stones meandered across in various stages of submersion. Trekking poles were imperative. This is not a place to fall in. Pops (aforementioned father) stepped in once but his goretex boots kept him completely dry. My boots are not so waterproof, but luckily I made it no problems. We had a very good sense of accomplishment when entering Tagnag.
Only two lodges offer a respite from the elements here, we coose the Tashi Friendship Lodge. The tiny encampment is positioned just at the start of the uphill battle to the Cho La Pass, which connect the Gokyo Valley to the side with Kala Plattar and EBC.
As the rain becomes snow, the Korean group marches into our previously quiet encampment, surrounding the fire completely. As they did before, the elder of the group whips out his smokes with little care of those around him. Steve leans back in his chair and, head pointed towards ceiling, yells, “No smoking in the lodge, please! It hurts my lungs! Arigato gozaimasu!” Surely they understood the Japanese, which was probably not taken very well. The comment sparked a fury of conversation and shuffling about that ended with a pissed off lodge owner and a party of 6 Koreans plus guides moving lodges. Being that we may stay here if have to wait out the bad weather, I was upset with Steve’s impatience had lead him to spout off (though he had a point). I was a bit embarrassed and our hosts are pissed off at us for losing the business.
As a result, the fire was kept low and the lights used sparingly, making an uncomfortable environment even more inhospitable. Steve was in a bit of a funk. The atmosphere was ruined despite my best efforts to have a good time and it proved to be the start of a rough couple of days.
The weather turned into an outright snow storm. It was frigid and I went to bed early.
Note: Route times, elevations, and distances covered above are as measured by my GPS. Some measurements are estimated, that is I didn’t use the GPS that day, and will be noted as such.