At 4am, my Suunto Core woke me up again. The reluctance interupted by Johnny who knocked on the door to officiate the wake up time. GWah expressed his intention to skip Kala Patthar. He seemed tired and discomforted by his sinus problem. Guess it was the right choice for himself. Everyone knows how to take care of themselves, which is great. Then, RWen too wanna rest from her self-illusion AMS scare. Heard she was so worried abt her dizziness, bloated face & vomit. All fit the AMS symptom. But personally, it was largely due to the spectacular way of how Ailing being sent off to hospital by helicopter. Worse, her China insurance didn't cover that.
Raj had gathered us outside the lodge. It was freaking cool. Freaking cool it was! A subtle blow of wind would send the chill right into your bone. I had 3-4 layers of clothing that morning. Temperature was at abt 8C. Surrounding was totally dark. We used torch light for the 1st time to trek. Raj had asked Dalwat to stay back and take care of the rest. Later, we were so appreciative when found out that he actually woke up and checked on RWen every hourly. Very thoughtful.
It was a windy night. Possibly every night at this altitude, at this hour. It caused me a headache at a time. My essentials worked at their best for me. My buff was such a great stuff to have for this trip. Kept me warm, and protect my face from the blizzard apart from the dirt. My borrowed Millet head cover, protecting my head & ears from the wind and keep me warm too. Otherwise, I could have more severe headache. My borrowed TNF jacket & Marmot jacket did the necessary too. Nonetheless, hands were the most vulnerable to the bliss. But even with glove, it is futile to stop the climate from freezing my hands. It was painful while I kept stretching my fingers to feel my hands were still functioning. Every joints was in pain due to the coldness. I had to wiggle my toes too constantly as I can't feel them! Frost bite did cross my mind although I know it was not possible.
My breathing was long and deep. O2 was 50% of sea level. I felt the effect vividly. It made me appreciate the air more. Mucus just rushed out perpetually. The water in my drinking bottle that I've attached outside the bag for easy access too, formed in ice. The environment was quite harsh for a tropical living petite Asians. Sunrise starts at 6am in Nepal. that was what we had been waiting for, the sunlight that warmed us up. I began to peel off 1 or 2 layer of clothing. A good windstopper as outer layer is good enough from there on. My steps were slow and heavy, which in synch with my deep long breathing. Gasping for air really. Remind me of the peaks at Agung & Rinjani. It was tough. But westerners who by passed us seem to have no problem generally. Well, perhaps, they will have their own problem if they tried Tahan in Msia isn't it. God is fair. By far, Tahan is the toughest trip I have had.
Around 630, I've finally reached the Kala Patthar peak! Yeah. Felt great! Relieved that the hard walk ended. Towards my NE, 3 majestic 8000M+ peaks in sight. Nuptse (7851M), Everest (8848M) & Lhotse (8414M). Awesome. While at the NW of Kala Patthar peak, there's a 7165M Pumori peak. Awesome too. To my SE, I saw the team was making progress. 30min away. I waved at them but received no response. Reluctant to spend they energy to wave back I guess. They must be thinking seem near yet so far. Last ditch of the peak is really steep. At 5550M, small step makes you puff for air already. Whenever wind blew, I shivered. Luckily the sun did beam consistently. Glad to have my Oakley. I sat down, tired, drank my icy water & some chocolate to settle down, pondering & suddenly I realised that oh God, mission accomplished. Sweet.
The team had finally made it! Johnny, his gesture was exactly like mine, puffing for more air. MChin, known for her toughness arrived with tear, tear of joy I reckon. RQing who subdued by the AMS on the 1st day arrived with joy too. All threw each other hugs. We were all so glad as it was really tough indeed. The peak was quite jam with climbers. Some just occupied the peak inconsiderately. Damn it, we shall share the peak view and the photo aren't we?
Some photo session, then off we headed back to Gorak Shep. A casual walking pace took us abt 1.5hr to reach our lodge. Met up RWen and GWah who were in better health. Just glad to see them. The remaining days weren't as happening as it would have be. Half of the team gone & I felt sorry for them. Nonetheless, the team mood was still fine. We waved good bye to Gorak Shep and headed down to Pheriche on the same day. That night, I felt bloody uncomfortable with my right eye in pain. Should be due to my fast descent that my eye's pocket didn't get equalised properly with the pressure? A hypothesis though, but that discomfort lasted for the remaining 2 days!
My eye was in pain for the next 3 days. We descended to Namchee Bazaar again, stayed a night to enjoy the surrounding and headed back to the ground zero of EBC adventure, Lukhla. Met KMeng at Namchee in the same Buddha Lodge. He did got the chicken pox! Miraculously, me & MChin didn't get any infection until today. Touch the bloody big wood!
Important lessons from this trip? Good trekking gears would mostly guarantee your comfort. Getting a responsible tour guide is paramount. Our guide leader, Raj & his team is 1 of the best I reckon. Only a mis-communication incident on how to tip our porters made me feels so bad until now. Hate that feeling still really. Nonetheless, this is 1 of my eye opening trips in my life for sure.
|Ice formed in my bottle! Outrageously cold, to me.|
|Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse. Million dollar question, why Everest seems shorter in the middle?|
|Made it at Kala Patthar (Black Rock) Peak.|
|The route that I had been through, just now. Phew...|
|Go go go team!|
|A sigh of relieve!|
|Raj always taking care of us. Good guide. The ladies should be very thankful to him.|
|Hmm, I don't think I get the hugs from the ladies...|
|Half dead huh.|
|Pumori Peak at the backdrop.|
|Looking down to Gorak Shep. Awesome.|
|The black peak is Everest. Storm often happens and carry away the snow from the summit. Thus, you see black.|
|Back to Gorak Shep. This place is the helipad too.|
|Stopped by at Lobuche for lunch.|
|Farm at Pheriche.|