It is always a miracle what effects getting up and drinking coffee can have. After my desolate night with many doubts, I dragged myself to breakfast – and everything was fine again. The headache subsided, the porridge tasted good, my mood lifted. The landscape was only slightly snow-sugared, the sky was blue and I set off happily in second place behind the Russian.
I was immediately super happy again, there were little discoveries like a herd of yaks and a mini lake.
Sorry for many similar pictures – I have a hard time deciding which one I like best right now. The path went back up along the mountainside, crossed the nastiest crappy suspension bridge (it was very long, very high and partly covered with slippery snow – this time horse man helped me and led me across by the arm) and arrived at a tea stall.
The teahouse was run by two Tibetans. They had to fetch the water from a spring a few metres away, had some horses and one had a very picturesque headdress.
The route was not very long and I don’t know much about it – I was very happy to walk in such a great landscape and marvel here and there. And took pictures, of course.
Soon we reached Thorung Phedi, a lodge place at 4,540 m, where some people, such as the large Intrepid group, decided to spend the night. Garlic is supposed to be good at this altitude and liquids anyway, so I had garlic soup for the first time in my life at about 10:30 am.
It was still early in the day and my destination for the day was only 1 hour’s walk and 400 metres in altitude away. So a longer rest. This time it clouded over earlier than usual and so I slowly climbed the last few metres to High Camp at almost 4,900 metres. Now I noticed the altitude, which forced me to slowly and deliberately take one small step in front of the other.
This high camp is very special. At 4,880 m, there are buildings with beds for about 120 people. It is cold and uncomfortable and the few communal toilets are slippery with often frozen water on the floor. They are open all year round, as people come even in winter – sometimes groups, sometimes individuals and sometimes nobody.
We shivered together in the common room, ate soups, chatted with those from Thorung Phedi who had made an acclimatisation climb and slowly peered out worried: it had been snowing since early afternoon.
And it snowed and snowed and snowed into the night. Full of fresh snow. The stove was lit at some point and spread cosy warmth and we snuggled around and chatted. Some people played music to each other on their mobile phones. Then, as Wham’s “Last Christmas” (link must not be) played, I thought it couldn’t be more surreal. Would we be snowed in at the hut? How much food and wood would there be? And what about the altitude?
I got pretty dizzy and despite relatively good oxygen levels (such an oximeter is really great, must get one myself!) I remembered the previous night, was worried and took a Diamox (the first in my life). I don’t think it was really necessary – and with these stupid side effects, I’ll probably never do it again in the future. I had severe hand tingling for hours and became the Queen of Night-Pee (increased urination is also a side effect). I had to go out six times! But luckily a lot of snow had fallen and I only went outside my door and could then shovel snow over. It was sub-zero in the room and the snow on my shoes didn’t melt at all. But with my sleeping bag inlets (2 pieces – good combination) and 2 thick blankets (the advantage of a single room with 2 beds) I was warm enough to sleep. Still, I didn’t snooze much and had anxious thoughts again.
The plan was: all of us together! Get up at 4:00, breakfast at 4:30, start at 5:00 in a long queue with tracking guides. They naturally made sure that we who were walking alone (I was included, despite the horse man, as I couldn’t really communicate with him) were also part of the group and checked our headlamps, etc. Everyone was very excited, but we were also all very happy to be together. Some suffered a bit more, some less, but nobody was really unwell. There was less sleeping – except for the Taiwanese guy in my next room, who was snoring softly all the time.
During the night it stopped snowing and there was moon and stars to see. A good hope for tomorrow’s day crossing the pass. But there were still 500 metres of altitude waiting for us….