Thyangboche – Dingboche
We did exactly as we were told. We got up for sunrise. It was cold, very, very cold as we stumbled around the dark room fumbling for merino layers, our down jackets, and my camera bag. Most teas house rooms are made up of thin wooden walls and floor. Everything is wood, there is no insulation making your sleeping bag and down jacket your best friend during this whole experience.
Walking down the hallway of the tea house tip-toeing the whole way as to not wake the other hikers still silently sleeping before lacing up our boots and heading into the cold morning. It hit my face and travelled down into my chest, bitterly cold air circulated me before turning into a warm pocket in my down jacket.
The clouds were still a little low, so we turned up the path behind the tea house and walked for ten minutes. We followed a little light trail that eventually broke through the cloud and showed us the incredible mountain ranges surrounding the village of Thyanboche. Soon we forgot about how cold it was as we watched the sun dance over the mountains and the sleeping little town come to life. I can see now why Shankar was so adamant we rose with the sun this morning. Slowly the clouds started to lift all around us setting us up for another day with perfect trekking conditions. I knew that the rest of our crew would be waking, and we still had to pack our Sherpa bags, eat breakfast and get ready for the day ahead.
We both tucked into a hearty breakfast with bread, eggs, and porridge. I warmed my body with an extra-large lemon zinger (lemon ginger honey) and copious amounts of tea. As you climb higher in altitude the prices on each tea house menu also climb. Not that I ever found it expensive and when you watch how goods make it to these remote villages your concept of pricing slowly diminishes. Breakfast today with a bottle of water for the first part of our day cost me $11 NZD, just a little over six English pounds.
I could see the sunlight beaming through the mountains and a very impressive mountain range in the distance. We grouped up outside and Shankar pointed out Everest, Lhotse and Ama Dablam all lined up as if waiting for our arrival. The morning started with a walk through an icy forest, the mud had frozen overnight and our downhill stint was one hour of slip and slip.
The views today did not disappoint. They got better and better as the day progressed and we spent the majority of today’s hike enjoying some classic Nepali flat. Our first tea stop brought us many dogs and snacks. We also found our Sherpas having a rest, they quickly packed up our stuff and ran into the hills once more. They move quickly, four times the speed we do, and they always get our bags safely to the next location in plenty of time. After a break, we walked for around two hours, easily the most scenic two hours of the day and we crossed one very impressive swing bridge. Ama Dablam guided us to the village of Dingboche. Tomato soup, fried vegetable potatoes, and the sweetest wooden tea house greeted us for lunch. Kashi, our lead guide said only two hours left to Dingboche so setting off on our last stint spirits high, everyone in the group cracking jokes and we kept each other motivated. Water breaks became more frequent as did our nature pee’s, safety in numbers the girls scouted for the best rock, the boys well, boys will be boys.
The landscape dramatically changed, we literally could have just transported to the peak district in England and I would know no difference. The clouds and mist had started to roll in over what was now a very barren landscape. The path became very brown and barren, the hills rolled around us, it felt vast and never-ending. Shankar made us climbed higher than the village below, an extra 200m. Climb high, sleep low. That’s what the moto is.
Everything quickly covered in the cloud and it started to lightly snow, this was a typical weather pattern for us. We hiked early in beautiful but cold sunshine then as 3 pm hit the clouds and cold rolled in for the night. We arrived in Dingboche village at 4.30 pm and had dinner around 6.30 pm. Those hours in between we warmed by the fire and walked to a local shop to buy snacks.
We went big for dinner, I was starving, and the extra two hours rest had made my headache come in a little. I ordered garlic soup, chips & fried eggs and chapati to dip into everything. The fire started to die down a little, so we asked for a little wood. Instead, a huge silver bowl filled with Yak poop presented itself and we fueled our fire with shit, delightful.
I tried to stay awake as long as possible but the lights in the room brought on a headache, so I called it a day at 8.30 pm. I chugged down 1L of water and more through the night, but thankfully only had to make one chilly dash to the bathroom. Tomorrow was our first acclimatization day on the trek, a day to rest and let our bodies get used to where we were. Due to our dramatic attempts to reach Lukla in the early days we missed our Namche Bazaar acclimatization day and would miss a stop on the way down too, none of this mattered right now though as I snuggled down in my -20 sleeping bag ready for another awe-inspiring day in the mountains.
I wrote in my diary, ‘Best day on the trip so far’ I stand by this now.