|Our plane at Lukla|
|Freezing in a teahouse|
|First view of Lhotse|
|Attempting to cross the Khumbu glacier|
Our initial plans were revived- we would attempt to complete the Three Passes trek- a challenging 20 day circuit of the Everest region involving climbing over 5000m on six occasions and crossing three high passes.
It was still very cold, but the sunshine and the views more than made up for this. For the next week each day of walking opened up new and exciting scenes of fluted, serraced, snowy peaks with exotic names that we have always read about. The glacial scenery made for some exciting trekking. After climbing our first pass and highest point so far- the 5535m Kongma La- we were faced with a crossing of the rubble covered Khumbu glacier. Despite being only about 200m wide, it formed a pretty impenetrable barrier. Exhausted after 8 hours trekking, and with dusk approaching, we stood on the lateral moraine and stared out over the ridges of rubble and walls of ice, watching boulders fall into glacial lakes . There was no clear way across- our lonely planet guidebook let us down for the first time with its description 'just follow the footprints across the glacier' and for the first time in Nepal we wished we had a guide. Luckily, the Exodus group descending the pass behind us did, so we waited, then tagged on and crossed the glacier with the group of British hikers!
|Kongma La, pass at 5535m|
The rest of the high passes, although exhausting due to the altitude, went smoothly. We watched sunset from Kala Pattar in the Everest valley, and a highlight of the trip so far was seeing the full moon rise over Everest as we descended beneath snowy mountains glowing in the moonlight. We climbed through a cloud inversion in the Gokyo valley and felt like we were flying as we sat surrounded by summits above the clouds. There were too many amazing sights to describe, and the hundreds of pictures we took speak for themselves really.
|Moonrise over Everest and Nuptse|
However, the trek involved spending almost 2 weeks sleeping at around 4000m or above, and we did find the altitude and cold draining. Much of our talk was about the beaches we will visit in India, fantasies about food (roast dinner, please!!) and the alien concept of hot water. Kathmandu seemed a warm, far away paradise. Any ideas about a third trek after this one were quelled. But then...just the day after we returned to the city we seemed to find ourselves back at the tourist office filling in applications to trek in the Annapurna region. It is a little crazy, but it's amazing how much better we felt after just a single hot shower and beer. So, off we go again for another round of dal bhat eating, teahouse sleeping and lots and lots of walking...
|Trekking above the clouds. Everest is on the far left|