Thursday 11 November
Yak Kharka to Thorung Phedi
Oh dear. Today we find that George Bush has beaten John Kerry to the
Usual 6 am tea from Sagar, shortly followed by hot water, packing up, and a stroll to the tea house where we are served breakfast at 7 am. Porridge, always topped with muesli, and doused with honey in many of our cases, followed by a bread muffin and a fried egg. It made a nice sandwich.
We got away at 7:45, on our own for a change. Another beautiful day, but we have turned a corner from Manang so the sun doesn't light our path until nearly 8:30. By then we have reached 4200 metres and have a short break to re-group. Nabrash is worried about being told off for going too fast - we must let the kitchen to catch up, and washing up is a hard slow process at this altitude due to the low temperatures.
I'm wearing thicker gloves and my hands warm up fairly quickly, but my feet, whilst not really cold, do not feel comfortably warm until 9 am. The problem is we can't walk fast as we get out of breath. Sue and I did have a walking race along a flat section to the 4200m break - that and a bit of jogging on the spot did help us to warm up.
At 9:30 we had an hour's break for the leading group - Andrew came in 25 minutes behind the first to arrive, at an outdoor tea shop with a resident goat that expected food from everyone. It was a fat goat. Noisy Spanish, then the familiar French, arrive. 4390 metres, 13C, 597 millibars. Lovely views in all directions. Lots of naks seen on the way, many with young.
The tea shop was just a brick shelter relocated to this point quite recently when the main route was changed to this western side of the valley. A new bridge had been built this year (2061 in
Start: 4030 metres
Ascent: 485 metres
Descent: -15 metres
Finish: 4500 metres
Time: 3.5 hours
Stops: 1.0 hours
Walking time: 2.5 hours
And so, by 11 am we were at 'base camp' for our attempt at the crux of the trek - the Thorong La pass - 5415 metres. We were soon shown to our nearby tents, where we vegged, reading and preparing gear for tomorrow. Then we adjourned for lunch in the porters' dining area at the Thorong Phedi Hotel - quite a smart place. Trekkers staying at the hotel have their own posh area, but our quarters are better than the mess tent.
There is hydro power here, and a TV blasted Nepalese pop music, then an Indian film, from the corner of the large room. Our porters sat glued to the action, including Sherpa Hosta. The porters eat rice and potatoes in large quantities, with their fingers mostly, whilst we enjoy fried frankfurter type sausages, potatoes, coleslaw and bread, followed by tinned peaches and lemon tea.
Sanjeev sets out tomorrow's timetable - tea at 4:30 am, breakfast at 5:00, leave 5:30 (no washing water) This sounds fine. And so by after 1 pm, we are well fed and adjourn for another spell of rest in the tents. Hot water for our last wash before Muktinath soon arrives, so we chill out, clean, whilst the sun warms the tents.
The only 'cloud on the horizon' is some high cloud to the south that could herald a weather front. We hope the brilliant weather will last another day though.
Here the pressure is 587 mb - quite low.