We climbed out of the town of Namche Bazaar and soon were greeted with our first view of Mount Everest. Far off, with just its peak showing, it looked down upon us from behind its shorter brothers Nuptse and Lotse. It did not look like the tallest mountain in the world, and not even like the tallest mountain in the area. It was just a nub on the horizon, and it is no wonder that it wasn’t until the quite recently peak XV, as it was known before, held no special significance to most of the world. Even though the mountain we came to see was not yet awe inspiring, the view of the deep valley and the closer snow covered peaks were nevertheless magnificent.
Over the next three days we made our way uphill, towards Gokyo. Our path climbed up and down, but every day we gained altitude. Our bodies adjusted well as we went from village to village we went up a couple hundred meters each day. The air got thinner but we trudged on, taking things step by step by step and slowing down when the gong got tough.
Along the way in the village of Machermo we met a couple of Australians. Dave and Georgie are a blast, shared our passion for food and interesting conversation topics. Our get-togethers in the common room of the lodge routinely started with one of us looking over the plates of the others and quizzing them about the food. “How was breakfast/lunch/dinner?” was a common question and we would ooh and aah over the critical analysis of the day’s dahl bhat and omelettes. The peak of our culinary excitement in the Himalayas came when we discovered the wonders of the cheese balls served at the Namaste Lodge in Gokyo.
The road climbed past the tree line. The last trees we saw were lush rhododendron forests which thrive at these altitudes in the inhospitable environments. After that it is a landscape covered in hardy low shrubs, some flowers here and there, and mosses and lichen.
Gokyo was less of a village and more of a collection of guesthouses strewn on the side of a beautiful blue-green mountain lake. In the background, a range of white-peaked mountains. To the back, a hundred or so meter rock moraine deposited by the largest glacier in the Himalayas. From the top of this ridge, you can see the vast expanse of the valley carved by the enormous force of this river of ice. To the side, the unimpressive looking brown hill of Gokyo Ri.
Gokyo Ri was our first mountain peak over 5000 meters. It sounds impressive and we were very excited and felt somewhat apprehensive before arriving here. Upon laying our eyes on t, we felt underwhelmed. Amongst the handsome himal ranges covered in snow, Gokyo Ri is the hunchback of Notre Dame. It is a brown hill, covered in loose rock and brown dirt. Its less than spectacular appearance, however, does not make it any easier to climb.
It took us over two and a half hours to climb the 500 or so meters to the peak. At 5480 meters above sea level, the view off the top of Gokyo Ri s said to be one of the best that trekkers can hope for. Lured by this we started off at seven in the morning. Weather had a different plan and by the time we got to the top, our view was similar to the background of this page. Weronika and I spent over two hours at the peak hoping for the weather to clear up. The best we got was a swiftly moving window of blue amidst the background of whitish-gray, which would reveal a peak here and there. It would disappear as quickly as it came, leaving us with a small twinge of excitement and hope, but covered in fog.