Day 4 – Namche Bazar (11,286 ft) – Dole (13,288 ft)
After a day to acclimatise in Namche Bazar, during which I had only the slightest of headaches, we had a bit of a lie in the next morning, and I woke feeling great, all signs of my headache gone. After breakfast, which I self-catered with bread, tomatoes and yak cheese bought from the market, we got a leisurely 8am start.
Steady progress took us higher up easy gradients, and at morning tea-break, we saw the other group that we now knew pretty well from two days in Namche Bazar. Our routes separated, their route taking them more directly to Everest Base Camp, ours taking us on the more westerly approach via Gokyo. We said our goodbyes, and started climbing more steeply up the side of the Dudh Koshi valley.
We took things at a slow, regular pace, and Henry and I seem very well matched. We are both happy to keep plodding slowly uphill without too many breaks. I was feeling very healthy and strong, and we arrived at Dole at around 2.30pm in the afternoon. Our guide Deepak was pretty impressed, as 4pm is the more usual time to arrive there.
Dole is a lovely place, nestled in a side valley, with some incredible views of the snow-capped mountains towering on all sides. As the afternoon drew on it became quite cold, but the fire was lit in the main room in the tea-house we were staying in, and it was very cosy and warm.
I spent several happy hours reading my current book, the wonderfully appropriate View From The Summit by Sir Edmund Hillary, who was of course, the first man, along with Sherpa Tensing, to climb Everest back in 1953.
Day 5 – Dole (13,288 ft) – Machhermo – Gokyo (15,750 ft)
The fifth day of the trek was planned to be a short one, climbing from Dole to Machhermo by around lunchtime. However, despite another leisurely 8am start we arrived in Machhermo before 11am, and both Henry and I were keen to press on further. After discussion with Deepak, and consideration for how our porter was doing, we decided to have an early lunch, and then press on for Gokyo.
This section was scheduled for Day 6, and was estimated to be around four hours, and the two days are planned as further slow and steady altitude acclimatisation. Both Henry and I seem to be doing very well, and we continued our steady upward progress, and once again surprised our guide by arriving at our final destination before 3pm.
The second half of the journey was spectacular, and we passed three high lakes on the way to Gokyo. The top two are still iced over with a fairly thick ice layer.
What a fantastic day! Two days trek covered in one day – marvellous! The weather continues to be sunny and warm, and it’s been shorts and t-shirt again almost all day today. At 15,750 feet I am now at my highest point ever outside the confines of a pressurised aeroplane! I have a very slight altitude headache at the end of a tough day, but am pretty confident that I will be fine again for tomorrow, which takes us even higher up the impressively steep Gokyo Ri. If the day is clear the peak of Gokyo Ri should offer some spectacular views of Everest.