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Everest Trek- Day 12, Gokyo - foot of the Cho La

The clear sky of last night had resulted in a spectacularly beautiful morning. The air temperature outside the tent was down to minus sixteen Celsius as I anxiously waited for the sun to get higher in the sky and reach the tents. Braving the chill I managed to get a wash with the hot water that had been brought in a bowl to the tent. There was little chance of a wash for the next couple of days as we cross the Cho La soI thought I would seize the opportunity.

Leaving Gokyo, we retraced the route by the lakeshore to descend towards the second lake before turning away from theView when crossing the Ngozumpa glacier showing the ripples of sand. main route that would have taken us back to Machermo. Instead we climbed upwards along a path taking us onto the glacial moraine of the Ngozumpa glacier. Crossing the glacier was a series of ups and downs over some quite spectacular scenery, occasionally we would pass swathes of grey coloured sand, ornately patterned by the winds, to form ripples similar to that you may see on a sea shore or on desert sand dunes. Here and there, a reminder that we were not in the desert, patches of ice peeked through showing the deep blue and green of the glacier below and, to complete the unusual scene, the snow capped peak of Cho Oyu separated the earth from the blue skies above.

After some time we descended from the glacier into a valley where the scenery was also quite wild. Although technically still in the Gokyo valley we were now separated from our previous route by the glacier. We continued to head eastwards towards the small settlement of Tragnag at the base of some more mountains where we stopped for lunch. Sitting behind a stone wall, sheltered from the wind, the warmth of the sun was welcome.

Having re charged the batteries it was time to make the next leg of the journey climbing up a path to take us away from Base of Cho La - the small yellow patches are the tents at the camp sitethe Gokyo valley and on towards Cho La. We had about three hundred metres to ascend this afternoon before we could reach our camp for the night. Fortunately, the scenery was interesting and looking at the changing landscape absorbed the effort of the climb up. Eventually, we reached a bit of a saddle and then descended down the other side, it was quite barren out here with only the paths and rocky cairns reminding us of human presence. Ahead of me I saw the snowy mountains and could just discern a small path heading up into them, whilst below the path, dwarfed by the grandeur of the mountains, the small orange patches of our tents were just visible.

The tents had been pitched wherever it was possible to get them up amongst the slate ridden earth. No matter where I put my 'thermarest' it wasn't level and I wondered how I would fair during the night once the sleeping bag started sliding on it. Our mess tent was put up but without any tables or chairs, which had gone with our Yak man and his team down the valley yesterday. We would hopefully be meeting him at Lobuche. The tent was crowded with various bits of trekking equipment, blue expedition barrels and other bits of paraphernalia, but somehow, when it came to the evening meal, we all managed to squeeze in. Unfortunately my now stiff knees and back prevented me from sitting on the floor so I sat precariously on one of the blue expedition barrels, just managing to eat my food without toppling off.

Outside there was a large clap of thunder and the familiar afternoon snow began to fall again. How, I wondered, was this going to affect our crossing of the pass tomorrow?

Journal Extract - Everest Trek
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