Everest Trek- Day 11 Gokyo Ri
A clear start to the day providing wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding scenery. I walked down to the lakeshore again, only a short distance from the campsite, to take some more photos but soon became aware of people starting off to climb Gokyo Ri. Looking up the long slope of the Ri I could see that others had set off even earlier, small dots were way up towards the top and I wondered what sort of views they were getting from up there.
Deciding not to wait for breakfast I left the others at the camp and set off, determined to get the most of the weather. It was seven in the morning and I soon got to the corner of the lake where stepping stones led to the path of Gokyo Ri. At this point the lake was unfrozen and there were some great reflections of the surrounding snow capped peaks in the water. From there it was the start of a long ascent to the top but it felt wonderfully liberating to be walking on my own and setting my own pace.
Realising I was gaining altitude, I decided to take it steady, stopping every so often to get my breath and take in the scenery around me. The views were like an unfolding picture, the higher I got, the more of the glacier behind Gokyo came into view and so did the peaks of other mountains further behind. About a third of the way up the unrelenting climb I took a short break to look down at the campsite, it appeared so small on the lakeside. Also coming into view now was the second lake further down the valley, plus most of the Ngozumpa glacier, with Cholatse and Tawoche standing proud on the horizon. But now there were also signs of cloud building up down by the glacier and I decided to push on before the weather deteriorated.
Two hours after leaving camp, feeling considerably wearier, I reached the top; a long summit ridge covered as usual with an array of prayer flags. Dotted amongst the rocks, sheltering from the wind, were various other trekkers, most of whom seemed to be in high spirits. One group were singing a local Nepalese folk song and I assumed they must have been up here for some time because I certainly wasn't capable of singing at that point in time. The best I could have hoped for was a melodic wheeze. The clouds, which I had seen in the valley, were still holding off at that point and there were still some views of the glacier and surrounding peaks, though unfortunately, the top of Everest was covered by cloud. It was exhilarating being up there and I made my way along the rocky outcrops to the far end of the rise where there were less people. The views from that point looked more up the valley towards Cho Oyu and there were some interesting rocky ledges where I decided to get some shots of the glacial moraine far below. I managed to find a large flat rock, which appeared to jut out into the air, and sat for a few minutes enjoying the solitude looking at the vast expanse of natures beautiful mountains.
I had been totally absorbed with the scenery and the photography before realising an hour and a half had passed by. Now the clouds were really starting to build and most of the views were disappearing. Just before leaving the ridge, I met Tomba, one of the trek crew Sherpas who I had been talking to over the last few days, and we laughed and joked as we made our way down the slope. Tomba was teaching me bits of Nepali and had now decided to teach me more of the song Ream Fi Ri Ri. His enthusiasm and patience in teaching me the words were fantastic; it was a great experience for me.
By the time we reached the bottom it had started to snow again. Fortunately our meals today were in one of the nearby lodges as opposed to a mess tent. As I ate my noodle soup, liberally laced with garlic (apparently good for preventing altitude sickness I was told), I watched the snow become increasingly heavy and wondered what effect this would have on our intended crossing of the Cho La in a few days time.
I played cards for a good part of the afternoon with some of the others in the group. As we did so a few other trekkers arrived, having come up from further down the valley, they looked thoroughly soaked and covered with snow. Fortunately, the stove in the centre of the lodge had been lit and was now pushing out some heat. Earlier, I had put some of my laundered socks nearby to dry out and the new arrivals decided to do the same with their gear but in their rush, and unbeknown to me, they had pushed my socks so they were actually touching the stove. Later when I went to retrieve my socks I discovered they had some new rather large ventilation holes.
Leaving the lodge to retire for the night I saw the snow had stopped falling, it was now a clear night and very cold, conditions which fortunately deterred any plans of creeping back to the lodge unseen, armed with an ice axe, to exact revenge on the sock burners.
Trek Diary -Everest
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