Everest Trek -Day 10 Machermo - Gokyo
It was another clear start to the day and although the temperature had dropped to minus eleven Celsius during the night I managed to stay warm. Perhaps I am adjusting to the cold.
Being as it was such a nice morning, but still cold, we had breakfast in the open air, the sun was now sufficiently high to clear the mountains and bathe us in golden light. As we ate the trek crew took down the tents and started setting off ahead of us with our bags.
Soon after leaving the campsite, the trail started to retrace some of the route we had done yesterday on the acclimatisation walk. On reaching the viewpoint where the prayer flags were, the view was even better than yesterday; it was so clear. Looking across the valley Tawoche and Cholatse looked particularly stunning against the skyline. Ahead of us the path was clearly distinguishable winding its way up the valley ahead before it disappeared from view on an outcrop. It was there that we were going to be turning and heading towards Gokyo.
Just before the turn the path became quite steep, a reminder that we were gaining altitude all the time. A short while later, the first of the Gokyo lakes came into view. What a fantastic site. The greenish coloured water looked so dramatic against the browns and greys of the rocks and earth all around it. To add to the scene six orange coloured birds, a sort of waterfowl, were constantly flying up and down the water as they fed from the lake.
Reluctantly leaving the lake I pressed on to be greeted by yet another surprise. The second lake was much bigger than the first, and apart from a small section of green water was completely covered by thick ice. I paused to take photographs and take in this majestic scene. The path seemed to more or less follow the lakeside and ahead I could see the outline of Gokyo Ri whilst even further ahead, were the snow-capped mountains.
Pressing on again, the well-worn path meandered through the rock-strewn landscape, but it was relatively easy going. Although we were gaining even more altitude it didn't feel like it. Not too long afterwards, the third lake was reached, and with it the village of Gokyo, which seemed to be perched on the lake shore on one side, whilst on the other, the large wall of the Ngozumpa glacier stood as a formidable barrier. I thought the first two lakes had been impressive, but this surpassed even them. Opposite Gokyo settlement, across the frozen expanse of lake, the mountainside rose steeply to a crown of jagged peaks making it look startlingly wild and forbidding. At the opposite side of the lake to where we had walked was Gokyo Ri, a path could be seen winding its way ever upwards to a ridge where some prayer flags could just be seen. This would be the route for tomorrow's trip and we would be staying here for two nights.
Our camp was in one of the many wall-enclosed fields. The ground was covered in a light covering of snow but the sun was still out making it feel reasonably warm, but I suspect it was actually freezing. Instead of being in the mess tent for our meals we were in a nearby lodge so we had the benefit of having a stove for some heating during the evening.
Not long before the evening meal, just as it was getting dusk I had wondered off on my own down to the lakeshore to take in the scenery. I had wrapped up well with a thermal hat and my Rab down jacket. It was now definitely below freezing but the light was magnificent as it faded, slowly the shadows of the night were creeping across the scene in front of me as I watched the detail of the mountainsides disappear and the white of the snow fade to grey. In the sky above, the first of the evening stars was beginning to twinkle in the half-light. I decided to brave it a bit longer taking more of the scenery in whilst listening to a mini disk of the Corrs. This was an unforgettable moment and I savoured every second of it.
Journal Extract - Everest Trek
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