October 3rd 2008
Start: Lunghde, 4350 m, 6:15
Arrival: Machermo, 4400 m, 22:10
Breaks: 45 minutes heading up Renjo La, 45 minutes at the top, 15 minutes on the way to Gokyo and 6:25 in Gokyo
Estimated climb: 1100 m
Estimated descent: 1050 m
|Our day started off great. Even though the sky was covered in clouds when we got up at 5:30, they quickly cleared and by the time we left Lunghde at 6:15, they were nearly gone. We had bought a lot of chocolate and coconut cookies to eat during the hike since we expected to arrive in Gokyo not before 15:00. The first section of the trail is quite steep but after about 1:10 we came over a crest onto a sandy plateau at around 4800 meters. We were still in the shade of the mountains but fortunately it was not too cold, approximately 5 degrees Celsius below zero.|
|After crossing the plateau, the path started to ascend again, but not as steeply as before. The picture on the left shows Teng Kangboche in the center.|
|The path followed a stream and we finally got some sunshine.|
|The stream was fed by two beatiful lakes with crystal clear water at roughly 5000 meters. We stopped for some cookies and were entertained by some cute snow birds before heading on to the last lake on this side of the pass.|
|At 5100 meters, there is one more lake. Its ground was less sandy than that of the others and apparently quite full.|
|The joking hiker, a satirical yoga pose ;)|
|From the lake, we could see Renjo La for the first time. There was some snow and the path itself looked quite steep (we learned that first impressions are true sometimes).|
|A close up shot of Renjo La. The prayer flags are always a good indicator of passes or peaks.|
|It looked like the normal shoreline of the lake was flooded, probably because it was the end of the rainy season.|
|After a short break at the lake, we started up the remaining section with approximately 300 meters of altitude difference. I found varying elevations of Renjo LA, between 5350 and 5466 meters, so I am not entirely sure how high it actually was. The trail was quite steep and halfway up it became covered by snow that had melted and thawed several times. It was still frozen and quite slippery so we took out the walking sticks for the first time which helped a lot. Unfortunately, while we were going up, clouds started to move in.|
|We reached the top of Renjo La at 10:45, four and a half hours after we left Lunghde. The view down on the west side was spectacular with the lake we had passed earlier providing a beatiful foreground.|
|There was a couple at the top that had come up from Gokyo and were kind enough to take a picture of us. We spent 45 minutes resting, taking pictures and eating chapati and boiled eggs which we had brought from the lodge.|
|The view to the east was already partially cloudy and we were not able to see Everest. The lake on the right side of the picture is the third Gokyo lake and behind it is the Ngozumpa glacier. Gokyo Ri has two peaks which are visible left of center and in the center. They are 5483 and 5366 meters high but most people only climb the lower, first peak.|
|Machermo peak is a bit southeast of Renjo La and tops out at 6017 meters.|
Gokyo and the third Gokyo lake from above.
We left Renjo La at 11:30 and arrived in Gokyo at 13:15. We headed into the Namaste Lodge which had been recommended to us by several people. It sports a very nice dining room on the second floor with a panoramic view of the lake. It was nice and warm and we shared a huge plate of pasta with tomato sauce and yak cheese. The cheese was delicious with a quite strong taste.
We had hoped to meet Ruth and Muki here, but did not see them during the afternoon. However, we met a very friendly couple from Switzerland, Iris and Marcel. We chatted a bit before heading to bed for a nap.
When I woke up, I had a moderate headache which got a little worse during the afternoon. Apparently the move from 4350 meters to 4800 meters had been a bit large. I wanted to avoid problems during the night so we decided to walk down to Machermo, the next village at 4400 meters. By the time we finished packing, it had gotten dark. The lodge owners were very helpful and gave us some snacks and hot drinks, wishing us a safe journey. We left Gokyo at 19:40 and reached Machermo at 22:10. Fortunately, my headache had almost completely disappeared due to the descent. Our only problem was the fact that all lodge owners were already asleep, so Bhim had to wake up the host of the Namgyal Lodge. Despite the late hour, they were very friendly and showed us a nice room. That night, we did not have any trouble sleeping and my headache was gone in the morning.
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