From the Himalayas With Love – Part 3

Nov 8th – Dec 4th 2016

28.0025Β° N, 86.8528Β° E

Three high passes, EBC and Kala Patthar

For part 1 (day 1 to day 4) follow this link

For part 2 (day 5 to day 9) follow this link

Our itinerary:

Day 1. Lukla  β€“ Phakding, 08.15am – 11.05am. Trek today: 2h50min

Day 2. Phakding – Namche Bazzar, 08.00am – 13.45pm. Trek today: 5h30min

Day 3. Acclimatization day, Namche Bazzar. Trek today: 3h

Day 4. Namche Bazzar – Tengboche, 08.00am – 13.30pm. Trek today: 5h30min

Day 5. Tengboche – Dingboche, 08.30am – 12.45pm. Trek today: 4h15min

Day 6. Acclimatization day, Dingboche. Trek today: 2h

Day 7. Dingboche – Chhukhung, 09.30am – 11.30am. Trek today:2h

Day 8. Chhukhung – Lobuche, 06.30am – 13.30pm. Trek today: 7h

  • Over Kongma La pass 5535m

Day 9. Lobuche – Gorak Shep, 08.00am – 10.00am. Trek 2h

  • Gorak Shep- EBC 5364m, 11.30am – 14.00pm. Trek 2h50min
  • Gorak Shep- Kala Patthar 5545m, 15.15pm – 18.00pm. Trek 2h50min (sunset at the top)

Day 10. Gorak Shep – Zongla, 09.00am – 14.00pm. Trek today: 5h

Day 11. Zongla – Gokyo, 06.15am – 14.30pm. Trek today: 8h, 15 min

  • Over Chola pass 5420m

Day 12. Gokyo – Namche Bazzar, 06.15am – 17.15pm. Trek today: 11h

  • Over Renjo La pass 5345m

Day 13. Namche Bazzar – Lukla, 09.30am – 15.30pm. Trek today: 6h


Day 10. Dzongkha 4830m

Today hasn’t been anything like the two last days. Don’t get me wrong, it has been a beautiful day, but not as hard as the two previous ones! It kinda almost feels like a rest day. We moved down from Gorak to Dzongkha, and from here we’ll go for Chola Pass tomorrow. Dzongkha is a small town, and we haven’t really done much after we got here. When we started this morning, the way down from Gorak to Lobuche was familiar, and we already knew the way. Lobuche to Dzongkha was around two and a half hours’ hike in new surroundings. In total we walked for around five hours today, and now we’ll rest up and get ready for the second pass tomorrow. Then the third pass (Renjo La Pass) the next day.. Busy days! I’m enjoying this full on, but I’m also looking forward to getting these couple of days over with because we’re so close to reaching our goals. If everything goes according to plan, we should be in Namche Friday-ish (Monday today).

Day 11. Gokyo 4790m, via Chola Pass 5368m

Another pass day, and our fourth goal for the trip reached!  The day actually turned out to be a bit longer than we expected. From Dzongkha we only used a bit over two hours to the top of the pass. It was quite a climb again, but no problems, except Hans got a bit of an annoying start this morning…when our guide filled Hans’ water blatter this morning, he didn’t close it all the way. It looked like it was, but water is a tricky bastard. Hans assumed it was just like every other morning and after the first few hundred meters I noticed water coming out of his backpack dripping down on his jacket and pants. Of course the blatter had leaked,  and most of his stuff was wet. It was also -10 which didn’t make it any better. Not too great of a start. As a consequence of that, we decided to push our limits up to the pass. Kind of walk it off, and dry up. We waited at the top for the rest of our team for almost 15 minutes. We were all good again. We had to cross a glacier and for that it was definitely worth bringing our crampons! The glacier was steep, shiny, and rock solid… I had to give our porter a hand; he was walking in sneakers. Pretty hardcore, but even a Sherpa will have some problems on ice like that wearing sneakers. We made it over alright.

After the glacier, we made it to the top quite fast. We knew it was still a bit to go before reaching Gokyo (according to the map). Well, the map was right! We used around five more hours. From Chola pass we descended approximately 6-700 metres. We had lunch in Dragnag before starting the last few kilometres up to Gokyo. To get there we had to cross the Ngozumba glacier. This is just like the Khumbu glacier but bigger and even more scary! Perfectly safe they said… I don’t agree. It’s lucky that not more people are getting injured or even killed crossing over this one, and I’m not exaggerating! We saw multiple small avalanches while crossing, and the ice was cracking underneath us. This is not unusual but it’s still so loud which probably makes that part sound worse than it is. But the avalanches are no fun. Such an experience though. The worst part was actually along the sides where rocks were coming down quite often and we had to look up all the time before walking to make sure nothing was coming down. Glaciers are definitely something you have to show respect.

Now we are finally in Gokyo, the secret Valley. In front of us we have Gokyo Lake. It’s a big lake considering the altitude and it is as green as the ocean in Thailand. It’s so beautiful. Now it’s soon time for some dal bhat; 10th day in a row. It’s still tastes quite good but maybe a bit tired of rice. Our plan is also speeding up a bit by the sound of it. We are still walking quite fast and maybe, just maybe we’ll reach Thame tomorrow. That will be the longest day so far in that case. First crossing over Renjo La pass, then descending 2000 metres, which should make something like a 10 hour hike. The reason we’re a bit keen on a day like that, is that in Thame they apparently have showers, and (you probably don’t want to know this) we’re on our 8th day without a shower now. A shower would definitely work as a carrot dangling in front of us while trekking tomorrow. We’ll see, just scroll down a bit and I’m sure I have written about it. Just have to do the walk first…

23.11.2016, Namche Bazzar, 3440m, over Renjo La pass 5360m

Loooong day! We left Gokyo half past six in the morning and headed for the last pass. Renjo La pass 5360m. This was supposed to be the easiest pass, especially from Gokyo side. It was a shorter climb than Kongma La Pass, but probably not too far off Chola Pass, except there’s no glacier at the top of Renjo La Pass. We used approximately 2 and a half hours up. And jesus christ what a view.  This was definitely the pass with the best view. You can compare for yourself on my Instagram (justwaypoint). From the top we could see Gokyo lake with Everest in the background. Such a beautiful climb with the view only getting better for every metre we ascended! I’d dare to say this is definitely the pass people should go for if choosing one and not all three. If yoiu’re only doing this pass, it would probably be good fun to walk up from the other side (Thame). The view on the way up wouldn’t be anything like from Gokyo side, but when coming over the top it will all be worth it. We spent quite some time at the top, took some pictures before starting our long descend.

As I mentioned yesterday, Thame was our goal for the day, and the distance from Gokyo to Thame will probably be something like from Namche Bazzar to Chhukung which took us three days. It is a long day trek! As you probably saw while reading the headline for today: We didn’t end up in Thame, but rather all the way to Namche. Namche is close to 10 kilometres longer then Thame, and our guide estimated that the trek from Gokyo to Namche over Renjo La Pass is between 45 and 50 kilometres while descending over 2000 metres. It is a long trek that I probably wouldn’t recommend unless really keen. But it is definitely doable! We used 11 hours which includes 30 minutes-ish at the top, and also a lunch break in Marulung 4200m. Our guide and porter had never done it before and he said he doubted he would ever do it again. It was a long day but we felt good thinking about what we had accomplished the last few days. Five out of five goals all done! We couldn’t be more happy. To celebrate we had chicken schnitzel and beer. First meat we’ve had in almost two weeks. It was beautiful. It actually escalated into a small party with our team and a couple Australians we met that also made it back to Namche today. We ended up having 18 Everest beers and some local rum. It was good fun until we got the bill. Well, it’s cheap in Nepal, but you will pay quite a bit for alcohol up here. They have carried it up, so that is fair enough. What a day this has been, what ah day!

24.11.2016, Lukla, 2800m

Last day trekking and Lukla was our goal for today. That’s quite a walk too, and it’s the same way as we took up. Only difference is that on the way up we used two days to cover this distance. Now we went all in and did it in one. It was nothing like the distance yesterday anyway, and we used around 6 hours today. It is a beautiful hike with lots of suspension bridges along the way, and Sherpas carrying all kinds of stuff. Now we got quite a bit of extra time since we covered Gokyo to Lukla in two days, a distance we were supposed to cover in 5 days according to our schedule. Even after a couple of long days, with a celebration in between we felt pretty good. And the legs are doing alright too. It was probably like your dad wrote, “unstoppable with all this oxygen” when coming back down. It definitely doesn’t hurt with a bit of extra oxygen. The last little stretch before Lukla when it was probably an hour left, I walked on quite hard just to spend the last little bit of energy and I wanted to have a beer ready for Hans and the guide. Such an amazing feeling. We all hugged, sat down end enjoyed the moment. Me and Hans went to a burger place and had a big Everest burger and a couple more beers. It was sooo good! We ended up having a bit of a party tonight as well. Me Hans and all the Sherpas and their friends. More joined in by the minute. Probably because we took the bill. We have heard that you are not really supposed to buy alcohol, but rather give tips. We decided that we could afford both and it was good fun and definitely worth it. First we bought a few beers and then we started to buy some local rum. Everyone that wanted got some and suddenly they were all singing and dancing. It was an epic night. Forgot all about pictures though, that’s how fun it was! 

Anyways, the trek is over for now and what an experience it has been. The Himalayas is absolutely magnificent and definitely worth a visit. My camera is full of pictures and videos and my mind full of memories. We have the making of a “Three High Passes documentary” in mind! Better get back home and start working on it! I can’t wait.


Review:

We booked this trip with Amigo Treks & Expedition and when we got back I wrote a tripadvisor review. I’m copying that review in here since it definitely has something to do with our trip!

I have travelled for over two and a half years now and often I’m not impressed enough to write a good review, but this time I really want to! Myself and my mate Hans Johan decided to give the Himalayas a go as every true trekker should, and since it was our first go we also decided to do it with a guide and porter. I read a bit online, and Amigo treks had gotten lots of good reviews and this was a very good first impression for us. I contacted Tika, who has given us the ultimate service from day 1! Just try to send an email, he’ll get back to ya in no time! We booked our trip, got to Nepal and met with our team. Navaraj Magar picked us up at the airport, and he would also be our guide. A great guy, speaking good English with lots of knowledge of the region. He is very keen! We had a hell of a time with this guy, and he did (almost) everything right, I’ll get back to that. We also got a porter. Local guy living a one day walk from Lukla! Narayan Basnet… This guy is a super human. He carried our duffles for 13 days with no complaints. He almost showed up at the destination for the day , at the same time as us every day and we walked fast. The second last day was probably when he impressed the most, showed amazing strength and determination. We walked from Gokyo, over Renjo La pass and all the way down to Namche Bazzar in one go (a trip that was scheduled to take three days and none of them had done that before) and for the record we also walked from Namche to Lukla the next day. He did extremely well and if you hire him, he will carry your stuff, take orders, serve your tea and food, fill your water, you name it. He’ll give the best service. These last two long days, was me and Hans’ choice.. Since we had finished our five goals, we wanted to get down for some beer and Schnitzl, and we certainly got it!
Our five goals: our trip was supposed to last for 16 days in the mountain. We walked for 13. In these days our goal was Three High Passes, and we walked counter-clockwise. We had two acclimatization days in Namche, and two in Dingoboche. We also climbed a few hundred metres extra each afternoon for acclimatization purposes before bedtime (trek high, sleep low) and that certainly did the trick. None of us had any problems with the altitude. Not even a headache. And we did: Kongma La pass 5535m, EBC 5364m, Kala Patthar 5545m, Chola pass 5420m and Renjo La pass 5345 in four days! I believe that proves a very good working team! If you are fit, mentally ready for it, and want to go through a company, I will definitely recommend Amigo Treks & Expedition. To make the review more trust worthy, I know I have to put in something that bothered us and I will, but none of those things has anything to do with the trekking really!
First of all: these guys have more companies, make sure your booking and payment is to the same one. When we booked, we apparently paid the deposit to a “brother company” (that was a bit more expensive than our agreed price) so when we got to Nepal, we each had to pay $60 more for our trip. That is something that shouldn’t have happened and that we weren’t too happy about!
Second: Tips! Be prepared that they expect tips as everyone everywhere. That was not new to us, since it’s quite common to give tips when you are happy, and we were happy. On the other hand, this is getting a bit out of proportions. We knew that in Nepal it’s common to give 15% of what they are earning. When we asked (guide) what was common to give, he said some people are giving $200-300. This sounds more like what they are earning, and we had already paid their salary. We wanted to give a little something on the top because we were happy, but at the end we got asked so many times about the tip, how much we would give, and that we should give quite a bit. We had enough money and planned to give, but when we gave our porter $60 and our guide said it was not enough, we got disappointed and ended up not giving him anything! It’s a bit sad that an absolutely perfect service ended that way, but I’m sure he will remember that next time.
Again, these two last things were the only annoying part (there will always be something). The trek was outstanding, and we did what we planned. Go for it!
We are also making a documentary from the trip that will be available later (we got hours of film) and if you have any questions, my name is Robin T. Kruse Andersen, and my Instagram is: justwaypoint. I’ll answer! Cheers guys, and have an awesome trip, it’s worth it!

From the Himalayas with love

Robin

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