There had been some difficult days but the target was in sight and today’s trek was to Lobuche which was going to be the last stop before Base Camp and the highest altitude that I will be sleeping during this trip. After setting off at 8am I actually was feeling pretty good for a change, I had a good nights sleep and perhaps it was the closeness to ECB that gave me added motivation. The first few hours of trekking today was actually reasonable easy, there was a long winding path which ascended gently and on the right handside there were some snowy peaks which would occasionally just pop up out of nowhere. This was a frequent occurrence on the trek with the clouds clearing for a few minutes to reveal a 8,000m peak and then just as quickly they would swallow up the peak and it would be hidden from sight.
The half way point was reached at 1pm and it was a quiet picturesque little spot with a mountain backdrop but also ominously looking up at a very steep incline which was the continuation of the trekking path. My guide had told me that this was one of the hardest parts of the trek coming up as it was a 200m gain that was straight up at a high altitude where breathing would be more challenging. I enjoyed the surroundings and made the most of my rest at the tea house, filling my water bottle and using the bathroom facilities.
I should probably take a point to mention the bathrooms on the trekking path, there are basic facilities available along the way which are squat toilets which i found pretty cleanish. There are no lights inside and no toilet roll but despite the horror stories I had read about they seemed not to bad to me. The toilets in all the tea houses I stayed in on the trek were inside and western style, sometimes they did not have a flush (higher altitudes=more basic) but in those case you had a gallon barrel of water which you then used a smaller measuring jug to take water out and “flush” away the waste in the bowl.
Anyway back on the trek after lunch the steep accent began, there was a zig zag path up the mountain and my guide lead the way taking a very slow and steady approach. As the altitude increased each foot step got a little heavier and my backpack seemed to increase in weight also. The slow accent and frequent rest stops allowed us to make good time going up the path and at the top there was a memorial site in dedication to all the climbers who have lost their lives on Everest.
I spent about half an hour going around all the memorials and it was amazing and humbling that so many people had lost their lives, incredibly most of these people actually lost their lives on the way back from Everest not actually trying to ascend it. The way back is when AMS strikes and your brain starts to shut down with concentration and cognitive functions deterioration which often can be fatal.
After the memorial site we continued a long winding dirt road which was pretty flat (for this trek) but it seemed to go on forever, there was not much scenery to speak of apart from the occasional yaks transporting goods (A yak is an animal that is used at high altitude to transport supplies up to the mountain villages). I got out of breath a few times as my guide was keeping a quick pace and the altitude was making even a flat path a bit of a challenge. Eventually I could see a town ahead and it looked a bit like a shanty town, pretty basic which is normal at this altitude. As everything has to be carried up to each town/site the higher up you go the harder it is for them to source materials and thus the more basic it gets.
I was not expecting much from my accommodation as before my trip I had read online some horror stories about the standard of accommodation in Lobuche but I was pleasantly surprised. I got into my room, it was clean and had probably the best view from my window that I had on the entire trip (see photo above). The facilities were pretty good to with a communal western style toilet, good size dining area and a pretty good location.
I decided to do another acclimatisation hike up a nearby hill which my room looked out onto and this took me to the 5,000m threshold for the first time. I was actually feeling pretty good and energised, in fact I felt better here than I had done at the lower altitudes. I relaxed back at the tea house for the rest of the evening watching a couple of movies on my iPad (Game of thrones!) and charging my smart watch with my battery bank.