The Expedition – Day 7

Apr 15, 2009

Day 7
City – Gokyo Ri
Elevation – 5,500m (18,100ft)
Trekking Time – 5 hours

This was it. This was what we had come to the Himalayas for. After a week of hiking, we were finally about to climb up towards a peak, the Gokyo Ri peak of all places. I was excited but not excited about leaving bed at 4:30am. Of course it took us nearly half an hour to fully get ready to have breakfast and then another half our to eat it, so at the bright hours of 5:30am we were out of the lodge and ready for our climb.

The sun has yet to rise yet, but there is enough day light for us to see what lies ahead. And what lies ahead is the steepest hill we have encountered thus far. So steep, in fact, that the trail we need to take leads us on a path the loops back and forth, zig zagging it’s way slowly up the same side of the hill rather than directly straight up, and this winding path is as steep as anything we’ve seen. As we tackle this hill, my breathing problems return right away. 5 minutes in and I need to stop. This is embarrassing but necessary. I take breaks every 10 minutes for the first hour, but then I get my 2nd wind and it is as if I just needed to warm my lungs up to start the day. I am still breathing heavily, but my lung capacity has seemingly expanded and I can ascend continuously now. For the next hour and a half, I’ve got my head down and legs moving with nothing on my mind other than reaching the peak of Goyko Ri (5500m). When I get there, it is simply amazing.

Being early in the morning, the fog from yesterday is no where to be seen and there is a clear sight of all the Himalaya Mountains in the region: Mount Cho Oyu (8153m), Mount Gyachung Kang (7922m), Mount Pumori (7138m), Mount Everest (8850m), Mount Lhotse (8516m), and Mount Lhotse Shar (8382m). I stare in awe for a moment before taking a seat to rest up. Zita soon arrives and sits down next to me in relief that the pain is over. We roam around the peak looking around in all directions. To the north and to the east are the mountains and to the south is the beautiful Gokyo valley and Gokyo Lake.

Standing a top of Gokyo Ri, I feel that we chose the right path to take. Taking the popular route to Everest Base Camp, you would see nothing at all. Base camp is merely a gathering place for expeditions attempting to reach the top. Instead you would climb up to the peak of Kala Pattar, where you would only be able to see Mount Everest, granted it is the best view of the highest mountain in the world you can get without actually climbing it. So that in itself is intriguing enough for us to consider heading that direction. Gokyo Ri is a less known peak to climb, but it has the best views of all the mountains, so the word has gotten out and the path to Gokyo has become more popular in recent years.

Feeling happy and taking lots of photos, we spend a good hour at the peak which possesses 50% of the oxygen available at sea level. Kumar asks us if we would like to go keep going on across the Cho-La pass to Everest Base Camp. We have just enough time remaining until our flight, but we would have to leave today after lunch when we get back down to Gokyo. It will take 3 difficult days to reak the peak of Kala Pattar, and he explains that the temperature will to get much colder on the other side. I look at Zita and she seems content on the accomplishment already, but she urges me to continue on without her. However, I wasn’t going to leave her alone. I look around at the scenery and feel very happy with what we have achieved. Mount Everest will just have to wait for another time. Maybe by then, I will want to climb to the peak.

Satisfied with what we saw, we descend back down the hill. Going down is much easier and faster as it only takes an hour and a half, and the sight is a lot prettier as well. We head back to the lodge to rest up for the remainder of the day, doing the usual. My ukulele skills have vastly improved throughout this trip, which has been a truly rewarding trip indeed.

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