A good friend walked part of the Camino a few years ago. I
remember word for word his comment about trekking poles. I must admit they do
help but it does look like you have an affectation.
The Trainer (my husband) put it more succinctly. You look like a wanker. He said to me. Lots of wankers on this trail then. I replied to him and took off down the trail. With my trekking poles.
I am a big fan of trekking poles and wouldn’t leave home without them. For this trek it helped us with some very tricky parts of the trail where it was quite dangerous getting down onto the Ngozumpa Glacier. But I am getting ahead of myself.
If you watch the video you will see at a certain point I start to trip and right myself. The reason this happened was because I was trying to watch exactly where the porter guide was stepping and trying to step on the same steps he did while I was watching where I was stepping too. I learnt by watching the porter they always find the easier way to follow a path. They find the steps that have the lower rise etc. You watch a Nepalese person walk the path and see what I mean.
The Number of Days on a Trek and the Amount the Altitude Increases Each Night is Critical
The Trainer designed our trek to sleep no more than approximately 300 metres higher each night. Every 1,000 metres you should have an acclimatisation day. Climb higher on the second acclimatisation day on a day walk but sleep at the same altitude for two nights. Of course there is an anomaly with this, on the lower part of trek when you are starting out. It kicks in around Namche Bazaar.
In my opinion the answer to the question is yes. You bet it is.
5 October 2018
Cho La Height : 5368metres / 17,611 feet
That is our porter guide on the left and that’s me with the worried look on my face. We are on top of Cho La Pass. Even though I had made it to the top with a whole lot of help from our porter I was feeling anxious. Very worried. And scared. Very scared. And just wanting to get off the top and safely to our lodge in Dzongla for the night and before any weather set in. I could include a bucket load of expletives in this post but I haven’t, I’ll just let you imagine them. Lots of them.
My husband of over thirty years took the photo and managed to get a smile out of me eventually. I wasn’t feeling too charitable towards him and had told him so earlier in the morning after we walked out of Thangnak. Just before what I think was my first ever panic attack. Not bad since it wasn’t the first time he had taken me out of my comfort zone. Except this time took the cake.
Saying I worry too much is a bit of an
understatement. From a young age I had a keen sense of my own mortality. As a
child, being in a head on car collision and later a narrow miss with a runaway
speed boat didn’t help the cause. For me it spelt out “it can happen to you
It was my husband’s idea to trek in Nepal. He had trekked the apple pie circuit in the Anna Purna area in Nepal the 1980s. He loved it and had talked about taking our daughters as young children.This never happened.Then in 2013 the plan was to trek with them as adults but it improved impossible to coordinate everyone’s various work commitments to find dates when everyone was available. In the end my husband decided to go anyway and I didn’t want to get left home worrying about him, so I went even though I was really scared about it.
Just what was I scared about?
I was terrified I would die somehow. I was worried I would
fly to Lukla and crash into the side of a mountain and die,
get lost and freeze to death,
break an ankle on the side of the mountain, be stranded and freeze to death,
get robbed and killed,
get knocked off the side of the mountain by a yak and die
fall off the side of the mountain and die
be caught in a rock fall and die
so what did happen on the way to base camp?
On our first trek in 2013 I got a rash. Yes a rash. Because I thought the rash was cellulitis (a bacterial skin infection which can kill you) we turned back at Shomare or Somare. Had we been trekking with a porter guide instead of totally independently things may have turned out differently. We decided to return in 2015 and try again and this time we made it to EBC and Kala Patthar. I wasn’t worried about any of the things on the list above. I had a different list with just two dot points. Landslides and another earthquake.
Last year in September/October 2018 my husband wanted to trek to Gokyo a destination I was happy about. But he also wanted to go over Cho La Pass which I was definitely not happy about. I tried to talk him out of the idea. This time bullet points number two and number seven were high on my worry list. Rock falls at Cho La Pass are a real possibility as is freezing to death on top if the weather comes in.
what is the climb like to the top of cho la pass?
The next photo below really puts a bit of perspective on the climb. Click on the photo and it will open up so you can see people climbing about a third of the way up. Every picture tells a story as they say.
Climbing this area was down right dangerous. Anyone who tells you differently is in denial. Climbing Cho La Pass made going to Everest Base Camp and climbing Kala Patthar put together seem like a picnic. And the thing is you don’t have a choice. If you start out you need to keep going. You just want to get over the Pass and down on the other side which is also dangerous and make it safely to your lodge to sleep. We trekked for ten and half hours on that day. We stopped for the briefest lunch on top of the Pass as it is so cold up there.
A woman recently asked me whether I was really scared because I went anyway. Yes I was scared about the idea of climbing over Cho La Pass. Really scared. Why did I go? I would follow that Trainer anywhere. Well almost. And clearly, I didn’t get my She – Lion on enough before we left Australia, when I argued constantly that I did not want to climb Cho La Pass because it sounded dangerous. I should have bared my teeth a bit more.
And yes we made it all the way safely and now I’m back home in Melbourne, writing about our third trek in the Everest Base Camp region. I can tell you we won’t be climbing Cho La Pass again nor trying our luck with Renjo and definitely not Kong Ma the other two of the three passes in the region either. However our love affair with trekking in Nepal continues and a fourth trek to another region is on the cards. We are addicted to Nepal.
My next post will be Day 1 and 2 from Lukla to Namche Bazaar as we trekked with our porter guide. I will revisit this climb and the whole of Day 10 as it unfolded from Thangnak, over Cho La Pass and to Dzongla in detail in another post but in order of the days as we trekked. Hope this is taster for you to following our journey.
Does anyone know the name of the animal on the side of the stupa?
I made the choice because I could. I would wait for him and we would walk back down the slippery tracks together. You can plan and prepare for a trek, but you can’t control fate. I had caught a cold just before leaving Melbourne for Nepal and for eight days I had coughed my way through the Khumbu. Now more than three quarters of the way up to Gokyo Ri I was exhausted.
I was content because I had climbed high enough to still have a spectacular view. I sat looking out across the huge Ngozumpa Glacier that we would cross tomorrow. Tomorrow I would have no choice but to go on.
For the EBC Trekking Cognoscenti it wasn’t the Khumbu Cough.