Mera Peak - Day 4 Chalem Kharka

Another tip, if you're coming on a supported camping trip to Nepal, bring a metal drinks tin. They make fantastic hot water bottles and are a brilliant way of drying out your sweaty socks. It's amazing, if you dry them out the smell seems to disappear and you feel OK about wearing them for more days.  The socks also provide some insulation for the bottle which if you get it just right carries on giving out a gentle heat all night.

Today's walk was a relatively short 5/6 hour session. Water is essential for lunch and the limited number of available water options meant a late start, 8.30, early lunch 11.30 and an early finish (3.30).
Al fresco breakfast

Nice walk if not quite as interesting as the last couple of days. After leaving Nashing Dingma, we climbed 300 metres or so over a pass and then climbed gradually for the rest of the day.  We are now well above farmed countryside and there are even fewer people about.  No views of Mera Peak today, it's to our north east and hidden.  Although it wasn't quite as interesting we were at least spared the knee crunching descents we endured yesterday.

Climbing up the pass in the morning sun
Had an interesting discussion with Alistair, the man from Exodus, about the differences between a tea house and a camping trek. Camping is just a bit tougher, and on an altitude like for like, potentially a bit colder particularly if you have to eat in mess tents.

On the other hand if you confine yourself to tea house treks than the choice of trips in Nepal is limited, essentially variations on Everest Base Camp and Annapurna Circuit. These trips are so popular than you miss out both on the special nature of walking through Nepal below 3,000 metres, and it's grandeur/remoteness when you go higher. Alistair said it was hard work getting people to abandon the well known routes and the tea houses.

Strikes me that this is a shame, both Annapurna and Everest are great but you get so much more if you escape the crowds and come away on what is frankly more of adventure.  The only thing I would say is that people just need to bring the right gear - good down jacket, thermals and a really good sleeping bag.  If you are like me you might have a tendency to make do and mend - that could prove to be a mistake.

Anyway so far so good. Feeling fit and looking forward to the next test. Tomorrow we go from 3,500 metres at tonight's camp to 4,500 before dropping down to 4,200. Not really feeling the altitude at the moment but expect that will change tomorrow.  The only thing  I'm missing is news from England about the Tottenham - Bolton result, can't get any sort of phone signal.

The weather by the way seems to be following the pattern of clear in the morning and cloudy in the afternoon. Last night there was a thunderstorm and hailstones hammered the tent, dramatic but no ill effects.
Changbu Kharka

The controversial topic of Diamox came up over afternoon tea. Chris from Belgium is already taking it while Big John said, to paraphrase slightly, that he thought it was cheating. I'm going to take it if I start to get bad headaches but will try and defer as long as possible. It increases the number of times you have to get up in the night to have a piss and, whether you are sleeping in a tent or a tea house, that is not good news.

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