Mera Peak - Day 5 Changbu Kharka

Had a poor night's sleep last, too cold, the camp was at 3,500m and I'm just a bit worried that my sleeping bag is not up to the job. High Camp, the last night before we summit, is at 5,800m so it's going to be a lot colder - have still not used my fleece liner, and have lots of thermals I can wear in the bag but I now regret not hiring a really heavy duty sleeping bag.

The porters piling up the pass at Chalem Kharka

Amazing path up to the top of the pass

Despite the lack of sleep I'm feeling good and today's walk was a useful test of our fitness.  Starting at  3,500m we went straight up to a pass at 4,100, along a contour path and then another pass at 4,500 before dropping down to tonight's camp 4,200. Arrived at the camp site at just after 1pm which is apparently an hour faster than the last group. Chris, the Belgian, says it's the fastest group he has walked with and he may be right.

There are three very fast walkers, Mark the 30 year old Frenchman, Cerry a 29 year old marathon runner and Alistair who is probably in his early 40s. I hold onto their coat tails, but struggled just a bit before lunch - suspect I was getting hungry.  The other three guys form a rear guard but they are not far behind.

So a tough day, one which was not helped by poor weather. Started OK, but by the time we had got to first pass the mist had obscured the views and an hour later it was snowing. The trip notes say we should be able to see Kanchenjunga from the top of the pass but no chance today. By the time we got to the sacred lakes Panch Pokhari the snow/hail was really heavy and the porter bringing us hot drinks up from the camp was a really welcome sight.
Panch Pokhari sacred lakes

Camp at Changbu Kharka
We think we are moving fast but it's nothing compared to the porters. The main support team who had left this morning at about the same time as us, carried about 30 kilograms each, got to the next campsite, set it up, boiled a large kettle of water and sent someone back 2 kilometres to where we had got to. The porters are just amazing and they seem to having a good time - as they pile away up the mountain ahead of us we can hear them cracking jokes. Of course our porters all wear good shoes and gear which is a lot more than you can say for other porters on the trail, some of whom seem incredibly young.

There is a set routine to the day which mirrors all the expedition style trips I have done in Nepal and in other parts of the world. You are woken in your tent with a cup of black tea; this is followed five minutes later by a bowl of warm washing water. Hand washing water is provided outside the mess tent (or tea house room on the lower sites) and breakfast starts about 45 minutes after the wake-up call. While you eat your breakfast the campsite is taken down and everything is loaded onto the porters backs, they will have had their breakfast. You stop for lunch at mid-day, everything is prepared by the cook and kitchen porters who cook one lot of food for the trekkers and dal bat for the crew. On arrival at the campsite it's welcome tea and biscuits and then dinner at about 7. Spare time is filled by reading, washing and playing cards. 

Today it snowed to about three in the afternoon and the weather has now picked up a bit, not so cold. Either way my thermals are on and maybe I'll get some sleep tonight.

1 comment:

  1. John. Damn cold nights, sure my winter sack would be welcome in Nepal, it could resist -20º. Next time you are advised.
    Your explanations regarding the porters is amazing.
    Keep walking John so we will continue reading your nice reports.