Still at Tangnag and today is one of our two acclimatisation days before summiting next Saturday morning. I'm lying in my tent early in the afternoon having finished the acclimatisation walk this morning, have had my first shower of the trip and eaten a large if slightly strange lunch. The tent is lovely and warm, the weather is a mixture of sun, cloud and wind, just a bit too cold outside but in here it's perfect.
We are at about 4,150 metres and you can feel the effects of the altitude. I now have a huge Exodus Five Season sleeping bag and cold nights are no longer an issue. Although it was seriously cold outside last night I slept with my head out the bag and without all the cords being pulled tight, unthinkable with my old bag. My sleep however is now broken by the need to get up, get dressed and leave the tent for a piss - it's also broken by uneven breathing. Apart from that I'm feeling really good, still no headaches and no need for medication any sort.
|Tangnag with the collapsed glacier wall behind
|The big stone bird
The acclimatisation walk was very encouraging involving a tough steep 800 metre climb up the hill behind our camp. Great views of the huge rock face on the other side of the valley, the summit of which hides Mera North.
About a third of the way up I saw something move on top of a rock and was convinced it was a large bird. Got everyone to stop and stare and yes, others could make out the flickering of what must be tail feathers blowing in the wind. Jangbu was sceptical from the start but that didn't stop him whistling in an attempt to make the bird take flight. As we got closer it became apparent that the would be eagle was in fact a stone with some prayer flags attached - much amusement for the group, and my efforts to create a reputation as a wild life spotter were in tatters.
|Lakpa relaxing at the top
Tough walk to the top where Jangbu and Lakpa built a smaller version of the stone towers already marking the spot and the rest of us lay on the ground recovering from the climb. After 15 minutes we set off back and three of us, with Lakpa, raced down and were in the campsite in about 45 minutes. As well as the sheer pleasure of going down quickly when you're feeling quite fit, I wanted to have a shower before the weather turned colder.
|Tangnag, sombre in the afternoon
I'm the last person in the group to have a shower and although I don't feel dirty I was starting to think that my reluctance to climb into a cold, drafty wooden box, and pour water over my head from a bucket was getting noticed. Today was half way through the trip and because we had got back to camp at mid-day it was not too cold.
I do have a cleaning regime which I think works OK. Firstly I have four changes of base layer plus a set of thermals. Apart from my socks my base layers are all synthetic, wick any moisture away and don't smell. I then use wet wipes to keep clean and that's what I have doing for last 8 days. Having said all that the shower was great, the wooden box not too draughty, the bucket a big one and the water hot. I now feel very clean so perhaps I was not quite so clean before as I like to think.
The lunch was classic. A lot of our food store was held up in Kathmandu, and although this doesn't seem to have made much difference to quantity of food we have been given, it does mean that there now might be a bit of food store surplus. Today after the standard soup starter we had a sort of pizza pie, two pizzas on top of each other with a filling. The filling consisted of rice, carrots and cheese. The best part however was the topping which involved a sort of white and chocolate Nutella (we had seen this for the first time at breakfast) finished off with tomato sauce drizzled to form words I didn't recognise. As well as large slice of sweet and savoury pizza pie we were also treated to roast potatoes, stir fried vegetables, slices of nak cheese and fried luncheon meat, although for some reason this is called London meat. Good lunch!