Apologies if yesterday's blog was on the gloomy side but it was miserable. Today things are more cheerful, although as I write this blog it's once again raining outside. At least the sun shone this morning and gave us the chance to see what felt like a different world.
Yesterday we were given hints about an unstable landscape; today we were shown natural destruction on an epic scale.
|Crossing the Landslide above Soligari|
Just above the camp at Soligari the valley seems to have shifted downhill. Broken smashed trees were mixed up in a frozen river of boulders. Sometime during last summer's monsoon the huge glacial moraine higher up the valley had become waterlogged and it gave way - trees, rocks and other debris - and just flowed down the valley. Strangely though, above the line of the slip the trees were still standing in the original positions they had grown in but had all had their tops snapped off. It's hard to imagine what it must have been like when all this was happening - rain, snow, wind - trees being smashed and then everything moving in a huge tangle down the valley.
|Climbing up the moraine|
With or without the landslide the scenery was immense. We were walking into a huge semi-circle of white cliffs split down the middle by a gorge through which tantalising glimpses of yet another world more snow covered mountains could be seen. Immediately to our right, climbing to over 8,000 metres was the west face of Dhaulagiri 1.
Eventually we reached the end of the landslide and started to climb up a steep and unstable slab of moraine on top of which grew yet more Himalayan pine. Beyond the trees was another valley and the moraine must have been the debris left as two glaciers inched their way down and almost touched each other in the middle.
We stopped and attempted conversation with a Japanese trekker, one of two who seem to be going round the circuit on a similar schedule to us. A lovely man he was moved easily to laughter at our feeble attempts to speak his language.
|Approaching Italian Base Camp|
We were then reunited with our climbing gear which had been sent ahead from Darbang. To be honest, as a non-climber, I wasn't looking to this. All my stuff has been hired from Jagged Globe and although vaguely familiar with it after Mera Peak last year I couldn't really remember what it's all for.
Particularly alien are the enormous plastic boots with inner linings which you wear high up in the snow. When I tried these on at home I was horrified - so big and heavy. Out here in this weather they no longer seem such a bad idea.