Day Seven: Tengboche to Dingboche (14,300′)

Woke up at midnight to dogs barking, which continues much of the night (I’m sure if I’d gotten up I would finally have seen the Yeti). Managed to fall asleep again to 4am, which seems to be the norm for me. Sleeping at altitude is not something my body does. It doesn’t help that I go to be early and it become a vicious cycle.

Definitely snowed again; we’ll be using microspikes when we start off to keep our footing as we descend a bit before climbing. We hate descending. We know whats coming to make up for it.

Still not myself. But this helps:

Nipsy Russell is the ridge in front and Ama Dablam on the right

That is my view out the window. Clear today and that keeps me motivated. Crampo s to begin. It’s GORGEOUS out. And Nipsy Russell? Of course not, it I can’t remember the name. You’d only know who that is if you’re my age or older!

I do feel better but not trusting this gut..a piece of toast for breakfast is all. The menu is the same for every meal, every town. I’m over it. Even if I was hungry, this would be so unpalatable to me. Now I completely understand why my friend Scott told me his gorp literally saved his life here.

Off we go!

Made it to Dingboche. It was not as steep as yesterday but still tough. The trail was initially through a forest filled with snow covered trees and it was gorgeous as we wound through the valley and up higher, closer and closer to Ama Dablam, Lhotse and Everest (and of course, Nipsy Russell).

Now, if you have an issue with cursing, skip the next paragraph.

F*cking stairs. F*CKING STAIRS. I seriously hate all the f*cking stone stairs in this country. They are everywhere and they are torture. They instantly zap your energy.

We made a friend on the trail…Kim, from South Korea. He was about our age. He is a mountain climber and ice climber and speaks English very well. He said this was the hardest thing he’s done. He said he was exhausted and couldn’t sleep, that he felt like he was going to die. I have to admit, when a guy in such good shape says that, it makes me feel better. I’m not happy with my state of mind, my doubting myself. My exhaustion, lack of appetite and slight nausea is messing with me. I have to eat to get through the next week but the thought turns my stomach.

Storm clouds are rolling in again and that doesn’t help. Snow up high can make the passes impassable, and our high of 18,159 feet may not be realized due to dumb luck. I keep telling myself that it doesn’t matter
..we will be at 15,580 tomorrow and what we’ve seen is more than most people ever see. It’s still a dream come true. But those of us that plan..and train..and prepare…have a difficult time not feeling failure when that plan deviates.

Kim met two guys from Colorado pushing fast. While the altitude they live at is no match for this, they certainly had a leg up on Josh and I – two flatlanders. They got cocky. One got airlifted out today. Thats the ultimate destruction of the dream. And why adventure insurance is always necessary on these trips. Can you imagine the cost?

On our Kilimanjaro trip, the team would say, “Pole, pole (polay).” It means “Slow, slow.” It’s how you make it up the mountain successfully and trust me, it’s incredibly slow. Here they say, “Bustari, bustari.” I keep telling myself and my guide that I will go at the pace I feel safe with, and I don’t care who passes me. So far we’ve arrived at our destinations on time or slightly early, so I’m good.

The lodgings tonight aren’t as bad as last night. No heat as usual so as I write this I’m wearing three layers and in my sleeping bag and it’s only 3pm. The bathrooms are local style…a hole in the ground. Though Josh and I are experienced backpackers, this will always freak me out and make me VERY homesick. I am craving the comforts of home and a good long hug. Deprivation makes you teary.