Morning view from our lodge room window
By now, our otherwise healthy appetite was visibly decreasing, as an effect of high altitude, making eating, like never before, a conscious and deliberate effort, rather than a pleasure :)) A small price to pay, if we were to achieve what we came here for. Unlike some other trekkers, we were acclimatizing pretty well, having no breathing problems and only seldom, mild headaches during the nights. It was looking like our pre-expedition training was paying off 🙂
If the evening before thick clouds were hiding the surrounding mountains. Now we were feasting our hungry eyes on the surreal moutainscapes unfolding before us in all directions. Stepping out of the lodge into the amazing sunlit valley, everything all around was covered in a fresh, puffy layer of snow, squeaking pleasantly under our footsteps as we started trekking at a leisurely pace between Dingboche’s scattered stone houses and then further up Chukhung Valley. The trail climbs gently on stone boulders, over the barren moraine of Imja Khola River, winding bordered by two snow-capped mountain ridges, leading up to Chukhung village. Further higher, climbing amateurs can reach an array of glaciers and peaks, among which Island Peak (6189m) and Mera Peak (6476m).
Starting to trek up the Chukhung Valley
Hypnotizing, soaring rock and snow covered mountains were surrounding us on all sides, making this one of the most abundant days in unbelievably stunning views… A stone “Chorten” clothed in prayer flags began to take distinctive shape in the distance. It stands in memory of the courageous men who have perished while attempting to climb the notorious south face of Lhotse (8511m). Behind the “Chorten” rises a stupendous 3000m high, exposed rock wall, Lhotse’s south face. From there onward we trekked underneath the towering Nuptse–Lhotse wall, which provided for some incredible views.
The amazing scenery that accompanied us all day 🙂
In loving memory of the climbers who died on Lhotse’s south face…
Looking back towards where we came from…
Lunchtime found us entering the small village of Chukhung, with few stone lodges, nestled at 4730m among moraine slopes and surrounded on three sides by kneaded glaciers and snow coated high mountain walls. Stone steps led us to a wide, open, sun-bathed terrace, with odd-looking mirror-like steel dishes, with a shiny, metal pot in their middle, used to boil water by attracting and focusing sunlight. In their endeavor to tame the harsh, unwelcoming, Himalayan living environment, the local Sherpa people have found ingenious solutions to overcome their shortcomings 🙂 Sun-bathing in the warm, pleasant light, resting our eyes on the splendid, insatiable mountainscapes shaped by never-ending, jagged, frosted ridges, we enjoyed a welcomed, lazy lunch break – after all, this was our rest day 🙂
Chukhung village with Lhotse soaring behind it…
Perfect place to enjoy lunch 🙂
Eventually, we left the serene terrace with spellbinding views, aiming to climb higher. Behind the stone lodge steeply raises Chukhung Ri to 5550m, dwarfed by the gruesome south face of Lhotse, soaring high above it. Starting at 4730m, the stiff climb towards Chukhung Ri looked disheartening, proving to be another beautiful challenge surrounded by a majestic display of high, snow-topped ridges and peaks. Mustering up our strength, we climbed step by step, keeping our minds focused on each step and each breath until we reached above the imaginary border of 5000m, stopping before the Lhotse’s south face. This climb should prove a good acclimatization for the next day, when we will climb to 4900m.
Climbing before Lhotse’s south face…
We did it! Our first 5000m in the Himalaya 🙂
After taking a moment to enjoy the fairy tale panorama of mountain peaks around us, we turned on our heels and went back down. Descending proved to be a welcomed relief :), our legs walking almost effortless until reaching the rocky moraine below. For here onward we retraced our steps to Dingboche village, on a long, but gently descending trail. To take our minds off the fatigue that was slowly building up, we were keeping our eyes stuck on the surrounding white mountain ridges, crowned by Ama Dablam, which made the trek back to the lodge quite pleasant and easy.
Amazing mountain views from Lhotse to Ama Dablam
Back in the lodge, we took a well-disserved rest, lounging in the dining room, reading by the hot stove and comparing experiences and plans for the following days with our German-Spanish-Australian friends.
On this so-called “rest day” we managed to walk 14,5km in 21046 steps, at an altitude above 4300m, ascending and descending 700m.
The next day we will put to the test today’s acclimatization exercise’s efficiency, climbing to the next camp, at 4940m 😉
For more pictures, check our EBC day 6 photo album 🙂