The hike today continued through forest and trees, picturesque with continuing views of Everest to remind us of our distant goal. After lunch we have climbed above the tree line and the landscape becomes stark, and in the dank afternoon, cold and clammy, it feels difficult and overwhelming. It can only get worse!
Begin: 3,770 mtrs
End: 4,360 mtrs
Sleeping has been difficult the last couple of nights; it can be a really uncomfortable feeling, you wake, startled through lack of air, like you have stopped breathing, but really its just that you are breathing “normally”, but your body is not used to the altitude, so it isn’t breathing enough. So, you tell yourself to breathe more, you start to relax again, your breath slows, and argh!!! – awake again. Repeat. This had happened a bit in Namche, but here it was the worse night for this, I guess I woke a dozen times like this, and with headaches that come and go, it can be quite uncomfortable. Still, it was mild really compared with what some people experience, and this was probably the worst night, as I seemed to get used to it better after then. Perhaps after a couple of sleepless nights in a row, tonight’s sleep at Dingboche is better, waking less often, but still having to coax my breathing. In meditation actually, it is similar, you do breathe much more deeply as you relax, but its not like breathing deeply “at sea level”.
The weather clears as the morning becomes older, and it becomes quite a glorious late morning hike, with stunning views and a visit to Pangboche Gompa, host to the oldest monastery (300yrs) in the region. It is after this village, literally it did feel like a line, as we climbed out of the village, the trees just stop. We are now above the tree–line. The walk itself is pretty much straight up, no ups and downs as we have had during the previous days.
Rivers flow below us, draining the huge bowl of mountains that lie around us, their waters a light blue, flowing fast, tumbling over boulders. The walk becomes more difficult as the weather closes in, becoming colder, damp, but not quite rain. Arriving at the camp greets us with a cheerless first impression, it will snow tonight, the clouds almost touching us. Ha! We are finally at some real altitude now! A wander down to the village, a nice coffee (Illy café even), and Dingboche is a developing centre, with cafés, bars… well, lets say there are a few, spread out through the village, its not exactly Piccadilly Circus. This small town really is built around the trekkers, much more even than Namche.
I also find that any real exertion quickly leads to breathlessness, so you learn to be gentler, “slowly, slowly” even when just wandering around town. The temperatures are just above freezing, even mid-afternoon, so it will be a cold night. Taking all this into consideration, I realise I’m not actually going that badly!, coping alright, as I look back on it now, better than I thought at the time.