Renjo La 5360mToday was the high point of this trek. I guess I can say that on two counts. I did achieve the highest elevation that I’ll see this time in Nepal. And today, like the previous three, was outstanding! I spent much of my time while in Gokyo looking up at the pass we would be crossing. It was high and seemed sort of inaccessible by mere mortals. “Where could there be a path in all that rock?” I kept wondering. My sense of serious adventure was pretty high! There seemed to be a lot of scree slopes, hanging glaciers, snow and general steepness to contend with. But I trust Tendi absolutely not to get me in over my head as it were.
We were packed up, breakfasted and ready to go by 7. An early start for a long hard day. My pack had hardly anything in it. Puri even had my sleeping bag today as there was going to be steep down after the difficult steeper up. There was some high haze but the sun still shone bright enough for the temperature to be pleasant. At first the path was pretty gentle but fairy soon things changed and it became progressively steeper and more incredible. The scree slopes were a bit unnerving but proved to be quite stable. Some of the exposed bits were – well exposed. The was a bit of scrambling to be done but mostly it was just breathless challenging uphill leg work. But the surroundings were so glorious I really didn’t notice. We climbed up to and past an ice fall. We climbed passed a glacier. We climbed and climbed. We stopped at one point for water and a protein bar and carried on. The peaks we were climbing towards were extraordinary. Very sharp and craggy. They aren’t very high by Nepal standards but are impressive anyway. Behind us though – now that was the treat. We were getting increasingly fabulous unobstructed views of Everest. From this vantage point it is possible to see much more of the mountain than from closer to it! Pretty awesome. We could make out detailed features such as Hillary’s step and the route from there to the summit.
We finally reached the Renjo La (La means pass). It’s festooned with prayer flags and is quite narrow. About 10 feet maybe and then the trail heads off down the other side into the Thame Valley. We spent a while admiring the views and having a snack then started down the other side. Now this was cooler and quite windy. Now on the west side of the range we’d just crossed, we no longer had the sun at our backs. The shade and the fact that we weren’t working as hard going down as up brought sweaters and hats out of packs. As we descended – and it was steep but not as steep as our ascent – we noticed clouded starting to build in the valley below. Sure enough about an hour from our destination we entered the fog. It became instantly pretty cold and of course visibility became very limited. We arrived at 1:30 into our guest house in Lungdhen having made very good time!
It’s been a very cold afternoon but the owner has finally lit the fire so we are now all huddled around it warming up. A quiet fellow from Germany, a very nice couple of women from Australia and several guides and porters. It’s getting cozy. While it’s only five, I’m looking forward to dinner and my sleeping bag.
Tomorrow is expected to be sunny again in the morning, I hope it is – but really – I’m not fussed either way. We’re on our way home now and it’s been an outstanding adventure. All goals have been met and exceeded!
I hope to post a couple of blogs from Namche if we get that far tomorrow.