Episode 164: Better Out Than In

I’ve Been Trekkin’ All Night, My Foot’s Wet On The Hill. We had our first full day of trekking towards Everest’s Kangshung Face today. When you begin a trek, the staff usually lulls you into a false sense of comfort by only making you walk a short distance to the first backcountry camp. ¬†This is precisely what happened on this trek. We only walked a half day yesterday and we all felt strong and like masters of the universe. This trekking stuff is easy! We’ll be at Everest in no time!

Well, it’s amazing what a difference a day makes. We set off this morning confident as can be and all in great spirits. Christine had a rough night but was looking great and feeling much better as we set out on what was going to be a day full of ¬†hitting the wall, bonking and breakthroughs.

We began early and walked through the head of the valley gaining altitude until we came to a very steep hill. The landscape here is very different than on the South Side. We’re already much higher and the surrounding hills (I say hills but they’re actually over 18,000 feet/5000m) have very little vegetation and have a stark beauty to them. Another thing I was pleased to see were the abundance of large, high alpine lakes. There’s water everywhere over here!

We stopped at the bottom of the steep hill to take a deep breath before starting up. It was the path up to a high pass that needed to be summited in order to descend to tonight’s camp. I hung back with Shakeel and Nicole and we could see other members of the group meandering up the pass like ants. The true scale of this landscape is hard to take in. Seeing everyone up on the trail high above us was one of the few instances when you can comprehend how large this geography and geology is.

Unfortunately.

We started up towards the pass putting one foot in front of the other and a few hours later summited and began descending down the trail. Actually, it was less like a trail and more like a dry waterfall. The descent went straight down. It was amazing and very rough going. One of the coolest aspects of trekking to the Kangshung Face is that the area sees very little trekking traffic. It’s empty of people and is very wild and the trails (or lack thereof) completely reflect this. My legs were so tired from the hike up to the pass that my knees buckled on me a couple of times. Pemba stopped me and gently asked for my pack. I didn’t feel the need to give it to him but I practice what I preach and since he thought I could use a hand, I needed to honor his experience and wisdom. I handed the pack over and we descended into camp as the sun was setting behind an overcast sky.

I wasn’t the last one into camp, though. Christine and Sonam are still behind us. Hours behind us. Christine suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis and her body has begun to fight itself every step she takes. This could be developing into a very, very bad situation.

Cue dramatic music.

Jon Miller

Total Running Time: 39:48