Chukung [15,675ft] Chukung Ri [18,315ft]
Apr 26, 2002
I rush outside around one in the morning for a bathroom run. It's a clear night and I find the view under a nearly full moon even more spectacular than it was during the day. I use the toilet, rush inside and rush back out with my camera. I rush around, shivering a bit from the below freezing temperature, expelling huge clouds of breath, scrambling up boulders in my long underwear trying to set up my mini-tripod to get the perfect photos.
Chukung Ri is quite a climb. At one point, I had planned on starting the climb at 6am. I'm not a morning person and got out closer to 8. There would be no slow easy measured pace this day. Each step was hard work. The stops to catch my breath become more frequent and longer. While a different type of effort this is certainly as difficult as any triathlon I've attempted (well... maybe Alcatraz was harder). Lethargy sets, I have a small headache. For a while I am unsure if I am going to make it. It doesn't help when I exhaustedly reach one peak, only to find out that I'm not done, Chukung Ri is the higher peak behind it. Then success - 18,315 feet. Unfortunately, the late start means that some clouds have come in. The view is still magnificent. A wall of mountains lies in front of me. Lhotse [28,000 ft] and Nupse [26,000 ft] seem almost close enough to touch.
To continue the compass/thermometer saga, at the top of Chukung Ri, I accidently step on the thermometer, ex-compass, whistle and break it in two. The thermometer is now on one piece and the whistle on the other. More clouds appear and I head down the hill.
On the way down I run into a young American couple. "It's pretty cloudy" I tell them, "but maybe it'll clear up for you." Five minutes later I turn around and the clouds have disappeared. The view even from lower down the hill is awe inspiring. I snap photo after photo as I continue down the hill.
I have lunch in Chukung, intending to continue onwards. Before I finish eating a proper snow storm starts. Unlike the previous flurries there is a lot more snow and it is beginning to pile up. I could make my way through the storm, but it has already been a hard day. I decide I'd much rather spend the day snowed in at Chukung.