Khumjung [12,507ft] Tengboche [12,738ft]
Apr 21, 2002
My plan for the day called for me to only go as far as Khumjung, a short walk above Namche. Over dinner last night, I hear that a famous German Climber, Hans somebody, is climbing Ama Dablam. It will be the first attempt to climb from base camp to the summit roundtrip in less than 24 hours. Apparently, it is a big deal as German TV is covering it live. While hiking towards Khumjung, I meet some Austrian girls who tell me that not only is the German climbing, he is climbing tomorrow.
A nice leisurely walk and I stop in Khumjung at the world's highest bakery. Over a lemon tea and a cinnamon roll, I pull out my map and guidebook. If I continue on to Tengboche today, I should be able to drop my bags in Pangboche tomorrow, continue up to Ama Dablam base camp for the climb, then return to Pangboche to sleep. That's the new plan. It looks like I might meet a nut earlier than I expected.
I make a detour to see the Everest View hotel. At US$160 per night it is the only luxury accommodation in these parts. Every room including all the bathrooms have a view of Mt. Everest. It's more famous however, for the fact that Japanese have a habit of flying into this altitude, immediately getting horribly sick and put on oxygen. My rooms while much more expensive than Jiri are still a very reasonable 100 rupees (US$1.30).
Three more hours of hiking take me to Tengboche. It's a lovely town. A temple surrounded by a scattering of buildings and tents, with mountains all around. It's a new experience for me to step outside my door, see snow covered 16,000ft peaks and realize that they are not at all in the distance - they are very literally a stone throw away.
As of yet neither the altitude nor cold have been a problem. I arrive in Tengboche absolutely full of energy. I do some jogging, play some soccer with young monks, and climb a small hill before settling down for dinner.
Sometimes my mind is in a state where I expect no problems at all. My money supplies are limited up here as there are no ATMs to get money and no one takes Visa. This is a good thing as it prevents me from indulging on any very dangerous whims. On a day where I feel this good, I could see myself renting crampons and an ice axe, hiring a guide and attempting 20,000 ft Island Peak.
At other times my mind turns towards potential problems. Only hiking 1000 vertical feet a day I should have much more time to write. Will the lack of oxygen turn the experience into a several week long nitrous trip? Most people have trouble sleeping at altitude. Will an acute lack of sleep lead to a very uncommon for me depression? Either would undoubtedly lead to very interesting writing.
For reference, the amount of oxygen available at various altitude.
2500m (8250 ft)
3500m (11,550 ft)
4500m (14,850 ft)
5500m (18,150 ft)
My highest altitude
8848m (29,028 ft)
Top of Mt. Everest