Well today took quite some doing. The top of Gokyo Ri is 5347 meters, about 550 meters (2000 feet) higher than Gokyo. The climb today was more mentally tough than physically–the Ri is an optional climb and were one to stop and turn around there was no reason not to. My body kept telling me to stop but it’s really good that I didn’t.
After freezing our unmentionables off at Kali Pater, we decided to miss the sunset and leave early in the morning but in the warmth of the sun. They say it takes 2-3 hours to get to the top. Mads took 1 hour and 7 minutes. Jamie was 20 minutes behind him. It took me 2/1/2 hours. (Ashraf was feeling sick and left a few hours after us, so I’m not sure about his time.)
I saw a group of people slowly going up in matching jackets. As I got closer, I saw that they were Koreans. I greeted them with an “anyang hasseo”and got a “Wow! You speak Korean!” To which I gave my stock answer “Anniyo. Hangul-mal Upsoyo.” Which got a laugh. Some of the climbers were women in their 20s and some were adjoshis in their 60s or 70s. All were having a great time. Which made me feel a little, I don’t know, sort of proud of how cool Koreans were. However, I had noticed a yak train in the village and I later learned it was for these Koreans, and the yaks were loaded down with kimchi, soju, makkoli, and gimbap. Ah, Korea.
I saw the adjoshi again at the top and greeted him with a “Fighting!” He smiled very grandly and thanked me. Then I surprised a French girl who was trying to take a stealthy pee behind a rock. I greeted Jamie and Mads, but they’d been up there for a while and headed down.
Anyway, Gokyo Ri. The best views of the entire trek. You could see the 4 massive mountains, but dozens of others, behind that clear blue sky, lakes, prayer flags, crows. Just amazing.
I saw crows, but they don’t caw or quork. They make a sound like songbirds so I have no idea what they are. Anyway, after about an hour or so of taking in the views I headed back down, with “Blackbird” on repeat as I felt inspired.
The way back down was of course much easier and I jogged down most of it (though I later learned Ashraf, whom I saw on the way up, skipped the path altogether and mountain goat ran down the mountain). Was back at the lodge at 12:15 and I scarfed some pototo momos. It was Holi, and St. Patrick’s Day, and to celebrate the woman from colorado gave me a sip of Aardberg! Oh man whisky is good!
I scratched at some dried snot on my nose and it was totally blood! Just from the sun or exposure or something, but it must be kind of a gross sight. Good thing I haven’t looked into a mirror for 3 weeks or so now.
It was a great morning, but I had come to an important realization. No more 5000 meter climbs for me. The pass tomorrow was optional, as there was another way to Namche. Jaime and Mads were keen to cross it, and I assumed Ashraf would stick with them, but I wasn’t worried about hiking to Namche on my own. My resolve not to climb Renjo was further strengthened by a lone Israeli hiker, who talked about crawling on his hands and knees for hours with the trail completely hidden by the nightly snow.
When I told Ash I wasn’t going over the pass, he agreed to walk with me. That was safest, splitting into 2 groups of 2. But we told Mads, who was going to walk with us rather than Jaime, so once again the poor keen-as Australian got vetoed by us lazy folks. He was quite upset and I suggested he wait at the lodge for someone else to cross with but that didn’t seem to work for him. We really aren’t the best crew for him, but he did get to geek out to the max about linux and other computer stuff with the dude from Colorado.
I ended up staying in the common area for hours after (almost) everyone else. The lone Isreali guy is quite a talker–though I totally understand the need for companionship. He’s a pretty cool guy, knew about the PCT and I heard (not for the first time) that it’s really hard for Israelis to get a visa into the USA. Considering how close our countries are politically, that seems very strange.
Anyway time to pack up. Tomorrow will be another long day!
From/To: Gokyo Rest Day
Elevation: 4790 meters
Lodge: Gokyo Namaste