Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Gokyo Valley

We had intended to cross over the Cho La pass (5,368m) from Everest Base Camp trail to Gokyo Valley, but we changed our minds after hearing of a couple trekkers slipping on ice. We thought it was too risky to try and cross just the two of us without crampons and a guide. If we'd got a broken ankle, that could've meant helicopter rescue – not something we wanted to have to deal with.

Instead, we walked to the village of (Upper) Pangboche where we took the winding and spectacular trail to Phortse – the gateway to the Gokyo Valley. The village sits on the shoulder of a long ridge on the eastern side of the valley, occupying a great location for growing potatoes and buckwheat on a level surface. This is quite a premium in the Khumbu where mountainsides are very steep.

Every morning in the Gokyo Valley, we would breathe in the sweet smell of burning juniper branches, offered by families to please the gods. The weather was very autumnal, with crisp and cold but sunny days. It even snowed a tiny bit one morning.

The path on the eastern side of Gokyo was very hard work, as it went in and out of numerous re-entrants and also up and down (we fondly call this phenomenon a 'Nepali flat'). We ended up crossing over to the west side of the valley to stay at Phangga.

Earlier that day, we'd been telling a group of British trekkers that we'd had no health troubles so far on the trek. That same night, we both got ill with 'Khumbu quickstep' and had to stay an extra night to try and recover.
We were feeling considerable weaker than before, but still determined to Gokyo village.

The village was very much worth the visit, even though the walk there was a struggle for us. There are five lakes in the Gokyo Valley, and Gokyo village sits on the third one. We stayed at the comfortable Gokyo Resort (not quite as glamorous as it sounds like) that had a beautiful view of the turquoise lake.

The next day, we climbed up Gokyo Ri (5,357m) for magnificent vistas of mountains: Cho Oyu (8,201m) to the north and Pumo Ri, Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse to the east. The Gnozumba Glacier, Nepal's longest, extended in front of us. It was a very special place to be.

Back to contents page.