1.2.3: The Chhukhung Valley

Day 45: Phortse (3800 m) to Dingboche (4350 m)

I woke up this morning feeling quite tired and with a headache and so wasn’t really looking forward to the days walk, which was to be quite a long one and mostly uphill. I took some ibuprofen and once I got started I really enjoyed the days walk, much more so than yesterday. In the morning we climbed a ridge that lead out of Phortse towards Tengboche. The path we followed lead along a cliff with a sheer drop on the other side. Far at the bottom the Dudh Khosi River could be seen. The ridge soon came to a pass before descending towards Pangboche. We stopped at the pass for quite some time since the views of Ama-Dablam, Lhotse and Everest were incredible from here.

45.1. Dizzying views down to the Dudh Khosi below and to Everest and Lhotse from the pass.

45.2. Pangboche gompa.

45.3. On the walk from Pangboche to Dingboche.

We went down to Pangboche for lunch and in the afternoon went to visit the gompa, which at 600 years old is the oldest in the Khumbu region. We then walked for another couple of hours before we reached Dingboche. We stayed at the Sonam Friendship lodge, which was one of the nicest lodges in which I have stayed in the Khumbu region. My room was fairly spacious and was surprisingly warm considering the altitude, or maybe I am just getting used to the cold.

Day 46: Dingboche (4350 m)

We had decided to stay two nights in Dingboche to prepare for the higher altitude at Lobuche on the way to Kala Pattar. However, in the end we gave up entirely on Kala Pattar, the famous Everest viewpoint, as there were so many tourists we didn’t think that we would be able to get a room in Lobuche or Gorak Shep further up the valley. The morning was cloudy for the first time since we arrived at Lukla. The cloud was high though so we could still see most of the mountains except for the higher reaches of Lhotse. We walked up the Chhukhung valley but at this altitude progress was slow and it took all morning to reach Chhukhung. It was a pleasant walk though and we could see Island peak, the popular trekking peak, and peak 38 at the end of the valley. Ama-Dablam was spectacular from here and very close. Behind Ama-Dablam were icy peaks above the glacier which looked a bit like an icy version of the huge skateboard ramp rock near to Pisang in the Annapurna region.

46.1. Ama-Dablam and the peaks above the glacier on the walk up the valley towards Chhukhung.

After having lunch in Chhukhung the clouds cleared and we climbed a hill close to the Ama-Dablam glacier. The views from here were spectacular and made up somewhat for missing out on Kala Pattar. We couldn’t see Everest but we were dwarfed by Lhotse, the fourth highest peak in the world, which was now free from cloud.

46.2. From the hills above Chhukhung.

After a while we walked back to Dingboche. The evening was clear for just about the first time since we had come to the Khumbu and the sunset was beautiful, particularly on Lhotse which glowed red.

46.3. Lhotse in the sunset from Dingboche.

Day 47: Dingboche (4350 m) to Pangboche (4000 m)

This morning we climbed up Nangkorthang hill which is just to the west of Dingboche. It was a very steep climb up and it was tough going but near the top we found a small gompa, which was unfortunately locked when we arrived. Kanchha and I compared the view from the gompa to the view from Lama Teshi’s cave in the hills above Manang.

47.1. Small gompa high above Dingboche and the view down the valley from the gompa.

The top of the hill was close to the gompa and the view from here was very nice though not as spectacular as from the hill yesterday. From here we could see for the first time Makalu, the fifth highest peak in the world.

47.2. View from the top of Nangkorthang hill.

47.3. Kanchha making a cairn on the hilltop.

We walked back down the hill to the lodge and I packed my bag ready to leave for Pangboche. The walk to Pangboche was pleasant but uneventful. We stopped for lunch in Shomare, after which the clouds came in and blocked the mountains. In the afternoon I took a walk around Pangboche and in the evening we played cards. I taught Kanchha and Bhoj to play trumps, but I first had to learn the suit names in Nepali.