Day 14: Higher than the Everest Base Camp…
We decided to go up Kala Patthar (meaning 'black stone', 5540m) this morning, which is even higher than Everest base camp. Only half the group decided to do it as people were still so drained and also the weather was awful. The walk was bleak, miserable and cold. It was much harder than Everest base camp, being steeper and higher and we took it very slowly.
After seeing photos of what the views could be like from the top it was quite disappointing to get up there and not be able to see anything at all! It was a fantastic achievement all the same though.
We decided at lunch that instead of staying at Gorak Shep for another evening we'd head on down to Pheriche and lower altitudes in the afternoon. We walked non-stop for about five hours through crap weather. Some of it was gentle and easy, being flat marsh land but a lot of it was steep, going over rocks, rivers and slippery mud. I was at the back of the group for the majority of the walk as I was being extra cautious since Andy's fall!As soon as we began to descend you could instantly feel the difference in the air and it became much easier to breathe. The monsoon was definitely beginning as rivers that were only small on the way up had started to swell and crossing them was pretty scary. One of the walkway's we'd previously used near Dzugla had flooded and so some of the Sherpas had to move big rocks into the water for us to hop across!
I found out later that Lucy had fallen off the rocks whilst trying to cross the river, badly injuring her knee. She was pretty shaken up but managed to carry on walking.
It was incredible to see the scenery change from bare and grey to lush and green. The flora and fauna changed dramatically and once we dropped down into the Pheriche valley we were once again back in the English hills! I spent a lot of time thinking this afternoon, and really appreciating just how hard the walk up had been!
We arrived at our lodge in Pheriche about 6 in the evening and both my knees and toes were in agony from the descent. We found it difficult to fathom that a walk that took us three days up only took 5 hours down! Sunset was stunning though and conversation soon dried up. Watching the clouds resting in valleys, with the peaks and ridges rising up through them was a view to make the expedition!