Acclimatization is NOT rest!

Day 3 was an acclimatization day. The purpose of an acclimatization day is to push your body to a higher elevation, stay there for a period of time and return to a lower elevation to sleep. The elevation of Namche Bazar was 11,280 ft. (3440m). Our goal for the Day 3 was to reach Everest View Hotel which is located at 13,100 ft. (4000m). We didn’t know it at the time but this 1800’ climb was to be one of the easiest days of our trek.

It certainly didn’t start off easy. As we exited the teahouse we turned right and immediately began to climb the steps out of Namche. But we didn’t go directly to the hotel. First we went to the museum which of course was uphill. The National Park Museum housed examples of local flora and fauna as well as stories and pictures of the Sherpa people. Outside the museum was a large flat area with great photo ops. The group shot below was shot there. It was out first clear view of Mt Everest. Mt Everest is the small triangular peak in the background with the plume of snow directly above Pernille’s head (purple coat).

National Park Museum Namche Bazaar

the "gang"

We left the museum and went down to the stairs we had climbed earlier. At the edge of town, the steps disappeared and the switchbacks began. There was a huge prayer rock around the midpoint of the climb. It was about the same elevation as the museum we visited earlier. We took a break there and I got some pretty good images of individuals in our group (Sam, Emma, Brita, Pernille, Rob, Mary and Agnes).



Emma and Sam

Emma and Sam






Mary and the elusive Agnes



Actually, this is the first memory I have of Brita smiling. She and 5 others started this trip with some combination of flu and stomach bugs. Personally, I would have turned around. They were lot tougher than I ever was.

After the break at the prayer rock, the climb continued. After the steepest part of the climb, the trail leveled off, more or less, and continued on across a mixture of grassy slopes and dirt trail until we came to the Everest View Hotel.

When we arrived I was quite surprised. Not by the dozens of steps which led up to the entrance (long series of steps were quickly becoming part of our daily routine) but the hotel itself. It was really nice. There was wood paneling, a glass enclosed dining room and plenty of staff. We had lunch on an outdoor patio which faced the mountains. We did not have any good views of Mt Everest despite the hotel’s name would seem to suggest. A weather pattern was beginning to emerge. Every morning started out bright, sunny and cloudless. As the day progressed, clouds would appear by noon. By late afternoon the sky would be gray and often a light snow would fall around dusk.

The descent was easy for me. It was very steep but I flew down the trail bouncing from rock to rock. I really enjoyed myself. But several members of our group were not fond of downhill stretches. Downhill can be very hard on your knees and great care must be taken not to trip/slip since you already have momentum taking you downhill. Downhill is particularly hard on the toes as Ed can attest. But as with any of the adversity that beset us on this trip. Nothing would prevent any of us from reaching EBC. Ed adjusted his boots and the toe was never a problem again.

When we returned to the teahouse I discovered that my water bladder had leaked. By the end of the day the bottom inside of my day pack was wet. Fortunately, my camera and down did not get wet. I bought an new Camelback bladder in Namche at a store owned by one of Tashi’s friends. Tashi seemed to have friends everywhere. In every town and even along the trail it was a common sight to see Tashi stop and greet other locals as if they had been lifelong friends.

Those of you who were curious as to what I was going to eat on this trip or how the food was in general should know the spaghetti at our teahouse,Hotel Camp de Base, was very good. A word of warning to those who may follow. This was the only place I found Italian dishes to be palatable. Above Namche there weren’t any cans of tomatoes. Spaghetti was usually just warmed up ketchup with some oregano.

By going to the hotel, we climbed our 1800 ft., rested and then descended to Namche for the night’s sleep. This was a typical acclimatization day. What made it easier than a regular trekking day was the lack of bridges. Except for the side trip to the museum there was not any unnecessary elevation losses and gains which are a hallmark of river crossings in Nepal. The written guides mark the elevation gain each day. What they do not tell you is how many thousands of feet are given up descending to bridges and the need to recapture that elevation loss on the other side of the bridge. The guides just give the net change. So a 1500 ft. gain day may actually require you to climb a total of 3500 ft. because you had two bridge crossing that cost you and extra 1000 ft. each.

Tomorrow we go to Tengboche. I didn’t know it at the time but I really needed to go to sleep and get my rest. It was going to be a hard day.

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