We bid farewell to the last built structures until the end of the expedition, and walked away from Pheriche right after breakfast. The tea houses have been fun in their own way, with amenities like hot showers, flush toilets, a choice of foods, beds with mattresses and blankets, and even alcohol for purchase (although we consume very little of this, as it can hinder our acclimatization). They also provide a chance to meet people from different expeditions, and make friends from around the world. On the other hand, they present us with a risk of respiratory and GI infections, which can be inconvenient in the least, or truly problematic if severe. So, it felt good to finally head into our own territory: Lobuche Base Camp.
The walk from Pheriche is gorgeous, especially when the weather is perfect like it was today. The valley gains elevation gradually, climbing past homesteads surrounded by stone fenced yak paddocks. We walked up the drainage of the Khumbu glacier, crossing a stream via a steel bridge, and took a short break in the village of Dukla, where we consumed heroic volumes of hot lemon water. My lungs feel better this year than last, but the dry cold air still causes a sore throat that threatens to convert into a cough. Hydration is a good thing up here, for many reasons!
Beyond Dukla the trail gains elevation quickly, and wraps around the lower flanks of Lobuche peak. The scenery is unmatched, especially the close-up views of Tawoche and Cholatse. We were amazed to see how much better conditions are along the trail this year than last: no mud slicks, no knee-deep snow, more moderate temperatures. Thank goodness.
IMG’s Lobuche base camp (LBC) is very secluded, sitting in a small valley surrounded on three sides, with the fourth side affording spectacular views of Cholatse. No one else is here. No one treks through here or to here. In effect, it is a totally isolated, private campsite. Awesome.
We were treated to an excellent lunch: grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches, baked beans (improved with fresh herbs), roasted potatoes, rice, soup… all easy to digest and full of the energy we need up here. No matter how much I eat, I am always hungry. Not unusual to wake up at 3 AM famished. Eating smoked almonds in the night is pathological back in the World, but here it’s pretty normal.
Dinner (featuring fried chicken) was followed by a talent show. It was so warm (26F) that I was even able to sit out in the field and shoot a variety of night shots. We are having a great time up here.