Everest trek – day 15

by site editor Rick McCharles

I awoke to this gorgeous view from Gokyo village 4790m (15,715ft).

The brown hill off to the right (in shadow) is Gokyo Ri (5360m). Famed for its view of four 8000m peaks, including Everest.

Here’s the world’s highest mountain from the top:

That’s not my photo. Actually I did not make the ascent because a guide had told me that the view en route to Renjo La, was identical. Renjo La would be the last alpine crossing on my Three Passes of Everest trek.

Instead I waited for the sun to come out while chatting with guests at Gokyo Resort.

The most interesting and entertaining was Doug Benn, Professor of Glaciology, teaching at University of St Andrews, UK and The University Centre in Svalbard, Norway.

This was Doug’s 6th trip to Gokyo. He and a number of researchers were taking measurements on the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest in Nepal.

Diplomatically, Doug answered my questions about “Climate Change”. Al Gore is not measuring glacial retreat, Doug is.

Doug confirmed that all glaciers are retreating aside from 4 areas of the world. Climate is changing, as it has been changing since the beginning of the Earth. He wouldn’t speculate as to why. Or what could be done about it.

photo – Ngozumpa Glacier Project

Later I found Doug’s Ngozumpa Glacier Project page online:

… Glaciers in many parts of the Himalayas have undergone significant shrinkage in the last century in response to climatic warming, which in some areas is occurring faster than the global average. Some of this warming is part of a natural climatic cycle, although over the last 50 years or so probably about half of the warming is attributable to human sources (greenhouse gases) …

Doug’s research was to get hard data on what is happening. His goal was to help people and nations better prepare for that change. He said that in every climate shift some species in some regions are winners, some are losers.

I took a leisurely off-trail hike along the crumbling moraine ridge north towards Tibet. Up to Thonak Tscho 4870m.

This one way side trip is called The Sacred Lakes of Gokyo. Six lakes are sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.

The next, Ngozumpa Tscho, was groaning and moaning like some distressed beast. Weird. I tried to capture the sound on video, but it didn’t work. It was the sound of ice freezing.

The highlight of the day wasn’t the lakes, but rather my old friend Cho Oyu, the friendliest 8000+m peak. I got as close as I could.

Eleven years ago we did the same thing, walking towards Cho Oyu from the Tibet side. The summit is on the border. For me it was déjà vu all over again.

Two hikers from the U.K. and I walked as far as possible up the glacier, hoping we might even reach Cho Oyu base camp. That turned out to be impossible. Late in the afternoon, the Brits departed with haste, trying to get back to Gokyo before dark.

I stayed to climb this boulder, the obvious viewpoint at the very end of the normal trail. This was as close as you can get to Tibet without descending down to the glacier.

I left a Summit Stone on top. The next hiker to scramble up would find it.

… All day I’d had a feeling I should end this adventure soon. This seemed a suitable finale.

It was night by the time I got back to Gokyo. But by now I was getting used to stumbling into my lodge in the dark.

see all photos from day 15

… on to day 16

days: 1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12-13|14|15|16|17| info page

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