Today was an acclimatization day in Namche Bazaar. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that we spent the day lounging around the village (even though some trekkers do opt for that), instead, we used this day to help our bodies acclimatize as much as possible before sleeping at a higher altitude tomorrow. The day’s program was to reach the same altitude as we would the following day (Day 4) and to go back down to Namche Bazaar to spend the night.
We set out for the Sherpa Museum right after breakfast, where there is a viewpoint offering a panorama of Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse and Ama Dablam. The path to the museum is a steep slope that allows both your elevation and heart rate to increase very rapidly. Since the beginning of our trek, much to my delight, we are surrounded by prayer flags.
This morning at breakfast we met Satoshi, a Japanese trekker on his way up to Gokyo Ri (a summit also in the Khumbu region). Satoshi is one of the kindest and most interesting people that we had the pleasure of meeting. After having worked for a couple decades, he decided to discover the world. Since then, he works as a mountain and camping guide for half of the year and the remaining six months are devoted to his travels. To the right is a stone from the Dead Sea (the lowest point on Earth), brought from Israel and symbolically placed here, at the foot of Mount Everest. This project of cooperation between Nepal and Israel focuses on “promoting the natural beauty and cultural heritage of these two countries”.
There are worse places to stop to catch your breath.
This is probably my favorite picture of the entire trip (credit goes to Tibo). I’ll spare you the thousands of photos of prayer flags that are on my memory card, promise.
And here is the first viewpoint with a breathtaking panorama! Everest is the summit on the left, in the middle is Lhotse, and to the right is Ama Dablam, my favorite mountain because of how cool it looks. Ama Dablam, meaning “The Mother’s Necklace”, derives its name from its resemblance to a mother protecting her children on either side. Its shape is the dream of every mountaineer, but this is a very technical mountain, just like Lhotse, with fatality rates even higher than Mount Everest.
The below should help clear up the names of the mountains and their altitudes:
I am posting pictures of Tibo smiling while there are still some, because they become increasingly rare as the trip goes on due to the altitude we gain every day… 😉
Rescue helicopters pass by multiple times a day to pick up trekkers suffering from the severe symptoms of altitude sickness to fly them back down to Kathmandu. We were actually told that it is a lucrative business here in Nepal – guides sometimes pressure their clients into getting a rescue chopper to pick them up, since they get a percentage of the cost of the evacuation. In any case, it is highly recommended to have helicopter evacuation insurance for the trip to avoid the bad surprise of a 5-figure helicopter bill in Kathmandu.
The second viewpoint of the day, and what a perfect time to have a ‘snack with a view’. Cliff Bars are some of our favorites during our active days out in the wild. They provide some good long-lasting energy, they don’t crumble into 100 pieces if (and when) you sit on them by mistake, don’t melt, don’t get too hard when they’re cold, and in addition to being delicious, they are vegan and gluten free (which makes them easy to digest)! In truth, anything that has chocolate and/or peanut butter will always hold a special place in my heart.
One last glimpse at Everest before returning whence we came. Try to ignore the fact that Everest looks ‘small’ compared to other mountains around it, it’s all a matter of perspective. Everest really is a giant among giants with its towering 8,848m (29,030ft). In comparison, Lhotse, to the side of Everest, “only” reaches 8,516m (27,940ft).
From here, on the way back down, you can see the village of Namche. We spent the afternoon reading in the sun and discovering local shops. Since the village is in a valley (surrounded by mountains), the sun disappeared behind the western ridge at around 3:15pm, and temperatures dropped almost instantly.
Dinner was the habitual dal bhat (“habitual” for now, since we would get sick of it pretty quickly), in addition to some veggie fried rice. Our Japanese friend joined us for dinner and after a warm tea and a nice conversation, we went upstairs to our room to prepare our things for the cold night ahead. Tomorrow we will set out for our fourth day, direction Tengboche!
Starting point: Namche Bazaar (3,440m)
390m ascent / 390m descent
Arrival point: Everest Viewpoint (3,830m) / return to Namche Bazaar (3,440m)