Another night with just fleeting glimpses of Neverland.
Barriers to sleep include the cold, the lack of oxygen, the barking dogs and the thoughts of the trail ahead.
Up at 6am to head to the National office to get our climbing permit for Island peak.
The office is at the centre of the town and as we walk there from our hotel, the shopkeepers are all in the streets sweeping and spraying water to wash off the foot, mule and yak traffic of yesterday and keep todays dust down.
The office resembles an Irish government office of years ago. Ancient computers on beige veneer desks resting on a thin cheap cream carpet that rippled in places.
Notice Boards are filled with important looking documents and well populated organizational charts.
Each office has numerous unoccupied desks.
The government official was a small grumpy chap in a hat who didn’t enjoy us disturbing his morning.
Luckily it was only a climbing permit that we required – planning permission would have been out of the question.
We got it done and are now licensed to climb Island Peak.
Our group has a subset of super keen and super talented photographers who rose at 5.30 am yesterday to photograph the sunset (and freeze their asses off).
David, Brendan,Mark and Dylan take a bow.
Having yesterday scoped out the best location to catch sunset, they again trekked up above the town to catch the glorious rays of the morning sun creeping over the Grand Himalayas. We look forward to seeing the spectacular results (no pressure guys!).
After brekkie, we took off for a viewing point +600 meters in elevation from Namche. The viewing point is at 3,900 meters above sea level. The highest we’ve ever been outside of a chopper or plane.
We string out along the trail like a breathless necklace and begin our slow shuffle up the steep steps out of town.
The first 200 meters is spent behind an elderly man driving his five white cows up the steps before he rests on a low wall and allows us to pass. His cows intuitively sense that he is resting and they obediently await for his resumption.
Soon, the trail becomes narrow and dusty and meanders between immature pine trees. The 9 of us are topped and tailed by 5 guides. They are all local to the Khumbu area and are lovely gentle courteous people.
Ang Kami Sherpa and Pasang Lama Sherpa are the senior guides and emit a sense of control and confidence. They are ably assisted by Tendi Sherpa, Furba Sherpa, Pasang Temba Sherpa, Chhongba Lama.
Ang Kami has attempted Everest 5 times and reached the summit twice and will lead our attempt on Island Peak which he has summited over 100 times. He has checked our gear and I have noticed him watching us on the difficult parts of the trail so far. I reckon he’s evaluating our fitness and general condition to inform his decisions for the Base Camp and Island Peak attempts.
Every morning and evening, each of us are tested for resting heart rate and oxygen absorption in the blood.
This is logged and creates a baseline so that if any of us start to suffer from Altitude sickness or the more serious HACE or HAPE, the guides will notice a deterioration in our medical stats.
Both HACE or HAPE can be fatal so their observation is much appreciated.
On the way to the high point we pass through the highest airport in the world.
Russian built helicopters are whirring around as we arrive and a couple of large piles of equipment wrapped tightly in tarpaulin line the runway.
Excitement sparks through our group when Ang Kami informs us that one of the helicopters is ferrying the equipment for a number of summit expeditions to Base Camp.
Trekking on, we reach the viewing point in another 20 minutes. From here we can see the road to be travelled tomorrow. It takes us towards a valley that runs below a menacing looking Everest.
We hang around for 30 minutes while numerous photos are taken, energy bars are consumed and Sherpas knee is examined by a horse doctor and a physiotherapist. The eventually consult and the prognosis is a small knee wrapping and a big dose of Man Up.
We’re back in town for lunch at 1pm and then disperse to enjoy the luxury of showers and explore again the town and try to recognize the “fakes”and “the real fakes” in the trekking gear on sale.
Much of the afternoon is spent hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop looking for decent WiFi so I can post some photos to the blog. After to many americanos to count I’ve come to two conclusions.
1. The WiFi throughout the town is not good.
2. I’ve had so much coffee, I may not sleep again until May.
We leave Namche Bazaar tomorrow to head up the trail towards Everest Base Camp. Namche is about the size of Sneem and we’re heading for Barradubh.
Wifi will possibly get even worse up the trail, so posting to the blog may be interrupted. I hope to continue writing daily and posting when possible. So, if there is an interruption, please be patient.
We have really enjoyed our time here. The hotel and people have been great. The daily hikes have been interesting and I feel that they have helped us to get used to the cold and deal with thinner air.
It will get much, much colder and the air much, much thinner but are now much, much tougher.
Thank you Namche.