>Himalaya reloaded 2011 – 7th day – Chhukung

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06/01/2011 by Ironman Coach

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READ HERE about the day before
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7th day of trek,19th of December 2010

Dingboche (4.360 m) – Chhukung (4.730 m)
No backpack, acclimatization day, relaxed trek
I know, I know, my English is a sort of ”Google Translate”-English, but I still hope is not killing the entire charm of the story.
Today started already at midnight. I am already so accustomed not to sleep the night through, that I find it almost normal. It would be awkward to manage a full night’s sleep. So, here some thoughts somebody can have on the spot in a night like this and I quote from my own diary:
19.12.2010, Dingboche, Peaceful Lodge, Zimmer 104, 00:10’
Like every night now, I just had to go to the toilet. It’s nice to be inside the building. My window opens the horizon to the high plateau from the direction I was coming up to here, a burnt-brown color with dry tundra vegetation. In background, some snowcaped peaks in the very strong full moon light. An excellent colors contrast. Not so many stars like last night in Tengboche. And somewhere up, a giand dark cloud – such an exceptional scenery in this absolute silence. I cannot hear anything. Only the guy in the room 103, who is breathing. I can hear his breath. And the cough of the lady in the room 105. I am in the middle.
I am again in the heart of Himalaya and this gives me the entire life energy …. what can I desire more?! (…) The entire time today I felt the look of AmaDablam Mountain, the most spectacular sillhoute among all these icy and snowcaped rock giants of the Planet Earth. From now on I will see it from a different ungle. I wonder how it is to sit up there, on the top … to sit there and to look back here, on the lodge I am now and write about it. Life is so full of surprises. I cannot stop thinking about the plane crush from 15th of December.
04:10 a.m.
I still not sleep. The water in the toilet is frozen. But this lodge is much more better. I am over 4.300 m and I can write in the room, the fingers are not frozen, my breath is not visible. Very warm inside the sleeping bag. But I still have the hood on, otherwise I feel cool head and I have this ugly cold, my nose and all the sinuses are squeaking.
07:20
At 6 o’clock I had to go again to the toilet. No, it isn’t funny at all. It was such a divided night, that at the moment the Australian pack began to roam at seven a.m. I had a single desire: to sleep and lie warm the rest of the day. In the morning is the worse, much colder that in the evening. You simply feel the shit inside you, no joke! I should admire the ice-flowers on the window. The Australian are going for breakfast and their porters take care of their luggage. Luxus travelling through Himalaya is possible. They will probably start at nine, I want to see them out of here, really.”

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I had a late and a more expensive breakfast (890 rupies/12 USD), but yesterday I didn’t eat much and I have to take care about this. As I entered the dinning room, the Australian pack was still there, ready to start. I envy them for not carrying their backpacks.  But today I have a sort of rest day, I mean just a short trek and a very light backpack, about 3 to 4 kg only. I enjoyed the quiet of the place after all of them left the location and I accompanied them by looking how they dissapear in the cold morning, up to the white stupa on the hill in front of the lodge.
I could choice what to do today: to trek to Chhukung or to stay around, sleeping, writing, peering the area. How to stay around, when you feel the call of the peak you wanted to climb, but you had to give up the plan because of lack o money? So, of course I decided to go to Island Peak today, to see it with my own eyes.
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Despite the fact that I advanced in altitude about 400 meters, the way to Chhukung is very relaxed as is crossing the Imja Valley. The landscape is tremendous, you are surrounded by vegetations, birds, rocky mountains and absolutely unreal, magnificent immense fluted ice walls.
I left the lodge at 10:20, daring out in the cold. I started solo today, as the British couple, Claire and Andy decided to have a washing day for clothes and hair. The lady is amazing, she has very long hair and she washes it every 3-4 days, doesn’t matter how cold is it. She just pay for some hot water, combines it with cold water and she manages to wash her hair. I wouldn’t do it for nothing in the world, this is why I cut my hair very short before coming to Nepal this time.
The ground was frozen, the sun still hidden somewhere, no other people outside, so I started up hill to the north crossing the entire long village of Dingboche. I knew the direction, so I supposed I will find the right pass. At the end of the village there are two inscriptions: left to Lobuche and right to Chhukung.
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You follow the narrow path for about ten minutes and then the large Imja Valley opened in front of you. The sun is behind you, the wind is all arround, the day is great, just step inside the halucinating world of the best thing we have on the Earth: pure Nature!
It is so relaxing to trek on a large valley, it’s a very different emotion comparing with trekking a long ridge, which also can be very relaxing. After 20 minutes I met a local carrying a heavy basket hanged on his heand along the back. It was full of yak shit, the most important surviving element around here. So, they spend days on these areas for looking for yak shit and they collect it, than carry back for kilometers to their homes. As the sun is so strong here, is not a problem to collect by hand the dry yak sheet and, as I already mentioned before in my story, I never felt any kind of bad small coming from it, really.
After one hour I reached a white rock shelter, it was locked. In front of me, far away, the Island Peak let be seen in its splendor. I was so sad I had to give up my plan for it.
I crossed the frozen river three times and after 2 hours I reached Chhukung at 4.730 m. This is the staging place for climbers attempting Island Peak. A very isolated place. I felt like reaching an end of the world before entering a new begining of a different world. I went further on the path to Island Peak. I was overwhealmed by the scenery and silence. It was very cold, sunny and windy, very windy. I had to use dawn jacket and dawn gloves. 
I stopped before going to far to the base camp, I was afraid I cannot control myself and go further and further, then it would became much to late for the long way back. And I wanted to leave Dingboche next day. As I decided to do Gokyo Lakes too, my time in the Everest area was suddenly shorter because of limited budget I had with me.
I stopped to one of the lodges – there are about 4-5 lodges there – and had a sherpa stew. Very small portion for 250 rupies.
The way back to Dingboche was a sort of march and because now I had to face the sun and the strong wind, I had a quite focused rhythm. I enjoyed it a lot, but far away of being relaxed. I reached Peaceful Lodge in about one and half hour.
The evening was finally quiet, pleasant, we were 6 tourists inside. The British couple, Anna, a guy from Denmark – Peter – and a guy from Israel. He wore no socks, bar foot in sandals. I wore dawn slippers and the others had their walking boots. Anna had dawn slippers too. Oh yes, I forgot! Anna expected me in Dingboche much earlier I thought she will be able to reach this altitude, as she left Kathmandu only on 16th of December, after her piano concert! I will never understand her, as we finally didn’t trek together. She wanted to stay alone and disappeared each time without any explanations.
On the way back I met another Sherpa. He was singing collected yak shit. He was happy about it. I sing when I feel happy too and this is happening only when I trek.
Costs of today, in rupies:
Breakfast: 890, lunch: 270, dinner: 485 (mixed fried rice), room: 100. Total: 1.745 NRP / 26 USD.
 I had an excellent day!! So, I could sing today 
and I actually did it!

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