Day 9: Crossing the Moon
Gokyo (4750m) → Ngozumba Glacier → Tagnag (4676m)
Last morning in Gokyo, and some mental travail and unease over digital messaging with immediate family members. (Saying no more except that it was a useful reminder that having expectations, or making demands, of people you care about does no one any favours…) More propitiously: muesli with fruit again for breakfast! Yip. And I got to pay for my personal schtuff (showers x2, device charging, WiFi) with a credit card! Double yip.
Also, thanks to (as usual) Aakash, my dirty laundry had been washed. Drying was another story but an old one: I made “the beast with four socks”, tying all of them to loops on the back of my pack. And then off we set for today's crossing of the largest glacier in Asia.
Sure enough, we were in a rockslide area. I'm presuming I must have actually complied, as I find no photos of it (and presumably wrote down the above dialogue later…).
And thence out onto Ngozumba Glacier itself.
As you can see, somewhat counterintuitively, it wasn't all snow and ice but dirt, dust, and boulders. We got occasional peeks at the mountains of ice underneath all that. → (This photo is a zoom of the prior shot.)
I broke down and put my hat flaps down, or at least the one on the sunward side. I couldn't be bothered to goop up this morning, and the sun was very insistent.
Setting up shop in them main room, as always, we met a nice group of Ozzies from Queensland (visible in back right corner of last photo) and who had done the Coast to Coast path in England! We all had a lot to talk about. (As Tim will have no trouble believing, i.e. I never stop talking about that damned walk…)
We got boiled cabbage for lunch speaking of happy! w/carrots and ripe tomato and warm chapati. The menu said this place was called Tangnag. I got squared away in the room, and came back outside wearing my shower sandals, as some direct sunlight on my feet seemed like it wouldn't go amiss. Read His Holiness for a while. On these really short trekking days, the afternoon and evening hours can hang heavy. Laid down and napped under my hat for a while until the sun was too much even there, then retired back to the room.
I grabbed both our bladders for the nightly water-boiling ritual as well as Darby's cards, and headed back to the main room. An Ozzie named Jeff did a couple of magic tricks, then taught us a very special card game called Shithead. He, Darby, and I played, while Aakash who knows, but doesn't like, the game looked over my shoulder and offered me strategic support.
Not even hungry, still willing dinner to come…
When it did, it was more pizza, but smaller. I figured okay, we'd only walked 2.5 hours, and I was trying to avoid boredom eating. But I sure as hell wouldn't be bored tomorrow it was to be the second pass-crossing day: Cho La.
Cho La 5300m, 600m ascent. 2hr gradual ascent, then cross moraine (ex-glacier). Last 1.5h tough climb, maybe ice. Small glacier on other side. Descent 2-2.5h to Jungla 4800m. Take Yak Trax. Steep descent for half hour, hands, bums. Damn cold. Wear everything but down jacket. In sun after an hour. Start: 0630, breafast at 6. Wakeup: 0530. 3.5-4 ascent, 2-2.5 descent, arrive 1,1.30. Lots of 6kers, very close to us. "Safety is guaranteed, enjoyment is not."
Aakash wasn't mentioning safety, we were soon to learn, for no reason. And, dodginess aside, the second pass-crossing day was also to be, by a comfortable margin, the coldest I have ever personally been in my life…