When we woke up on Day 9, our mindset had already shifted from strenuous climbing to leisurely descent. Our objective today was to get to Chukhung. From Pyramid to Lobuche was fairly flat, then from Lobuche to Dughla was a steep downhill. Just south of Lobuche was the famous Sherpa Memorial site that commemorates many climbers who have perished. We found the stupa for Scott Fischer, the first American to summit Lhotse (Scott Fischer’s name may also be familiar to those who have read John Krakauer’s account of a 1996 Everest disaster, Into Thin Air). We also found a stupa for three Chinese mountaineers who were successfully summited multiple 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas. Despite the sunny warm weather, I felt gloomy standing amongst the memorial stupas.
We arrived to Dingboche at noon. After a quick lunch, we headed out for Chukhung, which was about 2 hours away. We were surprised to learn that it took us 6 hours to get from Pyramid to Chukhung. I suppose that at this point of our trek we no longer felt the need to rush.
Chukhung was a smaller village than Lobuche or Dingboche. There were probably 4 teahouses in the village. We stayed at Kangri Resort, which had a nice courtyard and dining area. The server at Kangri was a local young man named Sky, who was quick to respond to guests’ requests and impressively good with names.
Since Chukhung was a common stop for people who intend to climb Island Peak the atmosphere in the dining area in Kangri Resort felt different from most teahouses. It felt almost like a ski lodge- it was clear that everyone in the lodge felt quite comfortable in active, outdoor settings. We had no plans to mountaineer on this trip. We were, however, interested in checking out Island Peak Base Camp the next day and perhaps go up Chukhung Ri on the day after.
I woke up before Tricia this morning, which was unusual on this trek. Our room had a direct view of Dingboche and Taboche in the distance. When I looked outside that morning, I couldn’t see anything outside except a dense fog and white precipitations. A snow day?!
I was pretty excited. I initially scheduled a resting day at Lobuche but the infrastructure at Lobuche was poor compared to Pyramid, so we didn’t stay in Lobuche. Kangri Resort was not much better than Lobuche but we were tired. After Tricia got up and ready, we went to the dining room for a pot of tea and hot breakfast. It’s nice to have a resting day.
I noticed the front desk had a collection of books in various languages, probably left by previous trekkers. I borrowed a random murder mystery novel and started reading. Tricia carried a book with her on the trek, but it must had not been very exciting because she was constantly distracted. I love the feeling of winter when I get to sit inside a warm room with steam fogging up the windows. It makes me feel peaceful to look out a foggy window and to watch snowflakes slowly descending from the sky. It didn’t appear to be windy outside, but it did look cold and wet. We sat in the warm dining area all morning. Apparently, many fellow trekkers shared our day plan: the dining room was packed with guests. Most of them likely had plans to go up Island Peak or cross Kongma La pass, the first and arguably the most difficult pass of Three Pass Route.
By the early afternoon it had stopped snowing and Tricia got so restless that she asked that we go for a walk. We knew we didn’t have enough time to get to Island Peak Base Camp starting after noon but we figured we could go to see the lake at the base of Island Peak, Imja Tso. We ended up walking for about two hours that afternoon, which didn’t quite get us to a lake view. The clouds hung so low and so close to the ground that I felt like hiking in a wide tunnel between heaven and earth. Tricia was mesmerized by how beautiful the pebbles were on this hike. Most of the rocks we see on the EBC trail, especially near Everest, were very jagged. They hadn’t been washed down any rivers and hadn’t lost their edges yet. At Chukhung, the rocks were slightly smoother and appeared more colorful. Tricia made a rock garden when she had a moment.
A little over an hour into our adventure, we noticed that our tunnel between heaven and earth started to close in on us. I felt a few rain drops on my face and we decided to head back. Shortly after we returned to the warm lodge, it started to pour.
I was really looking forward to Daal Baht that evening. If there was one thing I really liked about Kangri Resort, it was their food portion. Sky, our server at Kangri, was not stingy on his refills of Daal Baht so Tricia and I both had Daal Baht both nights we stayed at Kangri. I love sleeping with my belly full, especially on this trek when I was in a constant calorie deficit.
Interested in reading about our food adventures in Kathmandu? Click here.
Are you planning a trekking trip of own? Check out my packing list.