Friday 30 April 1982

30 years ago: 30 April 1982, Everest Trek day 11, Namche to Kharte

Friday 30th April 1982:  Namche Bazar to Kharte (14 miles)
I was sorry to be leaving the high peaks in the Everest area but it was over 50 miles to the roadhead at Kirantichhap and I was keen to get back to Kathmandu in the hope that Colin, Dave and Nick would be there.  The route out was very much across the grain country, or was once I left the Dudh Kosi valley and headed west, but hopefully went through some decent habitat.  It had taken 36 minutes to fly from Kathamndu to Lukla but I anticipated it would take the best part of a week to get back.  After an excellent porridge breakfast I left Namche at 07:20 intending to walk to Surkya (7700 ft), a small village level with the Lukla turn-off.  I made good time and got there by 12:30.  After lunch I decided to continue on to Kharte (8600 ft), arriving at Makalu Hotel spot on 18:00 to awaiting shakpa (Sherpa stew)!  It had looked like an easy downhill day but I had to climb over a couple of steep ridges during the second part of the walk.  An apparent new trail was incomplete, although I did not know this when I took it.  I ended up scrambling 40 ft up a hillside when the trail ended abruptly and later across a quite dangerous looking rock face with a long drop below – not something I would want to do again!  Despite concentrating on walking a good variety of birds were seen today including an excellent Red-tailed Minla.

Birds recorded:  Rufous Turtle Dove 6, Common Hawk Cuckoo h, Indian Cuckoo h, Common Cuckoo 1, Oriental Cuckoo h, Himalayan Swiftlet 3, Olive-backed Pipit 3, Grey Wagtail 1, Long-tailed Minivet 2, Brown Dipper 4, Rufous-breasted Accentor 2, White-browed Shortwing 2, Plumbeous Redstart 8, Grey Bushchat 6, River Chat 11, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush 4, Blue Whistling Thrush 30, White-collared Blackbird 2, Golden Spectacled Warbler 6, Blyth’s Crowned Leaf Warbler 10, Ashy-throated Leaf Warbler 3, Lemon-rumped Warbler 10, Tickell’s Warbler 1, Beautiful Niltava 1, Brown Flycatcher 4, Slaty-blue Flycatcher 1, Rufous-gorgetted Flycatcher 12, Yellow-bellied Fantail 4, Pigmy Wren Babbler 1, White-throated Laughingthrush 2, Spotted Laughingthrush 1, Streaked Laughingthrush 6, Red-headed Laughingthrush 2, Chestnut-tailed Minla 2, Red-tailed Minla 1, White-browed Fulvetta 6, Black-capped Sibia 7, Stripe-throated Yuhina 5, Rufous-fronted Tit 3, Green-backed Tit 4, White-tailed Nuthatch 4, Stoliczka’s Treecreeper 2, Green-tailed Sunbird 10, Grey-backed Shrike 2, Gold-billed Blue Magpie 1, Nutcracker 1, Large-billed Crow 20, Tree Sparrow 5.

Namche Bazar

trail south of Jorsale


trail south of Lukla

forest trail to Kharte

Thursday 29 April 1982

30 years ago: 29 April 1982, Everest Trek day 10, Gokyo to Namche Bazar

Thursday 29th April 1982:  Gokyo Peak and return to Namche Bazar (12 miles)
I had a terrible night, cold and very uncomfortable, and was up just before 06:00.  After a quick couple of cups of tea I set off on the climb up Gokyo Peak (c5300m/17,600 ft).  I arrived at its summit by 07:45, quite a slog but well worth it for amazing views to the east with three 8000m peaks in same field of view.  Perhaps Gokyo Peak has a better eastern vista than that from Kala Pattar, although Kala Pattar seemed better for all round views?  I spent an hour happily clicking away with my camera but on balance felt Kala Pattar had the edge although perhaps by now impressive mountain views are losing their ‘jaw dropping’ value - though hardly familiarity breeding contempt!  I returned back over scree slopes, somewhat dangerously, hoping for Snow Partridge, but without success.  It was very poor for birds and I was back at the lodge by 10:00.  After some excellent porridge I packed and left Gokyo at 11:00.  I walked quite quickly to Dulay, in driving hail and sleet from Pangka.  I stopped in Dulay from 14:00-14:30 for tea and biscuits and when the snow stopped decided to continue on to Namche Bazar.  I eventually arrived at the Sherpa Hotel, where I got the last bed, just after 18:00 - a long days walk.  I saw my first new bird for a week (Large-billed Leaf Warbler), several more Blood and Impeyan Pheasants and two Alpine Accentors at 18,000 feet.  I had an excellent Sherpa stew (only 2 rupees) for supper and was much too hot in the night!

Birds seen:  Lammergeyer 1, Steppe Eagle 1, Sparrowhawk 1, Kestrel 1, Merlin 1, Ruddy Shelduck 2, Blood Pheasant 4 males and a female, Impeyan Pheasant 6 males and 2 females, Snow Pigeon 10, Rufous Turtle Dove 6, Olive-backed Pipit 1, Rosy Pipit 5, Black-backed Wagtail 1, Brown Dipper 2, Alpine Accentor 2 at 18,000 ft, Red-flanked Bluetail 1, Blue-fronted Redstart 35, River Chat 2, Blue Whistling Thrush 3, Rufous-capped Bush Warbler 1, *Large-billed Leaf Warbler 1, Lemon-rumped Warbler 2, Tickell’s Warbler 1, Black-faced Laughingthrush 1, White-browed Fulvetta 1, Grey-crested Tit 2, Black-crested Tit 5, Alpine Chough 100, Chough 50, Large-billed Crow 4, Hodgson’s Mountain Finch 75, White-browed Rosefinch 2, White-winged Grosbeak 1.

Tawche and Gokyo Lake from Gokyo Peak

looking north from Gokyo Peak

looking SSE from Gokyo Peak

me at Gokyo Peak, note appropriate clothing for this altitude!

Everest from Gokyo Peak

looking north-east from Gokyo Peak, Changtse centre, Everest to the right

me at Gokyo Peak, Everest and Lhotse behind

looking east from Gokyo Peak with Everest, Lhotse and more distantly Makalu all 8000m peaks

leaving Gokyo Peak

Ruddy Shelduck on Gokyo Lake

Ruddy Shelduck by Gokyo Lake

trail between Gokyo and Dulay

Brown Dipper above Dulay

view across to Thyangboche from Trashiunga

Tuesday 27 April 1982

30 years ago: 28 April 1982, Everest Trek day 9, Dulay to Gokyo

Wednesday 28th April 1982:  Dulay to Gokyo (7 miles)
I had an even later start (08:30) but it was a glorious morning.  I walked slowly to Gokyo (15,500 ft) arriving at the New Tea Shop, by Gokyo Lake, at 14:00.  All the villages between Dulay and Gokyo seemed deserted with the possible exception of Pangka.  Gokyo was quite busy with trekkers, although I only passed one leaving the area on my way up.  No sign of any more Grandalas was a big disappointment and no hoped-for Snow Partridges either although a Himalayan Rubythroat and three species of accentor were nice, and avian evidence of being above the tree line.

Birds seen:  Black Kite 1, Golden Eagle 1, Ruddy Shelduck 2, Pintail 2, Tibetan Snowcock 6, Snow Pigeon 30, Rufous Turtle Dove 3, Olive-backed Pipit 2, Rosy Pipit 12, Brown Dipper 1, Rufous-breasted Accentor 2, Robin Accentor 1, Alpine Accentor 3, Himalayan Rubythroat 1 male, Blue-fronted Redstart 25, Plumbeous Redstart 1, River Chat 5, Blue Whistling Thrush 1, Tickell’s Warbler 2, Alpine Chough 1, Chough 15, Large-billed Crow 15, Hodgson’s Mountain Finch 20, Beautiful Rosefinch 1, White-winged Grosbeak 3.

view south from Dulay to Phortse


trail between Dulay and Gokyo

first lake at Gokyo

lodges, huts and tents by Gokyo Lake

Gokyo Peak from Gokyo Lake, a 2000 foot climb I was not particularly looking forward to in thhe morning

30 years ago: 27 April 1982, Everest Trek day 8, Periche to Dulay

Tuesday 27th April 1982:  Periche to Khumjung and Dulay (11 miles)
After a late start from Periche (07:30) I made good time to Pangboche and Thyangboche.  An attempted short cut to Phortse, which would have avoided Thyangboche, proved abortive and I turned back after a short distance as a cliff slide had taken away the path and I didn’t feel confident of clambering around it.  It was a nice morning for walking and I had excellent views of Blood Pheasant in the woods just before arriving at Thyangboche at 11:00.  Superb as Thyangboche was I decided not to stay and left after an enjoyable plate of boiled potatoes.  I got to Khumjung (12,400 ft) by 14:20, after climbing down to cross the Dudh Kosi.  Having arrived I didn’t feel like staying here either so returned to the turning to Gokyo (I’d not come far out of the way), past Trashinga and over a ridge at 13,000 ft intending to reach Phorste for the night.  Once over the ridge it was raining and I was in the clouds until I’d dropped much lower to a different (higher) part of the Dudh Kosi.  Phortse was across the river and 500 ft up a hillside in the wrong direction, which I hadn’t fully appreciated when considering staying there, so as it was only 16:00 I decided to press on to Dulay (13,400 ft).  The trail went up into good looking forest again but I was soon back into the clouds.  I saw more pheasants, including male Impayan and Blood in the same field, and several bluetails.  I reached the lodge in Dulay at 17:40 by which time I was very pleased to arrive.  It was a long day, even with the late start, but despite my exertions I didn’t sleep too well.

Birds seen:  Black Kite 7, Blood Pheasant 5 males and 4 females, Impeyan Pheasant 9 males and 2 females, Snow Pigeon 250, Rufous Turtle Dove 3, Olive-backed Pipit 3, Rosy Pipit 1, Black-backed Wagtail 1, Brown Dipper 2, Rufous-breasted Accentor 4, Robin Accentor 1, Red-flanked Bluetail 15, Blue-fronted Redstart 20, River Chat 1, Blue Whistling Thrush 6, Rufous-capped Bush Warbler 1, Golden-spectacled Warbler 1, Orange-barred Leaf Warbler 2, Lemon-rumped Warbler 15, Tickell’s Warbler 4, Slaty-blue Flycatcher 1, Rufous-gorgetted Flycatcher 1, Black-faced Laughingthrush 1, White-browed Fulvetta 2, Grey-crested Tit 6, Black-crested Tit 4, Grey-backed Shrike 1, Chough 10, Large-billed Crow 10, Beautiful Rosefinch 25, White-winged Grosbeak 10.

looking south from Orsho towards Pangboche

Chorten and prayer stones by the trail south of Pangboche, Thyangboche ridge in middle distance

Blood Pheasant near Thyangboche

male Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail near Thyangboche

Punkl with many more Rhodedendrons in bloom than there had been five days earlier

Monday 26 April 1982

30 years ago: 26 April 1982, Everest Trek day 7, Loboche-Kala Pattar-Periche

Monday 26th April 1982:  Loboche to Kala Pattar and return to Periche (9 miles)I was pleased (relieved?) to get up at 04:50 after my coldest night ever.  Thank goodness it was cloudy, a clear night might have finished me off!  It is too cold to contemplate a second night at this altitude, let alone any higher.  I only had to put on shoes and waterproofs to be ready to leave, the former after taking off one pair of socks.  I packed my remaining stuff roughly into my rucksack which I then left at lodge as I was definitely coming back later in the day.  Having decided that, it was an easy choice to opt for going to Kala Pattar ('Black Rock' in Nepali) rather than Everest Basde Camp.  I left Loboche at 05:05 to find it clear, crisp and just getting light.  I walked quickly to Gorak Shep (17,000 ft), arriving at 06:30, then slowed considerably on ascent up Kala Pattar (5550m/18,200 ft or as more recently calculated 5640m/18,500 ft), arriving at 07:45.  I really felt the altitude going up, with more and more frequent rest stops, although it being a steep climb did not help.  Towards the end I seemed to feel no better after a rest and so slowly plodded on as far as I could, always against the clock knowing that the clouds would come in quickly at some stage.  On reaching the top of Kala Pattar I was rewarded with magnificent views which most definitely made the not inconsiderable effort very worthwhile.  Ten Alpine Chough seen at the summit were my highest ever birds with a Sparrowhawk not far below quite a surprise considering it was 1000 feet higher up than any passerine I saw.  I finished a film with 360° panorama of at least 10 shots, mainly vertical but a few horizontals thrown in.  Half the next film went the same way, especially of the view to south as the clouds came rolling in.  I spent two hours on the summit of Kala Pattar in a daze but by 09:45 the clouds were starting to look quite ominous as they built up further down the valley.  I left, keen to get off Kala Pattar before the clouds arrived and a developing headache (altitude related?) encouraged me to head down quickly.  I didn’t stop at Gorak Shep but continued straight back down to Loboche, mostly in snowy drizzle. I arrived back at Loboche at 11:35, had a quick cup of tea and left soon after 12:00 to head down to Periche.  It was mostly into the wind but I was back at the Himalaya Hotel at 13:45 for a very welcome cup of tea.  Fortunately my headache had gone and I felt much warmer despite still being at 14,000 ft.

Birds seen:  Sparrowhawk 1 male at 18,000 ft, Kestrel 1 at 17,000 ft, Tibetan Snowcock 4 at 17,000 ft, Shore Lark 3 at 16,500 ft, Rosy Pipit 1, Alpine Accentor 6 at 17,000 ft, Blue-fronted Redstart 10 up to 16,000 ft, Alpine Chough 10 at 18,200 (or 18,500) ft, Chough 4, Large-billed Crow 8, Hodgson’s Mountain Finch 80, Brandt’s Mountain Finch 3 probables at 17,000 ft.

Kala Pattar living up to its Black Rock Nepali name and behind it Pumori from Gorak Shep.  It might not look much of a climb but it certainly felt a lot more than 1200 feet (twice the height of Beachy Head) or even the more recently calculated 1500 ft

Changtse and the Khumbu Glacier while ascending Kala Pattar

me at Kala Pattar, Changste behind, Everest in cloud

Everest and Nuptse and the view east from Kala Pattar

Changtse and Khumbu Glacier and the view north-east from Kala Pattar

Pumori and the view north from Kala Pattar

Khumbu Glacier and Everest Base Camp from Kala Pattar

Everest and view east from Kala Pattar

Lingtern and Changtse and the view NNE from Kala Pattar

Ama Dablam and the view southeast from Kala Pattar

Kantega and the view south from Kala Pattar

me at Kala Pattar with Pumori behind

me and another trekker's bag at Kala Pattar, I'd left mine at Lobuche to save weight but still only just made it.

Alpine Chough at Kala Pattar

my highest recorded species

view south from Kala Pattar with cloud starting to form

view south from Kala Pattar with cloud building up

Kala Pattar descent, now a race against the cloud

shades south of Everest during a break in the weather