Lobuche East – aiming for a 6000m+ peak
After a few days in Chukhung we feel better and make our way to Dukla, a very small mountain village closer to our next project: The peak of Lobuche East. We are excited that this is going to be our first 6000m climb. There isn’t much in Dukla, just two lodges and everyone has it’s own bakery. Loads of trekkers on their way to the the EBC (Everest Base Camp) stop here for lunch.
The plan is that we meet our guide Bassar at 11 A.M. and hike to the Lobuche East basecamp to get everything ready for tonights climb. Bassar is 37 years old and lives in Chukhung with his wife and two kids. He has been on Mt. Everest twice.
It’s 11:30 A.M. but no Bassar is here.
Now it’s 12:00 A.M. still no Bassar. We order lunch and tell ourselves that he is going to show up soon.
But he doesn’t. It’s 01:00 P.M. by now and we had a power nap already.
01:30 P.M. we get nervous. Where is Bassar? We want to climb that mountain!
Finally, three hours later than expected he shows up. „Roman? Helena?“ Yes!
Bassar is here. But he needs lunch first 🙂 We get our backpacks from the room and get ready. From Dukla to the basecamp it is just a one hour hike. Bassar brought one porter with him who does carry some camping gear.
The weather looks good. No wind at all. But as soon as the sun disappears behind the huge mountains the temperatures drop drastically. Helena did freeze quite a bit in the lodges each night, so what to expect from a night under the stars at 5000m above sea level? Since days she has that thought in her head, but now there’s no way back.
At the camp Bassar does almost everything for us. We want to help him but he just says: „You are my guests… no help needed…“. So he is getting the tents ready, serves us some tea and cooks noodles.
After dinner we talk about the climb and prepare everything for it. We put the alarm to 01:00 A.M. and shortly after crawl back into our tents. We better get some sleep now.
Helena put all her cloths (six layers) on and is still freezing. The rented sleeping bags don’t make this much better. They are made for -20°C but surely not the newest. And they are definitely not made for big Austrians, ask Roman 😉
You might think why we didn’t just use our own. Sure we do have our own sleeping bags with us and these are fine for the lodges but not winter camping. So we had to rent them and the options here are very limited…
The „night“ was cold, short and uncomfortable. Helena would it even describe as the worst night of her life. But that’s part of the game we guess. So when Bassar is „knocking“ on our tent telling us that he had prepared breakfast (porridge) we felt relieved… We put our shoes on, eat, drink as much tea as possible and start the climb at around 1:30 A.M.
It takes us about 1,5h to the high camp. „That is quick“ Bassar is telling us. We spot just one tent up there. Here is also where the hiking ends and the scrambling/climbing starts. The higher we go the more exhausting it gets. And the rented mountaineering boots don’t make life easier. Especially for Helena as she has plastic boots which feel more like ski boots from the 1980s 😉
As with the sleeping bags we didn’t want to bring those boots ourselves because we use them just on one climb. So we have to use what’s there even if it hurts. For longer climbing expeditions it is a no brainer to bring proper shoes which fit.
It feels good to climb higher, but that also means that it gets colder. We have all our layers on but some parts of the body just won’t warm up. Especially our fingers. We make just short breaks because of this. Standing still doesn’t help. It does get more exhausting with every step from now on. It’s crazy how the body does react on the altitude.
The scramble on the rocks felt like ages. But finally we made it to the snow line. We gear up with ice axes, crampons, rope and harness. Because it is so cold Helena almost can’t move anymore. But she needs to adjust her crampons. It seems like Bassar feels the cold a bit different. He didn’t even have gloves on when he was helping us. He just put his hands with the crampons into the snow for Helena to step in.
One and a half or two hours to the top he tells us. We can already see the summit. At least we think we can. Slowly it gets brighter too. It’s 5:45 A. M. now. The last section is pretty steep (around 50°). We are super exhausted, it’s hard to describe. We almost need breaks to take a breath. In addition to that the temperatures are still chilli and we can hardly feel our fingers and toes. Although we keep climbing up the summit doesn’t really come closer…
It’s 7:00 A.M. now and finally the sun is high enough to hit us. We really feel blessed! Beyond words! We feel instantly warmer and the whole landscape gets a special touch. Just the climb doesn’t get easier 😉
After 30 more minutes we make it to the top. 6119 vertical meters. We have never been on a higher point on this planet.
We feel a lot of happiness, luck & ease now. But also weakness. So what’s better than having a chocolate cake on a peak? Nothing! Helena carried a piece of it to the top. It’s Roman’s birthday today. A pretty special one! Perfect timing!
We don’t spend a ton of time on the top. But we definitely spend some quality time here. The views are out of this world. After a few shots and some snacks the second part of the climb awaits us: descending.
You might think going down is way easier but it isn’t. It is as hard as going up and if your boots don’t fit a 100% it’s even worse… So this again, feels like ages. But the views compensate for all of this!
We are tired as hell. We slept maybe one hour. Now we really feel it.
Somehow we manage it to arrive at the basecamp. Almost to weak to get out of our boots. Lying down feels so good right now. Can someone please take my boots off? 🙂
Bassar is smiling and already making tea for us. Seems like it wasn’t that exhausting for him…