Day 5 was the easiest so far, a climb to a Buddhist temple above our resting location of 3100m in Pisang, but a decreased distance meant that we finished by 3pm – our first real opportunity for an early finish. In general I’m finding the going OK – knees a bit stiff but sufficient stretching to ease them out. We’ve been going at a reasonably slow pace as well, which has helped everyone adapt as the altitude increases.
Our lodge in Lower Pisang provided us with blankets against the cold, but nothing could really help with the torrential downpour onto the tin roof above our heads. As a result nobody had a particularly good night’s sleep and when we got up at 6 to start a long hike, everyone was a little grumpy. This continued for the first 30 minutes in the rain, but after that the sky began to clear and we had a glorious walk up to two old villages in the heights. It was a good five hours walking before lunch, but everyone’s spirits seemed to have been raised by the natural beauty surrounding us.
After lunch sadly this spirit faded as the length of the day (~10 hours walking), the altitude (>3500m), the lack of sleep and the bright Sun direct in our faces wore everyone down. Headaches abounded and a number of the party were struggling with digestive issues to begin with. As we trekked through scrubland with little shade, we felt a little sorry for ourselves. Fortunately, once we reached our destination – a town called Manang – we were greeted by the most comfortable lodge we’d stayed at so far – including en suite bathrooms! Well, en suite holes to squat over, but still. A meal and 9 hours solid sleep meant I leapt up the next day with a genuine spring in my step – to the slight consternation of much of the rest of the party who weren’t quite feeling the same.
Day 7 (Sunday) was a ‘rest’ day to aid acclimatisation. It’s come to an odd stage when I can consider a 3 1/2 hour hike up to 3900m to be a rest day, but it definitely felt like it. We were back down in Manang by lunch, which gave us the afternoon to read, rest, recover and, well, write this blog. Tomorrow and Tuesday we ascend twice more, staying at ~4500m on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday we will attempt the Thorong La pass – at 5400m it will be comfortably the highest I’ve ever been (we’re not counting planes).
In general though, I’m feeling really good. I’ve lost a bunch of weight since we started this holiday back in August and all the walking around (even before this) has helped my fitness no end. It’s amazing what not sitting in front of a computer all day, eating poorly and slipping too easily to the bar downstairs will do.