EBC Day 15 – Lakes of Gokyo

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Thonak Tsho

I had another lucid dream that night. For some reason I was in Singapore this time around, and was standing on a beach with a rented bicycle by my side. I was looking out over the ocean and was watching some world-class waves being churned up by hurricane-strength winds. Suddenly, a huge tidal wave swept through the coast and washed away everything in its path except for me. The dream had probably been inspired by the ridiculous howling winds that had swept down the valley that night and had buffeted the small town of Gokyo.

I had decided to rest and recuperate, and Gokyo was the perfect place for that. The cumulative strain of the last two weeks of hiking had left me quite drained and it had affected my hiking over the last two days, especially the climb up to Gokyo Ri the previous day. I had decided to hike up to the fourth and fifth lake that lay about 5 kilometres north of Gokyo. The hike was expected to take about 5 hours return, and had a total ascent of less than 500 metres which meant that the incline was (relatively) gentle. Florian and his mother had decided to just rest the entire day as his mother's cough had regrettably worsened. They did mention that the temperatures were reported to be as low as -20°C up there when they heard that I was planning to walk up to the lakes. The owner of the lodge also chimed in and told me a story of a family that had hiked up to the fifth lake a month before. The father and son had climbed some rocks and the rocks ended up collapsing under their weight. One of them ended up with a head injury and needed to have an air evacuation. I was left undeterred, but the story did serve as a poignant reminder that caution was necessary at all times.

The hike up to the fourth lake proved to be very enjoyable after having gotten some decent rest. The fact that I also didn't have to lug around my backpack probably helped immensely too. The walk just took 40 minutes but I spent an entire hour just walking around the lake and exploring its immediate vicinities, including the viewpoint that lay up on the side of the Ngozumpa glacier moraine.

The Ngozumpa glacier viewpoint looking out towards Gyachung Kang (elevation : 7952 m)

Looking out over the Ngozumpa glacier with snow-covered Kangchung West (elevation : 6089 m) in the centre of the image

The views of the Ngozumpa Glacier from the viewpoint were absolutely breathtaking, so I lingered there for a while to soak in the views. On the way down however, I met an old French couple that were easily in their 70s or 80s. When they found out that I had come from Malaysia, their age just seemed to melt away as they became all giddy and were overcome with excitement. It turned out that they had had a great time many years ago climbing the highest mountain, Kinabalu, and scuba diving in the gorgeous coral reefs around Sipadan Island, the only oceanic island in Malaysia.

A shot of the 4th lake, Thonak Tsho, as I made my way back down to Gokyo. Henjola peak (elevation : 5925 m) is at the top left of the image

Next (Day 15) : Ngozumpa Tsho
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