Friday, October 10, 2014

EBC: The breakdown

Day 11 started with questions around PK’s ability to walk. She herself was in no mood to trek in pain but horse availability at Deboche was an issue so it was decided that she and Mingmar will check for horse at Tengboche monastery (20-30 min climb from Deboche)

I again left with the porters as I wanted to get to Namche by 1 pm in order to withdraw cash from the bank for the horse rides that were planned for today and the next day.  The rest 3 were to be guided by Nima.

I started around 8:40 am, the first 20 minutes were not so steep ascent but for some reason they felt really hard. Looks like I had spent all my mental energy to go to EBC and had none left for return climbs. Once we reached Tengboche, the descent began and soon I was missing the climb. The 40 minutes descent was very hard on my knees and toes, but then I found my rhythm and started enjoying it. By 9:40 am we had reached the river and now another steep ascent awaited us.

This one really took my breath away – my hamstrings and glutes were already hurting due to steep descent and I found this ascent to be one of the toughest one even though we had lost significant altitude by now. I kept asking Pasang about how much longer will the ascent last and he patiently kept answering me in minutes. An hour later the toughest part was over and I picked up pace and started enjoying the trek again. This was a hot day and I was losing water due to sweating but my hydration pack came handy and I didn’t lose any time stopping to drink water.

I reached Camp de Base sharp at noon – again very proud of my performance. 3 hour 20 minutes was very close to what Mingmar had predicted. He had said I would reach Namche in 3.5 to 4 hours. The porters had not yet arrived so I ordered lunch and waited for them to turn up with luggage and provide me direction to the bank. Around 12:30 the porters arrived, they had their lunch and then Pasang accompanied me to the bank only to find the bank closed and ATM down.

I had no idea where PK was or how far the rest of the group was so I decided to rest, I told myself I will close my eyes for just 5 minutes and I woke up only 2 hours later when Pasang banged on the door to inform me that PK has arrived with Nima. I was confused as hell…PK so soon with Nima? Hadn’t she left with Mingmar? Where are others if Nima is here already? Apparently, they were able to rent the horse at Tengbocheand PK & Mingmar caught with Nima & 3 others at the river. Then Nimadecided to accompany PK and Mingmar stayed with the group – phew…I finally got it!

An hour later rest of the group arrived in not so great spirits – they were all really tired by the trek including PK because descent makes it harder for the rider to stay on the horse. She was tired of holding the saddle and her ankle hurt due to all the jerking motion. When I asked how will she handle another horse ride tomorrow, I was informed that at lunch time group wanted to consider helicopter as an alternative to trek from Namche to Lukla.

At about 4:30 pm we were all in the dining hall having tea, when the same member who was vocally upset about the inability to take a group photo at EBC, started making comments about how I am not part of the group anymore. It was all because I had decided to walk alone to and fro EBC and again today to Namche. I also lost my cool because it had been 2.5 days since EBC and he was making snide comments ever since. I told them that since I am already not considered part of the group, I would rather walk the next day instead of paying USD 200 for a 4 minute chopper ride. 

I didn't like the idea of chopper in the first place, but had agreed to go along with the group's decision. Now I didn't see any reason to do that. I love trekking and I was actually looking forward to the walk from Namche to Lukla. For PK it made sense to take chopper as the cost of horse was also USD 200 and she was in enough pain already to sustain another day's ride on the horse.

After this was settled that 4 of them will take chopper, we all went to a local Chang shop, had some rice beer, continued drinking back at Camp de Base and the discussion came back to chopper because now we had another issue - there were only 3 seats for the passengers which meant that one more member needs to drop out. PK graciously decided to drop out and take a horse again.

I couldn't help wonder why no one gave up his/her seat to PK when she is the one who needed chopper the most. Some members were upset that we didn't take a group photo at EBC. But where was the group when PK was injured? No one else thought of any solutions, no one else offered any help. Where was the group when I got headache while walking to Gorakshep and I was told "you will not go to EBC"? A team means that no one is left behind and we had all agreed on that. So why still plan to go to EBC at the time only I was sick? Why go to Kalapthar if no one else could? Why leave PK alone at Deboche and proceed to Dingboche? Why leave KP to descend alone so close to destination and go to base camp without him? 

Everyone (except PK) was upset with me because I walked faster than the group and hence mostly walked alone. Why is that an issue? Trekking is to be done at one's own pace - and I didn't make this statement - this was made by someone who is horribly upset with me because of walking faster than the group. 

I always waited for group to catch up and in fact that's what gave me my sinus attack on way to Gorakshep. I never complained about waiting and when 2 members of the group had to wait one day - just one day - when Nima was with me and Mingmar with PK, they got extremely angry because they had to wait to get directions. If PK is too slow for you and its OK for you to leave her behind then it should be OK for me to continue at my pace. Why expect me to slow down when you couldn't slow down for PK? 

This trek made me realise that friends don't always make best trekking buddies. In fact, one should be careful doing such treks with friends because this trek has caused serious tension with my friend with whom I had planned this trek to begin with. Before my next trek, with friends or otherwise, I would ensure that expectations are listed and vetted upfront. That would help reduce sources of unnecessary angst when we are all stretched thin because of altitude, physical tiredness and unfamiliar surroundings. 

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