Yesterday I got my first proper glimpse of Island Peak — we are getting close! Passang, my guide, and I arrived in Dingboche (4,410m) yesterday and tomorrow, we will head to Chhukhung (4,730m), to acclimatise for a couple of days. From Chhukhung, we will head to Island Peak Base Camp (4,960m) for a half night, before making an attempt on the peak (6,189m). There is a concern the the weather might turn and a front come through, but we are going to continue as planned and watch the sky.
A watermill, just out of Lukla
The trip so far has been absolutely stunning. I have loved being back in the bush, amongst the trees, ferns, and moss of the lower valleys. As much as I enjoyed Ladakh, I missed the smell of the bush – that slightly sweet smell that comes with the damp, rich-black bush soil. The fierce roar of the river as it runs, cascading over rapids, through the valleys — another thing I have missed greatly. I also love the high altitude alpine fields, with their little juniper bushes and alpine flowers, and, most notably, expansive mountain views. For me, these sights, smells, and sounds felt very familiar and, strangely perhaps, deeply restful.
But the mountains are something else. One of the most thrilling things about the mountains is the way they show themselves. Sometimes, I would see the peak poking out of the cloud and think, “Wow, that’s tall”, only to look up, notice a break in the clouds, and realise that my tall peak was only a ridge halfway up the mountain, the true peak towering above. The thrill of this realisation comes as your concept of largeness and grandeur gets blown out of the water by something larger and grander than you thought possible.
Climb to the top of ridges and peaks have been another highlight. Sitting on top elicits this feeling of being on top of the world, not in a dominating sense, but in the sense of soaring, of being free – close to how I imagine one would feel if one could fly. I just love it!
Perhaps the only problem is internet connectivity. It is pretty patchy around here, which means that my posts may be a bit less media intensive for the next little while. I am regularly posting my journal, however, which you can find here: https://www.twitter.com/nzernick