EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK DIARY DAY 4
THAME (ACCLIMATIZATION DAY)
Starting Point: Thame (3,820m/12,500ft)
Finishing Point: Thame (3,820m/12,500ft)
Trekking Time: N/A
Accommodation: Yeti Mountain Home
If you have ever completed a high-altitude trek, then you’ll understand the importance of allowing yourself to acclimatize properly. The process is simply allowing your body to adjust to the lower levels of oxygen in the atmosphere. As it relates to trekking, it’s about taking your time and avoiding the sometimes-fatal altitude sickness. For us, doing this properly is the difference between making it to Everest Base Camp or not. That’s why day 4 of our trek to Everest Base Camp was set aside for acclimatization in Thame.
Even though there was no set agenda for the day, I woke up early as the sun was beaming through my window. I threw on some clothes, grabbed my camera and decided to took a stroll outside. As I walked out of the tea house I was gob smacked. Our arrival into Thame the previous day was less than eventful. The fog meant I could hardly see my hand in front of me. Today was a different story.
Clear as day – the mountains we were trekking through yesterday revealed themselves and they were magnificent. Don’t know why I am surprised by this as it happens almost every day, but clear mornings taunt you with what you were nonchalantly trekking through the day before. It’s almost mother nature’s way of playing peek-a-boo with you – like, on a really large scale
Looking around you can see water being collected from the river, smoke chuffing out of the chimneys and lines of yaks making their way up and down the valley. The grounds of the Yeti Mountain Home – Thame may have been still, but it’s clear the rest of this village was wide awake and raring to go. What a great place to spend an acclimatization day.
Admittedly I was a bit giddy about being in Thame. The village is quite a well-known Sherpa village and has been home to some of mountaineering’s greatest. Tenzing Norgay, one of the first to summit Everest, had one of his childhood homes here after his time in Tibet and India. Thame is also the home to “snow leopard” Apa Sherpa – who has summited Everest a whopping 21 times! Throw in the fact that this village sits on the old salt trading routes between India, Tibet and Nepal – and you got a place jam packed full of history.
After breakfast, we went on acclimatization walk. These are set aside to train your body to deal with the lower levels of oxygen in the air as you trek to higher altitudes, but then come down. It’s why those that summit Everest do so over the course of a couple months. If doesn’t take that much time to get there – it’s just the act of going up and down several times to allow the body to train on lower oxygen levels.
We didn’t summit to any peaks on our acclimatization day, but we did trek an hour to the oldest monastery in the region – Thame Dechen Chokhorling Monastery. It was a few buildings perched high in the side of the mountains. We followed the prayer flags along the ride and passed a handful of stupas. While our trek up to the monastery wasn’t as taxing as summiting Everest, every step began to get us higher, revealing more of the surrounding mountains. The panorama from the top with awesome perspectives of Thamserku and Kusum Khanguru was again even more fantastic than as it was from below.
Founded in the 17th century, the Thame Dechen Chokhorling Monastery is legit. Monks were filing in and out of the buildings, there were loud sounds of drums beating, cymbals clanging and mysterious Buddhist chants echoing in the air. We made a contribution and got to go inside to check it out. Unfortunately, there were no cameras allowed inside and we were only able to visit one room that was empty. Regardless, it’s hard not to feel a spiritual presence as you meander through the dark and dusty monastery.
Before heading back down to our tea house, I sat myself on the wall that overlooked Thame and watched the clouds roll in over the mountains. The beating drums and chants from within the monastery provided an ambient soundtrack like no other. I let whatever thoughts come into and out of my head as they so pleased and I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. I’ve not meditated before, but I’m sure my reflection was as close to it as one can get. It was a special afternoon and one that sets this trek above others that I have done in the past.
As we headed back into Thame we stopped by to visit the local school. It appeared it was the last day of school and students, with parents at their side, were getting their end of year grades. Prem shared with us that a lot of the kids who attend school here travel far and wised from surrounding villages.
We stuck our heads into one of the classrooms to see how where the kids conducted their studies. The rooms were small, covered floor to ceiling in posters and maps, had stacks of out of date text books, one brick of a laptop and a paperless printer. You often hear about how little schools in thirds world countries have– it becomes real when you are visiting one in the middle of the Himalayas. A nice way to end one of the first truly reflective days on trek to Everest Base Camp.
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Check out the day as recorded by Stava. See the trails taken, overall elevation gains, trekking times and how fast (or slow) we made it from Point A to Point B.