We started acclimatizing for Thorung La several days before the pass. The climb had been rather steady until we were three days out. Then the days started to get tougher. We went from 5-7 hours a day on the trail to 2-3 hours. Manang was the suggested stop for 2 days, but we did one day there and went on a little higher the next. I felt okay, only having the usual altitude adjustments to make. Loss of appetite, lethargy, and slight headaches. Nothing bad that would raise the alarms for altitude sickness. I also took Diamox as a preventative measure. It was difficult climbing into the thinner air. Shortness of breath and trouble sleeping were also problems. The hardest part was controlling my breathing, especially as we got into the 13,000 ft range and higher. I tried to time my breathing with every other step, and it worked until I had to swallow, talk, cough, or anything happened that put me out of my rhythm
. Then it was time to stop and catch my breath before starting again. You quickly learn to control your breathing when your heart feels like it is going to come out of your chest. We spent 3 nights over 14,000 ft before high camp which was the last stop before the pass. The altitude there was just over 16,000 ft. We got there at 4 in the afternoon and left for the pass at 4 a.m. As soon as the sun went down it fell to below freezing. There was snow and ice everywhere, but no clouds and clear weather predicted for the next day. We started out under starlight and headlamps. My guide led the way and we took off before the rest of the crowd. There were a few ahead of us, but not many. I had just bought new batteries for my light, so I was confident of seeing the trail. Ngima usually went ahead of me and waited at the top of the trail, or when the trail turned. Off he went, and I followed at my own pace. Slow.... Very slow. About a half hour in, my light started to fade, and before I could try and adjust it, it went out. I froze on the spot and called for Ngima. No answer. I let my eyes adjust to the light a bit and then checked my options. I was on a narrow path of ice and snow. On the left was a steep upward bank, on the right a drop off that went sloping down for several hundred yards. There was enough starlight to see my way ahead so I stepped carefully forward and made it to the top of the trail where it turns to make another climb. I saw Ngima's outline ahead. I called out, and I told him I thought it would be better if we stuck closer together from now on
. He agreed. On we went for 2 1/2 more hours until sunrise at the pass. I was exhausted and had questioned my decision to come to Nepal many times during the ascent. Seeing the prayer flags and stone arrangements at the top made me a happy boy. There were a few ahead of us posing by the sign that proclaims you have reached 5,416 meters or about 17,500 ft. I did the picture thing, smiled a lot and then sat down for a cup of tea. There is a small hut at the top and a Nepali makes the climb everyday to sell tea and other drinks. I enjoyed mine so much I ordered a second. I was cold and tired, but had made it. We stayed for 20 minutes. I talked with and congratulated other trekkers and then headed down the other side for a 5 hour walk to the next village. I had my first shower in 4 days here. Warm, not hot, but very nice anyway. The rest of the trek was filled with more mountains, small villages and great scenery. The trek ended in Pokhara where I decided to spend a few days and relax before heading to Kathmandu by bus. Pokhara was really nice. Situated on a lake, you can see several of the Annapurna mountains. It is very touristy however. Quite a change from the trail, where I heard no car horns or telephone rings for almost three weeks. I am leaving out a lot about the trek, it would take way to long to describe it all. Photos coming when I can get a good connection, or when I return home.
That's it for now. I am in Lhasa, Tibet and will write more when I get back to Kathmandu. I saw Everest on my way here,( we passed within 60 miles ) and will visit Rongbuk monastery near the north face on my way back. Later..............Allen