Boulder hopping & glacial crossing in Amphu Labsta

Posted on 06 May 2019

Since we last wrote, we crossed the final technical pass of Stage 2, Amphu Labsta and then at last descended below 5000 metres, having been above that elevation for over a week - an extremely physically demanding time, to say the least.

On April 12, we departed our camp in the Honku Basin and trekked to Amphu Labsta Base Camp. Though the distance was short, the trail was demanding, crossing two rugged glacial valleys, involving yet more of the boulder hopping that was becoming all too familiar at this point.

The next morning we had an earlier start than usual to get a head on the long day that awaits. After climbing a rocky trail for about an hour, we arrived at the foot of an incredibly beautiful glacier and donned our mountaineering boots, crampons, harnesses, and helmets and attached our jumars to the fixed ropes. The first challenge was perhaps the greatest of the entire trek: surmounting a 2+ meter boulder, scrabbling at small toeholds with the front points of our crampons while attempting to hoist ourselves upward with our jumars.

The panoramic views from the narrow pass were amazing - if only we'd had time to soak them in. But it was time to abseil down the other side and then trudge downward to our camp at 4980meters - a welcome sight after a demanding 10-hour day. 

What a pleasure to camp on snow-free ground and breathe such thick air once again. We were all fatigued in the extreme - and more than a little gratified when our leader, Tsering, told us that Stage 2 of the GHT is the toughest trek in Nepal, and that this year's exceptional snowfall added significantly to the difficulty.

The next day, a couple of hours of trekking brought us into the Everest region, where we were overwhelmed by the hordes of trekkers and frequent traffic jams on the well-defined trail. By noon we had arrived at our camp in the village of Dingboche, and right on cue, it began to rain.

And in Dingboche, Brian and Jasmine became a small party of two trekkers once again. Between the rigors of our extended time at high elevations and our ongoing trials with the weather, all of the Stage 2 trekkers elected to end their trip early, departing from Dingboche on April 15, rather than from Thame on April 20. (One had already departed from Makalu via helicopter due to difficulty acclimatizing.)

The decision to exit the trip a few days early at Dingboche was entirely understandable: the departing trekkers had already traversed the wildest and most challenging terrain of Stage 2, and though they would miss a couple of scenic high passes in the final days of Stage 2, their alternative return route was more direct.

So, on the morning of April 15, our diminished party headed northwest from Dingboche, climbing to our campsite at Dzongla to a near-constant soundtrack of helicopter traffic to and from Everest Base Camp. 

The next morning we climbed over 5300-meter Cho La--nontechnical but challenging nonetheless. Then we faced the real difficulty: a seemingly endless descent, eventually through a wildly rugged and unstable glacial landscape, to the spectacularly situated village of Gokyo.

Here, we have met Bill, who joins us for Stages 3 and 4. We are looking forward to continuing the adventure in his company.

Tsering, Brian, Jasmine and Bill

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