Breaking through: from snow to clear skies

Posted on 05 Apr 2019

You'll be reading this post hoc, but today, March 23, we are enjoying a welcome rest day as we write from our campsite in Chyamtang.

Breaking through a snowstorm, we are especially grateful for these benign conditions – soaking in the warmth and thick air here at 2200 metres – knowing that we won’t return to such a low elevation until later in April.

Here’s a bit of a recap from our trekking adventures in the past few days.

Leaving the relative lowlands of Olangchung Gola, we began our three-day approach to 5159-metre Lumbha Sumbha La. That afternoon we found ourselves once again walking on a white blanket of snow and setting up camp in a what resembled a winter wonderland.

The next day brought us to Pass Camp, at 4600 meters. The final approach to our high camp was across a treacherous snow-covered boulder field and then up a quite steep snow ramp. Very exhilarating but it was just the beginning! While the usual afternoon snowstorm descended, as we climbed, gusty winds and blizzard-like conditions emanated. Thankfully it briefly passed, clearing overnight, and bringing us good weather for crossing Lumbha Sumbha La.

However, it was the coldest night we’ve experienced thus far, with temperatures down to -14°C in the tents! We were definitely rugged up that night.

Fortunately, our route received early morning sun and we had warm, windless conditions when we crossed Lumbha Sumbha La. And what a view! We enjoyed awesome vistas of Kanchenjunga and Jannu to the east before clouds boiled up from below.

Throughout the day, our micro spikes came in handy, giving us better traction on the slippery terrain. As ever, we were in awe of our crew and so grateful for their efforts, and we also really felt for them, with the difficulty of carrying their loads and breaking through the snow time and time again.

After our descent, we welcomed a well-earned retirement in yet another snow-covered campsite. Entering the Sanjuana Link, we finally left the snow behind – one of the GHT’s notorious link sections, where the trails tend to be fainter, steeper, and in this case, muddy and slippery – thanks to the recent rain and snow.

In fact, over the next three days our route entailed over 3500 meters of descent and 1500 meters of ascent before bringing us to the friendly village of Chyamtang, perched high above the Arjun River.

And finally, it is with heavy hearts that we report that we are now just two trekkers – Brian and Jasmine – Dennis having flown away just now. After long and close consideration, for a multitude of reasons, both external and internal, he decided to call it a day on this particular trip at this particular time.

He’s headed home to regroup and consider when and where next to trek. We will miss him and his good humour and kind-heartedness. We commend him on his timing: this was the only day in over a week that the weather remained fine all afternoon, allowing a helicopter to whisk him away all too quickly. Safe travels, Dennis! We wish you all the best.

As for us, over the next week we will complete our traverse of the Sanku Link and will meet the five trekkers who will join us for Stage 2 of the GHT.

Tsering, Brian and Jasmine

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