Day 5: Tengboche to Dingboche

Dingboche, Nepal
14,298 feet above sea level; 57% oxygen

The thermostat was in the mid-twenties when the sunrise woke us this morning.

While difficult to get out from our sleeping bags, the dawn — with its perfect lighting for photos — was compelling enough. We watched as the sun slowly rose, illuminating the face of Everest in the distance and a conch shell blew from the monastery called the monks to prayer.

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After breakfast, we descended steeply through rhododendrons, birches and conifers, crossed a river and then began climbing upward. Today’s trek was about 5 miles but as we cruised above the 14,000-foot mark, became increasingly difficult. At this altitude, the landscape changes markedly — trees cannot survive here – as we entered alpine meadows of scrub juniper.

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Occasionally, a rescue chopper flew overhead. During the high season — which begins next month – our guide, Dawa, said that there could be several dozen trekker evacuations per day.

Yet, altitude or not, the more we walked, the more dramatic the terrain became.

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We were encouraged as we approached the village of Dingboche, knowing that we would have two days here to rest and acclimate. By this point, nearly everyone in the group is feeling some symptoms of the high altitude: whether it’s headaches, achy joints or popped capillaries.

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But, generally, we’re still in pretty good spirits.

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