Lakes of Gokyo.

Nepal

by Matt Jones

I’d just spent 3 months living in China on a scholarship from the government from September to November, and with that money I decided to take a risk. In China I scraped by on as little as possible so that afterwards with the money I received I could make my way to Nepal in the heart of winter.

My plan was to arrive in Kathmandu, then begin my trek towards the Gokyo lakes, then Base Camp, and hopefully with enough energy make it back to Kathmandu again. Before I could start walking I had to take a flight to Lukla, which reportedly has the most dangerous airport in the world. After my bumpy arrival there it would be 20 days of constant walking before I would be back there again, and in those 20 days I saw the most spectacular sights of my life.

The Gokyo Lakes sit in the high altitudes of the Himalayas, roughly 4,700m above sea level, making them the highest lake system in the world. Nestled among them sits one of the world’s highest settlements: the small village of Gokyo. Its inhabitants live on the eastern shore of the main lake Dudh Pokhari, pressed between Gokyo Ri which towers 600 metres above and the Ngozumpa glacier, which is the longest glacier in all the Himalayas, at a length of 36 kilometres.

The morning after I hiked into Gokyo I climbed Gokyo Ri to try and catch the sunrise. This peak is the same altitude as Base Camp, which has half as much oxygen as sea level. After seeing Dudh Pokhari from above I decided to circumnavigate its shores that same day and then the next day I had to make double time to set out towards Base Camp. It had taken me a week to walk to Gokyo, and it would take another 5 days to get to Base Camp.

On the day I was to arrive at Base Camp I walked for 8 hours, before summiting Kala Patthar for the sunset over Mt. Everest. Although smaller than Gokyo Ri, Kala Patthar is at a much higher altitude and was attempted after a full day of walking. Climbing back down I was more physically exhausted than I had ever been before, but I skipped as I went, merry that I had achieved so much in the past few days.

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