Tumkot & Sipsip: Day 5-6 (ultimate elevation 4330M / 14206FT)
July 6, 2010, 4:37 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

From Yalbang the trail took us to through the last we’d see of arable land for the next couple of weeks.  The terrain quickly became more rugged and the villages more adept at eking out a livelihood from mostly rocks:

Here are the last shots of us enjoying tree cover on the hike from Yalbang to Tumkot:

As for the pace of our days on the Nepal side of the trek, we usually didn’t walk for much more than 5 hours.  We would sometimes make it to camp by lunch or the crew would hike ahead of us and have lunch waiting for us at a trailside spot.  Here’s our cook making us a meal en route to Sipsip, a particularly long day in which his work was much appreciated (well at least by those few of us that weren’t yet hit by tummy troubles):

And somehow our fantastic kitchen crew was able to present us with a good-bye cake on our last evening together in Sipsip.  I have got to learn how to bake a cake on a camping stove:

Unfortunately, much of the group didn’t get the opportunity to taste this creation.  At this point, I think 7 out of the 10 of us were down with serious tummy troubles and taking turns in the latrine tent.  The 1,000 meter / 3,000-some feet jump from Tumkot to Sipsip didn’t help matters.  For one of our group members, altitude-enduced vomiting began shortly after we reached camp.  And just after sunset we had to make moves to take him down in elevation.  I accompanied our wonderful guide Kumar in taking him to a local family’s home for the night just down the trail an hour or so.  We slept with 3 generations of  that sweet family in their kitchen.  They were incredibly tolerant of us and the sleepless night we had amongst them.  They too had their own drama with the baby of the family waking up to pee all over their bed in the middle of the kitchen floor.  Lots of scolding and wailing ensued in the darkness. 

Though our brave patient was a little better the next day after some Diamox, he was still not well and we had a 15,000+ foot pass to climb.  The judgement call was made that morning to get him over the pass and into Tibet where we would have access to hospitals, helicopters and cars.  Going back the way we came would be close to a week of walking.  So with the help of some horses, Pat and his father Bernie, who was also feeling the altitude, made it over the pass; a climb that did a good job of kicking most of our arses:

Our guide Kumar with the trail leading to the pass behind.  Again, the climb here is not well captured.  It was seriously steep, with the last stretch appearing vertical with goats and donkeys scrambling to keep their footing:

And victory at the wind-swept top (that little figure with the pink scarf is me):

We then hiked slowly down a long, beautiful path that delivered us to the Nepal-Tibet border:

And crossed the bridge to Chinese immigration:

We then met our Tibetan team, hopped into our convoy of Land Cruisers and head toward hot showers and hotel beds in Purang.

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