DAY 9 – Acclimatization day in Manang
Our guide let us sleep in today. We got our usual wake up call at 6:30 AM instead of 5:30. Every morning we are awakened with the greeting “Namaste, Sir, Madam. Hot tea”. Then a teapot and 2 cups are placed inside the tent’s vestibule (our very nice, very warm, very roomy NorthFace VE25). About 10 mins. later the young man comes by again with 2 large bowls of hot washing water. An hour after our wake up call we are summoned to breakfast, which is not an option.
Raj, the guide, says he has an easy day planned for us. Part of the acclimatization process is to spend 2 nights at about 11,000 ft and take a side trip to a higher altitude for a few hours. This way you “climb high, sleep low” and start the physiological response in the body of producing more hemoglobin. You need more Red Blood Cells to be able to breathe the air at the higher altitudes (in our case it will be 18,000 ft).
Raj’s idea of an easy day involved hiking up the side of a mountain. Within 45 mins. we were at an elevation of 13,120 ft! I was having a heck of a time catching my breath, but I was amazed at how fast I recovered when we stopped. Our objective was a Gompa (temple) and a visit to Lama Deshi. The rat bastard wasn’t home. He’d climbed down to Manang for the day’s festival!
We found his stand-in, a very old “holy woman” who sat us down and blessed us on our journey over Thorung La (Thorung Pass). We had hot tea with her, Billy and Raj fixed her flashlight, and I got a picture of the holy woman on the mountain. All in all it was a good morning. (at this point, the actual entries in my journal show the effects of high altitude on me, through several misspellings I made).
The wind here in Manang is very chilly due to the glacier a few hundred feet away. A fleece jacket is necessary if you are just standing around. The mornings and nights are very cold. I expect It will get even colder as we go higher.
Tomorrow we trek to Letdar village (12,500 ft). That will begin an ascent of almost 6,560 ft toward Thorung La.