The track from Upper Pangboche (4000m)to Dingboche (4410m) climbs above the tree line and leaves the green valleys behind. The stark rocky landscape with amazing peak views will stay with us for the next week and half.
We woke to another crystal blue sky and left Upper Pangboche at 7:45. A beautiful morning the scene back to lower Pangboche was the same amazing views as the day before. However we could see the clouds to the west mounting in the valley up the Kongde Range. I thought we would be completely socked in by 9AM.
The first part of the trail past Pangboche heads downhill to a bridge over the river. Past the bridge the trail follows the cliffside, rolling up and down with a general trend up towards Dingboche. Clouds obscure the foot of the mountains and threaten to move in but never totally cover.
We reached Dingboche just after 10AM. With buildings interspersed with agricultural fields – now barren at the end of the season – the spread out commercial center sees heavy traffic from trekkers coming and going from Everest Base Camp (EBC). Dingboche is where the EBC trekkers head north and we continue east to Chhukhung.
Dingboche offers stunning mountain views, with Ama Dablam to the south, Tabuche to the west and Nuptse and Lhoste down the valley to the east.
Our room at the Bright Star Lodge is much nicer than many with a double mattress, a rustic private bathroom with a shower and hot water. The shower head, however, only worked crudely and I had to splash water over myself from a spigot about 4 feet off the ground. Still, I can’t complain as this would be the last hot shower we would have until our return to Kathmandu. Showers were available at various lodges but with the towels not drying and the cold conditions we stuck to wet wipe baths.
The lodge had a larger menu selection than most places with OK food. Better yet, they have a bakery downstairs with decent cakes, pastry and coffee drinks. After cake and hot chocolate we went for a walk on the hillside above town.
Climb in the Pokalde Foothills
Dingboche is often another acclimatization stop, with an option to climb to a viewpoint in the Pokalde foothills on the second day. Having spent an extra day lower down, sleeping at both Tengboche (3860) and Upper Pangboche (4000) and arriving early in Dingboche, we decided to try the climb after a short rest.
Nearing noon the clouds were actually clearing a bit. We originally were just going to climb as far as we wanted, not necessarily to the top.
However pulled by the stunning views we climbed and climbed despite the increasing effort needed and slowing down to a crawl.
The hillside trail faces Ama Dablam, with better and better views of lakes at the base of the mountain the higher you climb.
Nearing the top the cloud cover increased obscuring most of the views, but by then I wanted to see if I could make it to the top of the trail at 5080 meters. It was a struggle but we made it in just over 3 hours from town.
At the viewpoint the clouds blew through, sometimes revealing the mountain tops peeking through a lower cloud layer giving a top of the world ambiance.
Heading down the steep slippery dirt trail trekking poles are a big advantage. With the hillside now cloaked in clouds views are near nonexistent.
I highly recommend this hike to test your acclimatization before ascending to higher altitudes. At this point we were doing quite well and decided to head to Chhukhung the next day where we would spend 2 nights before tackling Kongma la, the first of the 3 passes.
October 10, 2018
For links to all the posts in this series see the 3 Passes Trek page.