Day 17 – Thagnak to Gokyo Lakes – Glacier crossing, sacred lakes and the Birthday Boy

Today was billed as an easy 2 hour trek to Gokyo Lakes

We set off at an easy pace admiring the 8,188m Cho Oyu in the distance on the Nepal Tibet border. Cho Oyu is known as the easiest 8,000m+ peak and is only climbed from the Tibet side and even from this distance is an impressive peak.

The majority of the trek today traverses the mighty Ngojumba Glacier, the largest glacier in Asia. Whilst the rim to rim distance is 2km, the distance travelled up and down and zig zagging the lakes exceeds 3km. There is nothing easy about crossing this glacier in all its remote desolate beauty. This time of the year the glacier is covered with a thin crust of rock, sand and dust and dotted with lakes. The ice is only 10 – 20cm below the surface and can be seen easily around the lake edges and is often exposed.

The glacier is huge. As we traverse the ice we can hear it crack underground with huge force and sometimes see the surface move and shake. Descending down from the rim and climbing back out up to the rim on the other side proved, for me at least, terrifying. Oftentimes on a ledge one boot wide with a near sheer drop down into a freezing lake. It was at this point I remembered that today was an easy 2 hour trek! The experience however was truly wonderful and unforgettable.

Being on the glacier was almost like being on another world and once back up on the rim we were returned to Planet Earth. From here it was a short trek to what can only be described as an oasis. Stunningly beautiful blue lakes, the best accommodation we have seen since Kathmandu and best of all we have two days here to rest.

Gokyo Lakes are a system of six lakes and are the the worlds highest freshwater lakes situated between 4,700m and 5,000m. The lakes are considered sacred by both Hindus and Buddhists. The site is worshipped as the residing place of ‘Nag Devata’ (Snake God) and a temple of the Hindu deities Lords Vishnu and Shiva is situated at the western corner of the lake. The belief that birds and wildlife in the area should not be harmed continues to protect the fauna.

Our Tea House provides us with our first hot shower for two weeks and the best food since Kathmandu ….. bliss.

As if the day couldn’t get more exciting, it was also Vico’s birthday. Supper time included red wine and Birthday cake accompanied by a rousing rendition of “happy birthday” by all those in the Tea House. Vico was moved to tears. It was also the first time since early childhood that Vico spent his Birthday with his older brother. “Happy Birthday Vico, we appreciate all you have done to pull the adventure together”.

Sherpa Mingma presented Vico with a traditional Sherpa Khate in celebration of his Birthday and to bring him good fortune.

3 thoughts on “Day 17 – Thagnak to Gokyo Lakes – Glacier crossing, sacred lakes and the Birthday Boy

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