Nate’s Journey: 25 May

Today has been a wonderful day. I have finally reached Luboche, at 4910m above sea level. My breakfast of porridge was uneventful and we completed our trek in under 4 hours, even with a 45min break for lunch!

The walk from DIngboche to the river crossing at Dughla was the most beautiful walk I have had while in Nepal. The forested basin of the Dudh Koshi was lovely. But the high mountains have been my favorite place since I was a child in Washington. Walking through this house of the mountains; seeing all the peaks, glaciers and frozen waterfalls, my heart was lifted and I felt at home. Also, the ford at Dughla definitely wins my, “sketchiest bridge yet” award.  It started with a stout, welded-steel bridge. Then transitioned to gabions, with their frayed metal threatening to snag shoelaces, and finished with pieces of boards, nailed in no particular fashion, to three beams.

Despite appearances though, this bridge has been putting in work for a long time. And I would not have tried to ford that icy torrent without it.

Lunch was followed by a steep climb and a mellow plateau into Luboche. We took enough time to drop things off and headed to the Italian research pyramid, EVK2. This is the site where raw data on climate, glacial movement/shrinking, particulate ppm, [CO2]etc are measured and sent to Italy via satellite. Mingma had previously been a lead technician there for 7 years and was able to get me a tour. I asked them a number of questions about their solar arrays, batteries, windows and solar water heaters that use glass vacuum tubes.

Amazingly, the entire multistory complex has been built from pieces brought to the location on the backs of porters!  The more time I spend around the Sherpas, the more I realize they are superhuman. I think this is mostly due to training and mild hearts that never utter complaint.

The Nepali technicians were most hospitable, feeding us many rounds of hot chocolate and then giant bowls of cheese tortellini soup, delicious. They were also very interested in the biogas project and didn’t mind answering all my questions. I learned more by talking with my guide for ten minutes then I have in months of research in the states. The most helpful, was hearing about the issues they have had with equipment failing, apparently vacuum tubes don’t deal well with seasonal temperature cycling up here. If I remember correctly, there is some sort of saying about this, “people in glass houses, need exceptionally robust hot water infrastructure’, or something like that…