Day 7 began with a nice casual walk to the town of Thukla (or Dughla depending on which map you look at) where we had a light lunch before beginning the uphill climb to Lobuche. After a steady hour or so of trudging up yet another hill we reach the top and are rewarded with a nice view of the valley below us. Also at the top of the hill are about 20 memorials to fallen climbers, including ones for the famous Scott Fischer and Rob Hall. Past the memorials we walked another hour through a rather barren landscape only notable for some viscious winds and the giant mountain Nuptse staring down at us as we walked. We arrived in Lobuche (4920m) after only 4.5 hours of hiking (which included our lunch) rather than the typical 5.5 hours – needless to say, we were pretty proud of ourselves.
After arriving, I joined forces with a Chinese couple and we went to go check out the “Pyramid of the Khumbu.” The pyramid is a joint Italian-Nepali research station that is conducting environmental and physiological research. The station is located about a half hour past the town of Lobuche and is set back in a valley about 10 minutes off the main trail. The structure looked somewhat alien as we approached, with its wall of solar panels and satellite dishes. We were a bit apprehensive about knocking on the door but I’m so glad that we did. We were greeted by Kajit, one of the researchers who has worked there for 12 years and he was more that happy to give us a tour. He showed us the lodge where up to 8 researchers live during peak season (and has recently been turned into a teahosue) before leading us upstairs to the pyramid proper. Inside the pyramid were a bunch of different rooms dedicated to particular branches of science. One housed the seismograph and was used for monitoring the movements of tectonic plates. The next housed a lab used for analyzing soil and water samples. One housed the medical equipment which he was quick to point out is frequently needed by climbers and trekkers. On the second floor he showed us their remote monitoring equipment for collecting meteorological data. We looked at their live cam of Everest from the top of Kala Patar as well as the data showing that the top of Kala Patar was a tropical -7 degrees (where we were staying the night was 0.4 degrees and 3% humidity at the time). After a nice cup of tea in their lodge (much to our disappointment, the espresso machine was broken – you should have seen that coming, it is an Italian research station after all), we made our way back to Lobuche, thouroughly impressed with the research station and their hospitality.
Tomorrow is the big day! A brief 2 hour hike to Gorak Shep, deposit our bags, have a quick lunch, and then 2 more hours to base camp! Needless to say, I am beyond excited. Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight so that I have enough energy for tomorrow. We’ve heard from people on their way back down that it is going to be a loooong day. All I have to say at that this point is bring it on!