For those who have just discovered this, the previous posts about my trek through the Everest Region in November 2021:

Kathmandu
Part I: Lukla to Namche
Part II: Namche to Khunde
Part III: Khunde to Pangboche
Part IV: Ama Dablam Basecamp to Dingboche
Part V: Chukkhung
Part VI: Kongma La
Part VII: Everest Base Camp
Part VIII: Cho La
Part IX: Gokyo

Trekking Nepal Part X: Renjo La, the last pass

Day 18: Thursday, Nov.  25
The morning of departing Gokyo was as beautiful as the rest of the time there. Though the wind picked up in the afternoons, it was calm at night. My efforts to photograph the mountain and stars reflected in the lake of course failed, but it was also beautiful under the morning light.
Gokyo Lake (#3) with (I think) Pharilapche beyond. The breeze is just starting to pick up as we head out.

We climbed around the right side of the lake, skirting the base of Gokyo Ri, with the first part of our route visible and daunting. This is a rough trail, and some of our guides had been up it the day before to determine if the yaks would be able to make the crossing, due to rumors that a piece of trail had slid out. They repaired it, and we were spared the loss of our stuff again! 
 
By halfway up, we could see Everest again, and see that the wind was howling up there--note the plumes off the summits of Everest (left) and Nuptse (right).
Our fantastic guides celebrating getting up the first stiff climb.

It got colder in a hurry as we climbed. Whatever had melted and created little streams in the warmer hours had frozen overnight.
When we crested the lip at the top of this photo, the wind hit with its full icy force.

Jackets that had come off during the steep climb were re-donned in a hurry, along with face coverings. I don't know the wind chill, but the air was at or below freezing, and the "breeze"  was howling. Crossing the flats in the photo below was just painful.
Halfway up the last climb we were in the lee of the ridge enough to stop and rest, and admire our progress.

The yaks just beat us to the top.
I don't know about you, but I never argue right of place with a critter like that. They could go first with my blessing.

Pretty sure that's my son's duffel on the black yak. Mine's probably on the other side.

Our last high point--a bitter-sweet turning  point in the trek. Sort of sorry, since I'd finally gotten both acclimatized and fit enough to climb the pass without struggling.
Renjo La, 17,760'

We enjoyed the spot, especially the parts not exposed to the wind, for as long as possible. Some of us found it to be lunch time, while others waited for a warmer spot lower down.
One last photo with Mt. Everest.

Knowing we faced a long way down the other side to our lodge, the guides gently urged us on. As usual, my son and then I were out ahead of the others, dropping fast to the frozen lake below the steep bit for another regrouping.
Angladumba Tsho (lake). Probably not ready for ice-skating!

A mix of stone steps and icy snow made the top bit of the descent a bit tricky. Junar stayed close to me, just in case, but I was happy scrambling over the rocks and keeping away from the ice.

Found my son at the lake, as usual chucking rocks. This time the ice largely held, and the rocks skidding across the ice created the most amazing musical outer-space sound effects.

The first couple of miles below the lake were ideal walking. The sun was out, we were sheltered from the wind, for once the trail was smooth and not steep, and I was fit and strong enough to stride out and walk naturally. In a way, it's a shame--because it took me through it so fast.
The perfect little stretch of trail, with a hint of the final drop-off to come.

It wasn't just the 3326' drop that made the afternoon hard, but the fog was already in the valley at half past one. There would be no sunny warm afternoon at the lodge.
About to enter the fog. For the next hour, I had no idea where we were. I just followed Junar, who was following the trail, mostly without hesitation.

After a final steep descent with yaks all around us, it was good to see the "Renjo Pass Support Lodge" in Lumde, a kharka with about 2 lodges and a bunch of yak pens. Junar told me these were largely dairy yaks.


It was getting cold in the fog when I got there, but 40 minutes later when Lhakpa came in with most of the rest of the crew, it had gotten colder. Cold enough for frost in his hair!
I can't believe he doesn't wear a hat!

It took a while after arrival before anyone built a fire in the stove. When they did, Mingma proceeded to smother it with too much fuel (how does someone who's spent a lifetime in the mountains do that?) and the smoke drove everyone outside until we were near frozen.

The innkeeper's wife was away, and the innkeeper himself seemed full of joy and life and very little ability to provide the necessary services. Lucky for us, we had with us an amazing crew.

If you paid a lot of attention to the date mark above, this was Thanksgiving Day. And unbeknownst to us, when the chopper had come up from Kathmandu the day before to take our sick trekker down, they brought a couple of chickens. Our crew dressed them and set them to marinate overnight, and prepared, in this exceedingly primitive lodge, a Thanksgiving feast. They also prepared the meals for the two other parties staying there.
Carrot-potato soup for starters. We'd already had crackers and cheese for an appetizer.

Potstickers, mashed potatoes and roasted potatoes. Not shown are the fried and roasted chickens.

Pie, however, was too much to ask. We had a curious Indian sweet, a sort of meringue or something of that sort, very sweet and flaky/crumbly. So with the fire finally burning well, our stomachs full, and good company (our group and the Swiss couple with whom we'd shared our hors d'oeuvres), we passed a very pleasant evening.

On Thanksgiving 2021, I was grateful to be in an amazing place with my amazing son, with good company, good food, and good people taking good care of us.

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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