Day 17: Gokyo - Gokyo Ri (or rest day)
We decided to take a day trip from Gokyo (4750 meters) to Gokyo Ri (5340 meters) however there are so many different options and routes from Gokyo. You can take the Three Passes trail, heading west over the Lhenjo La pass, or east over the Cho Yo pass. You can continue walking north to the fourth & fifth lakes and eventually to Cho Oyu base camp. Another option is immediately after the fourth lake take a left to a side trail up to Donag Tse (5800 meters). You can also take the day to relax in Gokyo, visit the Sherpa art gallery, shop in the various stores and the "world's highest books store" or enjoy hot tea, coffee, and delicious food in one of the lodges.
Gokyo Ri is a tough, and at times steep, 2 - 3 hour slog up to one of the most incredible high altitude panoramic views of Mount Everest, Makalu, the surrounding glaciers, and peaks. Viewing the turquoise third lake next to Gokyo while sitting amongst stone & prayer flags on top of Gokyo Ri is an unforgettable experience. Although my wife made it about 1/3 the way up Gokyo Ri, her altitude induced asthma & side effects from Diamox caused her to turn around. This was the last time she took Diamox and felt much better the rest of the trek. Although Diamox helps many people, it doesn't agree with others. The trail is obviously marked, although the snow on the slope made it difficult to exactly follow in late October, 2013. I began to feel effects from the high altitude and thin air around 5000 meters. You may have times of second guessing, however unless you are showing symptoms of AMS, take it slow, know your limits, and hopefully you will make it to the top. Believe me, it's worth it. Some people choose to watch the sun set on top of Gokyo Ri and hike down by light of head lamp. I spent about 15 minutes on the summit then headed down. The way down goes quicker, and was especially fun in the snow as I was able to ski on my boots at least 1/2 way down the large hill in safe sections. By the time I got down to Gokyo you feel exhausted but triumphant in your accomplishment .