Day 19: Phortse - Dingboche
This day covers an ascent from 3800 to 4350 meters in around 4 1/2 - 5 hours. Begin walking up hill on the right side of Phortse past the helicopter landing pad (grass field) traversing your way up a steep gradient until you reach a slight junction at the top. Take the left trail that contours around the side of steep mountain slopes. If you suffer from vertigo and are fearful of trails with steep drop offs then this way may frighten you. However, as long as you stay on mountain side when passing beasts of burden and use common sense (watch the trail when walking) & you'll be fine. The first two pictures of the slide show are decent examples of the first stage of the trail today. The trail begins to climb and drop around 50-100 meters at every turn with plenty of stairs and switchbacks. There is a particularly steep switchback involving stairs however I can't recall at what junction it's located. After 1- 1 1/2 hours you will come to a junction where you can turn right down a hill to Tengboche or continue straight to Pangboche. Continue straight to Pangboche, another 20-30 minute walk. At this point you get amazing views of Ama Dablam, the Lhotse wall, and Mount Everest peaking up to the left of Lhotse. Pangboche is split up into upper & lower Pangboche, a sprawling high mountain town , with various lodges and restaurants as well as a famous Gompa. You enter upper Pangboche passing Everest Lodge & the Gompa on your right. About 50 yards after the Gompa make a right passing Makalu Lodge on your left & you will come to a fork in the trail. Take a left to continue to Shomare & eventually Dingboche or straight to Lower Pangboche. There are two route options to Dingboche. We suggest the upper route going through upper Pangboche, as it passes Shomare & Orsho where you can stop for lunch. The lower route, passing through Lower Pangboche continues to Dingboche (2-3 hours) without passing a town or many facilities. Continue on the upper route passing several mani walls, yak grazing areas, Chorten's, & a Gompa on the upper slope to your left. At this point the Lhotse Nupse wall dominates the view. About 1 hour out of town you reach Shomare, which you can see from a distance, but appears to take "forever" to reach due to it being uphill, and if you have not had lunch yet, hunger taking over. We stopped for lunch in Shomare before resuming our trek. After 30 minutes out of Shomare you come to a junction where you continue on the upper trail to Pheriche (if going on to Gorek Shep, Kala Pattar, & Everest Base Camp) or Dingboche if going onto Chukhung Ri & Island Peak Base Camp. We took the lower trail to Dingboche crossing a bridge soon after the junction and ascending a medium grade slope another 30 minutes before approaching Dingboche. This long and expanding village is a welcome sight after a hard day. Savour the incredible views of the Lhotse-Nupse wall, Ama Dablam & several other peaks before making your way to your lodging. We stayed in Green Tara Lodge next to Mama's Bakery, owned by a Sherpa/Tibetan family. The lodge was nice enough and the food tasty, however the Holiday Inn, at the end of upper Dingboche is also a good option.