Day 22: Chukhung - Chukhung Ri
The views atop Chukhung Ri of the massive Lhotse Wall, Makalu, & surrounding Himalayan peaks are absolutely stunning and were a culmination of the journey from Jiri. The giant peaks and timeless landscape at high elevation leave you breathless. Standing at or near Chukhung Ri, contemplate how far you have come.
This can be a difficult side trip up a landscape of mostly grass & dirt with scattered boulders. You start the trek at Chukhung (4750 meters), ascending to Chukhung Ri (5560 meters). The side trip up takes around 2 - 2 1/2 hours & the peak of Chukhung Ri & even further, Chukhung Tse (5855 meters) cannot be seen from the base of Chukhung. You begin the day by crossing a stream and traversing an obvious beaten trail behind the Panorama Lodge above town. The beginning of the trail can be a bit slippery as you walk over marsh, snow, & ice but eventually the trail becomes obvious 10 minutes out of town. The trails mostly steep ascent sandwiches a 20 minute section of relative level terrain before making the final long & steep ascent up to the saddle. Using mountaineering techniques of walking, taking small and steady steps while setting goals ("I will walk 100 steps before resting") can help maintain your fire and keep you going. Once reaching the saddle you have a few options. Make a left (south) to the lower peak (5420 meters) or make a right up a scramble of boulders to Chukhung Ri (5560 meters). Both have incredible views of surrounding mountains including Makalu, the Lhotse Wall, Kongmaste, & Island Peak. The Nuptse Glacier & Lhotse Glacier are also visible from both peaks. Once you reach Chukhung Ri, you can keep going to Chukhung Tse (5855 meters) however it's recommended you have the technical skills, an ice ax, and possibly crampons depending on the conditions. Use extreme caution if the route between Chukhung Ri - Chukhung Tse is icy or snowy. Take care on the way down to Chukhung as the strenuous hike depleted your energy and typically the descent in high elevation is when more mistakes occur. Once you arrive in town fill up on food at your lodge as you have earned it.