Everest Trail Race – Day 6 Race Stage 3 Jase Bhanjyang to Kharikola
Image gallery and image sales available HERE
Oh boy, did it get cold last night! Of course, cold is relative, but -10 in a tent is pretty darn cold for this Brit boy. Needless to say, no matter how good your sleeping is/was, pretty much everyone slept in base layers and down jackets with either hoods up or hats and a ‘buff’ on.
I was comfortable, however, how do you keep your feet warm? I need to know the answer to that question.
A smiling Sherpa provided me with steaming mug of sweet black tea at 0500 to awake me. What a way to start the day. The sky was clear and although it was still well below freezing we all knew that hot and beautiful day was ahead of us.
I hiked out of camp to a near by summit and photographed the sun greet us with it’s warmth. By the time I returned, camp was back to life as Sherpa’s and porters prepared food, set up equipment and made ready for another long day.
Once again, it would be a split start, 0700 and 0800. Today’s stage had considerably less climbing than stage two, however, it had lots of descending, it may not hurt the lungs as much but it would certainly hurt the legs.
A short climb out of camp the runners would then descend to Jumbesi (CP1) at 2696m. This initial trail would see them running through a dense forest section.
No hiking on the trail for me today, we were helicoptered out and treated to a stunning ride with the 8000m peaks to our left. What an experience! Our arrival at Kharikhola was equally impressive. Nestled on top of the mountain was a beautiful Monastery (Pema Namding) and the finish line of stage 3.
Kharikhola is a main trekking route and in addition, it is a main route for supplies. It amazes me to watch children carry baskets literally as big as they are and for sure, probably twice the weight. Donkeys go up and down the trail all day carrying all sorts of supplies, from bottles of gas, water, corn, maize, beer, Coke, cigarettes and so on. You suddenly realize how life moves around in these mountains.
Sherpa’s arrive carrying packs that look as though it will be break their packs, behind them, a string of tourists with small packs and poles. No wonder the Nepalese make such great runners and mountain men. It’s a gift, a gift that Nepal provides them.
Back on the trail, not surprisingly, Upendra Sunwar was once again blazing a trail along this tough ETR route and Fernanda Maciel continued her dominance not only in the ladies race but a top-3 position overall.
After CP1 at Jumbesi, the runners crossed the Junbesi Khola river and climbed up to Phurteng at just over 3000m. Descending to CP2 at Lharpa another climb awaited. The race now had a familiar format; Upendra would lead the men by a considerable margin, followed by Andrea Schambeck (today he said he didn’t feel quite as good) Francisco Salas and Ismael Dris. Ismael had a tough day on stage 2 looking as though he may pass out at Pikey Peak but he somehow he held it together. Today though he took a fall and was complaining of leg issues. He was still up in the top-5 though.
For the ladies, Fernanda like Upendra would lead by a considerable margin, followed by Nepalese, Yangdi Lama Sherpa and American, Shiri Leventhal.
Leaving Taksindu La, the final long descent of the day, 3100m to 1500m in 10km. However, at the bottom the sting in the tail, a 4km climb from Jubhing to the Monastery finish at Kharikhola. I have seen and witnessed some very impressive race finishes in my time, but this one takes the crown. Incredible.
Upendra and Fernanda took out the respective stage wins and a detailed results listing will follow as and when available.
Stage 4 preview: Kharikhola to Llegada 27.5km
Departing the monastery a small descent awaits the runners of just 4km before a long tough climb to Kari La (CP1) at 2900m. From here the course goes up and down all around 2700/2800m for appx 10km before a very steep descent to CP2 at Surke (2200m). A continual climb to CP3 at Cheplung continues to the arrival at Phakding/ Llegaga.