Travels in Nepal # 49 It’s cold outside
One of the things one cannot train for before embarking on a trek in the Himalayas is coping with the cold. I just did not know what to expect. The travel agent who did my bookings had been on this trek several times and was able to give some good advice.
During each day we were fortunate to have sunny weather. While walking, the activity, especially when climbing, was enough to keep one warm – very warm. During such times I often walked in just trousers and T-shirt. I never got to the point where I wanted to remove the bottom half of my trousers and use them as shorts.
The cold mornings were something else. It was very tempting to stay snuggled up in the very cosy sleeping bag. Washing and dressing first thing each morning was done very quickly. We would then rug up for breakfast, because in most of the lodges the fire had usually gone out before breakfast time. The warm jackets, beannies and gloves would come off during the first hour of walking after breakfast.
As soon as the sun went down behind a nearby mountain the temperature would plummet in minutes. On came the jackets and beanies again. Then when the fire was lit in the dining room, all would gather nearby to keep warm. By bedtime the dining room would be almost too warm; it was tempting to linger before braving the icy dash into the bedroom and into the sleeping bag. With several lodges the bedroom section was in a separate building so one had to dash outside first. Sometimes the toilet was outside too.
Outside our dining room at Phakding there was a length of black poly-pipe. It had a fine spray of water leaking from a hole. The water had sprayed over a nearby bush and frozen into icicles. I guess it never thawed out because the water was barely above freezing to start with, and the bush was in shade for almost all of the day.
Colder at home
While it was very cold on the trek, I actually felt colder at home during our recent winter. Normally we have about a dozen frosts each winter here in Murray Bridge, South Australia. About once every four or five years light snow falls in the Adelaide Hills 60km to the west. In 2006, being a very dry year, our driest on record, we have had three or four periods of a dozen or more frosts on consecutive days. Below zero is unusual; it reached minus 3 to 5 on many occasions.
If we’d had this last winter before going to Nepal I might have been more acclimatised.