With the Amphu Lapsa barred to us, the only alternative was to trek back down to Lukla, our starting point, and from there head over the Mera pass and into the Hongu Valley. Which is why I find myself in Namche tonight, with an internet connection.
The next phase of the journey will prove the most unique, challenging, and perilous. Once over the Mera glacier, we’ll be in the virtually uninhabited Hongu valley for about 3 weeks. Our major goal is to climb to the little-known Lake 464, by far the most dangerous lake in the region. Badly decayed overhanging ice could fall into the lake at any time, causing its moraine to burst, and a flood all the way down the Hongu river valley to the villages at its base. Our predictions show this happening in less than 10 year’s time — and it could happen tomorrow. Because we’ll be spending nearly our entire time trekking down the river valley to assess the extent of the damage the lake could cause, we would be its first (ironic) victims in the event of a burst.
Additionally, I’ve learned more about the history of this trek. Of the two groups that have attempted this walk out the Hongu River Valley (from the glaciers to the middle hills to the jungle) in the last 60 years, both nearly starved to death. The most recent group, as I learned from my guide JD, ate the leather of their belts to survive. It’s a long passage with no trail, no people, and no reliable guidance. Wish us luck.
As I learned from interviewing Rye porters on the trails, the Rye people who live at the base of the Hongu River valley are completely unaware of Lake 464 and the other lakes which might pose a danger to their lives and livelihoods. Hopefully, with our assessment, we can share the knowledge of our findings and look for potential solutions.
I intend to make it back alive, so expect to hear from me in about 3 week’s time — on November 12th, the be exact. Until then, I wish you all well. I hope the footage I capture will do justice to this precipitous and powerful situation I’ve found myself in the middle of.