Today we moved up the valley toward the pass. In the morning, we climbed about 500 meters and reached the lodges at Thorong Phedi, where we had lunch. In Nepali, phedi means the foot of a pass, and it’s really true here, as this marks the beginning of the big climb out of the valley.
There are two sets of lodges on this side of the pass. The books recommend staying at the large lodges at Thorong Phedi, since they are more comfortable and at a more reasonable altitude. We had decided, however, that if we were feeling well we would keep moving up to the smaller lodge at High Camp 300 meters above so that we could get an early start and cut down on the long day tomorrow. Unfortunately, many others had the same idea and we were lucky to get the very last room.
My next adventure was self-inflicted. Lodge toilets are of the squatter type, and they have a bucket of water next to them for some semblance of flushing. I was curious whether the water was still frozen in the mid-afternoon, so I reached in my pocket and pulled out my flashlight. Something dropped out and fell straight into the toilet, jingling right down the drain. I then remembered that I had put the key to the padlock on our room in the same pocket, and it was now long gone.
The locals were very amused when I confessed, but they said that they had no spares. About six people came to the toilet to shine flashlights down and they quickly concluded that I was right – no chance of fishing it out. Someone then appeared with a plastic bag of about 300 unmarked keys. Apparently they did have spares but they were not organized. The hotel man began trying keys in the padlock on our door and amazingly the fifth one worked. We were all relieved that we didn’t have to saw off the lock, whose maker incidentally was Godly.