This was the climax of the trip. Would I get up without any altitude symptoms, weakness, headache? Pepe, a young Catalan from Barcelona, joined us at the start. We gave him some suncream. Then he streaked ahead.
It was just a long, long ascent. The only tricky part was when you reached an intermediate saddle adjoining a corrie. There were large snow-covered rocks, and as the snow was not firm and frozen you could have dropped through and twisted an ankle. Bishnu was good at spotting the most secure way. Now we met Pepe leaping his way down. We could see the ridge to the summit, with its boulders and lip of snow.
A surge of optimism and energy arrived, with the delight of knowing you would make it in fine weather, and still no altitude problems. Tremendous 360 degree views. The unassuming Yala Peak (5500m), just a rocky bump on a ridge that continued higher, remained for a camping trek in the future.
The whole ascent had been 1000m. Care was needed on the descent, with rocks more reliable than snow, and the path proving slippery. Looking down there was a sense of achievement. Had we really come all this way up? Eight hours, including thirty minutes at the top, at my slowish pace. But slow and steady won the race.
You always leave something else that you may do, to give a reason to come back. It may be Yala Peak, Gosaikunda pass, or Kanja La pass and peak. Or all three together, perhaps. Langtang is a great place for a short trek in winter, and also offers those additional variations when the weather is warmer in the main trekking seasons.
The following day: a last look back at Tsergo Ri, then the descent to Lama Hotel. Then sitting again in that kitchen, where the smoke mysteriously disappeared, invisible, through a space in the roof. Then the next day, down into the damper and hazier air at Syabrubesi, and to enjoy the usual luxuries of a softer bed, a warmer room, and richer food, before getting in to our jeep and the journey back to Kathmandu.