The past 4 times that I’ve been at Imja, we’ve pretty much been the only people there. Occasionally, we’ll pass a couple of groups who are climbing Island Peak as our drop-down point onto the glacier passes right by Island Peak’s basecamp. Now that we’re in June, the climbing season is considered to be finished for the most part, but this year is quite different… the lowering of Imja Lake requires a great deal of man power, so there are tons of tents around our usually research camp. It’s truly a site to see and almost came as a shock. Surprisingly enough, the outlet of Imja Lake appears to be the same. We climb the trail up the terminal moraine to check out the progress of the project and find that there is a large diversion channel, which circumvents the outflow around where the old outlet used to go. The coffer dam, a temporary dam made of sand bags and tarps from the looks of it, blocks the old outlet channel. It appears that in this section they will install a gate such that there is a controlled outlet for Imja Lake, just as there currently is at Tsho Rolpa. This section will be dredged and eventually lowered by 3 m. On top of the moraine between the diversion channel and the old channel sits a large backhoe that is shifting moraine material around. It’s quite the site because once you get off the plane at Lukla, the only motorized mode of transportation you see are helicopters. After being here on four previous visits and spending the last 4 years researching the glacier and the glacier lake, it is pretty cool to see progress being made to lower the level of the lake. I’m glad that this trip coincided with the construction as I’ve heard so much about various methods to lower the level of the lake and now I actually get to witness it and understand how this process works at such high altitude. Fun fact: supposedly that backhoe had to be broken down into pieces and reassembled on site such that it could fit into the Army’s large helicopters… pretty cool!
Anyways, today we arrived at Imja, but are one key member short. Daene was forced to stay back in Dingboche after aggravating an old injury, so it doesn’t look like he’ll be joining us over the next few weeks. Prior to this trip, I felt like I had planned everything incredibly well. I’d tested the equipment multiple times in Austin. I built considerable amount of safety days and rest days into our schedule such that we’ll be fresh the whole time we’re up here. But fieldwork always presents new challenges and obstacles that you never could plan for. In this case, losing Daene is a loss of a great wealth of knowledge, especially with the GPR system. This afternoon as I sorted through all the gear and set up the GPR for the first time on my own I realized that I’d become very reliant on Daene for this part – we’ll get it all worked out though and I wish Daene a speedy recovery. He’ll be missed up here.
That said, as I expected about right on time came my mid-afternoon headache. Once I get above Dingboche, I usually have a slight headache in the middle of the afternoon perhaps because I get very hungry or perhaps this is the time when the lack of oxygen catches up to my body a couple hours after we reach our resting altitude. A couple ibuprofen more or less do the trick and I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep tonight. Tomorrow we’ll get started with our fieldwork and fingers crossed, everyone will be well rested and feeling good. It’s been quite the whirl-wind of a day with lots of changes, but that’s what keeps fieldwork exciting(!), right?