We were awake before the 5.30am call listening to the sounds of a variety of unidentified animals hoping that the thin canvas of the tent was some protection against any that might fancy rummaging around our bags looking for food. Packing was quick and then onto breakfast which centered on very watery porridge which the guide filled his flask with for later in the day. Today we were aiming to get over 'dead woman's pass' our highest point of the walk and down to the night's campsite before we got lunch - a total of 16km (no wonder breakfast was good). With little time to acclimatise properly this promised head aches and other altitude related aliments if we were not swift enough to drop down the other side. It also meant that much of the day would be uphill and we soon got into it with a mixture of steps and slope. The sun was out to cheer us on most of the way and it soon warmed up. We had a couple of stops on the way up but as we climbed Eleanor started to feel queasy and we had to add in some additional emergency stops. It was odd to see more vegetation as we climbed, in the Alps I'm used to leaving the tree line behind at 3600m but we were glad for the shade it offered. At the second official stop it was the last chance to buy anything so obviously a round of beers for the top was bagged, although they already looked dangerously expanded and it remained to be seen whether they would last until the head of the valley. The altitude had taken its toll on the group and one person was forced to turn around and head back which left Eleanor and I as the back markers taking it slow and steady to lessen the effects of the height. In an uncharacteristic gentlemanly show of manners I took Eleanor's backpack and we proceeded to leap frog another couple who were struggling, where she was clearly keener and fresher than he was. This was evident by the way she timed their breaks and several times we heard her exclaim 'but you've had your 7 minutes, time to get going'.

As we  entered some mist the top of the valley came into sight and we were greeted by a chorus of cheers as we topped out. One helpful wag suggested that the best way to open the by now straining can of beer was to hold it as close to the face as possible. Having been born at least the day before yesterday I didn't fall for this but in the end there wasn't much fizz to catch the younger generation out anyway. At the top there were great views back down the valley when the clouds parted and one American chap was peering down the trail looking for his daughter who he was pleased to announce to the world he 'left behind right at the start of the day and she couldn't catch me'. With such fatherly encouragement I did wonder if she was thinking 'let him get ahead, didn't have to listen to him all day'.

The wind soon took it's chill and so we shortly packed up, had a group photo and started down the other side. This was a steep track designed to be heavy on the knees with steps made for giants. Once out of the wind it warmed up again and we settled into our position as back markers taking it easy. We stopped off at a toilet block and got chatting to an old Canadian who were her on a mature tour. They were even slower than we were but pretty confident that they would make it in the end.
There was little choice of camp spots and a few flat rocky ledges carved into the hillside was the best to be had, but the ground was so hard we couldn't get any pegs in so we hoped the wind would stay calm.  Carl and Russell said that they had not been able to find any beer so I felt there was little point double checking these alcohol hounds. We then had lunch and a relaxing siesta followed by the evening routine.