Trek to Everest 3
Trip Start Jun 14, 2008
97Trip End Jun 20, 2009
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Wake to early morning ebulltions. Coughing, blowing, sneezing, hacking.
Heavy footsteps shudder down our plywood corridor. A brief inspection
of my body finds my thighs in bad shape, locked stiff after yesterday's
adventure, lactic acid swashing about in my limbs. Looked at myself in
the mirror for the first time in about a week and resolved not to do it
After a hearty breakfast of beans and eggs it's back up the way we went
my reserves yesterday. After 30 minutes the trail levels off to a
'Nepali flat', which means gradual and sometimes not so gradual
inclines. I am gasping for breath despite this. What ninnies the
porters must think we are as they stride Herculean like up the
mountains, with as much as 100kg on their back. Despite taking Diamox,
I am worried about developing AMS. For those of you not familiar with
the insipid disease its 'mild' symptoms can include a simultaneous
occurance of headache, nausea, vomiting and diohrea. How lovely. (Bear
in mind most of the toilets are of the squat variety and its all you
can do not to spew in some of them anyway.) It gets more serious when
it turns into HAPE or HACE, the former being a pulmonary edema i.e.
of the brain.
Raj warned us that the 2nd part of the climb today up to the Tulka pass
(a very steep 300m climb) is where many people start to feel ill and
show symptoms of AMS. As it turns out, the Diamox had kicked in and
compared to our sojourn up the "hill" yesterday I found the climb
En route we saw two seperate girls being escorted down the trail, one
being guided by the arm with her unsteady legs, the other actually
being piggybacked down by a guide. No laughing matter altitude
sickness. I'm just grateful we've made it this far, it would be
sickening to have to turn around so close to our goal. At the start of
the Tulka pass (or memory hill as it is also known due to all the
memorials erected to those who have perished on the icy graveyard that
is Mount Everest) we pause for breath and take in the scenery
clouds roll in and settle mid mountain like bands of soft fluffy cotton
wool and we marvel at the beauty.
The next hour to Lobuche is really glacier territory, we walk through a
valley which is grey on both sides, scree and small rockslides warning
us to keep to the middle. Everest has been out of view for the last 3
days now, but she's around the corner (so to speak) and soon we'll set
foot on her."
After another lunch of soup and egg sambos (the menus are all the same,
low on fresh fruit veg, high on carbs like pasta and spuds) we try to
keep ourselves awake by trekking up 100m to the ridge overlooking
Lobuche glaciers. He was half right. The section of Khumbu we could see
was covered in dirt and fallen rocks with only the odd pool of bright
blue sticking out. Lobuche was impressive before the afternoon clouds
came rolling in like clockwork. Boulders were scattered along the ridge
and chortens were built up by trekkers past looking for good uck. We
descended back down quickly as the snow and hail moved in. It's an
early start tomorrow, 3 hours to Gorak Shep, than a 5 hour round trip
to Everest Base Camp. We'll have to keep the games of Jab Jab (Nepalese
card game) to a minimum tonight.
Day 8: Lobuche - Gorak Shep ( 4930m - 5160m)
Fitful restless sleep
departure time got pushed back to 5am due to the late opening of the
kitchen. We were going to breakfast in Gorak Shep instead. Layered up
and packed in the dim light of Emmet's head torch, then walked out to
the frosty misty morning. We advance like a funeral procession. I am
like a zombie, my feet barely lifting an inch off the ground, leaning
on my stick for support, my heart screaming more oxygen, more, more,
We continue up through the Lobuche pass, I enquire about the
possibility of getting frost bit at this altitude. We scramble over
boulders, its silent except for our heavy breathing and the chirping of
a few birds. I wonder what they eat or how they survive in this harsh
environment. I am at one of my lowest points on the whole trek and when
I feel I can no longer go on, the sun breaks out. We get a panoramic
view of several mountain peaks, glowing they look like floating in a
sea of cloud
eventually huge beams of golden sunlight shoot off their tops at right
angles, bringing instant warmth to the valley and to my body. I am
envigorated and find new strength to go on.
We are relieved to arrive in Gorak Shep which is a tiny godforsaken
looking place. Around 20 people work here during the season, then move
back down to lower and more hospitible altitudes when there are no
tourists around. The, by now much anticipated cricket match, is getting
set up in a field adjacent to the village and we find much to our
dismay that there is no room at the inn. Unable to secure private digs,
we settle for a dorm bed and feel very glad of it as we see more
trekkers arrive later, knowing they will have to rough it out in a tent
After breakfast we sit for an hour in the surprisingly warm sun to
watch Team Tenzig battle it out with Team Hillary on a flat patch of
sand with an incredible backdrop of snow capped peaks and perfect blue
skies. Despite my slight annoyance at being unable to escape planet
earth's most boring sport at 5000m, I can't help but be impressed by
their efforts. They don't seem to take the foot off the peddle at all,
shouting (i get winded talking), batting, bowling and running. They
said their team doctors have been worried frantic about them, but they
have the guru of AMS from the Himilayan Rescue Association overseeing
proceedings, so hopefully they will all be alright. If not, at least
the helicopter has a nice flat patch on which to land!
later that the HRA doc had to be choppered back to Kathmandu, suffering
from, you guessed it, altitude sickness!!!)
As we set off towards base camp, the yelling and whooping of cricketers
made for a surreal soundtrack. The landscape is shifting and glacial.
It's amazing the size and amount of rock moved about by Khumbu. Huge
slabs of rock are perched precariously over our heads, Raj tells us to
hurry up in case there is a landslide. En route we see porters carrying
goods up to base camp, which is apparently very well supplied. Well it
would want to be. It cost 65,000 USD to join an expedition to the
summit back in 1996, lord only knows what it costs now. May is the
month most climbers attempt the summit so the camp was full of brightly
exhausted. The scenery of the glacier is spectacular, almost alien
like. We trace the route with our eyes that climbers must make, up the
Khumbu icefall, into the Wstrn Cmn. It looks treacherous.
It's a long round trek, especially with our exhausting trip from
Lobuche thrown in. As we struggle back to Gorak Shep I marvel at the
fact that they have a marathon from base camp back down to Naamche
Baazar every year. The winner is naturally always a sherpa and the
fastest time is a very respectable four hours and sixteen minutes.
Eventually we make it back to hear Team Hillary has triumphed
a bite to eat and settle in for what we expect to be a sleepless night.
Emmet has a headache after the base camp trek, I hope he improves for
Day 9: Gorak Shep - Kala Pattar - Periche (5160m - 5600m - 4280m)
Need to go to the toilet all night but ignore the urge. Can't face the
cold and the squat toilet. Can hear Emmet rustling in his sleeping bag,
breathing sounds quite laboured. The Germans beside us wake first.
Emmet tells me his head and stomach are bad. I make plans in my head to
climb KP alone if Emmet is not too serious. Will see what Raj says, we
may have to go back down
dressed. One weak cup of black tea and 2 soggy digestive biscuits later
and Emmet says he'll give it a bash. He necks 2 headache tablets and we
exit our tea house. Emmet looks like he wants to lie down and die as we
cross the cricket pitch. No AMS symptoms for me so far, but I still
feel like death warmed up. Can't imagine where Emmet is getting his
strength from. We cut a sorry figure the two of us as we struggle up
the first part of the hill. It's 300 long metres to the top. We are not
too ill that we can't take in the incredible scenery though. Gorak Shep
is shrinking steadily behind us, at a height we can appreciate finally
the size and stature of the Khumbu glacier. The village is backing onto
it and it fits snugly up against the mountain range containing Everest.
The valley is partially in darkness, the tips of the mountains starting
to light up in contrast as the sun rises. Still we struggle.
Ignorance is bliss
really have to go. The top looks miles away, unreachable. I fight back
the tears, try not to look up and focus on putting one foot in front of
the other; and again and again. After what seems like an eternity we
reach 5562, but decide to go the extra 40m to the very top. It's a
tough climb over black boulders which give the mountain its name. At
last...success. We have reached our final goal, our highest point, and
we are still in one piece. The sun has risen directly behind Everest
making pictures impossible, but we are too tired and happy to care.
After some victory poses we make a quick descent, grab breakfast and
begin the long walk back to Lukla. Despite only descending 1000m my
legs feel like they have been released from giant manacles. I can
breathe easy, I can walk up hills without panting...MY GOD!
be what it feels like to be fit!! And I like it. It's a fun, mostly
downhill or flat alk to Pheriche, skipping along, remembering points
where we faltered, or where our spirits ebbed. No more worries about
AMS now, just a growing sense of achievement and a looking forward to
our rest day in Naamche Baazar where we plan on indulging in 1 or 2
well earned beers!!!
Day 10: Pheriche - Naamche Baazar (4280m - 3340m)
Legs not as light today and the trail is very dusty. Still my fitness
surprises me, and I don't want to give the feeling up. I am a tad smug
if not triumphant when greeting people on the way up
all ahead of them. Naamche is like coming home. We celebrate with 2
beers and a delicous buffalo curry. Sleep soundly looking forward to
our first day off in nearly two weeks.
Day 11: Rest day Naamche Baazar (3340m)
Still wake at six but lie on reading until 9. Thoughts of job hunting
preoccupy me. We spend the day strolling (gasping) through the town.
Come across a bakery and treat ourselves to hot chocolates and apple
pie. It's like heaven after all the bland food we've eaten. There are
stalls and shops everywhere selling Tibetan jewelery, prayer bells,
rugs, postcards, snacks and tacky "I trekked to E.B.C" t-shirts
afternoon we make a trip to the local market where porters have carried
goods in from Jiri. There are tempting cloth bags of fresh veg,
cauliflower, garlic, onion, white cabbage; they sit beside flat baskets
of chilies and spices. Dried goods, pasta are there, along with the
more luxurious chocolates and coffee. There are also chickens stuffed
into small woven baskets, trays and trays of eggs (I've probably
consumed 3 dozen myself over the last 10 days) and a huge and rather
disturbing carcus of mystery meat thrown over someones sweaty shoulder.
The locals mill around selecting, chatting, and haggling. I start
dreaming about all the delicous food I am going to eat in Kathmandu.