We knocked the bastard off

Well, me and the 100 odd other trekkers who went up Kala Patar today. As trails end it is pretty spectacular, giving as close a view of Everest as you can get without roping up, and today the weather was absolutely clear, which isn’t always the case. I can’t put up any photos until I’m back in Namche (probably tomorrow) but it was worth it, and I managed to also achieve the aim of taking a photo every 5-10 paces all the way from Lukla to the top. Less than my original estimate at around 24,000.

Today didn’t go completely to plan though. I got off to a relatively early start, Lobuche (4940m) at 7am, the ultimate aim to get to the top and back down to Pheriche this evening. It went reasonably well, I crossed the glaciers and got to Gorak Shep (5150m) around 9am, starting straight up the long slog to the top of Kala Patar (5630m). With these steep climbs it’s a case of ‘bistarre, bistarre’ (slowly slowly) – but I got to the top around 11am. At the time I though the last 50m or so was far harder than it should be – normally the sight of the top pushes you on – but I got some time on top alone until 3 enthusiastic Italians joined me on the table-top sized summit.

I guess I spent about half an hour on top before trudging down again, and it was only when I got back down to Gorak Shep I realised why the last bit was so hard. I was still breathless on the flat, felt congested in my left lung and was making odd noises breathing – basically all the signs of high altitude pulmonary edema. Not good. The only thing you can do to make this better is go down – which was my plan anyway – but I did have a moment of panic. I was feeling weak, dizzy and wondered whether I’d actually be able to walk myself down. I stopped for some tea and food in Gorak Shep, still feeling bad, and remembering my insurance docs were back in Lobuche making it a bit difficult to organise a helicopter if necessary, but decided to try to walk down first.

Luckily the concentration of putting one foot in front of the other made me feel better, and I knew if I could get over the glacier crossing it was basically all downhill. I could go on about the survival instinct and ‘epics’ and all that crap, but basically I just needed to get down and did. The lower I got the better I felt, and by the time I got to Thugla (4650m) my head was clear and although I still felt congested, I wasn’t breathless. By the time I got into Pheriche (4250m) – at what seems to be my normal dusk arrival time – my lung felt pretty clear, and the only side effect I seem to have now is a husky voice. The advantage I have now is the Himalayan Rescue Association medical post is literally next door if I have any relapse or side effects. The whole thing was quite scary, even though there will always be someone to help you here, and shows altitude can be a pig when it wants.

So there you have it, mission accomplished (apart from actually getting back home), with only a 100% sickness rate

5150m – not quite there

image

There’s wi-fi at Lobuche. That’s weird.
After a fairly lazy start from Pheriche I still managed to get to Thugla (4650m) around 10:30, and had already decided to not push on to reduce the chance of altitude sickness. By around 2 I was kicking myself as I felt great. Never mind, got some nice time.lapse shots of clouds over mountains before it clouded over.
Today the ever amusing slog up the Khumbu glacier’s terminal morraine was not as bcad as I remembered, so got into Lobuche (4940m) at 10. Now thoroughly fed up with lugging my 12kg pack, decided enough is enough and got a room to dump it in, the intention to do a quick dash up to Kala Pattar (5630m) and pick it up on the way down.
At this point I hatched a somewhat ambitious plan to do this today, it only being 10:20 once day pack packed. So off I tramp, reminding myself that you should feel this knackered at 5000m. As it turns out, it was a little ambitious.

I got to the crossing of the Changri Nup / Shar glaciers before midday, probably less than an hour from Gorak Shep, when I realised two things;
1 – at this rate it would be dark before I got back to Lobuche, possibly before I re-crossed the glaciers
2 – although I didn’t have any headache or (unusual for 5000m) breathlessness, I was starting to feel a bit space.
Given that I started Monday morning at 3650m, feeling odd at 5150m on Wednesday morning shouldn’t be that much of a surprise, so I decided best to turn back and go again early tomorrow.
Coming into Lobuche I twisted my right ankle again (first time was coming back from my long day trip to Thame) which for me is a sign I’m tired and not concentrating. This and the clouds coming in reinforced turning around was the right call.
Ankle doesn’t feel too bad, will rest it this afternoon.
Assuming ankle, weather, acclimatisation and ability to get up in the morning all hold, I should be up Kala Pattar looking at Everest tomorrow and back down in Pheriche in the evening.

Decision re-made (sort of), back on for Everest

On the last post I said that Beccy was staying in Namche and I was off up to Gokyo – not the original objective. Well Beccy is still in Namche, as far as I’m aware anyway. However after a four hour tramp over the Mong La (4000m) I did a bit of soul-searching the night before last whilst staying in Phortse Tenga. I wondered whether I was wimping out.

After a bit of calculation on days, and on the basis we’ve spent more time acclimatising in Namche than normal, I realised with a bit of gumption I could still make it up to Everest – if not base camp, then at least the Kala Pattar viewpoint, which for most people is the end destination as it is higher and you can actually see the summit.

So this morning I’m sitting in Pheriche (4250m) after a fairly – no make that very – hard slog from Phortse Tenga. Apart from the 600m altitude gain, the path goes up and down like a proverbial (insert favourite simile) and it is a fair distance, plus I’m carrying around 12kg, so starting at 8:30 and with an hour lunch I got into Pheriche at 5:30, roundabout dusk.

Despite the possible altitude issues, I slept the best I have done so far on the trek, and this morning feeling fine. Probably won’t push for Lobuche (4950m) tonight, that most likely would be a bit too much, so looking to stay at Thugla (4650m) which is only a few hours away. Easy day then. At this rate I’ll be looking to be up Kala Pattar on Thursday, and back in Namche on Friday night.

Here’s hoping.

Oh yes, if you’re interested, I’ve taken 17,465 photos for the film so far.