5150m – not quite there

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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.

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Snow day in Namche

We were all packed and ready to go to our next stop at Phortse, when two things intervened. Firstly – snow.

Now a bit of snow and cold in the Himalaya is not entirely unexpected, but given the glorious sunshine of the previous couple of days it was not welcome.

Ho-hum, get the cold gear on and off you go. Well we would have done, had Beccy not succumbed to something nasty overnight. Fever, headache, chesty cough and an overwhelming urge to sleep are generally not good signs at altitude, as they are possible symptoms of altitude sickness.

After more sleep, ginger tea, a head over a steaming bowl of some arcane Nepali remedy (actually just menthol in boiling water), we decided it would be better to get it checked out by a proper Doctor to ensure she wasn’t about to drown in her own juices with HAPE.

Luckily for us, there is a new medical post in Namche, as otherwise the closest is in Kunde, not only 2 hours walk but also 500m higher in altitude – never good with possible altitude sickness. Even more lucky, our lodge – which we were cursing being at the top of town yesterday – is the closest building to it. Still a clamber up terraces, but in Nepali terms, next door.

Long story short, we went to see the doctor there, who was very thorough, and diagnosed a chest infection and no altitude problems. That done, he not only prescribed some horse pill size tablets of azithromycin, expectorant and pain killers, but also got out a map and showed how we could still get to Everest in time and could get moving tomorrow.

Now that’s a good doctor.

So here’s hoping we’ll be off tomorrow from Namche (3450m) to Phortse (3800m) and onwards. I am feeling a little chesty though, so in classic Nepal medicine fashion, went and got myself the same drugs from a corner shop to take prophylactically.

On the film front, due to the layover I’ve managed to get my head around of some of Final Cut, so have started to work out how to cut it together. Also worked out I need to be able to change the angle of the camera as I go (otherwise uphill is just close-ups of steps). As the tripod head won’t mount onto the shoulder mount, I now have an interesting improvised rig with the central column of my tripod, the shoulder mount, and an awful lot of gaffa tape. Will see how it works tomorrow.

Next update… either 4 or 9 days time, depending on mythical internet connections further uphill. Wish us luck..