Brian Dickinson – Reader Blog 7
4/10/11 – From Loboche to Gorak Shep wasn’t too painful other than moving from 16,000’ to 17,000’. During the day while I was active and conscious of my breathing I didn’t have any altitude symptoms. However at night my body went into auto-pilot and the headaches began. I would have taken some Tylenol but I was too cozy in my sleeping bag…. so I just dealt with the pain.
Gorak Shep is the last village before Everest basecamp. Many trekkers stop here and climb up Kala Pattar (18,200’), which gives the best views of Everest. At 17,000’ Gorak Shep is a haven for altitude sickness. Trekkers may try to push their limits and it tends to surface, literally. I was up most the night with the sounds of violent vomiting. Plus the tea house smelled like a sewer. I have pretty sensitive smelling so I’m always walking around with my Buff covering my nose. It’s still not enough. Gorak Shep is also the location of the 3G tower. However we found out that it only works when there is direct sunlight, giving it the nickname sunflower tower.
We woke up and climbed Kala Pattar. It had snowed a bunch so it was cold and slippery up the 1,200’ hill. From lack of sleep and altitude I could feel the strain of the climb. I took it really slow and monitored my heart rate. At altitude your body lets you know what’s going on. It’s important to listen and respond rather than trying to force acclimatization. It was a perfect morning and we had great views of a clear Everest summit. It would have been a great day to make a summit bid… however I’m a month away.
We descended, ate breakfast and headed to basecamp. The route was relatively flat with just 500’ of gain. We took it super slow since we already had a good morning climb. Right before we entered basecamp some people started yelling. We looked up and a massive rock fall kicked off right for us. We ran out of the way, but if we had stayed on our path it would have been over. Our camp is on the other side of basecamp, which is close to the Khumbu ice fall. Mountain Gurus went through Kili Sherpa, whom outfits other guiding companies like RMI / First Ascent. We first went into the dining tent and had our choice of hot drinks. They then brought out a 3 course lunch. We have our own outdoor toilet and shower, plus our own tents. Now this is camping!
I decided to try out the shower; however they were having some technical difficulties. They ended up bringing me a couple buckets of hot water. It felt nice to get clean but I felt that I put my immune system into a vulnerable position being in the cold. Later that night I felt the wrath of a massive head cold at 17,500’. I was up all night coughing, blowing my nose and I had a headache. I got 5 minute interval amounts of sleep but kept checking my watch since I had a live INX feed at 5am. Having a head cold at this altitude makes you feel claustrophobic and increases the pressure on your head by a ton. I was miserable and questioning what I was doing here. I prayed a lot and it got me through the night. The 3G coverage is very spotty here so we ended up just having edge coverage, which only allowed us to dial-in to the INX Webex feed. It went well as we answered questions from the participants and then we got cut-off. I am now resting in my tent and with the sun out it’s close to 80 degrees in here.