4/6/11 - It’s easy to get comfortable in the tea houses at each location but when it’s time to move, it’s time to move. We woke up early and packed our gear, had breakfast and prepared to set out for Namche Bazaar. As I was applying sunblock a little boy came up to me and asked me to open his bottle of Coke. It was about 8am…. I opened it and then he shook it and let it explode in his mouth. This kid knew how to party!
The Sherpa porters rig a strapping system with multiple bags in a basket and attack it to their foreheads. It’s a little different then on Kilimanjaro where they put the whole thing on top of their heads. I feel really bad since my bag weighs over 50lbs itself and then they are putting another 40-50lb expedition bag on top of it. The forehead strap pulls back, exposing the backs of their eyeballs. But they’ve been doing this for years and I’m not going to knock it.
We hiked up the massive hill to Namche Bazaar. I went off on my own and had a steady pace while listening to music. I made the hill in 30 minutes. At the top I bought a Coke and Mars bar and read a chapter from my book parched on an overhanging rock. It was quite peaceful with all of the surrounding peaks.
The next day we did a 1000’ climb up to the Everest lookout. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and we had spectacular views of the windblown Everest, Lohtse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam and many other peaks. When we got down some of the trekkers weren’t feeling too well. Some had stomach issues and others headaches and exhaustion. I am feeling good, but altitude can affect everyone differently.
Many people I’ve spoken with feel that the trek into Everest base camp isn’t that tough. I think they need to come here to realize how serious it is. Many trekkers have died from altitude issues just on the trek, in fact 4 were evacuated by helicopter today. It’s 35+ miles and goes from 10,000’ to 17,500’. Airplanes are normally pressurized around 7-8000’, so most people don’t ever deal with that type of altitude. The body takes time to produce the proper amount of red blood cells to accommodate for the lack of oxygen. Where I’ll be climbing there will be 30% of the air that you’d find at sea level. If you were to pick a person up from sea level and place them on the summit of Everest, in a matter of seconds they’d pass out and die. Needless to say I’ll be taking my time adjusting to each 1000’ of gain.
This morning we took off for Dengboche at 12,000. We had to drop down a thousand feet, where we stopped for tea. I checked the time and it was 10pm back in the states so I fired up my laptop and connected to Skype. I was able to connect with JoAnna and the kids, while they are at our friends, Cole and Robin, in San Diego. It was amazing since my background was Lohtse and Ama Dablam on a gorgeous day. It’s awesome to have 3G coverage for this trip. I turned my computer around the room and introduced JoAnna to the other team members and our Sherpas, Pumba and Temba. It was great to talk to my family, but as soon as I hung up sadness spread through my body. I truly miss them.
After tea and lunch we set across a high bridge over a river. However there was a traffic jam of yaks. One charged a trekker and the others refused to cross the bridge with their loads. It’s probably because they knew there was a 2 mile hill (2000’ of gain) on the other side. They tried pulling the yaks and whipping them and the yaks were stubborn and kicking at them. They eventually coaxed them across with food from the other side. I took off and made the hill in 45 minutes and sat on top adding lines to my journal. We then visited a Tengboche Monastery and watched the Buddhist ritual for a few minutes. As I was walking the last 10 minutes to Denboche our climbing Sherpa Temba said, “You are very strong, you have no problem climbing Everest”. I thought that was reassuring, but being strong is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s all about how you do higher up, avoiding sickness / injury and getting good weather.
To end the day I ordered a Mars pie for dessert. It was a Mars bar cooked inside a tart. It’s no Chewy Chips Ahoy cookie (which I eat a box per week), but it was a nice touch to a good day of trekking.