After two horrible nights suffering sleep apnea I finally have had two nights sleeping well thanks to the wonderful drug called Acetazolamide (known as Diamox) and to spending more days at this altitude!
What a pleasure to be able to sleep and not feel like I am asphyxiating!
That was horrible!
So after a good night sleep, I and several of the other team members went for an acclimatization hike yesterday.
We left after breakfast and we headed down to Gorakshep which is a little more than 2 miles from here. Don’t forget that it is two miles all above 17,000′ (5100m)! From there we hiked up Kala Patthar which requires a hike of about another mile or two and 1600′ vertical feet in elevation gain (about 480m). The hike is short and simple but because we are so high it is very tiring and at the summit it was extremely windy and cold!
The altitude at the summit according to the map is 5550m or 18,204′ my altimeter was reading 18,600. Either way this “small” peak in the Himalaya is roughly as high as the highest peak in Mexico which is the third highest peak in the North American continent: El Pico de Orizaba!
So it feels good to say I have now summited a 5000m or 18,000′ peak in the Himalaya! I feel like I am beginning to be productive now!
Your money at work! 🙂
All in all the hike yesterday required round trip a distance of 6 to 8 miles and something like 2000 vertical feet and all done above 5000m or 17,000′ which made it a good acclimatization hike and workout to stay in shape while we give time to let our bodies acclimatize to living at these extreme altitudes.
The great thing about Kala Patthar and the reason why so many Trekkers attempt it (though they do it from Gorakshep which saves them 4 miles!) is the spectacular views we get of Everest! I snapped some photos on my way up because I saw it was starting to get cloudy. Everest looks very impressive! I was very excited to recognize that this view is the one from the photo I use on my gofundme page. I obviously didn’t take that photo since I had never been here! And I didn’t know exactly where that photo was taken from but I recognized the view immediately once I started getting high on Kala Patthar. It’s that photo I saw every time I posted my Facebook posts asking for donations! I can now tell you that photo was taken most likely at a sunset as seen from the summit of Kala Patthar.
I am glad I took some photos on my way up because by the time I summited I could not see Everest as the summit of Kala Patthar was receiving snow and high winds and Everest was completely blocked by clouds and snow!
I’ll probably do another ascent of Kala Patthar later to train and acclimatize more before our summit push and hopefully I will get better weather to get more shots of Everest from this wonderful vantage point!
Last night I had another great night of sleep and today I had the pleasure of taking my third shower of my trip! It’s tricky showering up here with the weather being so cold! You have to wait until the warmest hours of the day and it has to be a sunny day so the bathroom tent will be warm. Also the shower is not set up yet so it has to be a bucket shower. This means I get one bucket of hot water and a little bowl and I used a little bottle of liquid soap. For those of you that are curious how we do this. The floor of this large tent is the rocks that cover the glacier where we are camping. They flatten this section of the glacier as best as they can before they pitch the tent, then they put a rubber mat with holes over the rocks so it doesn’t hurt as much to stand there barefooted and so it doesn’t feel as cold either and that’s where you shower. Once they get the propane shower set up we will be able to use a hand held shower instead of the bucket.
This big tent has three subdivisions: one where you shower, another where the toilet is and the third where they have a sink with a large cooler with hot water to wash your hands and teeth and where you can get dry and dressed after the shower before you get out to the cold.
The toilet consists of a blue barrel with a toilet seat lined with a plastic bag. When the bag gets full it gets changed and some poor soul carries another barrel full of these bags out of base camp to a disposal place off the glacier. Just in case any of you thought you had a shitty job!! Try carrying shit literally! for a few miles, at 17,000′ above sea level!! Hopefully this helps us all appreciate our jobs a little more!!
And yes, this is one of the many places your money and mine are going! This is one of the many reasons this is such an expensive expedition!
I also enjoyed a great shave in the vestibule of my tent with my American razor and shaving cream and hot water!!! Wow! What a difference!!! This didn’t hurt at all!
So I feel like a new man!! Clean, shaved and able to take in enough oxygen to sleep and function at this altitude!
Tomorrow we go for the first time on the famous Khumbu icefall. If you are not familiar with the Khumbu icefall do a google search for it and look at the photos! It’s a spectacular section of the climb of Everest and a dangerous one though it sounds like it’s not as dangerous as they have made it sound especially now a days when global warming has reduced the size of these seracs or giant ice blocks we have to negotiate through.
Tomorrow we will only venture part of the way to recon the start of the route and cross a few ladders. Two days ago we practiced crossing some ladders with our boots and crampons on and using fixed lines for safety. We did this here in camp to get used to doing it. But we weren’t really far off the ground. Tomorrow we will be crossing large crevasses when we cross ladders so the exposure will add a whole new dimension to it! We also practiced climbing vertical ladders on ice walls which requires managing the ropes, ascenders and sometime exiting the ladders sideways onto ice with your crampon points to get onto stable ground. Everest and Mt. Rainier are the only mountains I know where metal ladders are used on a regular basis and while they make the ascent easier they bring an interesting new element to climbing. It can be very intimidating to some people to walk with crampons placing the points carefully between the rungs of the ladders while seeing a precipice of 20 meters or more under the ladder, even if you are clipped into a safety rope. Sherpas often cross without clipping in and some have died falling off a ladder into a crevasse.
Tomorrow we will get onto the glacier and cross a few ladders and come back. The purpose is to gain some elevation to further our acclimatization and to get some practice on crossing these ladders. Also to familiarize ourselves with the route and get some exercise to maintain our fitness. This way when we make our rotation to camp 1 and 2 we can move efficiently through this dangerous section and minimize the danger. Though there is less danger now than before there still exist the danger of seracs falling on you while you are crossing this section so speed and efficiency are essential to minimize the danger.
I am excited to at last see and experience this section! Also glad to start to explore the route that will hopefully lead me to the summit of Everest!
Good night everyone!