Day 7 - Day 14
Today, on day 7, I am just exhausted! The altitude is really getting to me. Not only that my headaches are coming and going but I am also finding it very difficult when it is steep. It is difficult to breath and it is just so tiring. It's difficult to sleep too, which makes you even more exhausted. Apparently once above 4000 m it's much harder to sleep due to the lack of oxygen. We had to leave Jason and Leslen behind today, as Jason is really struggeling with the altitude and really suffering from no sleep. He stops breathing at night and then wakes up in panic and anxiety. Shame we had to leave them behind as they were quite entertaining.
This is certainly the hardest thing I have ever done and it is amazing how the lack of oxygen affect you. We have met a whole group that is doing research on it. They are riding exercise bikes at different hights, even up in Camp 3! Absolutely crazy!
The scenary here is completely different now. Its really harsh and sparse. We haven't seen any trees in a few days and it is all rocks and sand and dust now. Never seen a landscape like that. Although it isn't as beautiful as such, you are now much closer to the mountains and the harshness has it's own beauty and reflects quite well how I feel: exhausted, tired....
We are now in Labouche at 4930 m and tomorrow we are finally getting to Base Camp. I can't wait. 2 weeks of trecking is a long time and I start loosing my willpower a bit.
The big day! From Labouche we went up to Gorakshep where we had lunch and from there we went up to Base Camp. The walk was much longer than expected and much harder. Apart from the really dead scenary, just rocks and and dust, we also past some really beautiful glacier lakes. However, the altitude sickness finally got me. It started with a banging headache which was just horrible. It got so bad that for the first time I actually took two tablets but they didn't seem to help. It was just getting worse. It was really difficult to breathing and every single step seemed like a marathon. I could hardly walk anymore and just stumbled along. I have never felt so exhausted in my life. I certainly understand what it means now to push your body beyond the borders. It got so bad that I was convinced I wouldn't make it back down to the teahouse. I really thought that they had to find me a tent and I had to stay at Base Camp. It is difficult to describe how it felt, but I never felt like that before.
I was sometimes close to just throw all my gear and sit down and not move any further. But somehow I couldn't give up so close to it and somehow I managed to keep pushing myself. As impossible as it felt to keep on walking as impossible it was to think of giving up. I just had to make it and get there. Afterwards the others said that I did look dreadful and they were quite worried but they didn't want to say anything then.
By the time we finally got there I was too exhausted to even care, I was just glad it was over and wanted to rest. But the others kept walking around aimlessly which made me quite irritated, feeling the way I felt. Fortunately it didn't take us too long to find a tent that offered us seats and water. They said straight away that I need to drink water and eat something. Fortunately they had some boiled water left from the night before, as I had run out. It was such a relief to sit down. I still wasn't able to say much by then but at least I had water and a place to rest.
They were journalists from the Philipines who just got to Base Camp themselves and were waiting for the first 3 women ever summiting from Tibet and coming down in Nepal.
Base Camp is basically just an accumulation of tents with people either acclimatising before their summit or people waiting for others who attempt to summit and hopefully come back down again.
It's complete chaos, tents everywhere, in between the flags of each summiting team and prayer flags. Not a single house or shop or anything. It is based just at the foot of the Khumbu icefall, which all climbers need to pass in order to get to Camp 1. Base Camp is at 5334 meters. It is so basic here that they of course don't even have toilets, so people set up their own "toilet tents". Waste is really controlled here now which means all rubbish needs to be carried down now, which includes the toilets. So, as some poor bugger has to carry down that stuff, they charge you $11 per kilo. Therefore a lot of people pee outside the toilet tents to reduce the weight! ;-) Incredible!
So I finally made it to Base Camp and felt shit and didn't even want to eat the famous Apple Pie. Everyone we met and has been in Base Camp told us the unbelievable thing that within all those tents a crazy German set up his tent and is baking proper delicious hot German Apple Pie which was meant to be divine. And I didn't even care.... We eventually after some rest went to look for it and found the famous blue tent. Absolutely unbelievable when you think about where you are, what altitude you are at and have a look at the chaos and simplicity of tents that you can buy a piece of hot German Apple Pie.
Once in the tent the smell was too tempting for me to resist and I have to say it worked. The applie pie was divine, even by German standards, and straight after eating it, I felt better. The guys could even see in my face without me saying a word that I was feeling better. A complete strange even said that I must be feeling much better as I was suddenly smiling and talking again. I was so relieved and was so happy that after all that at least I had a bit of time left to actually enjoy being at Base Camp.
It seemed the rest, loads of water and the pie made me feel good again. The tablets might have kicked in by then too... maybe they need longer above 5000 m.... who knows...
We couldn't stay too long, as we wanted to get back in daylight, so we left the 2 Americans we walked up with behind and went on.
Although I felt much better but it was still so exhausting and the treck seemed never ending. But we made just before sunset and went to bed by 8pm as we were all so tired and also had an extremely early start. Our teahouse in Gorakshep was at 5200 m and the sleep was therefore not very good at all. Damn lack of oxygen...:-(
The next big day! From base camp you can't actually see Mt. Everest. In order to have a good view at Everest you have to go up even higher to Khala Patar at 5545 meters!
So, the day after Base Camp, still feeling absolutely knackered we got up at 4am to go to our final destination, Khala Patar, the highest point of our treck.
The hike was absolutely exhausting again as it all went up hill and was really steep. It was freezing cold but the view, once it got bright as we left in the dark, and the whole atmosphere was amazing. We were lucky and had absolutely clear skies and the views we had over Everest, Aba Dablam and the rest of the Himalaya was just spectacular, absolutely breath taking (literally...:-).
There aren't many places from where you can actually see Everest, so it was a perfect finish. The rising sun behind Everest is something else.... and I am so glad I had the luck and opportunity to see such an incredible and beautiful thing. What a magical moment... and it made all worth the efforts and time to get up there.
Unfortunately the altitude got me again. Being smarter this time I took 2 tablets straight away as I was awaking already with a banging headache. Just before the peak, being already totally exhausted and struggeling with the climb, I lost past of my vision. First I was hoping it might be my lenses or the really birght rising sun, but after a while of stumbling and slipping around, I just had to admit to myself that I couldn't see properly anymore. Everything was double as if you were drunk and blurred, which is not great when you are climbing over huge rocks trying to reach a peak at 5545m. There was no path anymore and it was really dangerous. After slipping a few times, Senge our nice porter, grabbed me and literally pulled me up. He grabbed me so firm that I really felt safe, otherwise I couldn't have continued. Reaching the top I almost fell over backwards as I was so dizzy. It's a tiny little peak, decorated with prayer flags and cliffs around you and there certainly isn't a lot of space. The 3 of us just managed to sit at the top. It's so easy to slip and fall. After I sat down, had some water and some salt and sugar in the form of chocolate and Pringels (great breakfast) I felt better again and regained my vision which was nice :-) Everything was back to normal, well as normal as you can possibly be at that hight, but it was scary. I have to say, both events really did scare me and I realised I don't really have any control to what is happening to my body. I am sure some think, that that happens every time I have too many drinks too, but at least that I usually can't remember....:-) ha, ha...
Suddenly something happens to you and you can't influence it. Amazing what exhaustion, the altitude and the lack of oxygen are doing to your mind and your body. You are not really thinking as clear up there either. Some of the notes in my diary which I am using to write this blog, just don't make much sense.... Again, I am sure some are not surprised to hear that either and say that that happens at sea level too...:-)
Still, the experience was amazing and the view spectacular, once I could enjoy it again. We all sat down on the peak and had some breakfast consisting of pistachous, Pringels, chocolate etc... Wonderful! Maybe not the nicest breakfast I have ever had, but certainly the one with the most spectacular views ever!!!
Coming down took us another 1.5 hours, going up around 2 hours,so we had proper breakfast around 9.30. What a start to a day!
It proved to be a very long day though.. We went down to Dingboche again, despite the bad luck of last time, as that tea house had the best shower on the treck and were looking forward to their warm sun room. The night before in Gorakshep was the coldest one I have ever had. I could now even see my breath in my room and had to wear hat and gloves + 2 fleece jumpers and 2 other tops. I started to get quite fed up with the cold. Can't wait to be in a warm place again.
Back in Dingboche I enjoyed a well needed shower which was just fantastic. You certainly start to appreciate the simple things here. A warm bed, a shower, a Western toilet etc. We also found out that the day we went to Base Camp and heard several avelanches, 2 Koreans got killed by one of them. They were really experienced and have done the 7 summits and Everest before they got killed yesterday. Terrible....
It's scary how many lives the mountain still claims and it makes you realise it's not mankind manning the mountain, it's up to the mountain to decide whether you get up there or not. I read in my book that they leave the bodies up there. It's awful. Some them are never found and no one knows and ever finds out what happened up there. But I am glad that I can now go down. Well, we all are. After the experiences I had, I am glad we are getting lower down where you can sleep and breath again.
After a very exhausting day yesterday I had a fantastic sleep which was badly needed. Since the night my stuff got stolen I hadn't had a proper sleep anymore.
We decided to speed up our descent and shorten it by a couple of days. Rather having very long days than hanging around in cold teahouses where we have seen everything already, you can't do much, are constantly cold and don't have decent facilities we rather walk 7-8 hours a day (at least) but get back to Kathmandu 2 days earlier. Once you have been to Base Camp you just want to get down.
That should give us time to arrange Tibet, Internet, get our laundry done most importantly... don't envy the person to wash our hiking socks... hee, hee....
Today we walked 8.5 hours all the way down to Namche Bazaar. It was a very tough day again and my legs and especially knees are really hurting. It was a great day though and it is nice being surrounded by vegetation, trees and all that again, after the dead scenary higher up.
We also had our first beer today to celebrate! Hurray! Can't remember when I have been that long without alcohol ever.... How delicious! :-)
The last day of our treck we started in Namche Bazaar. I felt much better after comind down and having 2 nights proper sleep. Our first stop was Namche Police to get my report for the insurance.
We arrived at the so called "Police Station" which wasn't to be recognised as such and it was quite an experience. It was a dirty building smelling of toilet with goats and dogs running around. They tried to set up a tennis court (just the lines in the sand) outside the station, so they don't seem to be too busy. We were asked to take a seat outside on some plastic chairs. After RAbi had spoken to several people we finally got the right guy. The chief officer who was wearing long underpants and flip flops. Only one guy was wearing an actual uniform, a couple of other were wearing washed out camouflage suits and everyone else jeans or track suits.
I could see into the building were they were eating. They just seemed to have boiled rice to eat which they were of course eating with their right hand, as they use the left one to clean themself on the toilet. After they finished they poored some water on their aluminium plate shook it slightly poored the whole thing outside the building and done were the dishes! Nice! Thank God we weren't invited for dinner!
After long discussions and debates I finally got my police report. In Nepali of course written on a type writer! Let's see what my insurance will say to that.
Again, like the the previous 2 days, our last day was tough. All 3 days we walked between 7 and 8 hours. My legs were really sore now and my knees were killing me. Going down is much harder... well at least for your joints. We had lunch again in Phakding and it was a nice day. I recognised so many places and it was nice to walk in the forest again. We were accompanied by a cute dog for a very long time, a cow and a pony. Completely knackered but happy and all in all feeling great (thanks to the altitude) we arrived late afternoon in Lukla, had dinner and even a couple of beers which went straight to my head and we had a great evening.
Day 12 to 14:
Today we were meant to fly out at 7.15 but unfortunately the weather is rubbish, meaning cloudy and foggy so they can't fly and we have been sitting and waiting here all day, which is quite frustrating, as there is not much you can do here and also e have been pushing ourselves quite hard to get here 2 days earlier and now we are stuck anyway.
Hopefully we can fly tomorrow, as today seems pretty hopeless.
But things in Lukla got far more exciting than expected. While having an afternoon nap, Rabi woke me up to tell me that my stuff got stolen by our porter Lagba.
The way he found out was, Lachba after getting his money and a very generous tip (the poor guy had to carry so much) got pissed and was telling his sister in law that his clients have given him loads of cash, a mobile and an MP 3 player. That girl then told one of her friends who happened to be a waitress in the teahouse where we stayed so she told Rabi and he put two and two together. So Rabi went to his sister in laws house and searched his bag but couldn't find anything so he invited him for a free lunch back to the teahouse and confronted him there. After some serious shouting he admitted that he took the stuff from me. Rabi took 19,000 Ruppees of him, so that I got my money back plus the tip we have given him and Lachba told him that the other stuff he left with friends in the last village Phakding. Rabi promised him if he got the stuff back he wouldn't go to the police and Lachba said he is going back to get them. Needless to say that the guy was never seen again.
But I was in a great mood, at least I got the cash back which was unexpected. So I decided to use the money for a wise reason and invited everyone to drinks and have a huge party. After all that stress I was in urgent need for a drink anyway. We had such a great evening. After several beers we decided to have a look at the Happy Hour Pub which was unfortunately closed. On the way Shiva almost fell into one of those huge wholes they have in the middle of the street. They are so big that you would actually disappear in it. We went back to our teahouse and even had some music.
I actually managed to spend more that night than the of us spent during the whole treck! Ha, how funny is that!!!
The next day I felt really rough and slept until lunch time. Not much to do anyway as there were no flights again and I didn't really miss much.
Lachba didn't turn up and my good mood sank a bit....
Being completely bored we went out to explore the excitements of Lukla. Jon found a pub called the Wave that had Happy Hour from 2-3pm. I was too hung over to have one of those "Exotic Cocktails" but the boys did. Jon had a Pina Colada with some rotten cream and floating bits in it and it looked absolutely disgusting. Definitely not the place to have Pina Coladas. Thanks to the Happy Hour they even got 2 cocktails each and fair play to Jon he actually finished both of them. Urghhhh.....
After that highlight we moved on to find something else to do an did - the 'cinema". But nothing is what it seems up here, so it turned out to be a TV and a dodgy DVD player where you could pay to watch movies. Better than nothing and we could even order popcorn.
We saw an Everest documentary that was filmed during the 1996 disaster about I read the book too. Really good movie. After that we saw Hotel Ruanda which was a great movie too but certainly not for cheering up.
Like everywhere along the treck, Lukla also had a German bakery where we had some nice cheese cake.
In the evening I learned the Nepali game Tiger & Goat which is really good and I surely get for myself as a souvenir.
Before dinner we went to the police in Lukla to give them a picture of Lachba as he failed to show up. Somehow I got the feeling that Rabi was a little hesitant and I really don't understand why. Surely it is in his interest too to make sure he isn't working again. Anyway, we went to the police and that was again quite an experience and a really strange situation. I was glad the boys came with me.
First we were told that the guy in charge wasn't around and need to come back tomorrow morning and then somehow we were asked to come in. They was based in the deserted airport building and it turned out that he actually lived there. the building was pitch dark due to another power cut. So we were wondering over the runway in to the pitch dark building. The whole situation was really funny and fortunately Kirby had his head torch handy. Those things are just brilliant! Really bizarre and we ended up talking to a police man we never saw like the guy behing the shadow wall, it just was very strange.
Later on in the evening continued with a completely drunk Aussie guy kicking off because his chips were 5 minutes late and starting punching the teahouse owner, so the whole teahouse ended up in a big fight and we just sat in the middle in complete disbelief.
On Wednesday which was our original flight day it was still cloudy and foggy and I got really pissed off. I just felt so dirty like never in my life before and just wanted to have a proper shower, a proper toilet get my laundry done and be warm again and eat loads of meat which we still haven't had. Jon seemed to loose faith too and got really fed up, only good old Kirby remained optimistic still talking about the steak he was expecting to eat in the evening. I had written off the day already, but fortunately we finally flew out later that day. What a pleasure! The visibility was still quite limited and the take off was probably the most spectacular I have ever had. That tiny short run way, going downhill and by the time you get to the end you just jump over the cliff and hope you'll make it. There isn't even a door or curtain between the cabin and the cockpit so you could actually look out of the front window. The flight was really bumpy and I didn't feel too good and was very relieved when we finally landed.
All in all the last 2 weeks have been fantastic and certainly a very unique experience that I will probably talk about until the rest of my life.
The landscapes variing from dense forest with little villages in between, the big river, dodgy bridges, the Himalaya with it's great views over Everest, Lhotse, Nuptse, Ama Dablam etc. up to the very dead and sparse landscape where everything living seemed to have vanished apart from a couple of birds. The views were amazing and it was quite an experience to see the top of the world and its surroundings. My company was great and couldn't have been better. It all went so smooth considering that we were all pretty much strangers coming from complete different countries, it's quite lucky. We had the same pace, ideas and it just fitted. We had fun and a lot of laughs but also a lot of quiet moments where we just sucked in the environment and atmosphere. Nothing worse than being on a treck like that with someone who never shuts up. We have been extremely lucky with the weather (until now....) The first few days were cloudy with only one wet day and when we needed the good weather and sunshine then it was there. Perfect. I was lucky that I made it physically, considering how un-fit I am that I didn't get any blisters in my brand new hiking boots was quite unbelievable too! I am glad I made it and didn't ruin it for the guys. It was such an incredible experience in all means. I have never been so exhausted and never been pushed so far to my limits - physically and mentally!
A bizarre feeling what altitude and lack of oxygen can do to you. The headaches, the sleepless nights, the weird dreams, the constant out of breath feeling, exhaustion etc. up to the loss of vision....
An experience I wouldn't want to miss. If I would do it again though, I would make sure I am fitter. I think I realised that I really have to do something.
Everest Base Camp - what an experience!