On Day 7 of our trek to Everest Base Camp we’ll be staying in Machhermo. Not resting of course, but acclimatising before we head on further up the valley. We’ll be taking an extra day here. We have a day in hand, as on that first day, when we trekked from Lukla to Monjo, which seems many many moons ago now, we missed out a night at Ghat and went on through to Monjo. This is our second rest day, the first was at Namche Bazaar where we explored the Khumbu Valley before returning to Namche.
An Update on Our Altitude Sickness Victim
Tim spent the night at the rescue post, but the news isn’t good. The doctors have recommended that he’s medi-vacced out. His oxygen saturation level goes up when he’s in the chamber, but drops back to 39% when he gets out. It’s a US$5,000 ride back down to Kathmandu that he’ll claim on his travel/medical insurance.
Trekking at altitude carries risks. We insured ourselves through World Nomads – buying specific altitude coverage in case of altitude sickness. We were also able to renew our policy while out of our home country. Get a price for your travel and health insurance now.
As it’s an impromptu rest day we’re taking a short hike. We’ll go up to the ridge overlooking the campsite. When we’re 50 or so meters up Tim’s helo comes in, glides up the valley, turns, lands and literally minutes later takes off again. They fly low and close and we wave farewell. Now we are 13.
It’s an emotional moment, considering until a week ago I’d never met Tim, but it’s also a sobering moment. He’s consistently been the fittest of us all, unfazed by the hills and the cold. Acute Mountain Sickness doesn’t seem to have rhyme or reason.
It’s a slow haul this morning. Marty – Tim’s buddy – and Ramesh join us as we reach the prayer flags. Then a few of us decide to go a little further and take a look down at Machhermo. There’s no additional gain in altitude, but it’s another glorious day to celebrate being alive and in this incredible location.
It also makes for a long day of filling time in.
We’re wrapped up hiking well before lunch and with strict instructions not to nap we split up. Some visit the Porter Rescue Post, some head to the tea house for electronic device charging and wifi.
We take to the washy water bowls and sitting in the lee of a wall, risk a hair wash. It’s worth it and re-humanizes me for 24 hours. Then the combination of sweat and constant beanie wearing reduces me to a tied up stringy knot on top of my head.
We move house also – our hacked out of the ice surrounded tent is enjoying the spring sunshine. We now have not just a lakeside property, but the threat of a lake inside. It’s interesting how important the selection of a tent becomes. After all they’re all the same, but the thought of being the last one into camp and getting the worst selection isn’t worth thinking about. It seems the smallest things loom omnipresent when your world reduces to breathing and walking.
The Diamox is Working
The Diamox definitely helps though with the breathing. It’s not like I can magically now run up a hill, but I’m no longer breathless getting into my sleeping bag in the middle of the night. It would have been interesting to see if I could have managed without the Diamox, I think. However, the nagging headache that appeared without fail at lunchtime each day is a thing of the past. So, I consider that I’ll take all the help I can get.
The antibiotics aren’t working. The human liquidizer is still in force. So in Dr Ramesh’s evening medical surgery, I’m moved onto the super strength tablets.
The medical chest really is a bottomless pit of everything that we need. Ramesh as our leader has taken a five day first aid course with the World Expeditions Team, he also has a book for symptoms with guidance on what to do in each event. It’s interesting that even despite one of our group being lifted off the mountain, I feel completely safe in the team’s ability to ensure my safety.
Tomorrow we start to head up again, heading from here in Machhermo to the glorious Gokyo Lakes area and Gokyo Ri.