Today we packed up for our trek from Namche to Dole. I was still very sick and getting little sleep. Namche is located half-way down a very steep mountainside so the first order of the day was to start climbing. You have to try to stay within your breathing even if it means moving much slower than you like. A racing heart never catches up, you burn a lot more calories, and are not able to dispel the excess carbon dioxide which leads to altitude sickness. I learned from my guides in Africa on Kilimanjaro to slow down: They would say, Pullay, Pullay (slowly slowly) and you will reach the top. Unfortunately for me, being so sick, I couldn’t go slow enough to really take care of myself. I had to push the whole way during a day of over 3000 feet altitude gain. Also I was traveling with a trio of 30 some-thing mountaineers plus Lonnie. With all the ups and downs of this mountainous terrain I’m sure we actually climbed about twice as much as the listed gain. The trail is rock-lined to prevent erosion on the very steep topography. All traffic moves along these trekking trails including the animals. Donkeys only travel to about 14,000 and the yak cross-breeds go only until it gets cool enough for the yaks. They are the most sure-footed. When meeting the small groups of them on the trail it’s best to stay on the upper side. Even though these critters are very docile, they are carrying packs wider than their bodies and could easily bump you off the side. On a lot of the steeper terrain you could fall some distance. So we stop and move off the trail on the upper side whenever meeting a group of these beasts of burden.
The weather was overcast most of the way. We missed the big views of Ama Dablam on the way. We finally arrived in Dole about 330. I was exhausted – coughing, dripping and a little wobbly. Headed right to bed until dinner. I ate very little then. Elias came into my room later and suggested that I wear a buff tomorrow to keep the cold air out of my lungs. He took an oxymeter reading from a little gadget you put on one of your fingers. I’ve used them previously on Aconcagua and Denali climbs. It read 81 percent. The lowest reading I’ve ever had. It measures the percent of oxygen getting into your system. It also reads your heart rate. Mine usually is in the upper 30’s/lower 40’s. This time it was 78. It’s normal to be higher in altitude but this was quite high for me. In other words my heart was still racing hours after we had finished our climb. Elias told me that we would look at it again tomorrow and that the trend was more important than the individual readings. OK, I thought, it’s good to be positive.
Dole is a small village at an elevation of 14,200 ft.
I felt a little better ( how could I feel worse) in the morning. My oxy reading went up to 90 during the night although the HR was still high. We started out with bright sunshine which allowed us our first views of Cho Oyu and Tenzing Peaks as well as Cholotse. Then the clouds and fog enveloped us and it got very cold. When the sun disappears at these altitudes the temperatures drop fast. We stopped for the night at Macherma (elevation 15,700 ft.) for a well deserved nights rest at the Namgyal Lodge. 1500 feet of elevation gain which is hard-fought with all the big ups and downs. Sometime during the hike today the trees disappeared. Tree-line here relatively close to the equator is much higher than, say, Colorado which is at about 11,500 ft. Here it was somewhere around or slightly under 15,000. It was abrupt, going from some large pines to suddenly very little growth over a foot.
I lost all of my photos during this section due to my camera failure. So I have no real corresponding visuals. This one is from the top of Gokyo Ri. Everest is in the clouds on the right.
Today we headed up to Gokyo. Elias is now sick too. He looks very ill and is staying in Macherma. We had a breath-taking journey of around three and a half hours. Great views of Cho Oyu, Tenzing and other behemoths in this range. Nice sun but cool temps. I had no camera now but also no iPhone as my charging cord was left along with my computer in Namche Bazaar. The computer was left to cut down weight but the charging cord was part of my disease laden fog. Also discovered that my new sleeping bag is spewing out feathers from a seam failure. A little bandage tape repaired that but discouraging just the same. It started snowing just as we arrived in Gokyo. My oxy reading was 87 but I feel a little better acclimatized. Gokyo is at 16,640 or so depending on my meters to feet arithmetic. I will keep a sharp eye out for someone else with a iPhone 5 or 6 charging cord.