Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A rest day in Phariche

April 9, 2013
SpO2 = 87  RHR = 69

There was a haze of smoke filling the second floor hallway as Ty and I walked to our room last night. There was no concern of fire as the smell immediately identified itself as burning yak dung. Trust me on this; it has a distinctive odor.  We debated opening the window in our room but decided this was just as likely to invite still more smoke in. Lacking other options, we sat on the floor eating hershey’s chocolate bars with almonds while watching episodes of The League on my laptop. Our room is at the far end of the Himalayan Hotel, abutting the Yak pasture. All night long the casual clang of metal bells spoke to the nocturnal grazing habit of the Yaks. Yet it was not unpleasant. 

Myself and several others experienced intermittent breathing last night. Also known as Chain Stokes Breathing, I have written about this in earlier posts. The net effect of intermittent breathing is that one stops breathing for a brief period during sleep, then wakes gasping to recover from the deficit. The first time it happens it is terrifying, though not especially dangerous. At this point in my climbing career it is little more than a nuisance. With the benefit of another day of acclimation here at Phariche I should have no episodes tonight. 

By morning it was cold enough in our room that Ty and I released steam-engine plumes of frozen breath from our sleeping bags. I grabbed my laptop and headed down to the common room, knowing the stove would already be cranking out heat and hopeful I could post a blog entry before the hotel’s modest WiFi was overwhelmed. It took an hour to complete what would have been a 5 minute task back home, but the kitchen brought me a cup of coffee and the windows were filled stark white mountain peaks. The post went through, as I hope this one will too. But it will likely be several days before I am able to post again.  If you care to fill the gap, you might check out the blog from my climb in Antarctica at maurovinsonmassif.blogspot.com

Several of us took and acclimation hike after breakfast this morning. With the objective of teasing our physiology higher, we climbed an adjacent hillside up to 15,000 feet and lounged around taking in the view.  I began standing stones on point, as is my custom.  A few team members took interest so I offered a brief instruction, then dispensing them to challenge gravity with balance. 

Over half of our expedition is comprised of active duty Air Force members. Collectively, the various members of this Seven Summits Team have topped out on six of the seven summits. Like myself, they are here to see if they can “Touch ‘em all.” If they are successful they will be the first U.S. Air Force team to do so. Several members are pilots, flying everything from F-16’s to Hercules cargo jets. Others are Special Ops members. Two are Medics, and a few others are involved in operations. It has been such an pleasure getting to know these people, and though I am not one to gush patriotic, I must say I am proud that individuals of such caliber represent my country. Word came yesterday that a comrade was lost in Afghanistan a few days ago. The tradition of raising a glass in his honor followed dinner. The civilians among us were generously included in this ritual.


  1. D.J.
    -- Mt. Everest --
    -- So Majestic --
    -- So Challenging --
    -- So glad this climb is not your 1st Rodeo! --

    Luv J & J

  2. From the kitchen shot you posted looks like they are cooking with yak dung. :) yum

  3. Great kitchen scene. One of your best photos posted to date. We look forward to the next post when you come back out into the sunlight again.