Friday, April 5, 2013
April 5, 2013
Namche: Elev 11,350 ft. SpO2 = 91 RHR = 63
It is common to encounter intestinal bugs on expeditions. As well, any cold or flu one member picks up is virtually assured to be visited upon the other members of the Team. Knowing this, we have all washed our hands compulsively as well as using hand sanitizer at each meal. It is a fight worth fighting, even though we have been told 90% of us will become sick at some point during the expedition.
IMG maintains their own Base Camp operations at Everest and is purported to do an excellent job of controlling food and water cleanliness there. As well, the company maintains a lower Base Camp at Lobuche, and has enjoyed similar hygiene success at that location. But there is little that can be done, aside from said hand washing, to manage the exposure of expedition members to sickness while trekking through the villages of the Khumbu Valley. One of our team members came down with flu-like symptoms in Phakding. He remained there nursing his health for an additional day while the rest of us pressed on to Namche. Since then four more of us have come down with symptoms ranging from Intestinal Bugs to Flu. Ty was up much of last night with fever and nausea. I am fighting an G.I. bug. Very little fun. We will both probably be much improved in a few days, but might give ourselves another day in Namche as the rest of our team moves on tomorrow.
There are reports from Waves 1 and 2, ahead of us by several days, that many of their climbers have likewise fallen ill in route to Everest Base Camp. Most have had to resort to Z-packs of antibiotics as Cipro has proven insufficient. As beautiful as the villages of the Khumbu certainly are, it seems were are running something of a biological gauntlet.
Still, the weather was stellar today and I enjoyed taking photos around Namche. I came across a site being prepared for the construction of a new Guest House. The excavation had exposed two boulders the size of cars. There is no heavy equipment in Namche, the likes of which might remove or break up such obstacles. So a crew was busy with hammers and chisels chewing away at the rocks, then harvesting the refuse to make stone blocks for the eventual construction of the building. They were systematic and patient. My money is on the workers.
After a tasty lunch of Sherpa Stew (rice, clear broth, potatoes, carrots, onions, and yak meat) we were invited by a researcher from Queensland University to participate in a study of Everest Climbers. We completed several puzzles and questionnaires which seemed to measure our personality traits and attitudes about risk taking. We wore heart monitors. One test involving math was timed. The scoring of the results was structured in such a way that we could accept a certain payment of $25 for our participation or engage in various probability scenarios that might reward a higher sum. Jenni, one of our IMG Guides, took the largest haul, pocketing $68. This is probably a good sign. I walked away with $49.
I called my Mom today. It was good to hear her voice. She was very excited and, as is her custom, had several prepared questions for me. My Mother has come a long way since the early days of my climbing. Back then she argued tirelessly to rid me of whatever madness was driving these ambitions. We have spent much time talking about my various climbs before and after. In the course of these discussions my Mom has become better informed about the risks and risk management. While she would certainly prefer I not climb high summits, she has come to a place of accepting this as part of who I am.