[I wrote this on the 17th, so in light of the events of the 18th, it may seem callous and insensitive considering the tragedy that happened, but it is part of the story.]
We hiked up to “high camp” or “camp 1” on Pumori Wednesday, April 16th. It was really nice, both to get some extra acclimatization and for the view of Everest. Unfortunately, you can’t see the top of Everest, or much of the route from base camp. We hiked up to 18,500 feet on the side of the mountain, and it was a nice pleasant scramble, only class three because of our impatience to find the second class route. I felt strong and ended up being the first up and the first down. I did wear tights over my running shorts, a light windbreaker, and cycling jersey instead of a backpack, so in the traditional mountaineering sense, I cheated.
In my mind, to attempt to walk, scramble and “jumar” up to 29,035 feet without using a tank of fuel (oxygen) the lower elevations have to be easy. 18,500 feet must be a piece of cake, and I can tell you it was. I was obviously tired because I am not acclimated yet I put one foot in front of the other and next thing you know I did the 1,200 vertical feet in about 90 minutes, which is not fast, but for an unacclimated person, I’ll take it. Then on the descent it was a mere 31 minutes down to the yak trail to Everest base camp. I won’t say I ran at 18,000 feet, but it was an awfully fast hike.
|Me At 18,500 Feet on the side of Pumori with Everest and South Col in the Backgorund|
The bad news is, I went a little too hard, with my heart rate often in the 145-160 range that I have a slightly sore throat. I talked to our expedition doctor and he said that because it did not hurt to swallow and I was not coughing, I didn’t even warrant any cough drops. I think this goes to an athletes perspective on health. We are hyperaware of any tiny imperfection, yet at the same time, have the perseverance to walk 40 miles, hike and do a little ice climbing on a broken toe for two weeks.