Hiking and no wind (well, less wind)

 After a few solid days of rest and recovery, today we went out and hiked a bit up one of the valleys.

It felt great to get out, breathe and see more of the valleys near basecamp. 

I’m feeling optimistic that I’ve gotten over the hump and I’m settling into a groove of being at altitude.

Tomorrow will be a rest day. Two things are super exciting about said rest day. One, I get to do some laundry. Some pieces are getting pretty ripe, so I’m sure my climbing partners will be quite appreciative. The other bonus of the rest day will be my first shower since getting to basecamp!  I can’t wait! 

While although we do have the capacity to have a shower at basecamp and even ABC, hot water isn’t exactly an endless commodity.  When we get to advanced basecamp, all the water we will have will come completely from melted ice. It will be he 24hr job of a person to make sure that there is water. As such, luxuries like showers must be highly rationed.  We might get a shower every 5-7 days at best. Trust me, I will make the most of those showers and appreciate every last drop. I’m sure those around me will as well. 

It feels great to feel good again.   


Opaqueness and transparency

I suppose with any sports, you’ll find people that keep their personal training/schedule/modifications close to the chest.

However, it seems in the mountains – climbers get even more vague & ambiguous with their plans or decisions for well being. I don’t know if it’s purely a function of ego out of concern for how people may view their accomplishments later, or what.

For example, this year there is a professional climber whom is now making an attempt on Everest but is trying to keep it incredibly quiet. So much so that when close friends of theirs have found out, said climber has gotten rather upset about the discovery. It seems that more has come of the situation than if they had just owned it but said they were just not advertising it publicly.

Past examples include climbers whom have attempted 8000 meter peaks without oxygen but then had to take nearly every drug on the planet during a rescue (while still refusing oxygen) simply so they can say they climbed without O2.

At work, I pride myself on being more transparent than I probably should be. However, it’s worked for me and I feel I’ve built levels of trust I may otherwise not have.

Yesterday, was a very low day for me. The night prior, I was awake most of the night feeling very nauseous and having a headache that wouldn’t go away. Shortly after waking up in the morning, my first sip of tea sent me lunging out of the tent, half clothed, into the rocks to vomit. I powered through and made it to breakfast where I still ate, even if less so than what I normally would have. It seemed that I was feeling better after getting some food in me but still just sat around camp all morning. At lunch, I was back to eating what was a normal amount for me (aka taking big servings and then getting seconds).

Not having slept well the night before, taking a nap seemed the best course of action and proceeded to sleep for about an hour and a half. I can only assume that the nap was my enemy as the moment I got up, what I had for lunch decided to re-visit, only inches from the opening to the tent.

The rest of the day continued to go downhill from there. I couldn’t get comfortable whether sitting, standing or laying down. Even just a sip of water would come roaring back up. At this point, given the loss of fluids and no ability to replace them, the headache became worse & worse.

Throughout the day I had been communicating with our awesome expedition doctor (Dr. Monica Piris) about my degrading situation. A short while before dinner time, as it became apparent that things were only worsening, she made the decision to give me a shot of dexamethasone (a steroid commonly used to treat HACE and severe AMS as well as cancer patients with brain swelling) as well as a shot of an anti-nausea medication (given I couldn’t keep water down). For those with any medical insight, you might be interested to know that my blood oxygen saturation (SpO2%) was at 58% by this point. For those wondering what that means, for reference, if under normal circumstances your SpO2 dropped below 90%, you would immediately be put on oxygen in a hospital under very close attention. At sea-level, your SpO2% should be about 100%. In addition to the dex & anti-nausea meds, she also put me on supplemental oxygen for the night and to also take diamox (another altitude sickness med) as soon as I could keep water down.

Until the dex, anti-nausea meds & oxygen kicked in to start making me feel better, it was difficult to stay positive on the whole. One of the many reassuring parts of having an expedition doctor like Monica, is that with her vast experience at high altitude, she’s seen it all (several times). She reiterated that this didn’t necessarily mean anything just yet. By no means did it mean the climb was over, in spite of taking some heavy meds & oxygen so early into the trip.

While although I would certainly prefer to not be on meds of any description, I will say that I had the best night’s rest on the oxygen than I’ve had in weeks. It was so restful and enjoyable. Relative to the day prior, I felt like a million bucks when I woke up. I had my full appetite back and my SpO2% was back more in a more acceptable range for where we’re at and for how long we’ve been here.

We even got a chance to walk across camp to see Tim Medvetz & Charlie Linville from our climb last year. It was great to see them again and have a big laugh and some tea.

Now, back at camp, after lunch – I’m a little slower moving than this morning but still better than yesterday. Monica has decided to keep me on dexamethasone & diamox for the day just to be sure I get past the hump in the hopes that tomorrow I can wean myself back off everything. It’s a fine balance of being on dex to get well and staying on for too long that it becomes difficult to come off it, as we go higher.

The only thing in my control at this point is remaining positive about getting past this and moving on! It’s a big expedition, with lots of time built in to adjust for things like this. I will say that I gained a new level of empathy for my amazing wife whom has been suffering endlessly throughout her pregancy. To be sick, for such an extended period takes serious determination & will power to keep moving on. She’s my hero and a reminder that I’m choosing to be here and suffering whilst she has no choice, yet doing it with grace.

Good days wouldn’t be appreciated nearly as much without the bad ones to remind us that all things are temporary. Such is the human experience and I love it!

A day of reflection

Today marks the one year anniversary of the earthquake that so deeply impacted the people of Nepal.

While we sat at dinner, those of us whom were here last year felt incredibly uneasy as the howling winds shook the tent. It brought back a very real and visceral feeling we experienced after just getting to basecamp last year. At first, we just thought someone was shaking the table and didn’t may much attention. As it got more and more intense, it was obvious as to what was happening. What we didn’t know, nor could we know, was how safe we were in the moment. All we could do was look at one another in between desperate scans of the horizon. When the shaking finally ceased, we all quickly took to the phones, radios and any other communication mechanism we could get our hands on. We wanted to connect with friends known to be on the south side of Everest as well as friends and loved ones back home to assure them of our safety.
It’s amazing that a little wind can so quickly bring up between people who share a connection from a traumatic event.
As we all reflect in our own ways, we all still come back to the appreciation we had for one another.

After a pretty crappy night’s sleep, I’m happy to report that I’m feeling great this afternoon. I went on a quick stroll of EBC, and took a moment to visit one of the memorials here, paying respect to those of whom didn’t make it off the mountain safely. It’s good to pause and reflect on the seriousness of any mountain, let alone Mt Everest. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the excitement of the prospect of a summit push and lose sight of the respect that must be paid.

One day at a time, appreciating the journey.


And… We made it!

After a 10hr drive, crossing 17,000ft passes and getting to experience the awesomeness that was the paved road, we made it to basecamp!!

Sitting at 17,000ft, we now need to take it easy, and be sure to hydrate.  The next day or so will be rest days while we get used to the altitude and mountain life. 

It’s great to be back!

Uneventful arrival

Fortunately, after a small delay, we had a super mellow flight into Lhasa. We just loaded all our bags into the bus for the hour journey into the city of Lhasa. 

We made it!!!

After lunch, we should find out if we get to drive into Shigatze or if we have to stay in Lhasa for the day. 

It’s good to be back on track, for the most part. 



The adventure continues…

In Chengdu, China. 

After some of the most gnarly turbulence I’ve ever experienced in all my time flying, we were then diverted from Lhasa to Chengdu. Just before landing, the plane gave all its thrust and we were back in the air. 

At first, we thought that we’d just be making a big loop and we might make another attempt at the landing.  With the plane still ascending, we knew something was off. The flight attendants were running back and forth to each of the windows to look outside, which of course is not exactly confidence inspiring. All the while, there were no announcements being made. Finally, after it was pretty clear that there would be no landing attempt, the flight attendant came on and informed us that due to bad weather in Lhasa, we were heading to Chengdu. 

Allegedly it’s fairly common for that to happen, given that the airport is over 12,000ft. With less dense air, it makes it much more difficult to consistently land, which then of course translates into diversions. 

When we were about 30 minutes outside Chengdu, we got another nasty dose of turbulence which was actually worse than the first round. I think the plane dropped a few hundred feet in the middle of it all. These pilots have got to have pair of brass ones.  For all I know, they wear a diaper and I can guarantee they will be changing after this flight. Hell, I may need a change too…

I’ve always wanted to see central China!  Well, that’s not entirely true. However, I don’t have much of a choice, which means we’ll be making the best of it!!

Continuing to add to the expedition excitement!!



Makin’ like a tree and leaving!

We got all our visas and permits for Tibet today, which means tomorrow we push past the next obstacle of the expedition.  Hopefully, all goes well and we’ll be spending the night in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

From there, the plan is pretty similar to last year’s.  We’ll drive to Shigatze, then hopefully on to basecamp thereby skipping Tingri, assuming our ‘tour guide’ allows us to do so.