We walked about 5 hours from Pheriche to Lobuche (4900m). It was a hot day! Still around 75F, but the strong radiation of sun at high altitude and dust from trails require us to fully cover every inch of our skin. Last night, I went to bed with my nose a little bit stuffy, woke up feeling ok. Once I start walking, it’s
hard to tell the difference between a stuffy nose from cold or from altitude anyway. Other than that, I don’t feel other effects of cold.
We had a tea break at Khola, where Khumbu Glacier terminates. From there, we went up the hill to a place marked by Scott Fisher’s memorial. I’m a little bit emotional to pay the visit to his memorial, and am sad to see memorials of other young souls nearby— some died so early! But at least they died doing what they loved, albeit too early.
This reminds me of the quote I read at my Pheriche Lodge:
Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to ski in sideways, totally worn out, shouting “Holy shit, what a ride.”
Everywhere you go on this trip, you see many inspirational posters. Life is short, cherish every day, make the best of every day, doing things you love! I also remember the memorial at Pheriche, the beautiful broken shining pyramid-shaped memorial with all the fallen climbers’ names etched on it. It’s too beautiful for so sad a reminder. There are still many empty name plates pre-attached to it. It’s sad that eventually they will all be claimed, many by Sherpa, some by young souls…
I couldn’t take my thoughts away from those emotions, from those memorials, until suddenly some new peaks popped out of the ridge in front me. I was so excited that I raced up the ridge— those are the beautiful peaks I had been admiring from far away in Gokyo a week ago: Pumo Ri, Lintren, Khumbutse! And you can clearly see Nuptse ridge winding down into Kumbu Glacier. Those 7000m or 6000m peaks are right in front of my eyes, not intimidating at all— rather, they felt dear to my heart like those lovely hills in my home yard!
Last night when I went to bed, my nose still clearly demonstrated the symptom of cold. Luckily, it’s not bad enough to keep me from falling asleep. I kept a cough drop in my throat all night. On one side, it helps to relieve the dry throat irritation and prevent dry cough; on the other, the moisture in the throat helps breathing, so I don’t have to wake up in panic feeling suffocated. 5000m is so high that sometimes you could have that kind of panic feeling in sleep. I remembered that there was one night on Aconcagua high camp, as my breath slowed down when I was falling asleep. I would suddenly wake up in panic worried that my breath would stop if I fell asleep, and then immediately found myself suffocated because my dry throat prevented any swallowing actions. It was a scary feeling, and I don’t want to live like that for two months. The cough drop seems to be a nice solution to kill two birds with one stone.
This morning, we took a short hike to visit the Italian Pyramid research station, then hiked up the hill next to it that offered a great view of Khumbu Glacier. We can even see the base camp next to the icefall! When those 7000m peaks appear just like a small hill in front of you, almost reachable by hand, you know you are close! I can’t believe Everest Base Camp (EBC) is right in front of my eyes, though we will still patiently take two days to reach there in order to proper acclimatize.
To get over the cold as soon as possible, I spent the hours between lunch and dinner sleeping! It’s amazing how many hours we spent sleeping in the mountains. When the first person got the cold, we would try to keep a distance. Now that half of the team have the cold, it’s not a big deal anymore. Everyone is toughening up! So far, the cold hasn’t been holding back our progress. Compared to other more serious health threats, this is really just nothing.
To be safe, our meals have been boring, revolving around fried rice and pizza. The potato pizza is not bad at all although it’s just a plate of baked potato topped with cheese. Hopefully, we will have vegetable curries again once we arrive at base camp.
Tomorrow, we will hike to Groek Shep early, then go up Kala Pattar in the afternoon to have another Panorama view of Khumbu Glacier. The day after tomorrow (Apr 12th) we will arrive at EBC early to get ready for Puja, the prayer ceremony for the climb, on Apr 13th. We are getting busier with an agenda lined up every day! Ang Jangbu Sherpa, our base camp director, already took a shortcut to pass us and arrived at EBC yesterday! The climbing route is already completed in the icefall area, and all the way to camp 2 already! Well ahead of schedule! Things are happening fast!