Day 199 - Acute Altitude Sickness

Trip Start Nov 07, 2010
Trip End Jan 01, 2012

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Where I stayed
Yeti Guesthouse

Flag of Nepal  ,
Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Picture a man sized baby, with a seventy pound pack on his back, trudging up a mountain, drunk. That's about what we looked like today at 4600 meters.  After a long trek through the same flat glacier shaped desert we crossed yesterday we began our ascent up a steep boulder strewn incline.  The high altitude and lack of oxygen hit us hard halfway up the trail, and our steps resembled that of an infant who had just downed a bottle of whiskey.  It took every ounce of energy to put one foot in front of the other in a straight and measured fashion.  Sean described it best by asking if anyone else felt like they were walking on the moon.  We all did.  Taking baby steps up the mountain, my head feeling like a vacuum in space and my lungs and legs burning with even the most minimal effort, I now know what it’s like to climb at elevation.  The beautiful scenery helped take our thoughts off the effects of acute altitude sickness, and the hazy dreamlike state our minds were in made the snow capped peaks seem so close we could reach out and touch them.  Some of the most stunning views we’ve seen so far lay on every horizon.  Behind us, the widespread range we had crossed to reach Tengboche, to our left, the sky scraping peaks of Lobuche and directly in front of us, the beginning of the trek to the summit of Mt. Everest - ominous, eerie and clouded in pure white mist.  We’re not forty eight hours away from reaching base camp and the next few days will see us climbing twice what we’ve become accustomed to, crossing 6000 meter passes and fording the frozen tundras of glacial plains.  From this point on, freezing cold, mind numbing elevations, strenuous days of hiking and breathtaking views will be the norm until we reach our destination.  We stop at Thukla for the night, not even what you could consider a village but just a tiny patch of flat earth with a couple buildings perched high above the valley below.  One more day to acclimate to the high altitude.  One more day of rest before attempting the most arduous part of our climb.  One more day to realize how close we are to reaching our goal.  Anxious to arrive and bristling with energy, it’s hard to sit still in one spot when the fog shrouded peaks of Mt. Everest loom before us, calling silently through the veil.  I hear the call, and the pounding of my heart and thickening of my blood cries out in return.  Tomorrow we begin our ascent up the icy peaks, into the heart of the Himalayas and the cold dark realm of the tallest mountains in the world.  I wait patiently, primed and ready for the next challenge.

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Alex Crittendon on

That is completely surreal.

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