Saturday, December 03, 2011

Everest Base Camp & Kala Patthar 07-23.05.2011 (10) 完结篇

16May2011 - Gorak Shep (5160M) > Kala Patthar Peak (5550M) >Pheriche (4240M)
At 4am, my Suunto Core woke me up again. The reluctance interupted by Johnny who knocked on the door to officiate the wake up time. GWah expressed his intention to skip Kala Patthar. He seemed tired and discomforted by his sinus problem. Guess it was the right choice for himself. Everyone knows how to take care of themselves, which is great. Then, RWen too wanna rest from her self-illusion AMS scare. Heard she was so worried abt her dizziness, bloated face & vomit. All fit the AMS symptom. But personally, it was largely due to the spectacular way of how Ailing being sent off to hospital by helicopter. Worse, her China insurance didn't cover that.

Raj had gathered us outside the lodge. It was freaking cool. Freaking cool it was! A subtle blow of wind would send the chill right into your bone. I had 3-4 layers of clothing that morning. Temperature was at abt 8C. Surrounding was totally dark. We used torch light for the 1st time to trek. Raj had asked Dalwat to stay back and take care of the rest. Later, we were so appreciative when found out that he actually woke up and checked on RWen every hourly. Very thoughtful.

It was a windy night. Possibly every night at this altitude, at this hour. It caused me a headache at a time. My essentials worked at their best for me. My buff was such a great stuff to have for this trip. Kept me warm, and protect my face from the blizzard apart from the dirt. My borrowed Millet head cover, protecting my head & ears from the wind and keep me warm too. Otherwise, I could have more severe headache. My borrowed TNF jacket & Marmot jacket did the necessary too. Nonetheless, hands were the most vulnerable to the bliss. But even with glove, it is futile to stop the climate from freezing my hands. It was painful while I kept stretching my fingers to feel my hands were still functioning. Every joints was in pain due to the coldness. I had to wiggle my toes too constantly as I can't feel them! Frost bite did cross my mind although I know it was not possible.

My breathing was long and deep. O2 was 50% of sea level. I felt the effect vividly. It made me appreciate the air more. Mucus just rushed out perpetually. The water in my drinking bottle that I've attached outside the bag for easy access too, formed in ice. The environment was quite harsh for a tropical living petite Asians. Sunrise starts at 6am in Nepal. that was what we had been waiting for, the sunlight that warmed us up. I began to peel off 1 or 2 layer of clothing. A good windstopper as outer layer is good enough from there on. My steps were slow and heavy, which in synch with my deep long breathing. Gasping for air really. Remind me of the peaks at Agung & Rinjani. It was tough. But westerners who by passed us seem to have no problem generally. Well, perhaps, they will have their own problem if they tried Tahan in Msia isn't it. God is fair. By far, Tahan is the toughest trip I have had.

Around 630, I've finally reached the Kala Patthar peak! Yeah. Felt great! Relieved that the hard walk ended. Towards my NE, 3 majestic 8000M+ peaks in sight. Nuptse (7851M), Everest (8848M) & Lhotse (8414M). Awesome. While at the NW of Kala Patthar peak, there's a 7165M Pumori peak. Awesome too. To my SE, I saw the team was making progress. 30min away. I waved at them but received no response. Reluctant to spend they energy to wave back I guess. They must be thinking seem near yet so far. Last ditch of the peak is really steep. At 5550M, small step makes you puff for air already. Whenever wind blew, I shivered. Luckily the sun did beam consistently. Glad to have my Oakley. I sat down, tired, drank my icy water & some chocolate to settle down, pondering & suddenly I realised that oh God, mission accomplished. Sweet.

The team had finally made it! Johnny, his gesture was exactly like mine, puffing for more air. MChin, known for her toughness arrived with tear, tear of joy I reckon. RQing who subdued by the AMS on the 1st day arrived with joy too. All threw each other hugs. We were all so glad as it was really tough indeed. The peak was quite jam with climbers. Some just occupied the peak inconsiderately. Damn it, we shall share the peak view and the photo aren't we?

Some photo session, then off we headed back to Gorak Shep. A casual walking pace took us abt 1.5hr to reach our lodge. Met up RWen and GWah who were in better health. Just glad to see them. The remaining days weren't as happening as it would have be. Half of the team gone & I felt sorry for them. Nonetheless, the team mood was still fine. We waved good bye to Gorak Shep and headed down to Pheriche on the same day. That night, I felt bloody uncomfortable with my right eye in pain. Should be due to my fast descent that my eye's pocket didn't get equalised properly with the pressure? A hypothesis though, but that discomfort lasted for the remaining 2 days!

My eye was in pain for the next 3 days. We descended to Namchee Bazaar again, stayed a night to enjoy the surrounding and headed back to the ground zero of EBC adventure, Lukhla. Met KMeng at Namchee in the same Buddha Lodge. He did got the chicken pox! Miraculously, me & MChin didn't get any infection until today. Touch the bloody big wood!

Important lessons from this trip? Good trekking gears would mostly guarantee your comfort. Getting a responsible tour guide is paramount. Our guide leader, Raj & his team is 1 of the best I reckon. Only a mis-communication incident on how to tip our porters made me feels so bad until now. Hate that feeling still really. Nonetheless, this is 1 of my eye opening trips in my life for sure.

Ice formed in my bottle! Outrageously cold, to me.

Nuptse, Everest and Lhotse. Million dollar question, why Everest seems shorter in the middle? 

Made it at Kala Patthar (Black Rock) Peak.

The route that I had been through, just now. Phew...

Go go go team!

A sigh of relieve! 

Raj always taking care of us. Good guide. The ladies should be very thankful to him. 

Hmm, I don't think I get the hugs from the ladies...

Half dead huh. 

Pumori Peak at the backdrop. 

Looking down to Gorak Shep. Awesome.

The black peak is Everest. Storm often happens and carry away the snow from the summit. Thus, you see black. 

Back to Gorak Shep. This place is the helipad too. 

Stopped by at Lobuche for lunch. 

Farm at Pheriche. 


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Everest Base Camp & Kala Patthar 07-23.05.2011 (9)

15May2011 - Lobuche (4930M) > Gorak Shep (5160M) > EBC (5400M)

This is it! This would be the toughest day of trekking. A 3hr walk to Gorak Shep, and another 4hr back n fro to EBC. Walking along the barren field with the surrounding snow mountains that are 3x closer than there were, I felt like I was trapped in between a stone age & ice age. It was such a majestic view that make me felt so insignificant to the world compares to the scale of the objects around. At a time, we were able to see a glimpse of EBC, those yellowish tents, from far, very far. I started to feel cold so, walked a bit faster. Eventually, I've reached Gorak Shep together with Dalwat. When all had arrived, Ailing didn't look good. Raj later confirmed that she won't join the team to EBC due to severe AMS. Symptoms were obvious with bloated face & fever. Fortunately, all team members bought a higher premium of travel insurance that covers helicopter transfer in the case of emergency, except RWen. RWen bought her insurance from China, but some vague T&C made her felt extremely anxious on whether or not, such emergency transportation was covered.

After an extremely light lunch (bcoz everyone lost their appetite, completely), we continued our quest to EBC from Gorak Shep, with Raj stayed back to take care of Ailing. He asked Dalwat to lead us to EBC instead. More or less, RWen carried along anxiety with her about her insurance coverage. The trail towards EBC isn't tough, but at 5200M, I really felt the effect of high altitude with shorter breathe by each small step. A good shoes really helpful throughout the journey by keeping my feet comfortable from getting wet, and any cut from the rough environment.

Unconsciously, I broke away from the group again. Could be AMS, could be due to the low O2, could be homesick, could be the frustration of missing some teammates, could be the overdue oppression of doing all things slowly to avoid AMS, I just sped up towards EBC, with the my mind well aware of getting AMS. Hell, I just lost it and sped up. Dalwat asked his little Sherpa to lead me. Frankly, I thought I was too fast, but the fact was, the casual walking little Sherpa always stay in front of me with a casual breathing. I was having a horsey deep and fast breathe already. But, I like that, bcoz I feel so alive!

I was so excited when I reached a giant rock that was half wrapped with prayer flags. That is a landmark of EBC! I've finally made it. Abt 20min later, the rest regrouped. We were so glad that we all did it. We then attempted to walk closer to the yellow tents where all the Everest climbers were having their acclimatization before their summit attempt. After a 30min walk, the fatigue surged through us, and we decided that's close enough and made our way back to Gorak Shep.

I can't explain it. I think I was quite emotional once I've finished my goal to step on EBC. On the journey back to Gorak Shep, I felt like a child who was finding a passage to vent his displeasure. Probably, I was very homesick thereafter. I miss my family dearly. I led my emotion took control of my act. I walked with speed again. There was a song in my head, Michael Buble - Home. About 2KM away from Gorak Shep, a tiny white compositions fell from the sky. The scale was mild though. Was that snow/snowflake? I think so. Then, I heard helicopter! Vaguely, I thought I heard TBK was calling my name from the chopper. Next thing I know, the chopper landed at the vast land just in front of Gorak Shep lodge. OMG, I thought something was really wrong with Ailing! I then ran towards the direction to find out why. Running at 5200M... Hmmm, didn't feel anything really coz some adrenalin took over my body.

The chopper left before I can reached it. Raj was standing there, and I anxiously reached him to find out why. It was Ailing on the chopper indeed. Raj managed to arrange the emergency evacuation for her as her AMS condition looked serious. I then gave Raj a big hug for making the decisive call to bring her down. He replied that it was his responsibility. My tears suddenly just flushed out. Bloodyhell, I can't explain it. All I knew I was very emotional & tired. Perhaps, I really didn't prepare to have so many team members not being together. Never in any OX trip, we crumbled into pieces like this. 6 left now. Anyway, those were the negative thoughts when the emotion took over. That made me even more tired & moody for the rest of the day. Another light dinner although we all knew we have burnt a lot of energy, and we must eat more. But, we just can't summon our appetite back.

At night, it was RWen's turn to have AMS problem. Her anxiety definitely aggravated after seeing Ailing being sent off so dramatically by a helicopter. What's more, she still not sure if her insurance covers such emergency evacuation. She could only rest on the night with Raj checking on her condition every hourly through the night. It was obvious that she won't be joining us to Kala Patthar Peak, 5500m at 4am in the morning.

What an 'action packed' day it was... 
The longest walk in the trip.



People mountain people... ehhh... more mountains.

Nice team picture. That should be the Pumori Peak at the backdrop. 

Add caption

A helicopter flied by. Someone is sick or hurt again at this mountain. We actually got a news that a Japanese had passed away at EBC on the next day. 


Tough ladies in the house.

1st sight of EBC! On the way to Gorak Shep. 

Our ever reliable guide, Dalwat. His has a tough life out there. His perseverance at work supports his family. And, he is one of many in the region. Hate how I feel when I am writing this out. 

I saw EBC! But, not until we reach Gorak Shep, then, another 1.5hr to reach there. 

EBC looks cloudy which concerned me initially. Thank god we had the best possible weather on that day. 

After this camel back, we will reach Gorak Shep. 

The team was progressing well from the back.  Didn't pull over to wait for them as the risk of catching cold is very high. Didn't want to end up like TBK.  

Gorak Shep.
Gorak Shep Village. A dramatic day in this lodge. 

EBC looks closer and closer with the yellow tents became more visible by each step.

Carrying such weight at such altitude. A moment of solemn within myself to be more thankful on my life that I am having now. 
Tough tough job by the Sherpa to support their family. 

Dalwat took care of the team at the back. It got colder at 5200M, I had to walk a bit faster to get some heat. He sent this little Sherpa to lead me to EBC.  
Looked near, yet still a distance away. 
At 5200M, everything looks very different. The terrain, weather, air, coldness,  and even my own mental state. 

The environment turns extreme at geological perspective when we were nearer to EBC.

We made it! But it ain't finish. We continued to get closer to the camp site. 

My watch reading.

My doodle, for the team. 

That's the closest to the camps that we wanted to go. 

That's the 'C'amps of the EBC! For those summit climbers, they will start their toughest climb of their life by following a trail at the right. 

There's a helicopter in the picture, with Ailing inside.