Dingboche [14,355ft] Periche [14,142]
Apr 23, 2002
The day starts with another nut. While I'm having breakfast a guy runs by heading down the hill. He's training for the Everest Marathon. 26.2 miles from Gorak Shep at 17,000 feet down to Namche at 11,500. I'm definitely in the land of the nuts. Maybe the only place in the world where my plans and dreams, 2 years of wandering the world, an Ironman, are only average insane.
The day should have been easy- Just a couple of hour, a thousand vertical feet. It turns into a hard, hard effort. I must have been weakened by yesterday's ordeal. I didn't eat a solid dinner last night and I'm still not getting enough sleep. For the first time this trek I'm tired enough that I stop and sit down. Even over the hardest climbs over the last few weeks, I had no urge to sit. I'd just drop my pack and then walk a bit to stretch my legs. I arrive in Dingboche with potentially serious symptoms: severe lethargy and slowness of thought. Fortunately, the symptoms immediately disappear after a liter of water and a bowl of porridge. It is very hard to tell if I'm suffering from altitude, dehydration or hypoglycemia (lack of food). Any activity at altitude robs you of energy and water. The symptoms of altitude sickness and in particular dehydration are almost the same and so far water has cured all of my problems.
Feeling better, I decide to hike over the ridge and down to Periche for the daily talk at the medical clinic. As I'm about to leave a wind storm and snow flurry starts. This could become a regular occurrence. I don't learn much more about altitude sickness; it is covered in depth in my trekking guide. I do learn more about Diamox, the altitude cure-all. It helps you breathe better and make you piss more. My breathing is fine and the last thing I could possibly want is to pee more. I can't see taking Diamox. For a small donation the medical clinic will take your pulse and the oxygen saturation in your blood. 76 pulse - 83% oxygen saturation. Both very normal. In general your pulse is raised about 15 points at this altitude. And the oxygen saturation while normal here is 99% at sea level.
There is a poster advertising Rob Hall's Adventure Consultants on the wall of this guesthouse restaurant. A bit disturbing. If you don't know the history of the 1996 Everest disaster, Rob Hall was one of the people that died.