Apr 30, 2002
I wake up with fantasies of being at 13,000 feet. That's a bad sign. I make my way into the dining room and find myself nauseous and unable to eat. This is bad. A few days ago, my confidence was so high. After summiting Chukung Ri at 15,600 feet base camp should be no problem. Now things are falling apart. I wait for a while. "Fuck, so close and I don't know if I'm going to make it!" My nausea is not getting any better, but I'm considering going to base camp anyways. Can I come this close and give up? I think some more. In the worst case I'll require a US$1200/hr helicopter medical evacuation. Even the best case isn't so good. I make it to base camp, but I'm too sick to enjoy my time there. I decide that it's time to start descending. I'm pretty distraught. I know myself, and am pretty sure that I won't have the emotional fortitude to descend and then make a second attempt.
Doing anything at 17,000 feet is hard. Doing it while nauseous on an empty stomach is agony. I slowly make my way up and down several small hills, relying heavily on my walking stick. At 500 feet below Gorak Shep I'm feeling much better. The nausea is gone. My thoughts are positive. I only missed one meal. I'll sleep at Laboche and stock up on food. Tomorrow, I'll charge up to base camp and then charge right back down. When I arrive at Laboche, I'm not quite so confident. I spend the next two hours, eating, resting and engaging in an intense internal debate. I hate to give up this close, but the options for going up don't look so good either. I can spend more nights at Gorak Shep which I'm not looking forwards to or I can attempt a very tough in the best of healthy 10 hour roundtrip to base camp and back. Do I want to suffer for something that isn't even that great? In the end, the answer seems to be "no". I'm skipping base camp. One the decision in made I rush down the hill as quickly as possible. In part I want to reach a lower, warmer, more oxygen rich environment, but I also want to make sure that I get down far enough to prevent me from changing my mind.
I'm left with my well-publicized goal. I am no longer particularly excited about base camp. I climbed Kala Pattar which looks down on base camp. But, I said that I wanted to go to base camp and I didn't make it. Should I toss out this goal? Or, I'm planning on coming back to Nepal and seeing the Gokyo lakes unfrozen. Should I make another attempt on base camp then? I'll have to think about this more and make a decision later.
Go for it! It is still admirable you are walking around the great Himalayas. I hope you make it to the Base Camp.