Hey everybody…sending this from Namche Bazaar, at 11,300 feet, the last real town on the trail to Everest. The trip is magnificent, the time of my life. I did have some lower back spasms the first day on the trail, which slowed me down and threatened to end my trip right then and there. A combination of massage, stretching, Advil and Tiger Balm got me back on track, and I’ve been fine ever since, but it requires constant vigilance. My stomach has been fine and I have no altitude sickness (knock on wood!) The views are unparalleled, the people extraordinary.
Unfortunately, the monsoon season is blowing in early, which has meant rain, hail, and thunder most days, but often not until we’re in camp for the day. Up on Everest, the blowing winds and snow have forced all of the summit teams back down to Base Camp, so no one’s been able to try for the top just yet.
Six people have died here so far: two Mountain Madness sherpa porters (one with the summit team, one with one of the trekking groups) and four trekking tourists. All from acute mountain sickness, except a German man who had a heart attack. It’s extremely important to know your limitations, and accept them when they appear! We’ve already lost two members of our 16-person group: they helicoptered out of here this morning, back down to Kathmandu, because they just couldn’t do anymore. They’ll be fine. Another of our hikers collapsed in convulsions from dehydration yesterday. He’s something of a head case and I don’t know what will happen with him; physically he seems fine now though.
Please don’t let any of this worry you! I am hiking at a good pace, and monitoring my health. If I’m not meant to make it…I won’t! I’ll turn around and go back down. This morning we came around a bend and saw Everest for the first time, along with Ama Dablam, Lhotse, and some of the other giant Himalayan neighbors! What a staggering thing, quite an emotional moment for some in the group. A brilliant, sunny day today (a break in the weather?) with vast snow faces and glaciers, the wind blowing the snow off the peak of Everest. A sight I will never forget…and we’re only going to get closer in the days ahead! Five or six days from now…we will be at Base Camp (the gods willing…)!
That’s all for now…