Everest – Day 22: Rotation #1

April 20 (Saturday)

We were supposed to be fully dressed and at breakfast at 3am.  I set my alarm but I didn’t hear it!!  Brien, one of the guides, shook my tent at 02:53am which only gave me 7 minutes to get dressed and get out of the tent… Gaah!!  Not a good start.  We had breakfast and left base camp at 4am.

It didn’t start out really well for me in the Icefall..  I started falling behind although I still had 2 climbers and 2 Sherpas behind me.  It was snowing pretty hard and was a little chilly.  I’m not sure if we were going too fast or maybe I just lacked in physical conditioning, but the Icefall seemed really steep and difficult to climb.  I was breathing very hard and started getting nauseated.  I was going slower and slower and needing to catch my breath after each bigger hill.  Climbers behind me passed me which left only me and my guide.  We finally made it to the ‘football’ field, a little bit further than the place we came to yesterday.  I took a break there and found out from Ben, my guide, that it would take at least 4 more hours to get to camp 1.  I was so nauseated at this point that I couldn’t really keep anything down.  I didn’t actually throw up anything but it sure felt like I would have.  I was also cold, even with my big puffy parka on.  It was snowing really hard and the visibility was very poor.  I figured that if I can’t keep anything down, how will I keep warm??  Food and water is essential to staying warm.  I was going higher and higher, and with more exertion surely I would not start feeling any better.  I decided that I need to turn around before I get any sicker.  I never felt so sick on a mountain before, and never before had an altitude problem, so this really alarmed me.  However, I cherish my well-being and life over anything and decided that I am more important than a pile of rock and ice, no matter how high in the sky it is…  Ben made a quick call on his walkie-talkie and Lakpa Sherpa descended from the group way ahead of us already to take me down to base camp.

I remember looking at the blue ice of the glacier all around me and the huge towers of snow and ice, looking extremely ‘cold’ and inhospitable.  It was foggy all around me and still snowing hard.  The Icefall felt so hostile and forsaken that I felt it is the last place on Earth I would want to get lost in and collapse.  I just really wanted to get the fudge out of there!

Lakpa Rita was extremely patient with me.  He saw that I felt like crap so he strapped my backpack onto his own so I had no weight to carry besides my own.  To this day I am so very thankful for that!  We finally made it down to base camp and I snailed my way over to the clinic (“Everest ER”) to see one of the doctors there.  I was told that it’s just simple altitude sickness and I need more acclimatization.  The doctor instructed me to eat and drink more (which I sorta knew already… but it’s oh-so hard to eat and drink anything at an altitude when there is absolutely no appetite!).  I came back to my tent and layed down.  It snowed all night, and I slept like a baby for full 11 hours.

DAY 23

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