Archive for October 15th, 2009

October 15, 2009

Namche Bazar – Dhole 4110m

We got news last night that a porter was lost on Chola pass due to a quick moving avalanche. This sad news hit many of us hard – especially those who new the man who lost his life. We also heard that Island peak was experiencing severe weather with temperatures of -35c; if it is anything close to that cold when I get there in a few weeks you can be assured that my lily white ass will be staying in the tent.

angin above namcheAngin above Namche Bazar

At 9:30am we reached our scheduled destination and appropriate acclimation altitude. Angin and I studied the map carefully and felt very confident the we could go on to Dhole without a significant risk of contracting altitude sickness. It was an absolutely magnificent day for trekking with Pacific blue skies, frequent vista’s of snow capped mountains, and glorious fall weather.


Just before Dhole a group of 4 young men who were carrying their own loads blew past us with nary a wave.  They had also started at Namche and planed to push on farther up the valley. Around 11pm in the evening, I heard a great deal of commotion and realized that these “studs” were back in Dhole and one was suffering from Acute Altitude/mountain Sickness (AMS).  He was suffering from an excruciating headache, nausea, blurred vision, shallow and labored breathing, and numbness in the extremities. And, well he was freaking out. They got settled down, and Diamox was given to hopefully counter the affects of the oxygen shortage. Diamox is actually a glaucoma drug but is used frequently for AMS.  Some take as a preventative and others, myself included, carry it as a treatment option if problems develop. Unfortunately, some of the big outfitters hand this potent drug out like Chiclets and run the risk of masking the symptoms of a potentially fatal problem.  In the morning we saw this poor guy and he looked like he had been hit by a yak – a very big yak.  He was recovering but his trek was over as his options were limited to one; go down.

mantra stonesMantra stones

Ironically or is that stupidly?,  after watching this AMS situation unfold,  a young and obviously very fit U.S. Navy guy who is stationed in Singapore announces to the group that he has limited time and is going to push on to Gokyo today, climb Gokyo Ri tomorrow morning and then return to Namche the same day. “I really don’t think I will have any problem, I have a headache, but Ibuprophen seems to take care of it”.  Mind you this is the same guy who is traveling exclusively with U.S. dollars because “Everyone wants them right?” We have a good laugh at his expense as we watch the stupidly low (about half) exchange rate he is given at the lodge and his apparent lack of math skills.  Later we hear from Angin that this guy has both a guide and a porter (who he hired at the airport), and he is paying almost triple the going rate. His guide and porter are also ordering food off the tourist menu and he is paying for that as well. I told Angin that he got the wrong client; “Oh no sir, he get killed, maybe kill guide”. Please tell me this guy does not represent the “New, smarter U.S. military”.

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