After yesterday’s relatively chilled stroll downhill, today was pretty much when we were somewhat brutally reminded that the majority of this trek would be of the upwards persuasion as we made our way from 2640 to 3440 metres. To be fair though our general pace could be described as more of a shuffle than an actual walk which is pretty much the perfect speed for me, and we took shit loads of breaks for rest and water because you’re apparently meant to drink enough water per day to drown a small mammal. This is fine and quite doable when you’re dragging your slightly out of shape carcass up a hill but let’s face it, water treated with chlorine tablets is all well and good and allows you to drink the tap water and still fart with confidence but it tastes like you’re drinking a fucking swimming pool. This is exactly how I like it. If I don’t feel like my internal organs just got a right good bleaching I generally manage to convince myself I’ve got typhoid or cholera or a multi-tentacled river creature living in my lower intestine so me and Nat offset the grim taste of the tablets with powdered cordial because yes, we’re cheap fuckers like that. Bottled water was already costing around ₨80 to ₨100, everything costs more the further up you get because it’s got to be carried up by a porter.
Porters are the double hard bastards that carry stupidly heavy loads up hills at altitude with a strap around their head whilst us foreigners struggle along in our technical gear and whine that 5kgs feels so heavy once you’re above 3500 metres. It’s compulsory to take stalker photos of every porter you see to show your friends back home how awesome they are and if they’re carrying a load similar to the one in the picture above you’re fully expected to dig your mate in the ribs, snigger a bit and comment, “That bloke’s got wood.” True story. Seriously though, you see them carrying some epic loads from essential survival supplies like beer and Pringles, to noodles, water and hot chocolate. Every single thing you use or buy on the mountain, some dude carried it up from Lukla. That’s why we always ate every scrap of food we were given. All of it. Even if we weren’t hungry any more, if it had been served to one of us, someone would eat it.
Another fun food fact we learned today was the myth of yak’s cheese. So what we’re seeing everywhere is nak’s cheese on account of a nak being a female yak. Sonam told us that there’s no such thing as yak’s cheese, it doesn’t exist. Well, it might, but it probably wouldn’t be something you’d want to wrap your chops around.
The food is surprisingly good though considering where we are though but so far I’m rocking the dal bhat. I fucking love it. It’s basically a standard Nepali set meal consisting of lentil soup (dal), rice (bhat), a vegetable curry called tarkari, a spicy sauce called achar and sometimes some spinach which want to call saag but that’s Hindi and I’m not sure what it is in Nepali. Maybe the same. But give me a few more days and if you show me a plate of rice and lentils I’ll probably throw it at you.
Anyway, we shuffled our way through Sherpa villages, past mani stones and prayer wheels, waterfalls and rhododendron trees. There were more suspension bridges to cross because Nat and Nia hadn’t had enough nervous breakdowns recently, including an epically high one with a lower one slung underneath it and at first I thought we were heading for that but nope. Though to be fair, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t much higher up than the one we jumped off at The Last Resort. Clearly we took a metric fuck tonne of breaks, drank our bladders into submission, photographed every bastard dzopkyo, mule and stray dog that wandered past us and after lunch the big day two climb to Namche Bazaar began. Some dude back in Kathmandu had told me that this was the worst part and I was inclined to believe him. I’d learned a technique in Peru for climbing hills with uneven steps without feeling like your lung had just been sandpapered and that your legs were about to drop off; you basically zig zag up and go out of your way to find the smaller steps and ramps where ever you can. The concentration required means you’re not really thinking about how far you’ve come or how far you have to go and before you know it you’re pretty much where you need to be, which in this case was sat on some steps next to a tiny goat.
This is a fun game to play. Why not liven up your Everest Base Camp trek by annoying local animals simply by blocking their path whilst you take a selfie with them. Everyone needs a confused-looking-goat selfie in their lives. Perhaps stick to tiny animals with no horns though to minimise the risk of being impaled through the brain though. Don’t sidle up to a yak and attempt a selfie. I mean, you can. You can do what you want. Just don’t get all whiny when the fucking thing lobotomises you. And once all of the obligatory goat selfies were out of the way we wheezed our way up the final steps and collapsed in the lodge that we’d be staying at for the night. And what an awesome lodge it was! Before dinner they gave us hot towels to clean our hands with but you hand a bunch of people with no access to a long, hot, free shower a hot towel and they’ll go all out and give themselves a proper wash. Yeah you might want to boil wash those flannels now hey.
But it was so far so good. I can be a wee bit of a hypochondriac on occasion and I’d become hyper aware of any potential symptoms of altitude sickness such as headaches. I’m not even shitting you, any manner of head related pain and that was it! I clearly had Acute Mountain Sickness and all of my braincells were going to explode! what wasn’t exploding though was my arse which is generally considered to be a good thing. A couple of our group were shitting liquid whereas I was struggling to eject anything other than shotgun pellets. Not gonna lie, there was definitely an unfair distribution of bowel movements in the group.
Namche Bazaar, Khumbu, Nepal
Altitude: 3440 metres
Activity: Trekking with Adventure Club Trek & Expedition