Trek Day 9:  Lobuche to Gorek Shep (5,180m) and EBC Success!!

I had my worst night of sleep yet at a whopping two hours.  Since we left Kathmandu, I don’t think I’ve had more than 3.5 hours of sleep a night but this is a new low. Was hit with my first bout of nocturnal orthopnea (that suffocating feeling of drowning when lying down).   Totally brutal.  I tried to jack up my back pack and down blanket into some kind of a bolster to rest against but it wasn’t very comfortable.  In addition, I was worried about Lisa as she had had some oxygen in the evening to combat her nagging headache.     Rough start to the day.   I feel like I’m running on empty.  And it’s Base Camp day.

I struggled a lot this morning.  Trek was super rocky and windy.   And there were times when I felt dizzy and couldn’t keep my balance.   A really long four hours, for sure.  But again the views didn’t let me down.   The sun was so strong against the light grey granite that it was almost blinding.   And the skies were deep deep blue.   The Himalayas never disappoint.

I stumbled into Gorek Shep for lunch slightly hypoxic (really low oxygen level) evidenced by blue lips.   Took my O2 stats at lunch and I was down to 74%.   Not good.  At sea level I run between 98 and 99%.

So, what to do?   Press on and risk my health to get to “base camp” or take it easy in Gorek Shep?  No brainer really.  Stay put.

So why did I title this post “EBC Success!!”? Easy.  It was a huge success.   I made it to Sir Edmund Hillary’s Base Camp.    Done.  Period. Enough said.

As the years go by base camp moves.   Partly due to the growth (or generally the shrinkage) of the Khumbu icefall at the foot of Everest, partly due to terrain changes (eg, last year’s earthquake and avalanche).

I made it to a new high elevation for me.  I made it to my absolute physical limit.   And I made it in one piece.   Someone said to me on the way up: “summiting is optional; descending is mandatory”.  True that.

Today is the anniversary of last year’s earthquake and Geoff, the de facto father figure (and total ham) of our group, said some words of remembrance and encouragement for the victims and survivors of the earthquake and avalanche.   Nicely said, Geoff.

In the afternoon we walked past Gorek Shep and up one of the ridges for an awesome view of Lho La, Everest and Nuptse with Gorek Shep and 2016 EBC below.   And the picture my niece drew for me before I left home made it with me.   Her drawing was freakishly accurate, including the butterfly.   And we saw a couple of Tibetan snowcocks for good measure.

We sat on the slope of that ridge for at least 20 or 30 minutes soaking in our surroundings.   It was a serious high.  Literally and figuratively.

Sunset was spectacular.   The pictures don’t do it justice.   It was a real thrill.   Truly one of the highlights of my life.

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