Base Camp Update

hey everybody!
i am VERY excited to read that it looks like Obama won the race!!! All
of the americans we have met over here also cast their absentee
ballots and have been waiting impatiently to hear the results…

At any rate, I am back down from the heights! We ended up choosing who
went up high first depending on who was feeling healthiest. After
finally recooperating from the gastroenteritis of the century,  Aaron
from USC and I were deemed the most ready for the hike, so the two of
us headed up to Lobouje. We spent 2 nights up there, and then went
even higher to Gorak Shep which was a little over 17,000 ft. The hike
follows the Khumbu Glacier, and we found a couple cool frozen glacial
lakes with big hunks of ice and rock falling into them. Kind of like
fireworks….ooooh….ahhhhh  Once in Gorak Shep, we hiked up Kala
Patthar. In reality it is just a bump, but it took us up to 18,000 ft!
That is way, way higher than I have ever beeen before. The hike wasn’t
that steep, but it took us forever and we were seriously out of
breath. Like the nerds we are, we brought along a pulse ox and at the
top I was at 73% and had a pulse of 120. It was gorgeous up there, a
360 degree view of some of the highest peaks in the world, including
Everest. INSANE!! I took a ton of pictures. We froze the night in
Gorak Shep, and the next morning made our way to Everest Base Camp. We
were told it would be underwhelming, and it was. We basically hiked
along the glacier for a few hours, lots of rock and ice. The landscape
seriously looks like the moon up there. It is all morraine, which is
glacier covered with rock, which makes it difficult to hike on. There
weren’t any expeditions at camp as most go in the spring. Just lots of
rock and trash left from previous expeditions…. but it was very cool
to sit at the place where so many successful and treacherous
expeditions have begun. There is so much history there, and it was
cool to see the Khumbu Ice Fall, the passage everyone on their way to
Everest has to climb. There was a high snowy pass right there also,
and right over the edge was Tibet. So close but so far! The funny
thing about Base Camp is that so many people come to Nepal with
getting there being their main objective. We saw these Italians all in
spandex with “EBC 2008” on them, and a hiking group of British
teenageers all with matching sweatshirts emblazoned with EVEREST BASE
CAMP 08…. and then you get there and there’s nothing there!
Everyone seems to have guides too, which are definetly not needed. So
there are these groups of people in matching spandex clothes with a
guide leading the way…. and then there’s me and Aaron in the same
nasty clothes we’ve been in for 2 weeks, tromping around the
countryside by ourselves and just asking Sherpas “Base camp??” and
pointing. haha  We spent one more night up in Lobouje, and then came
back down to Pheriche yesterday. Aaron caught a bug and has
gastroentereitis, and now I’ve got some weird sinus/sore throat stuff.
It took an hour to hike over here to Dingboche where the internet is,
but today is our first day hiking under 5 hours for the last 10 days.
I’m planning on sitting on my butt, drinking tea, writing in my
journal and washing some pretty gnarly smelling socks. We hang out in
Pheriche for a few days, and then Dingboche for a few more. Then,
depending on how well the study is going, we may end up going back up
high or ending the study early if we have enough pariticpants and then
finding some place cool to hike. The weather is steadily getting
colder and gettting foggy early in the morning and late at night….
we may have some issues getting a flight back to Kathmandu so we’re
trying to plan in advance for that.  We have seen some pretty cool
pathology for altitude sickness…. there was a porter with HAPE whose
pulse ox was in the 50’s, coughing up foam… other porters carried
him down in a basket on their back and once at the Himalayan Rescue
Association in Pheriche they threw him in a Gamoff bag – a pressurized
bag.  There were already 2 other people there on oxygen and at night
they run off of a solar charged battery. So they almost ran out of
electricity…..and then the sun rose and saved the day! High drama!
Since we’re in Pheriche for the next few days, we’ll get to work with
the docs at the HRA, so hopefully we’ll see some cool stuff too!

Anyways, got to go. My last email cost me $10!

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