I made friends with local guides along the way. Maybe they are nicer to me because I look like them? Either way, I had great banter with the local guides, despite the language barrier. On day 5, I had a really bad headache, and my body started rejecting all food, coming out of both ends. I was so tired, I couldn’t sleep, I had intense body aches and kind of felt hungover. I took ibuprofen and loads of water, threw up lots, shivering cold. Turns out I had full blown altitude sickness. I was thinking I might have to go back down if I don’t get better in the next 12-hours. One of the local guides I made friends with felt bad for me and gave me his AMS pills, lucky for me, I started feeling better after I took the pills.
To make things worse, I had carried bed bugs with me from India. These bugs are the worst. Way worse than sandflies in my opinion. Bed bug bites flare up every few hours, and they live in your clothes, in your bags, everywhere, and they are more resilient than cockroaches. Apparently, they come out of their hiding place once a week to feed on your blood. So, I had them with me the whole way up and down the base camp. So, I was cold, sick, and itchy. Why do I do this to myself?
While I was at one of my worst states in the 14-day long hike, we went through the Mt Everest memorial site of the fallen climbers. It might have been the lack of oxygen or the altitude sickness, but I could not help but cry for those brave bunch of climbers and Sherpas who lost their lives in this great mountain. So many people, it was a very sobering experience. What I’m doing is a walk in the park compared to the length these people had to go through to attempt to climb the tallest mountain on earth. I cried a lot.
Gorak Shep is a village sitting at 5171m above sea level. It’s the last village before the base camp. Nothing grows up here, not even cabbage. Everything you eat here has been carried up by sherpa or animal. But I was still able to get Snickers, Mars bars and flat bottles of Coke.
Gorak Shep looks like Mars. Nothing there, for as far as your eyes can see. Dogs here look like Chewbacca, so big and hairy. I was completely out of breath when I arrived but didn’t have much break before we headed off to the base camp. There’s a small window of time to be able to see the tip of Mt Everest due to the clouds. It was excruciatingly long and mostly uphill. Not bad at normal oxygen level, but at less than 50% of normal oxygen level, my lungs were about to push through my ribcage.
Being there, I didn’t really feel much, to be honest. I think I was too exhausted by the time I got there, I didn’t really have much left in me. Some people were crying, I guess some people have been dreaming of this moment for months or years. I just did it on a whim.
Looking at Everest, I couldn’t fathom how people would even dare to go up there. I was happy to just see it from where I was at 5171m. I just couldn’t wait to hit downhill already. It took 7 days to get up to the base camp, but I had signed up for a ‘quick side trip’ to another massive mountain pass, which meant I had another 4 days of uphill battle before heading back down to civilisation.