Day 10: Pangboche
Pikey Peak, Nepal
Ascent: 744 m
descent: 744 m
Distance: 8.8 km
Elevation at Destination: 3985 m
I awoke on my second acclimatisation day with a clear diagnosis of Khumbu cough (I wasn’t alone - dozens of other hikers and porters around me also suffered from the same ailment). I don't think my chest had ever hurt so much. The rest of me was fine, it just sounded like I was dying a slow and painful death.
Once I had gained the reassurance that I was able to walk and breathe at the same time, I set off for Ama Dablam Base Camp. It didn't seem that far away on the map, but the ridiculously steep incline meant it was a slow climb with little relief. The terrain continuously changed between loose gravel, solid earth, sandy soil, rocky fields and grassy meadows. Following the path wasn't always an easy feat, but there were enough people heading up that I wasn't concerned about getting lost.
The summit of Ama Dablam was nearly always in sight, but as I gained elevation more and more peaks came into view. By the time I reached base camp, just over two hours after starting out, I was surrounded by more mountains than I could count (or name).
Base camp itself was a large field filled with over 100 tents, ready for adventurers brave enough to attempt a climb to the summit (an expedition that takes roughly two weeks from here). Apparently conditions were too windy today, so no one was going anywhere. Some of the tents were in the shape of giant domes, large enough for a communal dining area warmed by a gas heater, and a volleyball net had been set up outside in the sun. It didn’t look like the worst place to hang out while waiting for the weather to improve.
At one point a helicopter landed only 100 m away, dropped off goods and picked up two hikers. I guess that was the end of their climbing expedition.
After half an hour of admiring the scenery, it was time to return to Pangboche. Other than the biting headwind and slippery surface, it was a relatively straightforward descent. I passed numerous hikers on their way up, which was unfortunate as the clouds had started to appear. They weren’t going to see the beauty I was privileged enough to catch sight of.
The afternoon was spent in a similar way to yesterday: change into warm clothes, eat lunch, jump into bed, emerge around dinnertime when the heater is going, return to bed. It sounded like a fairly lazy lifestyle, but I was utterly exhausted and needed the rest. Alongside my extreme fatigue, my cough didn’t seem to be abating, I couldn’t eat the food put in front of me for dinner and I was growing increasingly nauseous - classic signs of altitude sickness. I didn’t have high hopes of seeing out the rest of my trek.