On the Threshold of Death

Posted By Andrea on Jan 4, 2016 | 0 comments


Thangnak  30th October 2015

Om Namah Shivaya

“Lights will guide you home and I’ll fix you”

The day after our fourth lake side trip we wake to find it snowing steadily. We are snowed in. Fortunate for me as I have woken from a terrible night of stomach pain feeling weak and unable to do anything other than lie in bed. I summon Kaji immediately and request that he find me a course of antibiotics as a matter of urgency. He does and I spend the day my in bed as even the trip to the dining hall leaves me feeling weak, nauseous and giddy. 

By evening I’m no better and on a promise to Kaji I turn up for dinner at the dining room promising to eat a plate of rice. I manage a cup of tea and 2 spoons of rice and before letting him know that anything else will cause vomiting at the table, take my leave and retire to bed. 

Kaji lets us know that if there is a break in the weather he will be waking us up at 4.40am for our trip to Gokyo Ri. To be honest I’m thinking “as if that’s a possibility I can’t even manage a flight of stairs at the moment” but alas I nod. 

The night goes well and yes we get a knock at 4.28am and dutifully don our cold weather gear and drink some tea. I’m feeling MUCH better today (that’s if you consider alive not dead a massive improvement) so my plan is to walk slowly at the back and pace myself and see how far I can get. After around 10 days of diarrhea of which the last 4 have been acute and unable to keep liquids in resulting in acute dehydration. Combined with eating only about 10% of my normal food for the last 3 days and only 50% prior to that. Taking this into account I know it’s going to be a case of stoic determination. 

As we set out in our long train with other groups I’m actually feeling quite good considering. My recovery time is good although I feel weakness on the massive incline. At no point do I have any signs of altitude related problems. 

We are blessed with an absolutely incredible sunrise on the way up. Which I find out later I may be the only one to capture as the main group is focused on the summit. 

I keep heading up reciting my Shiva mantra to focus my mind and stopping for rest and photos. Early on I pass one German lady who had been really struggling and has collapsed crying and is turned around. I find out a couple of hours later she is on the heli that has come in to take 2 people out. 

I make it 3/4 of the way to the summit when a big cloud bank rolls in. I tell Kaji “let’s go down”, I’m not here for a bucket list tick only for the pics and I can’t see the point of exhausting myself for no reason. So we head down. It is a slippery descent but we make it back. Andrew has made the summit and has pics. I’m so proud of him. Matthew the only one not sick opted to stay in bed “henceforth the lazy one” and even missed the best sunrise of the trip “pathetic effort I say”. 

When we get back to the lodge it’s 9am Kaji informs us to eat, then pack as we are off to Thangnak at the base of the Cho La Pass today. 

Surprisingly I eat 2 pcs of toast and we head off at 10.30 as we hear there is snow coming. Kaji tells us it’s a 1.5hr walk. I’m thinking “is that when its dry or snowy and icy?”  I again walk at the back of the group and quickly fall behind. The porters are walking with the others while Kaji stays with me. We walk in the middle of massive peaks, across a glacier and the Boulder fields. I’m stunned that they can even find the track as the whole area is a blanket of white. 

I know I’m running out of energy fast. I ask Kaji “how much further?” He says “see that flag on the hill it’s just past there” I think “ok that’s doable”. Nearing the end of the climb up the hill near the flag I’m exhausted. I’m tempted to call out “hey Kaji my body is suffering from the Kathmandu fuel crisis and I’ve just run out of gas” but alas I struggle the last few metres to the crest. Imagine my disappointment when I see nothing on the other side but an endless scene of Boulder fields covered in snow. I sigh and reason with myself that at least it’s all downhill so won’t be as exhausting. The walk appears to me to continue for some 5km (well maybe 3) before we finally see a small cluster of lodges around the bend. My group have made it here in 2 hours while I took 2.5 (pretty incredible considering yesterday I was on the threshold of death). But still I have coined a term “Kaji Time”. That means take all his time estimates and add at least half again or double it. 

Needless to say rest prevails for the remainder of the day. We will be starting our ascent of the Cho La Pass at 5am. Our most dangerous day yet. If I can get another good improvement overnight…………

From Gokyo the third lake in the snow. Amazingly I was able to tear myself out of bed to take this photo.

From Gokyo the third lake in the snow. Amazingly I was able to tear myself out of bed to take this photo.

Gokyo during the snowstorm

Gokyo during the snowstorm

A fabulous sunrise from on the way up Gokyo Ri the day after the snowstorm

A fabulous sunrise from on the way up Gokyo Ri the day after the snowstorm

Sunrise on the mountains around the third lake at Gokyo.

Sunrise on the mountains around the third lake at Gokyo.

Sunrise on the mountains around the third lake at Gokyo.

Sunrise on the mountains around the third lake at Gokyo.

A fabulous sunrise from on the way up Gokyo Ri the day after the snowstorm

A fabulous sunrise from on the way up Gokyo Ri the day after the snowstorm

A frozen lake on the walk from Gokyo to Thangnak

A frozen lake on the walk from Gokyo to Thangnak

Walking across the glacier and glacial moraine on the walk from Gokyo to Thankgnak

Walking across the glacier and glacial moraine on the walk from Gokyo to Thankgnak

Walking across the glacier and glacial moraine on the walk from Gokyo to Thankgnak

Walking across the glacier and glacial moraine on the walk from Gokyo to Thankgnak

 

 

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