Saturday, March 24, 2012

Everest Calling - Dole to Machermo

We ascend to Machermo. With every step forward, and upward, Thamsherku becomes visible in more breadth and depth. More and more peaks rise all along the horizon. I swear at the clouds. I swear more at the remembrance of how they maliciously blocked the golden-sunset-mountain from me the previous day.

Our plan was to proceed to Gokyo the next day – the most difficult part of our trek – from where Everest would come into view.
But I wished we would return along the same route to view the golden mountains again. Had I known my wish would be granted, I might not have made it.

The trail from Dole to Machermo was through a moorland – a land exposed to elements. There were no trees, only thorny shrubs and rocks sprouting out of a dry land.
When the cold cruel unforgiving winds blowing against my face and hands hurt like a hundred needles, I asked, for the first time, if a view of the Everest was worth all that discomfort and all that struggle.

A white bright snow covered peak, very far away, contrasting sharply with the dark grey that stretched from us in all directions was among the few interesting things on that route.
The top of the peak was being blown away by very strong winds. It appeared to us like white fumes rising from the peak and diffusing ever so slowly into the blue surrounding – the effect as seen by us diminished by the distance.

We passed a place named Luza – that had about 3 buildings making it up.

Don’t miss the helicopter in the below pictures.

We reached Machermo.

Soon after lunch, we were told that there was a Red Cross Centre nearby and a session on AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) was to begin in a while.
We ached to remain seated in our hotel. It hurt to even think of stepping out. It was that cold.

We all walked to the centre in a file.

We learnt that we were in the ‘Death Valley’.
That people on that route had died. Of dehydration, very low oxygen in their body, of mountain sickness.
We were told about the various disorders that high altitude brought on. And their symptoms.

Drink lots of water, be warm, take diamox if you have the symptoms, don’t take sedatives to sleep well in the night, listen to your body, don’t push yourselves…

We were told of the myths and then of the truths.
There were porters available to carry people down on their backs, there was a helicopter service available, though it took time – and both took a lot of money.

Our oxygen saturation levels were checked. The following numbers are approximate not accurate.
In the plains the oxygen saturation level was 96-97. In the mountains it fell. If it went below 70 or so, you were in danger. A non invasive instrument with a small panel showing the reading was used. I wonder how it works. My number was 79. I was quite safe.

Just when we were about to leave, a member of our group dropped to the ground.


ashok said...

amazing post...beautiful snaps!

ranj said...

Very beautiful pictures....