The Sickness

Dughla Travel Blog

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A hill too far. The end of my chance to get to base camp. Depending on where you look, Dughla (from where this taken) is from 4,600 - 4,900 M high.

It huuuuuuuuuurts! It really huuuuuuuuuurrrrrrts!

My head feels like someone has taken a house brick and is forcing it down with truculent glee on top of my skull. My stomach is knotted, throbbing, constantly threatening vomit and steadfastly refusing food.

I lie awake through the night, sweating into my sleeping bag; feverish, forehead hot and damp to the touch. I hear a mouse or rat scuttling around in the frozen yard just outside the thin window. Suddenly it squeals its last as it meets the teeth of the Dughla lodge cat. Despite everything, I can’t help grinning in the darkness.

My body is a scent war zone, with sickly Adidas deodorant struggling to mask an uprising of acrid pit sweat.

My overnight nest in Dughla. I suspect it was at least -5C in the room that night.
My feet and socks smell like cheese dorito farts. I haven’t showered in six days. The only redeeming feature in the whole scenario is that the mountain views from pretty much anywhere are epic. Pity I can’t really enjoy them.

Earlier, sitting alone in a corner of the Dughla lodge common room I tried to force down a bowl of vegetable Sherpa stew. I managed a few small pieces of potato and that was it. I had to push the rest aside. My appetite fled completely this morning, since then, I’ve managed a Mars bar, some water and lemon tea, that’s about it.

A bearded fiftysomething Canadian guy named Jim was kind enough to come over and speak to me; I tell him what happened earlier in the day. After a rest for lunch here at Dughla, the Danish couple, Rasmus and Louise, whom I’ve walked with for the last six days, continued on up a moraine slope that takes the track above 5000 Metres.

At the back, you can just see the peak of Everest. This is taken from close to Namche Bazaar.
I had not eaten as I was close to vomiting even before we reached Dughla.

I forced myself to follow them up the path through the moraine but found myself nauseous and increasingly light-headed through the exertion. I was worried I might faint and didn’t want to place any responsibility on them for my wellbeing. I turned back. It was an unpleasant decision, in choosing to come down, I’ve ended up alone, not advisable up here.

I told Jim that I was thinking of descending, giving it up. He suggested that I see how I am tomorrow morning, maybe to try another acclimatisation walk. He told me he’d suffered similar symptoms a few days ago but they had gradually receded. I thanked him for the encouragement; another person who helped out on this journey when they didn’t have to.

Nightfall. I'm cheating a bit actually as this was taken in Dingboche.

My problem is that, even if I do feel better in the morning, I won’t be able to catch up with Rasmus and Louise. Above 5000 metres I’ll be exposing my body to increasingly thin air. Walking alone, risking worsening symptoms of altitude sickness, would place me firmly in the realms of the foolish and dangerous.

Reaching Everest has a powerful allure that has stretched many beyond their capabilities. I badly want to get to Base Camp and the view point at Kala Patthar, but I’m not going to put myself at serious risk of injury to do it.

The next morning, there is little change. If anything, I feel even worse. My belly is swilling with water (the recommendation is 4+ litres a day) but I still can’t eat. I’ve slept less than an hour overnight, I feel physically drained and the headache is still pounding away. The thought of climbing the moraine, even as an acclimatisation exercise, is not a palatable one. It’s not a great situation, but I can’t stay here unable to eat or sleep.

The only other alternative is to walk down alone. So that’s what I do.

Kramerdude says:
Sorry to hear you didn't make it all the way up to BC. Stumbled upon you entries while puting up my stuff for Dingboche.
Posted on: Jul 15, 2009
fotoaa says:
sounded epic
Posted on: Jan 27, 2009
dahling says:
Very sorry to hear, being sick is always horrible, but to be sick and not be able to do something about it is horrible... I hope you will be better by morning
Posted on: Jan 26, 2009
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A hill too far. The end of my chan…
A hill too far. The end of my cha…
My overnight nest in Dughla. I sus…
My overnight nest in Dughla. I su…
At the back, you can just see the …
At the back, you can just see the…
Nightfall. Im cheating a bit actu…
Nightfall. I'm cheating a bit act…
photo by: Biedjee