Day 10: Hiking in the Tibetan Plateau

Today I woke up pretty strong an optimistic. I had a small breakfast, purchased some soft drinks and snacks for the Puja at Base Camp, and set off to hike a beautiful hill I spotted yesterday about 10k away from the place where we contemplated Everest and the Himalayan Range. It took me about two hours to get there, since I was fooling around and taking photos. There is a very nice Tibetan village at the bottom of that hill, with an small monastery and some ruins at the top. It was very pleasant sitting there, munching at some crisps, and looking how the White Plume on the summit of Everest was growing by the minute. The White Plume is the snow coming from the summit when the Jet Stream (winds blowing up to 250km/h) vaporizes it into the sky. It’s a beautiful yet scary natural phenomenon that remind us how vulnerable we are in the mountains.

The North Face of Qomolangma looks awesome from the top of that hill. Is like a giant pyramid with a vertical black wall facing the Tibetan Plateau. It’s difficult to believe some routes have been set up there. I keep studying our route by looking at pictures and navigating it with Google Earth in my iPad. I try to visualize every section we have to climb and getting ready for the steepest sections by imagining myself facing every single problem we’ll find in our way up to the Top. Phil is incredibly optimistic and helps us keeping a positive attitude towards our chances of getting to the Summit and down.

Once I finished my trek I had small lunch, shaved and washed a bit, and I learned about the first bad news, not for us but for one of the members in the team which bus broke down yesterday. One Danish girl went for a walk in the morning and was bitten by a dog quite badly on her leg. She has just been evacuated to get vaccination in Kathmandu, and her chances to make it back and continue with her Everest Dream are almost cero, since she needs about two weeks of continuous treatment. What would I do if I’d be on her shoes? Treating the incident as a normal injury and continue the climb to risk my life if I’m infected by rabies? That dog most probably carries the disease… You have to see this place… Yesterday we spotted three dead dogs in the street, and is just few meters long. This morning when I went to the grocery shop I was disgusted by observing a huge dog lying almost dead in front of a big hole filled with yellow water. The smell coming from there was horrendous and the dog was drinking that liquid slowly. It reminded me to the Walking Dead, and I think this is the sort of place that would come into my nightmares one day. During all my hike I was very concerned about the dogs, since we were warned by Phil about these sort of incidents that have happened a few times before. In 2011 one climber got sick after getting infected by one dog in the same place, and there is another incident reported few years ago. I had a bit of traumatic experience with dogs when I was a pizza delivery boy in my sixteens, and another in Jordan while visiting the ruins of a castle in the middle of the desert. So today I was worried about these walking dead dogs, trying to keep a good distance from them while looking for stones and sticks to defend myself from them. Now I think I’ve been a bit stupid going alone for that long hike in the middle of nowhere…

The girl is a doctor and was attached to her mobile phone for a long time before leaving the place in a Land Cruiser. Quite a sad scene watching some of her climbing partners saying goodbye while she was getting in the car with some tears in her eyes. Now these climbers have another problem to face, and is getting transport from this horrible town to Base Camp, since their bus remains inoperative on the road from Nyalam. We are considering taking some of them with us, but we won’t have enough space for twenty which is the size of that team without Sherpas. I’m happy again to be with Phil in this adventure. Eleven climbers (although we were initially eight) is a good size to handle in situations like this. Phil is trying to help, but obviously without jeopardizing the safety of our team.

Two of our team members are sick. Bad diarrhea which is something common in places like this. The rest of the team is now paranoid about hygiene, hehehe.

We spent the whole afternoon chatting, reading and watching movies inside our luxurious bus. Can you imagine how terrible this place is? The bus seemed to be safe and comfortable compared with the hostel and anywhere else in this town…

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