Last night both Markus and I had a very good sleep,. I could say the best since I left Dubai. It must be related to the lack of exercise and anxiety we had for so many day or weeks, and now we are finally using the muscles and climbing Everest!
We woke up, had milk tea with a boiled egg and a piece of bread, folded our tents, and moved quickly up to Advance Base Camp. I could not get any water for the Trek and that kept me nervous most of the day… and not only that…
The trek was extraordinarily long and demanding, with dozens of yaks along the way, making the whole experience somehow similar to an obstacle race. Almost all team members split up keeping with their own pace, and we all arrived at ABC very tired and with some symptoms of AMS. It’s been such a long day… 650m of gain elevation, but I reckon the positive gradient is about 800m since there are many sections where you go up and down hiking the moraine detritus and icy hills of the East Rongbuk Glacier. Probably 10k that took us an average of 5h to complete.
I had a large and heavy backup and very little water, and that was a terrible combination. Having one egg and piece of bread for breakfast was not a big concern, since I’ve had plenty of Gu Roctane energy gel to boost me up thorough the day. These Gu performance products are amazing, the perfect substitute of a meal for any endurance athlete, and I’m consider myself very lucky to have Sport in Life, Gu distributor in Dubai and UAE, to sponsor me with a wide range of products that I’ve been using for my Everest training and I’m taking with me all the way up to the summit. Roctane ultra endurance energy gel and brew is like fuel rocket, but to start the combustion you need a sensible amount of water to mix with, otherwise the risk of getting dehydrated is high. This is not something specific to this product, but all energy gels have the same caveat. For each calorie contained in any energy gel you need x number of water molecules to process it. If you don’t drink that water then you’ll digestive system will take it from somewhere else. I experienced the side effects before, and therefore I decided not to use the Gu Roctane Gel. The heavy backpack was not an issue considering that I climb 980floors in 4h with 15kg backpack twice per week in the Almas Tower in Dubai. The extreme altitude makes you feel like carrying 25kg and you move very slow, but the quick dehydration is what turned the whole story to be a drama. Carrying that load through the East Rongbuk Glacier with about 500ml of water is nuts, because the extreme UV radiation, high winds and dry air, take any moist out of you body, and you feel dehydration coming faster than in the desert dunes in the UAE.
With no water you more slower and slower, and then you see dogs walking around you like crazy without running out of breath. Is that one of the effects of AMS? No! some the yak owners have dogs that seem to be well acclimatized to the 6400m of ABC.
All the way up you cross path with many groups of these animals coming from a Steven Spielberg movie, the yaks, and you smile and say hello to their owners looking for some sort of interaction with them. One of them, very young, asked me for medicine for the head. Gosh… he was trying to keep with the fast pace of the yaks and most probably he was suffering from the symptoms of AMS, with the Man of the Hammer going after him.
Almost one and a half hour before getting to ABC, one of our Sherpas approached me with a flask full of warm water mixed with strawberryTang. He was doing his way back from ABC knowing that most of us had run out of drinks and were struggling on the trek. He looked like an angel when he refilled my small water bottle, and he also offered to carry my backpack. I drunk a good sip from my bottle and refused his offer to carry my load. I’m climbing Everest, what the heck? When I was close to our tents in ABC, or Sherpa Sirdar insisted I should give my backpack to one of them, but I refused again and made it happy, yet extenuated, into my comfy tent 🙂