Day 20: Now I know Hell really exists

Last night was horrible again. Fighting with the pillow, trying to find an even surface in my tent to place the sleeping mats, and not sliding towards one side all the night. I changed my position after the first night, with head next to the vestibule instead of feet, but nothing worked well… Moving all night long, running out of breath, growing the anxiety because of not being able to fall asleep, hearing my climb partner in agony again, turning right and left, upside down again, feeling warm, cold, itching on my head!!!… I ended vomiting in a plastic bag… I plugged the iPod Angelica prepared for me and I finally managed to relax and eventually fall asleep.

Right after I woke up we commented our difficulties with the rest of the Team, and I’ve surrendered… I’m on Diamox today 😦

This is a popular high altitude drug. The commercial name in some countries is Edemox and the active principle is Acetazolamide. This medication forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, triggering some effects that will help on acclimation and fighting AMS. The blood gets re-acidified, balancing the effects of the hyperventilation that occurs at altitude in an attempt to get oxygen. This re-acidification acts as a respiratory stimulant, particularly at night, reducing or eliminating the periodic breathing pattern common at altitude. That’s why some climbers know it as the Sleeping Pill.

After breakfast my main goal today was to re-engineering the setup of my tent. I can barely move without loosing my breath, but with the help of three Sherpas now I have a perfectly flat, free of rocks and ice surface, where to reposition my tent. I’m also getting rid of my extremely expensing Thermarest expedition inflatable mattress, which keeps sliding over and over again. I hope both the sleeping pill and the new setup of my nest allows me to have a decent nigh for the first time at ABC.

Tomorrow we are starting with our first rotation, meaning that we are looking to tag the Camp 1 at the top of the North Col and back to ABC for some rest before repeating the operation or retreating to BC. The idea is to get as high as possible on the icy wall of the North Col. But we don’t have stupid rules along the way, like the ones Russell from Himex set as part of his $75k deal on the South Side, where all team members have to execute several rotations with military precision under his supervision, otherwise they are turned back home. We do have a telescope to observe the progress of climbers on the North col, but unlike Russell we only use it if we suspect they are hot chicks (or birds as the English like to say 😛 )

As part of preparations for my first rotation, I’ve been inspecting and simplifying my climbing gear. I’m not happy at all with two things:

– My climbing harness fits two small on top of my expedition suit. I have a BD Colouir, probably the lightest in the market for alpine climbs. I’ve got a size S because it packs like a box of cigarettes. Now I know if was not wise to bring only that one here. I can buckle it with no issues, but if you want to do double buckle for extra safety then it fits too tight 😦

– My down saloppettes (the bottom part of my two pieces down suit) has the perfect length for a short man like me, but it compresses my chest making breathing even more difficult. I have wide back, and I thought it will get more elastic with the use, but on the summit push, wearing two layers underneath it will for sure bother me a lot. I think I’ll need to use scissors on this crazy expensive piece of gear 😦

Lets see how it goes tomorrow. I’m not using the expedition suit but the normal stuff I use on my alpine climbs, plus new ice climbing pants from NF and my new Expedition Climbing Boots, La Sportiva Mons Evo (my existing Scarpa Phantom 8000 are too cold for Everest)

Climb on!

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