We have descended to our home base, Namche Bazaar, to rest up for a couple of days. After a failed attempt on Lobuche Peak due to heavy snowfall, we need time to rest, shower, and plot our next move. In about 3 days we will head out again for a second try on Lobuche, as well as an attempt to climb Island Peak. You can bet I will be stocking up on Coconut Crunchies during these precious rest days.
At 18,000 feet, our bodies are not built to sustain themselves. The little oxygen we do have is prioritized to our brain, heart, and vital organs, leaving little for tasks like muscle repair. Small cuts don’t heal, sunburn lingers, and energy is quickly depleted. It is imperative that we rest and re-fuel before heading out again. As Melissa lies to say, down here at 11,500 feet we are “swaddled in oxygen”. That is actually a fair remark, considering the luxuries that come with a higher pressure atmosphere. Food tastes better, sleep is sound, and we have had access to a shower for the first time in weeks.
But as nice as it is to be down low for a bit, I can’t wait to go back up. I had my first Himalayan mountaineering experience, and I am itching for more. That morning on Lobuche Peak, the one a.m wakeup, and the snow falling in our bleary faces as we moved up the dark scree slope, lit only by the tiny blips of our headlamps. At that hour, at that elevation, the mountains seem infinite. The darkness that extends in every direction threatens to swallow you, if you so much as dare to move outside of our line of ascent. For 2 hours we make our way over boulders and snow, until we are faced with a head wall. Suddenly the mountain has turned itself vertical. It may be brief, but that doesn’t make it any less intimidating. One by one, we pull ourselves to the first ledge via a small fray rope secured by a sole piton. Carefully, because any slip is possibly fatal, could send you careening into the black abyss below, we shuffle along a thin ledge. Over another bulge, around a corner, and our breath steadies. It is no longer vertical, at least for a brief moment. This is what drives me to go back. That insatiable curiosity of what is around the next corner. The feeling that courses through my veins upon seeing the sun rise, or the moon set. These moments are what made me pack up, and leave my home in a search. For what, I didn’t know. But I think I may be finding out.