I wake to thoughts of how the hell am I going to make it through another five days of this? This being an horrendous headache, little sleep, nausea and constant breathlessness. I’m panicking that at some point the doctor is going to kick me off the mountain and I end up back in Kathmandu with my tail between my legs. Niggling thoughts race through my mind and I’m starting to imagine my dream of reaching Everest base camp crashing and burning. This is just the beginning of a day from hell on our Everest Base Camp Trek Day Five.
Everest Base Camp Trek: Day Five
I visit Daisy the doctor for something for my headache, which is so severe it is making me feel sick and affecting my concentration. She suggests paracetamol rather than ibuprofen and I guzzle them down, fervently hoping they provide some relief. The relief isn’t immediate, but it doesn’t take long for the headache to abate making the morning climb much more enjoyable.
Morning: Deboche to Shomare
In the morning we follow a raging river which tumbles down the valley cascading over huge boulders. We walk the narrow clifftop path drinking in views of Ama Dablam and Everest peeping from behind Lhotse, it’s snow-covered peak shimmering in the sun. It is a gentle ascent and we reach our lunch destination in no time. However, my lunch of egg and potatoes proves difficult to digest and I can feel some stomach cramps lurking so give up after half.
Afternoon: Shomare to Dingboche
The afternoon quickly turns into scenes from a horror movie. First Schweta succumbs, then Sacha and I. As I wander around a corner, I edge for a patch of sparse land and start vomiting violently. Kat and Ally kindly pass me tissues and speak words of encouragement as I repeatedly spray the ground. It is a terrible feeling as I try to control other bodily functions as the wretching spasms through my body.
I feel slightly better once I’ve been sick, but the reprieve doesn’t last for long. A little further on, as we stop for a rest, the vomiting starts again. This time I’m bringing up the entire solid contents of my stomach. Once again Ally and Simon stand by speaking quiet words of encouragement. Simon finds wet wipes and calmly urges me to clean my hands and face. Yes, I guess the snotty sick look isn’t a good one! Until now, I was still carrying my pack minus most of the contents but I feel the energy leach from my legs and know I can’t do it any longer. Jason takes my pack and plods with me as we slowly trundle through a high valley that reminds me of the Pennines. It is barren and rugged with shrubs in hues of green and red.
We head on towards the village of Dingboche and I risk a bite of Mars Bars. It’s more pain than pleasure and ten minutes later I’m swaying to the side of the track bent over wretching once more. Simon and Jason remove my gloves, encourage me to let it out and provide more wet wipes to wipe away the snot and gristle.
It’s grim and it’s at this point that I really imagine being at home tucked up in bed. I just want to lie down and go to sleep. My brain rejects this idea, knowing it would mean certain hypothermia. My legs keep plodding on whilst my internal organs revolt at every step.
We eventually spot the quaint colourful village of Dingboche perched on a plain in the foreground of Everest and other dramatic peaks. It’s a false hope, however, as our teahouse is at the very top of the village and it’s a long slog up a rocky path. We pass numerous bakeries and shops and eventually reach the Bright Star. I stagger into the communal lounge and collapse on a chair desperate to lie down.
We quickly obtain room keys and I clamber into my sleeping bag to rest. More vomiting into the bedroom bin ensues followed by the onset of diarrhea to add insult to injury. I force myself to dinner, not because I can eat but because I need to get warm. I’ve had enough of shivering violently in my sleeping bag.
What awaits is carnage. John, our guide, has succumbed, along with Ian and Loraine so there are now seven of us experiencing the same symptoms. Daisy, the doctor, hands out medical supplies and reassures us that it is unlikely it is acute mountain sickness (AMS). She suggests that it is more likely to be poisoning or a bug given that so many people are impacted.
Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day and a possible acclimatisation walk depending on the recovery of our group.
I’m not quite at the point of giving up, but by this point I know it’s going to push me to my absolute limit to get to EBC. Why anyone actually wants to go to the top of the mountain is beyond me! It’s over twice the height of Dingboche, which at 4,400 metres is the highest I’ve even been.
Ironically, despite suffering all week with altitude headaches this turns out to be on the best night’s sleep I’ve had on the trip and I wake feeling somewhat more energised. My despair and doubts of the previous day are soon forgotten.
Deboche (3,820) to Dingboche (4,410 metres)
10 – 11 hours
Bright Star Lodge.
Why Everest Base camp?
We trekked to Everest Base Camp to to raise money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in South Yorkshire. If you would like to sponsor us, please head to our justgiving page.
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Day Five – our route
Here is the route we followed on day five.