It was a rough night that was filled with constantly being jolted awake by dogs barking just outside our window. I also felt nauseous at points during the night and had a slight headache. I knew these were common symptoms associated with being at altitude so our lovely trekking mate, who happens to be in the medical field, suggested it was time to take some Diamox. Without getting into too much detail, Diamox is a diuretic that tells your kidneys to get rid of the bicarbonate through urination that has built up due to exhaling more CO2 than usual. So basically your kidneys will be working overtime to stabilize your blood’s pH levels. You’ll end up going to the bathroom more frequently and you’ll have a tingling sensation in your hands and feet as a side effect. I had initially shied away from taking any drugs during the trek because I tend to get anxious with any type of medication (if you know me you know this). But Diamox along with multiple types of vitamins and trying to listen to what my body needed, I was able to bounce back to enjoy the rest of the trip. And luckily our view waking up was absolutely amazing that I quickly forgot about how tired and sick I felt. Snowcapped mountains that hadn’t been visible the day before due to the heavy cloud cover surrounded us as we stepped outside of our teahouse.
Our day’s trek started with a very steep climb that was packed with Sherpas and others making their way to Tengboche. At the top, we were rewarded with an incredible view of the peaks surrounding Everest. However, the tallest mountain in the world was covered by clouds which we were finding was normal for that time of day. We took a short break for some coffee and snacks at the Everest Hotel which sits at 12,730 ft above sea level. Many trekkers stopped here for a quick break, but only the wealthy are able to enjoy the luxurious accommodations this hotel offers. As we marched on towards Tengboche, we descended a few thousand feet to Phunki Tenga for lunch. With the rapid descent, I could feel it becoming much easier to breathe and most of the symptoms I started the day with subsided. I immediately realized that it is beneficial to “climb high, sleep low” which is a phrase climbers use to acclimate.
Of course, we would need to regain all that elevation again to reach Tengboche so most of the afternoon was spent trekking straight upwards. The good news was that although gaining the elevation would be tough, it was a relatively short walk. We arrived at our teahouse with plenty of daylight left. Our guide ushered us over to the Tengboche Monastery where we were able to enter and observe the monks during their afternoon prayer. We removed our shoes and sat on the ground while the monk’s prayers revealed a powerful presence in the room.
Along with a couple of teahouses and the monastery, there are only a few places to buy treats or coffee. As we continue to climb higher in the Everest region, the cafes and other commodities would become much more scarce. You can buy internet after Namche, but it is sold as a card with only a few MB of data. I was told it would be enough for a few texts and a social media post, but I did not purchase it because I was afraid it would not work. Although my parents were not happy that I didn’t check in, I very much enjoyed the technology blackout in the mountains! *April 4th, 2018.