Hush, Kaiz. This is just your first day. Don’t let them know that your headache is killing you.
When headache kicked in at just 2,652 meters above sea level (MASL) during the first hours of our trek, I expected to be at my worst condition in the following days. I am trekking up to 5,364 MASL and this is just day 1 of 14.
Fuck. I’m damned. Sure, Everest will be an epic resting place but I am just not ready to shake hands with Saint Peter yet.
True enough, I had one of the worst moments in my life came days 2, 3, 4 until halfway of our trek. It was frikken cold in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal despite the summer season that the temperature dramatically drops in the afternoon from tolerable to are-you-kidding-me-it’s-just-2 PM-and-I-have-to-wear-three-layers-of jacket. It’s like a scene from the movie The Mist where a sunny and lively town can be covered by a thick blanket of fog in just a few seconds .
My body is not used to so much coldness that it always led to severe headache plus vomitting. I had to wrap up my day at 7 PM or earlier just so I could rest, regain strength for tomorrow’s long walk, and basically forget about the pain.
When we reached the base camp of Annapurna last year at 4,130 MASL, I had the same condition but a Pinoy medicine brought me back to life just a few minutes after drinking one capsule. I thought I cheated sickness by bringing loads of Advil in our EBC trek but I thought wrong. You can never be prepared enough when nature tries to play games with you; in my case, it’s the elevation and temperature.
In day 8, we woke up at 5 AM to a teeth-chattering -9 degree temperature because we had a long day ahead of us. We had to trek from Lobuche to Gorak Shep (3 – 4 hours) to Everest Base Camp then back to Gorak Shep (5 – 6 hours). It was the climax of the activity, also the moment when I said enough is enough and questioned myself, questioned our choice of activities.
Why the hell are we doing this? What do I gain from climbing a mountain? A very expensive hobby that will only tire you, worst, kill you! I should be home now, reading or watching or just having fun. As if someone was listening to me, the answers flashed into my mind.
It’s all for the beauty of nature and all of His creations.
For pushing you to the limits and make you do things you think you are not capable of.
For friendships that will last ’till the end.
For appreciation of life hence making you a better person.
At siyempre, para sa profile picture sa Facebook.
Well, day 8 didn’t turn out to be that great for most of us: one of us didn’t reach the base camp because of the altitude mountain sickness (AMS), another had to ride a pony to and from the base camp because of extreme headache as well costing her a generous $200, then I complained of being cold despite the fleece and two down jackets I was wearing. Drizzling, we reached Gorak Shep past 6 PM.
Nevertheless, trekking to the base camp of the highest mountain in the world is an experience that I will never trade for anything. Kesehodang sumuka ako araw-araw at gawing vitamins ang Advil. I am willing to do it over and over again! I may still question myself at times but I will just have to think of all the things that will keep me going until I reach my destination, things that make me fall in love with a hobby that many will not understand.
The next time I am trekking to something like Mount Everest and utter the words why are we doing this, I promise to just imagine the sumptuous dinner and cold expired soda (apparently, expired soda is a common thing in the Himalayas) that I am about to consume once I get this insane activity done and over with.
Photos and video by Rowjie Galang and Edwin Rolian of The Himalayas Project.