Our second “rest day” in Pheriche started earlier than planned when members of the team were called at 02.00 to assist the Pheriche Doctors who had been managing an extremely unwell patient since the previous evening. The young Sherpa man had been suffering with breathing difficulties for several days following making an all too common mistake – ascending to high altitude faster than recommended. It was immediately clear to the EverestER doctors that this man, despite receiving excellent care from the Pheriche team, was not improving and was becoming exhausted. In the bitter cold of the clinic on a starry night we discussed all our possible options – we gave all the medications we could, thought about alternative diagnoses and even called in our resident cardiologist (Dave Z) for a specialist opinion.
Dawn came slowly and the sound of the chopper, when it finally arrived, could not have been more welcome. Unfortunately, despite our continued efforts, expedient evacuation and specialists in Kathmandu, the outcome was not favorable. It was a sobering experience and an important reminder of the danger of altitude related disease, even in local residents and the importance of our cautious ascent profile.
Despite the nights’ events, most chose to take a hike up the hill behind the clinic to enjoy the views up and down the valley. It felt good to stretch the legs and take some more scenic shots of the nearby Dingboche and up towards Island Peak. A few chose to nap and recharge both physical and mental batteries!
In the afternoon the team congregated in the sun room for a lecture and workshop. Suzy discussed HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema), including the case study from the night and another from a previous season. Tony gave a workshop on sprains, strains and fractures including practicing with splints.
As we came to dinner, snow began to lightly fall and the valley filled with low cloud obscuring the stars. Many books including famous climbing tales were read around the dinner table as chatter filled the dining room with many other groups also on rest days. We plan a sensible start tomorrow morning as we hike to Lobuche (at 4900m) and only a few days until Base Camp. All participants are having fun and remain well.