Whoa! Big day today. After a second night of less than ideal sleep at Everest Base camp, we had an early morning wake up tea, followed by a quick pack job and a wonderful breakfast of rice pudding, boiled eggs and pancakes! It was a bittersweet departure this morning, saying good bye to 3 of our trekking colleagues: Eric, Suzie, and Sanjiv, who are staying at Base Camp to man the Everest ER medical clinic for the 2014 climbing season. However, the altitude and hypoxia are starting to catch up to most of us and we’re looking forward to some warmer temperatures and denser air.
After our final full group picture, we left around 8am in order to try to reach our destination at a reasonable time and try to beat the daily cold weather system and low cloud that usually settles into the Pheriche Valley. Even though we will have descended over 3000ft today, the trek was all but an easy downhill stroll. Under the warm, bright morning sunshine, we passed though a lot of boulders and scree undulating along the valley side above the Khumbu glacier, eventually passing though Gorakshep, where we all ultimately decided not to stop for any food or drink, as it was definitely the low point of hygiene on our way up. The terrain continued in similar fashion eventually descending into the valley floor (above which we took the high route from the Italian Pyramid on the way up a few days prior) and landing us back in Lebouche, where we had a well deserved rest and a quick lunch. After lunch the weather cooled and the wind picked up. We continued along the river bed nearing the terminus of the glacier, eventually making our way through the chortons at the top of the Thukla hill and down (finally) towards Pheriche, in to terrain that resembles tundra. We met another trekker being carried up the hill on a horse (a tell tale sign of imminent altitude sickness), and after being talked to by two separate parties of our group, denied illness and decided to continue up. We are certain he will be the next patient being evacuated.
Finally reaching our lodge in Pheriche, our group of exhausted trekkers settled in to our “accommodations” and most of us were able to finally have a nice hot shower, after days of nothing better than wet wipes. The dining room was a warm and welcome venue, where we settled in to our corner drinking tea, reading, and enjoying the relaxing medley of classic rock playing overhead. We will all be having an early bedtime tonight hoping for a restful sleep in order to ready ourselves for another big day heading to Kumjung tomorrow.