In Deboche we stayed at the Rivendell Lodge. This would have been more exciting for fans of Lord of the Rings but we only noticed once we saw a sign saying something about elves. Anyway, it was a nice lodge with a really nice dining room. Here is a pic from the outside:
Also the founding place for my new favourite breakfast… an omelette wrapped in a chapatti. Bit of ketchup and you’ve got a winner. After that we hit the road shortly after 7am en route to Pheriche. In all honesty, the trail was largely uneventful and we made good time reaching our destination after 3 hours and 20 mins.
On the way we saw some wild horses:
And some cool Buddhist paintings on the the mountain rocks:
The main thing about Pheriche is that it’s high. Bloody high. 4240m to be precise. This was the first time I started to feel the effects of the altitude in the form of a vice clamp style headache. This is about the height where the body starts to struggle with adjusting to the lack of oxygen in the air. For that reason, there is a first aid camp here run by volunteer western doctors who make a presentation every day on the prevention and symptoms of AMS or Acute Mountain Sickness. We went along and had our blood oxygen levels tested. Debs came in at a fantastic 90% (sea level is around 95-100%) but soon dropped to 85% before rising back up to 90%. I was a steady 84%. 85% is the average and anything south of 80% is a worry so we were both out of the red zone for now. The headache was also fairly common with around 70% of people experiencing this. Still, we both started taking a half dose of Diamox more as a precaution than anything else and things were mostly better by the morning. The odd side effect is tingly hand syndrome which Debbie describes as feeling like you’ve got ‘white noise’ in your hands and feet.
That night we played some cards and were in bed by 7.30pm feeling suitably shattered. The next day was a rest day to get used to the altitude so we had a relatively late start and headed up the surrounding ridge for an acclimitisation trek at around 8am. We climbed around 400m and then went back down adhering to the adage ‘Walk High, Sleep Low’.
The other thing about higher altitude is the cold. Seriously cold. As in, ‘I can see my breath when I’m in bed’ cold. Still, we’ve got some pretty heavy duty sleeping bags and getting your water bottle filled with boiling water before you hit the sack makes for a great hot water bottle as long as you don’t mind a little scalding every now and again.
The lighting is solar and pretty dim so we’ve taken to using head torches whilst in bed:
So tonight is our last night here before we climb a staggering 700m to Lobouche. This marks the beginning of an epic 3 days during which we will go to Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar (higher than base camp and with better views). It’s almost like the challenge is really starting to begin and although we’re looking forward to it, both of us can’t wait till we’re on the way down to warmer climates having achieved our goal. Bring on the beaches in the Philippines!