Today was another slow start. We were going to Lobuche high camp, which was the same altitude as Everest base camp (approx. 5,300m asl). This would take us about 2 hours which may not seem long, but what determines our exertion for the day is not time, but altitude gained, and we would be gaining 500m, much more than usually recommended, but as we had spent more than a week at that altitude it should be ok.
I had heard the phrase “nose bleed seats” referring to seats in a stadium that were really high, but the phrase only really registered when I spoke to the doctor about my nose constantly bleeding. Apparently the capillaries in the nose become irritated by the thin dry air and end up bleeding. Not a lot in my case, but enough for me to wake up with a blocked nose after a night of slow bleeding!
The walk to high camp was mercifully quick as the terrain was strewn with ankle breaking boulders from the size of your fist to the size of your head. I went over my weaker left ankle several times cursing the stones and thanking God my boots gave me enough ankle support.
For the first time we had to share tents. Because many climbers develop what is called the “khumbu cough” it is beneficial to have your own tents so you get a good nights sleep. One of the guides had a cough so bad one year, that he tore the intercostal muscles between his ribs. For some reason I had developed a sneeze (the Solunkhumbu sneeze?) that threatened to strain my stomach muscles.
When we arrived, the other group passed us as they descended to main camp. Some of the guys I would consider the strongest climbers, looked in terrible shape. They were exhausted and borderline ataxic, which had a lot of us worried about the climb that lay ahead.
Although we arrived early afternoon, we spent most of that time boiling water for drinking, and cooking dinner, before boiling yet more water in preparation for breakfast. By 7pm we were in bed sleeping ready to wake up at 0130 for a 03:00 start.