Getting Ready

Carina Räihä_Everest ER

We also organized our gear and checked how the radiophones and the oxygen apparatuses work. And once more we went through our climbing strategy. Today it was our turn to attend the Puja ceremony and practise ascending fixed lines. Now we are ready for the first “warm-up” climb on Khumbu Icefall, which will take place tomorrow early in the morning. The weather has turned somewhat windier and according to the weather forecasts, it is also going to snow on Thursday. However, that won’t stop us from climbing. On Saturday I went to Everest Emergency Rescue, which is a first aid unit run by volunteers here at the Base Camp. They measured my oxygen saturation. It was 84, which is an excellent saturation considering the altitude.

They also measured my lung capacity, which was above the average even when compared to the capacities normally measured at sea level. Although the values were excellent, I have been feeling weak. The cold has gotten worse and my throat feels like its burning. My nose is stuffy and at one point I nearly lost my voice. Most likely this is a virus disease and the only remedy is rest.

I am waiting for my immune system to kick in and beat this bug but it seems to take forever in these altitudes. I got a permission to climb but I need to keep listening to my body. So, I will be joining the others tomorrow and I will try to climb without pushing myself too hard.

The cold that has been bugging me for already a week and the weakness that it has caused, made me question whether this would be it for me. For a while I though that due to my condition, climbing Everest might not be possible. However, the leader of our expedition and our guides have assured me that catching a cold at an early stage like this is very common and it does not jeopardise the climb, which is still going to last for over a month.

These facts together with the results I got at the Everest Emergency Rescue made me calm down and reassured me into believing that I would get better and I will be able to continue this climb, regardless of my current condition. I also have to keep in mind that there will be bigger challenges ahead.

This climbing season has already claimed its first victims. The day I visited the first aid unit, they had also been treating a Sherpa, who had been sent down due to a severe high altitude pulmonary edema. We also got news from the last place we had stayed over night before Base Camp: a local Sherpa porter had died of acute mountain sickness. News like these remind us that this challenge should be taken seriously. However, we got some good news as well. Hugo, our other guide, was able to climb to Base Camp yesterday after recovering from an intense stomach flu. At this point, almost all of us have a cough and/or a cold. All we can do is hope that we will get well soon.

My satellite connection works well here at the Base Camp. I even got to lend a hand to Henry Todd, the true Everest veteran, and helped him fix his satellite connections. I also met another famous guy, David Breashears, who is know for summiting Everest several times. It is fascinating to see how these gentlemen have been returning to Everest time after time for over 20 years!

Thanks to all of you who have been sending me messages, and who have been supporting me along the way. More news after the first “warm-up” climb!

Best regards, Carina