Heading to Pheriche? Getting High(er)?

Just about one week at base camp and I’m actually making plans to head
south for a few days to Pheriche to visit the high altitude medicine
clinic there and see if they might administer a few of my porter health
surveys. This is basically a 15 minute survey that we are administering
to porters along the trail. Many come from low altitude villages, carry
huge loads, and encounter problems with acute mountain sickness along
the way. I had some great input from international experts in the design
of the survey but my one shot at proposing it to a funding group last
October was not successful.

Fortunately, Dorjee saw the importance and also the marginal cost of
administering it and agreed that whomever went along on the climb as
logistics manager would help out with administering it…easier said than
done though. We didn’t collect as many as I had hoped on the way in, as
the focus seemed to be on getting to base camp. The plan was to sit on
the side of the trail along a few key villages for at least half a day
each, but I think we were all eager to just get going and figured we
could get a lot at base camp or on the way out. But base camp right now
is cold and windy and porters don’t want to hang out after dropping off
their loads, so we are not collecting any here. There is a high altitude
clinic in Pheriche, which is a 1-2 day walk down the valley, and I’m
planning on maybe heading there tomorrow to stretch my legs a bit and
to see if one of the doctor’s there would be interested in administering
a few.

Truth be told, even though it has only been a week at base camp, I am
going a little stir crazy and this also provides an easy excuse to
stretch my legs. The latest news is that apparently the ice fall still
needs at least a few more days to be fixed by the ‘ice doctors’. We
also need to have our Puja, or blessing, ceremony. This involves having
a Lama from a village ~4 days away (Pangboche), select an auspicious
day for the ceremony, and then walk here to perform the Puja. I’m told
this might be 4-5 days away but things keep shifting slightly. Because
we are a small group of 4, we will probably share the Lama and he will
do a similar Puja for a few other small teams. Regardless, it seems like
all teams, big and small, are in similar boats. No one is climbing yet
and everything seems to revolve around the Puja ceremonies and it looks
like things are a ways out.

A day or two after the ceremony, Daimai and Kami will go up the ice fall
and fix Camp I and set up some basic stuff at Camp II. This will take
them a day or two, followed by a day of rest before I get to go up with
them with one night at each camp (more on this and commercial/supported
climbs in another post, also more on the rest of the climb scheduled).
So…bottom line, I have some time on my hands right now. And base camp is
not exactly comfortable. Yet, as I write this the sun is warming up my
tent, making the snow collected over the night slide off it, and the
frost inside my tent is slowly melting. I can hear the bells of yak
trains walking by which is like music. I visited the Himalayan Rescue
Association (HRA) dining tent last night and we laughed at a terrible
teenster movie on a laptop. And I fell asleep after watching half of
‘The Big Labowsky’, snug in my -40 bag with a Nalgene bottle filled
with hot water warming my toes. These are some of the nice things.

Yesterday we ventured a little into the ice fall and did some ice
climbing practice. It was both fun and draining. A lot more vertical ice
climbing than what I think we will find on most of the climb – but good
practice nonetheless and more will come.

Time to get up and get on with the day. I will try to post this when I
get a data connection. Thanks for all the good wishes. Sorry I still
can’t post pictures yet. My connection speeds are just way too slow.

Best, Seth

PS – It’s now evening, had a great day with good conversations with
James and Kelly before losing my cell signal and also met neighboring
teams from peakfreaks.com and a small team from RMI/First Ascent. I’m
writing this offline and sending this via email using a per/minute sat
phone connection. I’m still hoping to get data connections working so it
is not so slow/expensive to email. Once that is in place – I will answer
more emails/comments and be on the web more. Yes – there are both good
and bad things about being online while in the mountains, but it does
feel nice to be connected and to hear from friends and family. Stan from
Korea – thanks for your comment.. I would love to get back in touch with
you! FB me or email me at my last name at gmail. Thanks everyone!

2 Responses to “Heading to Pheriche? Getting High(er)?

  • I see that research is no more straight forward there than anywhere and likely less! I’m glad there is a blessing ceremony, I’m wishing HEAVY blessings for you.

  • Thanks for the updates, Seth! It won’t be long before you long for the days when you were sitting around going stir-crazy. (o: Sending lots of strength and love your way… stay warm!!

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