Claire Burgess’s Blog

(Failing) Down

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on August 3, 2010

Day 11- Thursday 20th May

Today started so much easier than the previous. We started by being woken by building work and a very noisy cockerel but everyone had more energy. We only had 5 hours trekking 8km from Kyangjuma to Chumua.

We now have 70% oxygen, and with more and more oxygen as we’re coming down it all gets easier. We stopped for lunch at Namche Bazar. We looked around the stalls and the boys went to sample goods from every bakery – all 4 of them. They spent lots of time talking about food. We all do.

I started to feel a bit sick so had to have a lunchtime sleep. This may be a side effect of the diomax. Apparently you can also get some altitude sickness coming down.

After lunch we trekked down past the police check point which was like a shed. Weirdly someone had stuck a mug shot photo of a white man on the outside. He looked like something out of Rogue Traders.

We trekked on through the afternoon and I managed to cut my knee and rip my trousers. I was tired and being dopey and now I have a scare to remind me of the trip.

We got to the tea house to find lots of building work going on and lots and lots of noise. It sounded like the roof was going to fall in on us. Luckily building work like lots of things stops after dark.

I can’t believe tomorrow we will be back in Lukla where it all started.

I was walking along this afternoon and slipped on the sandy path. Often you can skid on the paths because they are so sandy. Luckily I stopped before I fell off the cliff. It all happened in slow motion and luckily our guide Dawa appeared just in time.

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Smelly Feet and Sunburn

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on August 3, 2010

Day 10- Wednesday 19th May

I got up this morning after a long sleep and felt so much better. Soon the adventure would be over but my feet didn’t hurt as much anymore and everyone seemed to have so much more energy.

After a breakfast of Chapati & omelette which went down so well, we headed down to Kyangjuma which is at 3550 metres and has 64% oxygen. It was already starting to feel easier to walk with the symptoms of altitude getting easier every day.

Don’t get me wrong, the walk was still hard today, took 7 hours and I now have sunburnt hands, a blister on my palm from my poles and increasingly smelly feet that should come with a health warning.

On the way back though I am taking more time to look at the view and enjoy it. Today we even saw a mountain goat precariously staggering down the side of a cliff.

It’s also nice seeing people going up who are heading for base camp and cheering them on. Also having people cheer us on as we come down (which sometimes means we have to go up a bit too). Today a guy said to me (I think in Spanish) – “You can do it, you are a strong lady.”

Not long to go now either. I just hope my knees can make it!

Fred fixed my iPod today so I can start listening to music again tomorrow.

Kala Patthar

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 9- Tuesday 18th May

Today was a hellish day.  We got up at 3.30am to go to the top of Kala Patthar which is 5500 metres and only has 50 % oxygen.  This is higher than Everest Base Camp.  We all set off in the dark with our head torches on.  It was so hard getting out of the most comfortable bed we had had so far and then when we got outside it almost felt claustrophobic because we could only see where the light was shining in the path.

We walked for about 45 minutes through the cold and cloud when our guide Dawa said the weather was too bad to see Everest or the sun rise so we would only be trekking for the height.  Jemma, Jenny and I were only going for the view, so he told us we could go back if we wanted.  We turned around with one of the guides Krishna and headed back to bed.  Krishna forgot his key so ran back to the group and back again.  We got back to the house and I climbed back into bed.  I had just shut my eyes when there was a frantic knock at the door.  It was Bebek.  He said the weather had cleared up and we should go back.  So we did!

We left again at around 5.30am and managed to drag ourselves up there.  My legs felt like lead and it was like trying to breathe through a straw. Amazingly, I made it up there last but only around 15 minutes behind those that left at 4am.

The view was amazing.  You could see Everest and right across the valley.  I would totally recommend it even though it is a bit of a battle.

By the time we got back to the Tea House it was 8am and I was all out of energy even though we now had 6 hours walking down towards Luklar to do.  Every part of me hurt, especially my knees.  Our guide Dawa literally dragged me along.  Will gave me the mantra F.I.D.O. (from the Marines) which means “Fight It, Drive On.”  All I knew was that I just had to keep going so I could find a bed to sleep.  We were heading to Pheruche which is at 4270 metres and at least had more oxygen at 57%

We lost one of our team today.  Rob had an emergency and managed our 6 hour trek with Krishna in just 2 hours.  He then headed straight to Lukla.  The group hasn’t been the same without him and really miss him cheering us all up and being daft.

Towards the end of the day the clouds came rolling in and it felt like we were walking right through them.  The landscape also started to look more like Scotland than Nepal as the wind whipped around the valley.

I got a massive blister on my little toe from all the downhill walking which is starting to feel more difficult than uphill.  This can’t compare to the porters I saw today carrying so many planks of wood uphill.  I don’t know how they manage.  Some of them look so young.

You will be pleased to know that I had another shower today. Whoop whoop! It was freezing cold though after and I had to sleep with all my clothes on!

The Last Road to Base Camp

Posted in Blogging, Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on July 27, 2010

Day 8- Monday 17th May

So in the end we were up at 4.30am after vertually no sleep because it was freezing cold even with all my clothes on. For breakfast I had ordered Peanut Butter on toast. I have a massive weakness for the stuff and was so surprized to see it there I had even been dreaming about eating it. Sadly, when we got up for breakfast they had ran out! Ah well, we are on the side of a mountain so these things do happen. It’s only when someone climbs with all the supplies can they get new stock.

After breakfast at 5.30am we headed from Lambuche to Gorekeshp. This was a 3hrs walk across the glacier as the sun was coming up. It was so tiring and seemed like we were walking for an age. The sun coming up was a lovely site though and it was just hard to take in the site of the glacier around us. Although, as we walked everyone became a little distracted as our minds turned to base camp.

We stopped at Gorkeshep for an early lunch and in time to meet a group of Columbians who were celebrating. They had just had two of their team reach the Summit. It had taken 6 months of planning and trekking. It was so amazing to finally meet people who were part of a team who had made it. It was absolutely, amazing then she told us that one of the climberes had a prostetic leg. It was so emotional that we were all holding back tears. I think everyone around the table then wondered if what we were doing could even compare?

After a massive plate of roast potatoes and a trip to what can only be described as the worst most stoumarch renchingly awful toilet I have been to in my life, We set of for our final 3hr trek to Base Camp. I can’t actually believe I’m writing this. We have made it so far. All of us, only 3 hrs from Everest Base Camp.

They felt like the longest 3hrs ever. I was struggling and got a bit of a head ache. I was really thinking I wouldn’t make it. I dragged myself there with the aid of Wine Gums and just using my poles, putting one front in front of the other. 1hour and 1/2 into the walk Will’s sole came away from his walking boots. No one was surprized being as he got them for £30 in Kathmandu. Hr still had 1 1/2hrs to go until base camp. Wondering what he was going to do with his food flapping around when Jenny produced a packet of hair bands and he fastened the sole together. Genius!

I totally didn’t know what to expect but at the same time I did have a picture in my mind of what I thought it would be. It wasn’t like that at all. We made it to 5364 meters and were now at 51% oxygen.  We were at Base Camp!

There was a Base Camp sign and we all stood by to have our photo. a memento to show how far we had come. The sign was all wrapped in peace flags and memorials of others that had made it, and those who hadn’t. We could see the tents of those waiting to climb to Camp 1.

A few of us had a shot of Fred’s Everest Whiskey to celebrate that we had made it. It’s hard to discribe how happy we were to make it after so long. Rob celebrated by giving us a performance of Cheryl Cole’s Fight For This Love. It was so random it was helriaous.

I even managed to get a photo of Harry Hill’s Knitted Character at the top. I can’t wait to send it in to TV Burp.  I feel really proud that we made it. After all the madness, worrying and of course walking Rob said to Jemma and I today that “when some people drink too much they come home with a road sign or a traffic cone, you ended up here.”

Maybe we shouldn’t have but we a couple of small rocks as a momento and got ready to leave. It was so hard to go knowing that what we had come all this way to see this and now we were going.  We turned around and headed back to Gorkershep which is at 5180 meters and 52% oxygen. On the way back I had a great chat with Nick about travels and The Beatles which made the journey back fly by. Maybe, that was because I was still feeling high from what we had done.

Back at the Tea House we are all shattered. The boys are playing cards with Dawa and we are sitting huddled around the stove chatting. Early night for us though as tomorrow we are up at 4am to watch the sunrise over Everest on the summit of Kalapater which is 5500 meters. Night Night.

Snickers, Toilets and Up! The Road to Everest Base Camp

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on July 4, 2010

Day 7- Sunday 16th May

When we woke this morning I have to say I was feeling all walked out. I was tired of the cold, the food and just generally walking. But when I realised we only had to get through the day and tomorrow we would be going to base camp it did seem doable. We had come so far I was just scared I would get sick or give up at the end. After all the chances of all of us making it is very slim.

The mornings walking was quiet easy apart from my head starting to peel so I now have huge chunks of skin in my hair…mmmm attractive. But by this point we were all looking a little deshevled so I was past caring. Instead I was distracted by my first choclate bar of the trip. You have to remember that we can’t stop thinking about food. A Snickers has never tasted so good. I got it from Rob instead of 50Rps he owed me. A bargain because they are now 250Rps in most of the Tea Houses. His Mum gave him 40 snickers before he left the UK and he has been traiding them and selling them since he got down to 29. He’s doing a roaring trade but has to keep it a little quiet so not to upset the Tea House owners.

At lunch Jemma also had an incident where she managed to drop her sunglasses down a squat toilet! Good job I’ve got a spare pair.

After lunch we had a steep ‘Nepally Up’ climb for about 45 minuites. It felt like an age. We were climbing through the Khumbar Glacier and when we got to the top we saw all the stone monuments for trekers who had died trying to conquer Everest. Some had placks and some were just small piles of stones. Our guide Dawa told us that anyone can make a memorial and no one will knock it down.

We climbed onwards and the path got flatter and easier. As I looked around it was exactly as I had imagined  the path to Everest would be. The path had now turned from the sandy path to dark black grey rocks with the clouds coming bellow the mountains.

I have been forcing myself to drink 3 litres plus of water every day which is so hard for me. I really don’t like drinking water but it has to be done because it really helps with the altitude to stay hidrated. This also makes you need the toilet a fair bit. Some people have been going outside inbetween rocks for the whole trip but luckily, today was the first time I needed to go…outside. In between two rocks. This is never fun but nessacery because there is nothing worse than trying to walk whilst needing the loo and there are deffinately worse views you could have.

Anyway, today we made it slowly just one step at a time to Labuche which is at 4940 meters after a 7KM trek that took 5 hours. We now have only 53% oxygen which means if you take the stairs too quickly you are really out of breath. Tomorrow is the big day. We are going to be up at 5am and are going to be trecking for 9hrs. Early night tonight so off to bed for me. Wish me luck!

Dhingboche

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 27, 2010

Saturday 15th May-Day 6

Today was our second rest day. We are in Dhingboche to adjust to the altitude. After breakfast we did a 2hr trek up to 4600 meters. It was so hard because your heart felt like it is pumping so hard and you couldn’t catch your breath. At the top though when we all sat on some rocks looking at the amazing views all was well. We sat there just taking them in and adjusting to the height.

We heading back to the Tea House to relax for the rest of the day but it was time for Jenny and I to do some hand washing as we were running out of clean clothes. Although it is really difficult to keep clean on this trek we are trying to keep our limited clothes as fresh as we could. It was really different to be doing our washing outside on the side of a mountain. It was absolutely stunning. It seems like we weren’t the only ones who had this idea as everyone at the lodge seemed to have their clothes blowing around in the wind amongst the yaks.

As we finished our washing I had a funny turn. I had absolutely excruciating pins and needles in my hands and feet. This is a side effect of the diomox. I have had this on other parts of the trip but nothing like this. It made my feet feel like they were on fire and I was dancing around like a mad women trying to stamp out the pain. It did eventually go but I have decided to reduce my dose to half a tablet twice a day instead of the full one.

We had the rest of the day to kill but couldn’t actually do a lot because we had to conserve our energy. I did however, make time for my second hot shower. It was so lovely to be clean again. We then spent the rest of the day playing cards. I don’t think I’ve ever played as many games of cards in my life as I have on this trip.

There is also a lot of time to think mostly, on this trip about food. We seem to be hungry a lot of the time so always talk about the food we will have when we get home to celebrate making it to Base Camp. It’s not that the Nepalese food isn’t delicious, it is. But on the mountain it is a limited menu made up mostly of Dhal Baht which is a Nepalese curry with rice, vegetable Mo Mo which are like stuffed pasta, vegetable fried rice or fried potatoes. Every menu is roughly the same so it’s easy to get board. Tonight though it’s omelette and chips for me.  My stomach is growling at the thought.

The Everest Massive

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 15, 2010

The latest from my trek to Everest Base Camp.

Friday 14th May- Day 5

We left Tengboche early this morning and I had massive indigestion from last nights potatoes and vegetables. Initially though the route was really easy and flat. We were only walking 7KM to Dhingboche which is ONLY a 5hour walk I thought. It will be fine.

After lunch it started to get really cold though as the paths opened up a little so it felt more like we were walking up a mountain than ever before. Suddenly, the green paths we had seen in the beginning seemed far away as the landscape changed to something a little more like a something out of Lord of The Rings.

By the times we arrived in Dhingboche we were cold from the wind whipping around us, tired and now at 4350 meters and are at 57% oxygen. I had to put most of my clothes on to keep warm.

We sat up in the Tea Lodge Dining Room area all together and ended up laughing lots which heated us up. I haven’t told you much about the other trekkers in my group yet but here is what I know about them so far:

Rob – Cheryl Cole fan, was a dancer on ITV’s Britannia High, Likes Snickers and water skis for England.

Fred– Loves David Cameron, has a twin that is 6 minutes older and is going to University in Nottingham.

Will– Went to Kings Canterbury with Fred and wants to be a Marine.

Rosie– Was a famous songwriters Nanny and went traveling in India.

Demaris– Is a Fashion Buyer, speaks lots of languages and is very good at organising things.

Nick– Has climbed up Mt Kilimanjaro is an experienced climber and works for an elevator company.

Andreas– Is a Security Consultant from Norway.

Anna– Is also from Norway, is the traveling partner of Andreas and is scared of heights.

Adam– Workes for a travel company, likes dance music, card games and is doing a charity bike ride in the Isle of White

Jemma– Lived in Thailand with me, doesn’t like beer and is amazing at poker

Jenny– Also lived in Thailand with Jemma and I, studied law and has a German boyfriend

Dawa- Is our head guide and has been to Base Camp around 80 times.

Krishna– Is the youngest guide on our trip who is always taking care of those in the middle.

Bibek– Always at the front leading the group, his favourite phrase is “Jaam Jaam!” which means “Let’s go!”

They are all really nice, people . They are all really great in their own way that really makes me think we have been really lucky and have a great group. We have spent lots of time together, mostly laughing until our eyes water and our sides hurt. One of the best things about being with this bunch of travelers is all the stories. Between us we have traveled all over and had a lot of adventures. It was great to hear about everywhere they had been from Mexico to Mongolia.

On My Ipod– My ipod is broken because of the altitude. The battery just went dead then it started to make a lot of noise. It’s going to be quiet without it.

On the Path to Base Camp

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 13, 2010

Here is the next instalment from my trip to Everest Base Camp.

Thursday 13th May- Day 4

We left Namche to go to Tengboche which is 9Km away. The route started fairly steeply but I’m starting think the start of the day is always like this. The path seemed to wind around and in between the nearby Mountains. As we followed the path we came across the men who maintain the Everest path. We saw them re-building parts of it which looked like hard work so made some donations.

It was the most beautiful day today and we all started chatting about what it would feel like if we made it to Base Camp. It seemed so strange, the amount of people who had probably walked the path before us but it made it all the more mysterious that I didn’t know anyone who had been to Base Camp. We had met people along the way but I didn’t actually KNOW them. It made everything much more exciting.

After Lunch (and being locked in the squat toilet by Rob, the class clown of the group) we made our way up. It was the same steep path as yesterday but somehow not as hard.  I just took my time and listened to my music even though that meant that sometimes the rest of the group were 10  minutes ahead and I was walking alone with Dawa. It was all very relaxed and so I didn’t really mind.

Dawa said today he thinks I will make it. But I don’t know at this point if I will. I guess I will just have to see how it goes. I keep trying to remind myself that it’s meant to be hard otherwise everyone would do it.

We got here this afternoon and are now at 3867m with 60% Oxygen. It’s started to make me out of breath if I climb the stairs at the Tea House too fast. So much so it makes me feel like my heart is going to burst out of my chest. There is a temple here right next to the Tea lodge and we went to the afternoon ceremony although I have to be honest and say it was so relaxing in there after such a long day listening to the Monks chanting was sending me to sleep.

Everyone is really sleepy but we have been advised not to sleep until tonight. It’s so hard because I love a good nap at the best of times, but I need one even more when we are walking these kinds of distances. It got cold too and we just sat around the fire chatting. Oh and tonight I have definitely got a room with a view. Out of the window I can see Everest!

On my ipod- Blur- The Universal

The Day of ‘Rest’

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 11, 2010

This is the latest from my trip to Mount Everest Base Camp.

Wednesday 12th May- Day 3

Today was a ‘rest day.’ We have these built-in to our programme to try to help us acclimatise. We walked up to Syanbocha which is 3800 meters at 60% oxygen. It was only 2 hours up but as soon as we started, everyone seemed to be finding it hard. It just seemed like 2hours of relentless climbing up. Think climbing the stairs for 2 hours! I’m definitely going to be super fit after this.

I was at the back again with our guide Dawa and a few others and fought my way up by taking really small steps. When we got to the top at Syanbocha it was so worth it. It was the first time we got to see Mt Everest. You know, I never thought I would be that in to climbing but today It was so amazing to see it. Not on the telly or in a book.  We stopped for a group photo, a cuppa and some wine gums before heading back to Namche.

Going down hill took only half the time and although it was really sandy and steep we all got back in one piece. When we

got back, there was a Canadian lady at the Tea House. She was on her way back to Lukla from Base Camp. She was the only one out of her group of 4 to make it. God I hope I make it. I will be absolutely devastated if I have come all this way and don’t. She said she just took her time and listened to her body. Oh, and she didn’t eat the rice nearer Base Camp because apparently it is a bit old. I have to remember that.

She scared us a bit so we had a game of Poker to take our minds off it. Now the rest really begun. We also took a trip to the Bazar to pick up some more water purification drops as the ones I bought from the UK don’t see to react like the

instructions say. They save a fortune on bottled mineral water not to mention the massive amount of plastic bottles.

And the best news of the day was that I had my first showers since we left Kathmandu. It feels fantastic to be clean again. Now I’m all ready to climb again tomorrow.

On My iPod – Kylie – Wow

To Namche Bazzar

Posted in Claire Burgess, Everest, Nepal, Travel by Claire Burgess on June 7, 2010

Namche Bazzar

This is what happened when I went on a trek to Everest Base Camp.

11th May 2010 – Day 2

This morning we got up a little later at 6.30am and wasn’t in pain like I expected. Today we set off on a 6 hour trek to Namche Bazzar which is at 344meters above sea level and 9km away from Phakding.

In my head this didn’t sound far but as soon as we started walking it was clear today was going to be a tough day. We were going up hill lots and although I did start using walking poles today, I have never used walking poles before and started with them too long. This meant going uphill was so hard. Once someone pointed this out things were much easier. Still tough though and to be honest I couldn’t really keep up too well. I felt a lot of pressure to go quickly because we were walking as a group of 12 plus the guides and I felt like people stuck behind me wanted me to go quicker. This made it really hard to get into the rhythm of walking.  But our guide Dawa told me that I would find the hills much easier if I took things slowly. Things are much more difficult because of the reduced oxygen  levels and when we are going uphill it makes you feel really out of breath.

One of the other trekkers, Nick, who has a fair bit of trekking experience told me I would find things easier if I just stopped thinking. This was amazing advice. I just put my iPod on and kept on going slowly, only stopping to let Sherpa’s carrying massive loads of bags or wood or even Yaks carrying trekkers bags.  I really don’t know how the Sherpa’s do it. Some of them don’t even have proper walking shoes just trainers and are only paid around 1000RPS per day which is around £10. This is nothing in comparison to the work that they do carrying heaving loads strapped to their backs up the steep paths.

The paths have some amazing views. I really like when we go over the long bridges which cross the valley because there is an amazing breeze as you cross although it does get a little scary because they are so high.

Today was definitely a very difficult day. My heart was beating so fast at times that I struggled to catch my breath and by the time we reached Namche tonight I was about ready to fall down. I’m a little worried as this isn’t even the longest day of walking. Base Camp seems like such a long way away.  Namche Bazzar is full of trekkers. Lots of them are either on the way to Base Camp or on their way back.  This is the place en-route where you can hire things like sleeping bags and buy food supplies.

My Ipod is really keeping me going so I will put in the posts which song has really helped today.

On My iPod – Frank Turner – The Road