I felt strong during the trek from Tengboche to Periche. I could tell that James and others in the group were growing a bit exhausted, however. The next day we would be doing our rest measurements again so we would be able to tell who was beginning to be affected by altitude. It was the first time in the trip that we could see altitude beginning to take its toll.
Arriving in Periche was a bit like arriving on a different planet, we were now way above tree line and the landscape was dry, dusty, and barren. There was nothing to do in the town but sit in the lodge and sip on hot tea and tang. There was absolutely no internet service and it was quite expensive to purchase power to charge our devices. The power was predominately taken up to charge the PowerLabs and laptops running LabChart for the next days’ studies.
By this point in the trek it had been days since I had taken a hot shower. I was desperate to be clean of the previous day’s dirt and wash my hair. A hot shower in Periche cost a mere 500 rupees. After a bone chilling shower experience in Tengboche in an outdoor shower that was supposed to be “hot” (it was freezing and several curse words may or may not have been yelled during the experience) I was skeptical to try my luck again in the Periche lodge. After making several others test their luck I was assured the shower would be hot as it was heated from a propane system. I stepped foot in what seemed to be the best shower I have ever taken in my life and had never felt so thankful to be clean! It was a 500 rupees well spent and I will never take a hot shower for granted again.
The lodge we were staying in looked practically brand new inside. There was a recently built wooden bar, an iron stove keeping the dining hall warm surrounded by cedar benches, and the room was lined with benches covered in thick cushions that were coved in rugs and pillows. The lodge is owned by Nima Sherpa’s sister, Tashi. The lodge had been damaged by the earthquake previously and Nima and his family made renovations. Everything in the lodge was brand new. It was amazing to see, we were 13,792 feet in elevation and sitting in a new lodge built from materials brought to the location on the backs of yaks, Sherpas, and porters. It was warm and comfortable and began to feel like home as we got settled in. We were all at ease in the lodge, Nima, his fiancé Ang, and his sister, Tashi, treated us like family.
The next day was full of “rest day measures” along with our daily measures for the group again in Periche. I found that our “rest days” have actually not been restful at all but have been full of measurements, filming, interviewing, and photo taking. We measured oxygen saturation, hemoglobin, and hematocrit once more via finger pricks and urine samples. Later in the afternoon 15 subjects were measured for lung capacity. During this time James and I took photos and film of the measurements and the ADInstruments equipment being used. James and I also participated in and EEG exercise that required us to do a series of cognitive tasks before and after exercise (we also completed this in Kathmandu and in Tengboche). This time the exercise was a bit more fun; we were allowed 20 minutes to hike up a small hill near our lodge and then were asked to complete the cognitive tasks once more.
Later in the afternoon we toured the Himalayan Rescue Association, a voluntary non-profit organization, formed in 1973 with the objective the reduce casualties in the Himalayas due to AMS. We listened to volunteer doctors speak about the warnings of altitude sickness and some ways that we could prevent such events in ourselves. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done.. don’t over exert yourself and drink plenty of water, the rest is out of our hands.
We were all a bit nervous as our next day was supposed to be our biggest push in altitude to Lobuche. Trevor and the rest of the research teams that had made the push in the past gave several strong warnings not to over exert ourselves the next day as it could be detrimental to the rest of our trip. Trevor seemed especially nervous about the trek and was extremely concerned for all of safety was we continued to press forward toward’s Everest Base Camp.
After a long day of measurements, photos, filming, and lectures from the Himalayans Rescue Association I climbed into a cold sleeping bag and shut my eyes for a good night’s rest. The next day would be a big one and would put us one step closer to Everest Base Camp.