Mount Everest Base Camp Trek, Day 4: Namche Bazar – Phortse Tenga

Good news. The diarrhea is a lot better. But unfortunately there is also bad news. My lungs have also received a considerable setback. I have a terrible sore throat and the coughing gives me stabbing pains in my lungs. Apparently this is a typical condition at this altitude. It is caused by a combination of the dust on the paths and the cold air at high altitudes. Because of my condition we decide to pay our pharmacist of yesterday another visit. She recommends to start immediately with the antibiotic treatment we took with us from home. In addition, she gives remedies against my stuffy nose, throat lozenges, anti-inflammatory drugs and paracetamol. A whole first aid kit… But I notice during the first climb already that this well-filled first aid kit will be more than necessary. The pain in my lungs is so bad that even breathing is a real effort. I quickly take my first pills. A while later, the pain has dropped to a tolerable level and the chances of reaching our destination today are beginning to seem much more realistic. Because frankly it did not quite look that way. Although the particularly bad night’s sleep may have contributed to this as well. Last night a dog had made it his mission to continuously bark at the full moon. And with continuously I mean really continuously. From all that barking that dog must have at least as much a sore throat as I have.

The first part of the trip today is the same as the acclimatization day of yesterday. But it doesn’t feel that way. Because despite the abundant rain of tonight, the weather has completely cleared up this morning. This gives us impressive panoramas on rough mountain tops, which were hidden behind a dense fog yesterday. We are even able to put our fleece in our backpack, so we can walk in t-shirt.

Just before the split-off where about three-quarters of all hikers choose for the short route to go directly to Everest Base Camp, we eat a chocolate roll on a – to put it mildly – panoramic terrace.

A little further, we take the path to the left, which will only take us to Everest Base Camp in eight days. We go for the longer, but also more beautiful route that passes through Gokyo and the Cho-La pass. Two high-located must-do’s when you come to this region. Our detour doesn’t make the route any easier, but on the other hand we have more days available to get used to the altitude. This reduces the risk of altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness is probably the most discussed topic among hikers on this trail. Altitude sickness is a condition you shouldn’t take lightly. The first symptoms consist of headache, reduced appetite and extreme fatigue. In a later stage, vomiting, dizziness, poor coordination, extreme headaches and shortness of breath occur. At that moment it is important to descend as quickly as possible. Even if this is in the middle of the night. Because ignoring the symptoms can lead to catastrophic consequences. In case of altitude sickness, death can occur within a period of twelve hours. No laughing matter in other words. Your age or physical condition have no influence whatsoever if you have more or less chance of developing altitude sickness. But fortunately there are a number of things that you can do to reduce the risk. For example, garlic and ginger tea have a positive effect, as well as drinking a lot of water (4 to 5 liters per day!). In addition, you can take pills against altitude sickness, although they also offer no guarantee whatsoever. Knowing that 10 to 25% of all people can already get altitude sickness at 3000 altimeters, it will come as no surprise that one in three must give up because of this unpredictable condition. And despite the many warning signs in the lodges, people are still dying of the disease every year … However, we are not planning to be part of that group, so we follow all tips carefully.

But where were we…? Oh yeah, we were turning left upwards towards those two must-do’s. A farmer with yaks once again loses it completely against one of his animals. He is furious because the animal suddenly deviated from the path and wanted to cross to a lower path. He throws – not gently – stones at his head. We are really shocked. The more because this behavior contrasts sharply with the warmth and kindness that we are so used to from the local population.

We climb steeply to another world via a rocky stairway. The views are really priceless here! We enjoy it as long as we can, because slowly thick clouds and fog are shifting in front of this beautiful scenery again.

We feel that climbing at this altitude is becoming harder and harder. But without any significant problems, we arrive at the top of Mong. With its 4048 altimeters we put a new height record on our name. We warm ourselves in a hut, where I order lemon tea to ease my sore throat.

After that it’s only downhill till we reach Phortse Tenga, where we want to put up our tent. “That doesn’t seem like such a good idea,” says the owner of the lodge, pointing to a threatening sky. Before we even realize it, it’s pouring cats and dogs. He offers us his nicest room for less than € 3. With a beautiful view of the mountains, this is a heavenly shelter. Not that we will enjoy that view much, because it’s freezing in here. We therefore quickly install ourselves again in the restaurant area, where it is no less chilly. Since we are the only guests, the stove is not lit tonight. We are given two feather duvets instead. They give us just enough heat, while we play a game of “Settlers of Catan”.

Although the stove stays cold this evening, there is a certain warmth in the hut. The couple that runs the hut is very friendly, they help us with all the questions we have and they serve good food. Most hikers don’t bother to stop here and hurry to Dole. It’s something I feel is starting to stand out more and more on my many trips. Too many people see hiking as a race and therefore miss out on the most beautiful places. That’s too bad. Because believe me…, everyone who passes this lodge without spending the night here is making a big mistake.

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