Nepal Trekking Days 4-7: Thame, sickness, Lumde, Renjo-La

The walk from Namche to Thame was short, but beautifully sunny and spectacular (including watching a rescue helicopter come and go as we were leaving, a site we would see a lot more of over the next few weeks!). The trees were starting to thin out, and Thame when we arrived (at about 3800m) felt much more off-the-main-path than the bustle of Namche Bazaar. We arrived before lunch, and after an hour spent soaking up the sun and surrounds went for another acclimatisation walk into the hills above to visit the monastery, the oldest in the region.

That evening, unfortunately, wasn't quite so pleasant! I had up until that point been eating like a man possessed, but at dinner I suddenly lost all appetite. Heeding our guide's advice that you needed to eat in the mountains even when you don't feel hungry, I forced it down anyway... and soon after started vomiting, hard. After about six hours of this it turned into pure liquid diorrhoea, before the drugs kicked in. I suspect all of this was a mix of altitude symptoms and a bug; I hadn't experienced any symptoms up until then, but loss of appetite and vomiting are definitely signs of altitude sickness, while diorrhoea isn't. At any rate, I took the "diorrhoea bomb" drug cocktail, then started taking altitude medication just in case. Either way, I didn't have a single issue for the remainder of the trip, for which I am exceedingly grateful! Unfortunately, the other two members of our party both got sick with similar symptoms (if in reverse) in the next 24 hours. We had another acclimatisation day in Thame.

Finally leaving there, the walk out wasn't too strenuous but took us over 4000m for the first time, to Lumde. This town is literally just three lodges, and exists solely to cater to tourists. We spent a cramped night with the three of us in a single bed that took up the entirety of a room (bar about half a metre of space at the end for our bags) which would have been small for two people! To make matters even more interesting, this was with the other two now suffering from vomiting and diorrhoea.

The following day was the first of the three passes, Renjo-La ("La" means "pass"). This would be quite a tough climb under any circumstances, as it climbs from 4350m to the height of the pass at 5345m, but for the other two still very much suffering it was a brutal experience. For me personally, I was fully recovered and excited to be going over 5000m for the first time (and on my birthday too!), which lessened the pain quite a bit (that may also have been due to the frequent rest stops we needed to make). Either way the view from the top is just amazing, looking down to Gokyo and the lakes, with Everest and Lhotse behind (albeit, hidden by cloud again) and made everything worth-while.

Mark Hepburn 27 December 2010
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