We left Panch Phokari 2 days ago and dropped down to the towen of Khote. Khote is the offical entrance to the Barun Makalu National Park and is a fairly busy place. It’s also a hub for sick and ill people.
About 30 minutes after we arrived a helicopter arrived to drop oiff supplies and to pick up a very very ill porter. This porter had a Blood Oxygen Saturation of only 33% – a condition not compatible with sustaining life. He was most likely suffering from Pulmonary Oedema which is a form of altitude illness where the lungs fill with fluid. It may come on without any other symptoms of AMS at all and is a very very serious condition. The only way to survive it is to rapidly descend and to get medical attention. In the valleys we are in the only option for rapid extraction and descent is via helicopter as the only other way out is to cross over a series of high passes or travel down valley on the back of a Yak or Donkey – unfortunately these valleys are quite long and reasonably flat so a rapid descent via land is pretty much out of the question. Lucky for this chap, the organisation he was working for provided rescue insurance. It is a reality of where we are and where we are going that people will get ill. The only way to offset this is with slow ascents and rest days.
So now we’ve climbed back up to 4300m to the township of Thagnag. The trail is also quite busy with other groups making their way to Mera Peak. As we have already spent a night at 4300m and climbed to 4500m we are going to make a very slow ascent to the town of Khare at 5000m where we will spend either 2-3 days depending on how the team feels and the weather.
We are also well and truly in the shadow of the mountains with Kusum Kangru and Kyshar looming above us – Kyshar is 6777m high and quite an imposing sight! The team is getting excited but are well aware that the hardest part of the expedition is right infront of us. At 6410m, Mera peak is not a technical peak but one that teams struggle to have 100% success on due to the height, temperatures and wind that the mountain exposes you to.
An Adventure is a journey with an unknown outcome and we’re right in the middle of it – and there’s no other place we’d rather be right now.