To Sherpa or not to Sherpa?

Tadapani to Chhromrong-1

Early morning view of Machapuchare from Tadapani

Day 4: Tadapani 2706 meters (8878 feet)to Chhomrong 2170 meters (7120 feet)

I woke up the next morning, my stomach feeling better, but with my legs still wobbling a bit beneath me.  Mandy and I shuffled outside, blinking as bright sunlight replaced the grimness and dinginess of our room, the sacred peak of Machapuchare (which has never been summited and is now off-limits to climbers) towered ahead of us.  We breakfasted at a long table outside under a clear blue sky that capped the glistening white Himalayan peaks surrounding us.  Breakfast was warm porridge–I was able to eat half. Continue reading

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Food Poisoning at 10,000 feet

Annapurna Trek Day 3-7

View from Poon Hill summit

Day 3: Ghorepani 2874 meters (9430 feet) to Poon Hill 3240 meters (10,630 feet) to Tadapani 2706 meters (8878 feet)

I stared up through cold blackness at the barely visible ceiling. The darkness was damp and heavy.  It was 2:30am and most of the generators in Ghorepani were powered down for the night.  Waves of cramping surged through my stomach. Rather than make the trek down two long, unheated concrete hallways to the communal bathroom, I tucked myself deeper into my sleeping bag and hoped that full-blown food poisoning wasn’t looming.  Not here, not at 10,000 feet, with 8 more days of extreme terrain and squat toilets yet to navigate.  I was already exhausted from yesterday’s climb, but sleep eluded me as my stomach continued its violent protests.

At 4:30am, Mandy joined me in wakefulness. Across the valley, icy Himalayan peaks appeared to be floating in the darkness, their icecaps shimmering in the starlight.  We pulled on every layer we had with us, flicked on our headlamps, and stepped out on the day’s first expedition.   Continue reading