Yesterday we returned from the north Col after spending two nights at camp 1. The second of which was one of the worst night I have ever had on a mountain while climbing. This morning we left ABC for base camp, to rest up and recover at a lower altitude in preparation for our summit attempt.
In contrast last night’s sleep was one of the best I have ever had. After being kept awake the previous night by the winds and constant fear of disappearing off the side of the mountain, sleeping in the relative comfort and safety of advanced base camp seemed like being in a 5 star hotel. At dinner the previous night we had decided to go down to BC the next day instead of resting up for a day before making the long trek back. We were all aware that we were behind the team both in terms of time and acclimatisation and were very keen to catch up on at least one of them. While some teams remain at ABC and don’t retreat down to BC before going for the summit, both our guides, Sherpas and every experienced team member agreed that it was important to get a good rest at a lower altitude before attempting to go for the summit. A small number of teams even retreat to a lower altitude than base camp to rest up, hoping that the days they spend down there with the extra oxygen will make a difference when summit day comes.
We set off from ABC with beautiful blue skies, and the sun blazing down. Everyone was taking it very easy and walking at their own pace, so it didn’t take long for us all to spread out. Normal I like to be near the front and get into camp early rather than taking a lot of breaks. Today, though, I was at the back and really struggling to keep up. My stomach was rumbling every time I took a step and I was starting to feel sick. As we were in no rush to get down, I decided to stop an hour or so after setting off from ABC and have some food and water, hoping that I had not eaten enough at breakfast and was just hungry or dehydrated. After a 20 minute rest and some food and water I set off again.
For the next couple of hours I continued down still feeling ill, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle and put to the back of my mind till I arrived into BC. However just after interim camp, the halfway point from ABC to BC, the pain in my stomach started to intensify. Eventually the pain became so server that I was bent over my walking poles by the time I approached the final straight to BC. On arriving into BC and after getting some more water from the mess tent, I found Zack one of our guides and told him how I was feeling, as something was clearly not right. Whatever I had contracted before I climbed the north Col had come back with a vengeance, and the medication I had been taking before had obviously failed to resolve the condition for good.