We are now in Namche Bazaar at 3440m. We arrived yesterday lunchtime, after flying from Kathmandu to Lukla, and have spent a rest day here to aid acclimatisation. This involved a walk up to the Everest View Hotel at 3880m then down to Khumjung village where Edmund Hillary established a school in 1961.
Tonight we stay here in Namche and then set off for Pengboche (3930m) tomorrow, where we will also spend two nights for acclimatisation.
The Hillary School at Khumjung
Progressing slowly up the mountain and giving the body time to acclimatise is really important when climbing at high altitude. As we get higher the air gets thinner (the air pressure reduces) and in every lungful of air we breathe we get less oxygen than at sea level.
This means that the body has to adapt to use less oxygen for normal functioning. If it can’t do this – or if you ascend too fast for the body to make the necessary adaptations, such as making more red blood cells – then you will get altitude sickness, also known as Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS. It can be fatal, so if you suffer severe symptoms you should descend to a lower altitude where the air pressure is greater and your body gets more oxygen. But the best thing to do is to ascend slowly enough that the body can adjust to the altitude and the climber experiences only mild symptoms, such as a slight headache, if anything.
My first glimpse of Everest through the trees on the path to Namche Bazaar
So, tomorrow we will take it slowly again, heading up past the monastery at Tengboche where the 1953 Everest expedition team were blessed by the lama. So far we have been walking through cool pine forests but, judging by the terrain we covered today, as we walk out tomorrow it will be through short, dry grasses and dusty rocks.
Our team is good fun and we are enjoying ourselves as we wind our way up the trail to Everest Base Camp.