Day 8 – Base Camp (4400m) – Intermediate Camp (4898m) – Base Camp (4400m)
Like little hatchlings leaving the comfort of our nest for the first time, today was the day that we left the relative comfort of our Base Camp and began our first cycle of acclimatization; a trip to Intermediate Camp (4898m) and back.
Rise and shine Javier
Samuel packing his stuff
Yi Qian placing his technical axe in his duffel
Checking the jumar
Ozgun enjoying his tea and Raymond having breakfast
Architect mending his shoes
Leaving Base Camp
Carrying 18-22Kg of weight made up of equipment such as helmets, ropes, and boots, we ascended over a four-hour period to our Intermediate Camp. Traversing endless undulating seas of rock, we were the proverbial first explorers of a strange and unknown land. Every step was a risk, a gamble – a tiny slip could send any one of us plummeting hundreds of metres into what could only be described as certain, rocky, death. However, after two hours of nail biting traversing, nothing had happened to any of us. It seemed almost too good to be true. It was.
Yi Qian soon began complaining of a headache – he had a minor one in camp, but it was now getting worse with every step. This was a clear indication of the onset of our worst enemy – Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).
Deeper into the valley we go
Now we know why your bag so heavy, Yi Qian
Despite the slowly worsening odds, Yi Qian persevered onwards with great strength and fortitude. After splitting Yi Qian’s load halfway, the team finally arrived at the Intermediate Camp… but we were only halfway through – there was still the journey back down.
After taking a few photos from the site of the Intermediate Camp, we emptied our packs of equipment and began the descent. Despite the lightened loads and downward sloping gradient, movement was slow due to the unstable terrain.
Dumping our stores at Intermediate Camp
View from Intermediate Camp
Progress was slow and unstable, and the ridges seemed to never end – there was always one more ridge after every single one we crossed… It was already 1500 hours and we had been walking for six hours.
When we finally rounded the last ridge and feasted our tired eyes upon Base Camp below, a new surge of energy washed into us and we scrambled over as quickly as we could for water and lunch.
Back to Base Camp, with beautiful colours coming from the opposite mountain
After lunch, buoyed by the completion of our long hike, a few of us decided to take a shower. There was a nearby spring, which we used to wash ourselves, but the water was icy cold. Shivering in our underwear, we rinsed ourselves and dried ourselves off as quickly as we could.
Dinner followed shortly, since we reached camp at 1530 hours, had lunch, and showered till about 1730 hours. Yi Qian, however, was so sick that he could not join us for dinner. Edwin and Anil then made the decision to remain at base Camp for one more night, allowing Yi Qian to rest and better acclimatize. Edwin also gave Yi Qian some Diamox, which turned out to be an extremely powerful diuretic, leading to many hilarious situations that night between Yi Qian and his tent buddy, Yong Siang.
Everyone had an early night due to the physical exertion that day, and as I took my final walk around Base Camp, I looked up and admired the softly shining stars nestled in the crystal clear milky way.