Today was the hardest day of the trek – we knew we had to climb from Pheriche to Loubouche – a gain of 2300 ft (700 m). The journey started out with a gentle climb along the valley that Pheriche lies in for a few kilometers, but after that we began the climb to Dougla, a quick gain of 820 ft (250 m). We skirted the edge of Dougla and continued the climb to the summit – a gain of 1970 ft (600 m) over a very short horizontal distance. Our group did well and our training paid off – we stuck together and kept a slow pace designed to minimize the effects of altitude – exertion is our enemy as over exertion will greatly increase our chances of getting altitude sickness. The climb was not technical, but it was very, very difficult. However, we all made it up and at the top celebrated a hard effort.
At the top, we encountered the climbers’ memorials – the place where a lot of the people who have died on Everest are remembered. It was a somber reminder of the place we are in, a place where a lot have come to climb the mountain and perished. And then, there are the people who died just last year in the avalanche through Base Camp that went through a part of Base Camp.
Following our time at the memorial we struck out for Lobouche, another hour of walking but the incline was greatly reduced and after our successful climb from the Pheriche valley we quickly made it to our destination. The landscape has changed radically, the ground is rough and covered in boulders – the remnants of a glacier that retreated a long time ago. Lobouche is very small, it only consists of a few small lodges and a store for the trekkers and climbers that come through. Our lodge is nice, and we enjoyed a large lunch before we made the short walk to the Pyramid Lab – a weather station nearby that studies the weather patterns of the Himalayas.
Following our visit to the station we trekked back to our lodge and settled in for the evening. On one hand, we are all a little scared – tonight is our first night at a truly high elevation and all are afraid of the possibility of altitude sickness impacting our sleep – whether it be sleep apnea, headaches, or both. On the other hand, tomorrow we will trek to Gorek Shep and then to Everest Base Camp – the goal of our journey. My laboratory will set up and we will collect the highest ever recorded event-related brain potential data.