Today was our last rest day before our push to Everest Base Camp and the summit of Kala Pattar. I awoke early with my roommate Jeff and we went for an early morning walk to take pictures of the surrounding mountains. Due to the season and the weather, the mountains tend to be clear in the morning but quickly cloud over. So, getting out of bed at 5:30am in the cold was a necessity for us to enjoy the vista – and what a vista it was. Pheriche is in a valley surrounded by mountains – the most impressive of which is Cho Oyu, the 6th highest peak in the world, off in the distance. From Pheriche one cannot see Everest – but we know it looms over the hills that surround the valley.
This morning Jeff and I went on our acclimatization hike and we managed to get up to 14,600 feet (4450m) on an outlook overlooking the Pheriche Valley. As I noted yesterday, acclimatization hikes are crucial to get used to altitude. A lot of people do not realize this, but most climbers that summit Everest have actually climbed the mountain many times over. Indeed, one they reach Camp One, they go up to Camp Two several times and come back. Then, when they finally move to Camp Two they repeat this process with Camp Three, and then Camp Four, unit they finally make a summit attempt – weather and altitude issues permitting of course.
This afternoon was our last big data collection session – all teams were in gear with most of them collecting their last data. My team will collect one last data set – at Base Camp. Yes, the Krigolson Lab will be setting up shop at Everest Base Camp and collecting a full set of EEG data at 17,598 feet. Tomorrow however, we climb to Lobuche, it is not very far distance wise but we will be ascending almost 2300 feet (700 m) and it will be a slow, hard day. There is also a strong chance that a lot of people will finally succumb to altitude sickness as we will be sleeping at 16,210 feet (4,940 m). As our team leader, Trevor Day says, tomorrow it is going to "get real".
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Olav Krigolson is a neuroscientist at the University of Victoria who has authored over 40 academic papers and given over 150 talks and presentations.