This was an active acclimatization day meaning we hiked up from Namche to an elevation of about 3884 meters. As you can see from the picture, the hike brought us another amazing view of Everest. We could also see Lhotse and Ama Dablam (the peak I attempted in Nov. 2104). We spent about 2 hours up there to introduce our bodies to tomorrow’s elevation and give it a head start on making the necessary changes.
The changes make it possible to exist on half (or less) oxygen as usual. Early changes include increased heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Later changes include the production of more hemoglobin and changes in blood PH. All of these assist the body in coping with less oxygen also known as hypoxia (low oxygen). Acclimatization is a gradual process that can’t be rushed. It’s best achieved by ascending slowly, not pushing too hard when climbing (I.e. Trying to climb at a rate where you can maintain nose breathing), and staying well hydrated. If you ascend too quickly, you can get sick.
By going up and then back down again, we stimulate the physiological processes that make the changes. I like to think of it as “making introductions.” I introduce my body to a new elevation, they shake hands, make small talk, and then we leave the party…only to run into each other again the next day.
I woke up to the sounds of horns. There being no cars here, I was at first confused. Then I realized the horns were being blown in a regular pattern. It was the monks at the gompa. I looked out the window and saw the monks, clad in crimson robes heading up to the monastery. As I stepped out of my room, I was greeted with a smokey haze. There is a tradition in Sherpa culture to start the day by burning juniper in a urn as above or in a kind of fireplace seen below. It’s an offering of generosity to all beings and serves to purify a space and/or bring good luck.
The highlight of the day was seeing Everest again and sharing that view with my teammates and Climber Smurf!
Your altitude analogy is priceless. Love it! I am there again through your eyes. Keep on truckin’ and trekin’