So, I’ve been doing my kind of intense Everest BC Trek research. (Yes, it’s an OCD-type sickness. Also, I hate surprises.)
While plowing through the various “do-this, avoid that” type blog articles, I seemed to have stumbled across some alarming, yet interesting, information. Of course, these article titles like to shock-tease me with promises of horrifying tales of the deaths of innocent EBC trekkers. I won’t lie. Initially, I am duly alarmed.
Oh shit! Am I going to die in one of these many horrible ways?
Which kind of intrigues my, oh so tiny, inner adrenaline junkie. (Also known as the crazy-ass-stoopid girl, and she says, “Cool. I’ve gotta see this!“)
I’m reading…reading…reading… and what I see, for the most part, doesn’t surprise me too much. When traveling to altitudes of 8000 ft. and above the air becomes “thinner.” The thinner air means there is less oxygen to breathe and the human body tends to find that less than pleasing.
When we breathe in air at sea level, the atmospheric pressure of about 14.7 psi (pounds per square inch) causes oxygen to easily pass through selectively permeable lung membranes into the blood. At high altitudes, the lower air pressure (7.34 psi at 18,000 ft.) makes it a bit more difficult for oxygen to enter our lungs. The arteries develop excessive pressure because we are breathing harder in response to the low oxygen, which results in a buildup of fluid in our breathe-y lobes.
Yes, “breathe-y lobes” is a technical term… Because I said.
Here’s a taste of the fun things your body may go through if you choose to continue onward and upward to EBC at around 18,000 ft.: Acute Mountain Sickness (known as AMS) is quite similar to having the flu or a really suck-ass hangover. It causes headaches, nausea, and fatigue which left untreated will progress along to one or both of its nasty cousins High Altitude Cerebral Edema (or HACE- a condition in which the brain swells with fluid) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (or HAPE- a condition where fluid accumulates in the lungs.)
Sooooo, a body can drown in its own goo? Mmm-kaaaay?
Makes sense. Breathing is good for me, and I like to breathe. I guess the fact that there is ~50% less oxygen way up there than there is at sea level (where I live) is moderately challenging. Since Everest Base Camp is at the altitude of 18,192 ft. I probably should train more vigorously in the cardio area to combat that. And take a crapload of anti-AMS meds with me!
Well… what other horrors await?
I keep reading…reading… and that’s when I see it. The most likely way I am going to depart this world? Death. By. Yak.
YAK? You’ve got to be kidding me. Yaks? What in the fresh hell???
Ermm, yeah. Seems like these are not the gentle beasts of burden that the wicked Nepalese propaganda spinners would like us to believe. Yaks–can apparently–get very pissy. I know I would if I had to lug the junk of multiple fat-arsed, North Face wearing, wi-fi searching, nimnod tourists for miles and miles. Every. Single. Day. That being said, sometimes the trails do tend to get a little narrow in spots and trekkers are encouraged to give the yaks right of way, and if the aforementioned fat-arsed trekkers don’t hug the cliff face just so the yaks will toss their butts right off the mountain.
Okaaaaaaaaaay. So is it the yak, or the drop, that kills you? Should I treat them like I would any dangerous being? Helz yeah.
Note to self: Self, do not make eye contact with yaks. Make yourself very, very small as the yaks pass by. And, Self, no matter what, no matter the urge, DO NOT criticize their hair style or smell. Yaks have feelings too. And they are the dealers-out of some serious freaking Karma.
Got it! I should make it back to Florida just fine. Fingers crossed!
Don’t look at the yaks… Don’t look at the yaks… Don’t look at the yaks….