After eight gut-wrenching days of walking up, up, up today it was FINALLY time to go down, down, down but not before we left a little piece of our team in Gorakshep. I happened to bring a Cure Cancer jersey along so the whole team signed it (with nicknames) and we pinned it to the ceiling. Now the Inspired Adventures Cure Cancer Team Everest will forever live on just a few kilometers from Base Camp!
As for the descent, in a word, it was magical. After 50 hours above 5,000 meters most of us were hurting. Big headaches, no appetites, and, as Chook said, an impending sense of doom. Such a sustained stay at high altitude in frigid temperatures (it was -18 degrees INSIDE OUR ROOMS last night) is incredibly hard on the body and the prospect of catching our breaths, finding our appetites, and getting over the headaches was, as I said before, magical.
My goodness did we race down, charging along with a newfound sense of purpose and relief (ie oxygen). It was full speed ahead to Pheriche via Labuche for lunch. At one point it actually felt like we were floating. As the oxygen flooded our lungs with power, a sensation of, as K2 put it, superhuman strength rushed over us. It was exhilarating!
We have shed tons of weight, battled gastro, nausea, and headaches, eating nothing but yellow food, and walked directly up into thin air for of a week! It was, without question, the physical, mental, and emotional challenge of a lifetime. Sitting at 4200 meters now, everything isn't completely back to normal but things are look up (as we go down). There is a little hop in everyone's step and for the first night in days are playing cards, chatting, and even getting excited about what is on offer for dinner.
I think the highlight of the day was passing people on their way up. The look of fear, trepidation, and excitement is so fresh and so familiar, being able to give tips and advice feels incredibly empowering since we have now done it! You offer them a nod, wish them luck, and insist they rug up. "After all," you say, " it is -30 degrees at Base Camp." Their jaws drop, their eyes open wide, and a cheeky smile inevitably appears on your face. Such sweet satisfaction!
Three more days downhill then it's back to Kathmandu and onward to Australia. GO TEAM!