We made it to camp 3, despite cyclone Fani, and waiting on a weather window. We finally got our shot and cruised up the Lhotse face. It’s a beautiful camp dug into the side of Lhotse at 7,200 meters or 23,730 ft. The views of The Valley and surrounding peaks are spectacular!
I for one, am grateful for the extra rest day we spent at camp two. I was able to recover from my stomach bug, and get some much needed rest. Starting out today I felt great, my backpack was definitely over 30 lbs, and we climbed about 2,500 vertical feet in 4.5 hrs. But, before I claim Superman status, we started the oxygen today and I think that played a big role as well.
That being said, the mask freaked us all out. The first half of the day if felt like it was actually strangling you. But once you calm down and learn to breathe slowly, and controlled it really does help. Its a lot like your first time snorkeling, where you don’t fully trust you can breath under water so you keep popping up gasping for air. Now, I just have to survive sleeping with it on, in a cramped tent, and a coffin style sleeping bag. Yay!! Anyone who suffers from claustrophobia, Just stop reading and run!
One thing I want to point out about high altitude breathing is…..it’s freaking hard. How I would describe it to a non climber. Imagine if you will ( your at sea level) breathing is like standing on your tread mill in your living room, pretty easy I think. Now let’s jump up to 12,000 ft, you put a hefty garbage bag over your head and start your treadmill on level 4. Ok now 20,000 ft, crank up the tilt of the treadmill and put it on speed ten, oh and tie the garbage bag tightly around you! But don’t worry here comes oxygen to save the day! Oxygen is like taking a pencil and poking 2 small holes in front of your mouth! Helpful? Yes but……That’s about the best way I can explain high altitude breathing, and the relief from using oxygen! I know what your thinking…. fun right?!?! Good. Me too! Oh and this was just an analogy so don’t try this at home!!
In all seriousness, oxygen does help with altitude, strength, body warmth, and brain function, like clarity and focus.
I could not imagine doing any 8,000 meter peak without oxygen. The mountaineers that do it with out O’s are super human!
Ok off to bed. We plan to move to camp 4 at dawn. I will need plenty of sleep and yes a new tank of O’s. 😜 – Chad Gaston