Doug Bruns

Thorong High Camp

In Adventure, Travel, Writing on May 20, 2012 at 6:00 am

We arrive at the base camp to the Thorong La, the world’s highest mountain pass. All vegetation is left behind. Occasional piles of snow spot the trail. It is not a hard climb this morning until the last hour. We gain all our elevation, around thousand feet, in the last hour. It is tough going and Tim is failing. He did not recover this morning as I was sure he would. Scott is moving well. I am moving well. But Tim has to pause and catch his breath. I know he is miserable. It is a terrible feeling.

At base camp he finds a bunk and crawls into his bag. He goes to sleep immediately. Our guide, Ram, has given him something for his stomach, which is giving him fits.

Base camp is a timber and rock outpost of maybe twenty bunks. There is a common room where the trekkers eat and frequently relax playing cards. There is no heat, no electricity. We wear all our clothes. Surprisingly they have tuna sandwiches for sale. Tuna and eggs are safe. Both are sealed and full of nutrition. I guess that I’ve shed ten pounds or more since beginning the trip. Yesterday I ate a bowl of porridge for breakfast with toast and black coffee. Lunch was a fried potato cake. Dinner was a bowl of soup and a hard-boiled egg. Appetite falls off at altitude. If an entrepreneur could figure out how to simulate altitude at a strip-mall diet center, a fortune could be made.

Altitude sickness has little rhyme or reason. It does not necessarily seek out the weak or old. Nor does it grant the experienced a pass. I feel badly for Tim. This is his trip and he is off his game. He should have run up the mountain that last hour. Instead he was bent over and retching.

Mid afternoon the blue sky disappears and a cloud descends on camp. Snow begins to fall, heavily. Someone is playing christmas music from an iPod. Though spirits are high I sense in all of us a weight of dread. We climb to the pass tomorrow, to almost eighteen thousand feet. If the snow continues in this fashion our work will be that much more difficult.

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  1. Hang in there, Birch! And Birch’s Dad. Sending good wishes your way for comfort and peace.

  2. […] write about the snow, the high camp and the Lorong La, in the last two posts, Thorong High Camp, and Thorong La. Ponies in the snow at high camp. Ram, our guide, and the morning approach to […]

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