May 8, 2013

Haute Cuisine a la Beef Jerkey Where only Commercial Airlines Fly... and a lesson learned

We left the comforts of Camp 2 in the early hours of the 8th of May and began the cold, dark gradual uphill plod across the glacier to the base of the Lhotse face... it's a walk that always seems to take foreeeeever. This was the third time that I’d done the walk which certainly didn’t make it any easier… or more tropical..! Guy’s thermometer read -17 which was affirmed by my fingers which I was wriggling vigorously and frantically in the depths of my gloves in an valiant attempt to keep the blood flowing and warmth in their tips…! 

I must admit that that morning wasn’t one of my ‘finer days’ – I was tired and cold and nervous… again, one of the main reasons why I think that so many people underestimate the ‘mental’ side of 8000m peaks. Plodding along staring at your feet and moving so painfully slowly gives you heaps of time to think. Seeing the lifeless body of a Sherpa alongslide the trail who sadly lost his life the previous day really hit home the fragility of human life and the risks taken by so many on the slopes of these mountain giants.

Fortunately as soon as we reached the fixed lines of the Lhotse face and some of the warmth returned to my fingers things started to look up – literally. I managed to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand – step, step, and then slide the ‘jumar’ up the rope. Repeat. Step, step.. etc. etc – you get the picture!

Steps had formed since the last time we went up the ropes so it was a physical yet steady, even 4-hour climb up to Camp 3 perched high up on the face.  Whilst I felt relatively strong, I was soooo relieved to see the camp and relished the prospect of food.  

I’ve developed a bit of a food-craving for beef jerkey (very posh and particularly nutritious, I know - what can I say, I'm a woman of good taste!!) over the course of the past few weeks and began to salivate at the thought of diving into the warmth and comfort of my down suit and sleeping bag, propping myself up on a pillow with my kindle (final chapter of the Life of Pi) and eating my beef jerky and cheese snack while watching the sun set…. And cooking my boil-in-a-bag chicken chow-mein. 

Sadly, it didn’t quite happen this way…

All went according to plan with regards to ‘diving’ into the tent, ducking into my down suit and tucking into my snack however my stomach soon realized that things were amiss and there wasn’t the usual amount of oxygen to aid in the seamlessness of the oxygen abetted digestion process. I felt a sudden flush of heat rush to my cheeks and felt the tent start to spin as my stomach screamed, “Nooooooo!!!!’. Fortunately my tent mate Mark was on-call and I managed to rouse him from his peaceful slumber saying, 

‘Um. Mark..! I’m really not well..!!’.  

Looking at my pale colour and sticky complexion I think he quickly realized the consequences of ‘do nothing’ and the immediate ramifications it might have on both him and sanctity of the tent…! Fortunately this wasn’t Mark’s first expedition and looking at the pile of beef jerky and cheese wrappers next to my Thermarest he quickly put two and two together. I spent the next two hours sat up with my eyes closed, drinking heaps of boiled water, trying to get the world to stop spinning..! Fortunately the lack of oxygen did not affect my (or Marks!) sense of humor and we managed to laugh about the situation. 

I didn’t eat much else that night and the rest of the evening passed fairly uneventfully..! I slept surprisingly well encased in my sleeping bag, down suit and warm socks… dreaming of the chicken chow-mein which I will no doubt enjoy on our next visit to Camp 3 in a few days time..!!!


Post a Comment