20 March 2012
Acclimatization Day – Namche Bazaar (3,440m/11,284ft.)
Today was to be an official acclimatization day! Our lungs needed some more time to get used to thinner air before we climbed any higher. All trekkers spent about a day here, at the Namche Bazaar. The Bazaar was a large village, lined with many shops, restaurants, pubs, cybercafés and coffee shops that catered to the trekkers and climbers and it was also a social and commercial hub for sherpas. Our own sherpa, Mindu, had recommended that we take some local hikes and climb a few hundred vertical feet, to help us acclimatize.
We began with a hike to the Sagarmatha National Park. Sagarmatha, we learned, was the highest national park in the world—above 3,000 meters. We headed for the visitors center, where the small museum displayed photos of the effects of global warming on the glacial peaks in the area, items related to local sherpa culture, and information about various plants and animal life in the Khumbu region. There, too, we read brief histories of the first ascenders in the Everest region.
After the museum, Delle and I decided to take advantage of the spectacular views and peaceful air and practice some Yoga postures with Everest in the background. It was pure bliss, and even my brother, Anil, was inspired, and decided he would join us.
Next we took a climb to the Syangbouche airstrip. The short but steep hike to the airport was difficult, and we suddenly felt the altitude. Climbing above eleven thousand feet seemed to be double the work, and so we took a short break, while Delle took an official nap, trying to make up for her lack of sleep from the hospital runs the night before.
High above the airstrip was a surprisingly well-constructed Japanese-themed luxury hotel that afforded breathtaking views of Mt. Lhotse and Mt. Everest. The hotel’s patio afforded such fantastic views that we decided it was just the place to have tea and snacks.
We came back down to the Namche in the afternoon. After a walk through the bazaar, during which we picked up some little trinkets, it was time for another round of dal-bhaat and momo, with apple pie for desert. Sipping our mint tea by the fireplace felt really luxurious.
Before retiring, we began our doses of Diamox, a medication that was supposed to help us handle any potential altitude sickness by helping us sleep and rest. A hot shower and a cozy sleeping bag felt really good after such an active “rest” day, and so—whether because of the Diamox or the day’s activities—we all slept very well that night!