We got up, ate breakfast, and trekked down to Lobuche basecamp today. The idea is to climb Lobuche in the coming few days, putting ourselves to the test and getting up to about 20,000 feet on fixed lines.
Coming up this exact same trail a few days earlier was tough for me… going down was a breeze, and fun too! More time to appreciate the beauty of the Khumbu valley, and focus on my breathing technique. I am a firm believer in auto-PEEP, or positive end-expiratory pressure. Basically, this means exhaling though the resistance of pursed lips, which keeps the airways open for a slightly longer period of time for each breath. This is a time-tested method used for ventilated patients in the ICU, and I have tested it out on myself via a pulse oximeter on the elliptical machine, while breathing roughly half normal content of oxygen. By breathing this way, I can increase my pulse oximetry reading by 3-5%. May not sound like much, but the hemoglobin-oxygen dissociation curve is not linear! Getting from 80% sat to 85% sat really improves muscle performance and cardiopulmonary efficiency… and, it costs me nothing. I sound like a steam train lumbering uphill, but so what?
Much of the snow in LBC has melted, leaving a boggy soggy mess behind. But, it is home for now. We had some great views of the route up high, it looks beautiful and exciting. Plan to move to high camp after lunch tomorrow.
Best part of the day, by far, was talking with my lovely Zoe by sat phone to wish her a happy 15th birthday. She is a delight and I am so proud of her in every way. Talking with her by phone was great, if not a bit odd, with the extreme cold of the mountain all around me, and the glowing eyes of yaks staring back at my headlamp from the darkness. I am very, very much looking forward to our family reunion when I get back, to see her and Matthew and Julie!