Paul Pottinger’s Adventures from the Top of the World

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Leisure Time

Everest 2016  •  April 28

4-24-16 through 4-28-16

After our rotation to Camps 1 and 2, we planned to take four full rest days to get back on our feet.  I really needed this time off…coming down was tough for me, not only because I felt exhausted but also because my cough increased substantially.  First night back at EBC was demoralizing and miserable, coughing up green plugs all night long, getting little real sleep.  The thought of trying for the summit seemed preposterous.

Fortunately, we have great expertise in our IMG guides.  A multi-pronged attack on the cough has worked wonders!  I almost feel back to my old self after several days of intensive treatment, including:

  • Rest to reduce the cough trigger of deep breathing;
  • Staying in the tent as much as possible to shield my lungs from the withering dry cold wind;
  • Always breathing through a buff;
  • Minimizing talking and joking, even at meal time (this is tough);
  • Lots of hot beverages, including some Throat Coat tea featuring Slippery Elm;
  • Breathing in hot vapors (water, with or without liniment);
  • Cepacol lozenges to numb the throat;
  • Guaifenesin + dextromethorphan every 12 hours;
  • Codeine 15mg by mouth every 6 hours if necessary (usually not, just at bedtime);
  • Continuing twice-daily Advair Diskus;
  • Albuterol MDI several times per day as needed for wheezing.

The pain in my right chest is purely musculoskeletal, I must have strained an intercostal while coughing.  It is getting better.

We stayed active, of course, including a hike to a local lookout…

Everest towers over its own west shoulder, cloud plume forming it its lee.
Everest towers over its own west shoulder, cloud plume forming it its lee.
This shot of Everest shows a bit more of the steep slope on the right we will climb on summit day.
This shot of Everest shows a bit more of the steep slope on the right we will climb on summit day.
A bigger view of the Everest massif.  Can you see EBC on the near side of the Khumbu Glacier?
A bigger view of the Everest massif. Can you see EBC on the near side of the Khumbu Glacier?
Maybe this telephoto makes it easier to see.  My tent is almost dead center of the photo, just a few to the left of the frozen crater.
Maybe this telephoto makes it easier to see. My tent is almost dead center of the photo, just a few to the left of the frozen crater.
Panorama of the top of the Khumbu Valley.
Panorama of the top of the Khumbu Valley.
Pumori seen from our viewpoint over EBC.  Much, much less snow this year than last.
Pumori seen from our viewpoint over EBC. Much, much less snow this year than last.
Siva and Pumori... which is more impressive?  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Siva and Pumori… which is more impressive? (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Justin knows the terrain... but why does he point with that particular finger...?  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Justin knows the terrain… but why does he point with that particular finger…? (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Emily Johnston at the viewpoint.
Emily Johnston at the viewpoint.
What a ragtag crew.....  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
What a ragtag crew….. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
MC 900 Foot Siva.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
MC 900 Foot Siva. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Cristiano: Keeper of the irrepressible smile.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Cristiano: Keeper of the irrepressible smile. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Kim is also irrepressible.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Kim is also irrepressible. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Bane is here....  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Bane is here…. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Vogue: Strike a Pose.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Vogue: Strike a Pose. (Photo: Justin Merle)
The beekeeper sets up a time-lapse video of the summit.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
The beekeeper sets up a time-lapse video of the summit. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Beware the silver yeti.....  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Beware the silver yeti….. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Justin sets up the group photo.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Justin sets up the group photo. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Group portrait at the lookout spot.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Group portrait at the lookout spot. (Photo: Justin Merle)

And a trip to the glacier for ice climbing for some of us…

Looking back at EBC from the ice climbing area on the Khumbu Glacier.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Looking back at EBC from the ice climbing area on the Khumbu Glacier. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Justin Merle shows how it's done.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Justin Merle shows how it’s done. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Siva in fine form. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Siva in fine form. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Johnny Shrock: International Guide of Mystery.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Johnny Shrock: International Guide of Mystery. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Merle & Shrock... true professionals.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Merle & Shrock… true professionals. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
A fun and serious bunch of climbers.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
A fun and serious bunch of climbers. (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Clearly, very serious climbers.  (Photo: Emily Johnston)
Clearly, very serious climbers. (Photo: Emily Johnston)

Although we will not need to use O2 on this coming rotation, we started getting familiar with the systems now, well ahead of when we will need them…

Cristiano loves sucking on the O's.
Cristiano loves sucking on the O’s.
So does Kim.
So does Kim.
Steven ponders his destiny.
Steven ponders his destiny.
Siva... I am your climbing partner!
Siva… I am your climbing partner!
Let's figure out how to suck on this bottle together at bedtime.  (Photo: Bob Lowry)
Let’s figure out how to suck on this bottle together at bedtime. (Photo: Bob Lowry)

We ultimately decided to add a fifth rest day, meaning today 4-28-16, which was welcome news to me.  I’m as eager as anyone for the summit, but I’ve been planning on this expedition since the second grade… another day of rest makes sense.

Justin insisted on taking "tin-type" photos in the meal tent one night... this one involved me holding still for 30 seconds.  The others taken that night are... not fit for sharing.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Justin insisted on taking “tin-type” photos in the meal tent one night… this one involved me holding still for 30 seconds. The others taken that night are… not fit for sharing. (Photo: Justin Merle)
EBC in the Blue Hour.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
EBC in the Blue Hour. (Photo: Justin Merle)
The heavens spin on their axis, the North Star, which is visible here.  15-minute exposure.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
The heavens spin on their axis, the North Star, which is visible here. 15-minute exposure. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Our portion of EBC at night, 30 second exposure.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Our portion of EBC at night, 30 second exposure. (Photo: Justin Merle)
Same shot, but 15 minutes of exposure time.   Justin needed to use a rock to hold the shutter open for that long.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
Same shot, but 15 minutes of exposure time. Justin needed to use a rock to hold the shutter open for that long. (Photo: Justin Merle)
EBC at night.  (Photo: Justin Merle)
EBC at night. (Photo: Justin Merle)

The plan: leave after midnight tonight for Camp 1, then spend the night there.  Next day, we will go to Camp 2 and spend the night there.  Then, we climb to a new high: Camp 3 circa 24,000 feet, where we spend the night without supplemental oxygen… it will be spicy.  Then, down to Camp 2 for a night, and then back to EBC the next day.

Thus, I’ll be offline until at least May 3, 2016.  I’ll try to keep in touch daily via the Delorme InReach, feel welcome to track our progress if you like.  Happy birthday in advance to my lovely sister Katie, I will miss you on our shared birthday 4-30.

Vibe of the day: Let’s do this.

19 thoughts on “Leisure Time

  1. Happy birthday two days early! I will think of you every minute — remembering the joyous day when you were born. We must have a huge celebration when you return. I’m praying the treatment for your cough continues to cause improvement. Continue to be smart and careful. Love you
    xox

    1. Thanks so much Mom, I am indeed getting better. This will be a fun rotation, especially with my birthday thrown in there…. thanks for having me in the first place! Love you.

  2. Happy birthday, Paul! We are missing you, thinking of you and looking forward to having you home! Stay warm and safe.

  3. Great post and more great photos. Thanks for sharing. Quick pep talk reminder- NO way you want to have to go back. Get it done this time. Suffer fest 2016. Enjoy!

  4. IT IS SO GREAT TO SEE HOW WELL YOU ALL ARE DOING! AND HAVING FUN! PERSISTENCE AND DETERMINATION ARE OMNIPOTENT. YOU HAVE THEM BOTH. LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING EVERYONE AT THE TOP.
    CAN’T TELL YOU HOW MUCH I ENJOYED THE INCREDIBLE TREK TO EBC WITH ALL YOU, THE SHERPAS, AND IMG. AND NOW I GET TO FOLLOW YOU TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD. MAY THE MOUNTAIN GODS BE KIND TO YOU THIS YEAR.

    1. Thanks so much Roger, and great to hear from you. We will keep you in mind as we go higher…. More soon!

  5. Happy birthday brother. Proud of you. Suck on some more of that oxygen to heal those lungs. I’m running a USMC physical fitness test in the morn–easy stuff when you’re at sea level. I’ll be thinking of you.

    1. Thanks Matty, love you so much, and so proud of you! Will be thinking of you on this rotation. Hugs to the fam!

  6. So sorry about the bothersome URT stuff! Yipes, that’s unpleasant! Luckily, IMG’s seasoned 8000 meter mountaineers who know the high mountain cough so well, combined with the smart MD’s up there (like you and Emily, for example), are surely implementing the best “workaround” so you can breathe freely and climb well. I’m sending well-wishes directly to your bronchial tree, dude. Keep on keeping us posted!

  7. Dr. P2:
    I hope you got my other messages.
    Please take care of those lungs. I admire your courage.
    Keep it up. Thinking of you and praying for you.
    Josette

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