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A Day From Hell In The Himalayas? Everest Base Camp Trek Day Five

I wake to thoughts of how the hell am I going to make it through another five days of this? This being an horrendous headache, little sleep, nausea and constant breathlessness. I’m panicking that at some point the doctor is going to kick me off the mountain and I end up back in Kathmandu with my tail between my legs. Niggling thoughts race through my mind and I’m starting to imagine my dream of reaching Everest base camp crashing and burning. This is just the beginning of a day from hell on our Everest Base Camp Trek Day Five.

Nepal views
I guess it could be worse than these views!

Everest Base Camp Trek: Day Five

I visit Daisy the doctor for something for my headache, which is so severe it is making me feel sick and affecting my concentration. She suggests paracetamol rather than ibuprofen and I guzzle them down, fervently hoping they provide some relief. The relief isn’t immediate, but it doesn’t take long for the headache to abate making the morning climb much more enjoyable.

Morning: Deboche to Shomare

In the morning we follow a raging river which tumbles down the valley cascading over huge boulders. We walk the narrow clifftop path drinking in views of Ama Dablam and Everest peeping from behind Lhotse, it’s snow-covered peak shimmering in the sun. It is a gentle ascent and we reach our lunch destination in no time. However, my lunch of egg and potatoes proves difficult to digest and I can feel some stomach cramps lurking so give up after half.

Horse rider in Nepal
Just one of the sights we see on the trail
From Deboche
From Deboche to Dingboche

Afternoon: Shomare to Dingboche

The afternoon quickly turns into scenes from a horror movie. First Schweta succumbs, then Sacha and I. As I wander around a corner, I edge for a patch of sparse land and start vomiting violently. Kat and Ally kindly pass me tissues and speak words of encouragement as I repeatedly spray the ground. It is a terrible feeling as I try to control other bodily functions as the wretching spasms through my body.

Mountain madness

I feel slightly better once I’ve been sick, but the reprieve doesn’t last for long. A little further on, as we stop for a rest, the vomiting starts again. This time I’m bringing up the entire solid contents of my stomach. Once again Ally and Simon stand by speaking quiet words of encouragement. Simon finds wet wipes and calmly urges me to clean my hands and face. Yes, I guess the snotty sick look isn’t a good one! Until now, I was still carrying my pack minus most of the contents but I feel the energy leach from my legs and know I can’t do it any longer. Jason takes my pack and plods with me as we slowly trundle through a high valley that reminds me of the Pennines. It is barren and rugged with shrubs in hues of green and red.

We head on towards the village of Dingboche and I risk a bite of Mars Bars. It’s more pain than pleasure and ten minutes later I’m swaying to the side of the track bent over wretching once more. Simon and Jason remove my gloves, encourage me to let it out and provide more wet wipes to wipe away the snot and gristle.

It’s grim and it’s at this point that I really imagine being at home tucked up in bed. I just want to lie down and go to sleep. My brain rejects this idea, knowing it would mean certain hypothermia. My legs keep plodding on whilst my internal organs revolt at every step.

Reaching Dingboche

We eventually spot the quaint colourful village of Dingboche perched on a plain in the foreground of Everest and other dramatic peaks. It’s a false hope, however, as our teahouse is at the very top of the village and it’s a long slog up a rocky path. We pass numerous bakeries and shops and eventually reach the Bright Star. I stagger into the communal lounge and collapse on a chair desperate to lie down.

Dingboche from above
Dingboche from above

Evening: Dingboche

We quickly obtain room keys and I clamber into my sleeping bag to rest. More vomiting into the bedroom bin ensues followed by the onset of diarrhea to add insult to injury. I force myself to dinner, not because I can eat but because I need to get warm. I’ve had enough of shivering violently in my sleeping bag.

What awaits is carnage. John, our guide, has succumbed, along with Ian and Loraine so there are now seven of us experiencing the same symptoms. Daisy, the doctor, hands out medical supplies and reassures us that it is unlikely it is acute mountain sickness (AMS). She suggests that it is more likely to be poisoning or a bug given that so many people are impacted.

Thankfully tomorrow is a rest day and a possible acclimatisation walk depending on the recovery of our group.

Views above Dingboche
Views above Dingboche with Jason posing

Dingboche musings

I’m not quite at the point of giving up, but by this point I know it’s going to push me to my absolute limit to get to EBC. Why anyone actually wants to go to the top of the mountain is beyond me! It’s over twice the height of Dingboche, which at 4,400 metres is the highest I’ve even been.

Ironically, despite suffering all week with altitude headaches this turns out to be on the best night’s sleep I’ve had on the trip and I wake feeling somewhat more energised. My despair and doubts of the previous day are soon forgotten.

Sleeping bag
Sleeping off the bug

Fast facts

Height change:

Deboche (3,820) to Dingboche (4,410 metres)

Distance travelled:

10km

Trekking time:

10 – 11 hours

Overnight digs:

Bright Star Lodge.

Why Everest Base camp?

We trekked to Everest Base Camp to to raise money for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice in South Yorkshire. If you would like to sponsor us, please head to our justgiving page.

Views of the Himalayas
With views like this, why wouldn’t you trek to EBC?

Read more:

Everest Base Camp trek – day one, day twoday three and day four.

Alternatively, if you’d like to continue to follow our trip to Everest Base Camp, sign up to the newsletter and you will receive notifications of new posts.

Day Five – our route

Here is the route we followed on day five.

About Anne

Anne is the founder and editor of TravelTheGlobe4Less. If she isn't travelling, she is thinking of travelling or planning her next trip. She has visited over 90 countries on six continents and sampled everything from backpacking to bank bursting travel. Her mission is to help you enjoy more luxurious travel without the luxury price tag through the use of airline and hotel rewards and other money saving travel tips

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8 comments

  1. Was it a bug that everyone contracted, Anne?

    It sounds horrendous to get on top of the headaches and, you know, having to do the ‘walking’ thing

  2. Those altitude headaches are no joke. My team leader had us drink more water than what was already suggested to help with the dehydration. It’s one of the causes of the altitude sickness headaches. We also all started taking the altitude meds to make sure we made it. Does your guide check your oxygen level? It’s a small machine that connects to your finger. That also helped us to make sure we were getting enough oxygen once we got higher. You don’t want to risk having to be airlifted because you’re not getting enough oxygen.

    • Our doctor did have an oxygen monitor but didn’t use it on me. Not sure about the others but you are correct, it is no joke. The week after our trip a guy passed away sadly after getting into trouble at EBC with low oxygen levels.

      Our guides were also stressing the need to drink lots of water but not sure about you but I really found it hard to drink as I went higher. I resorted to simply sipping permanently as it felt like I was missing breaths if I tried to take longer drinks and I found it quite scary.

  3. Really take 10 hours of treking in one day?

    I did my EBC hike. Always arrive hotel like 3pm in the first few days and before noon as I approach base camp

    • Yes really. It all depends on three things – 1) the length of your overall trek, 2) the fitness/health of the group and 3) the time of departure each day.

      I know people who have done 3-week treks which mean they spend much less time trekking on a daily basis and this also helps them achieve their goal as the acclimatization is so much easier. In that case, yes it is likely they will be at their destination by 3 each day. However, not everyone has the luxury of that much time and I think the earliest we ever arrived was around 4 (we were on a 12 day trek).

      That said we also left at 8am so if you left earlier maybe you would have arrived at 3.

      Finally our group were perhaps much slower than average at times. We got extremely sick as this post highlights and that has a knock on effect due to the resulting weakness. For instance on Base Camp day, it took us 4.5 hours to do a trek which the signs suggested should be 3 hours.

      There are so many variables involved but honestly, I am struggling to understand what point you are really trying to make with this comment. Do feel free to come back and comment if you have something useful to add

      • CHRISTOPHER MURRAY

        Anne: hats off to you for your perseverance: plus not giving the finger to this ” Alan” joker: anyone who’s gone a trekking, in that area: should already know , and not have to be told why your group were slower! But his speed: he must be a goat: a mountain goat! What a pity you all suffered so brutally, though! Sounds as if also: not that dreaded altitude sickness: but food poisoning?! Anyway: congratulations: we salute you::thanks for telling us !

        • Thank you Christopher. I really appreciate your words of support. It was definitely tough but still the best thing I’ve ever done. Guess it makes it feel like more of an achievement in the end but I hope I don’t have to repeat it the next time I go to altitude.

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