FEATURED STORY

Khumbu cough

I can’t really remember when was the last time I got sick up in the mountain, probably during our first alpine training and exposure in altitude in India back in 2004. We were all like fish out of the water, can’t breathe and all feeling and acting lethargic. It was an unpleasant experience actually.

With all the trainings we went through and the climbs and treks I am still doing up to now, I have somehow already gauged myself on how I will react to altitude. Nevertheless, I still keep a sane and rational part of me that anybody can get sick anytime in the mountain, regardless of your track record.

2 days before flying to Lukla, I got down with a sudden flu accompanied by a dry cough. I forced myself to get some rest a day before flying out and left the last minute shopping and final touches on the preparation of the group to Todd who did a great job accomplishing this task. My body aches were gone by the next day but I still felt lightheaded, weak and my cough was still dry and sticky. By the time we landed in Lukla boarded on a chopper, my stomach muscles were hurting from coughing. This is a bad start..I thought to myself. I was nursing this cough from Lukla to Namche to Diboche. I felt no headache, no loss of appetite, my pulse oxygen sat was still one of the best in the group but I was just worried how the altitude will affect my cough. We will still ascend significant altitude up to summit of Lobuche east and anything can happen, can be as fickle as the weather in the mountain. I finally decided to pay a visit to the Himalayan Rescue Hospital in Periche and, yes, paid 60usd for consultation, just to set things straight and find out the real score. After the doctor asked about my medical history, vital information and some physical tests and examinations, he said that I might have caught the famous’ khumbu cough’ but there was no infection on my lungs. I was cleared to climb Lobuche and ascend significant altitude for the rest of the expedition. He gave me a bottle of expectorant that would lessen my coughing. Tonight, Todd and I decided to spend the night here in Periche and meet our team tomorrow for our acclimatization climb in the nearby peak of Nangarjun.

One last thing we must remember ,mountains are dangerous- so we will be observing and taking cautions every step of the way.

Janet Belarmino
Lead Guide
Belarmino Ventures
Himalayan Expeditions 2014

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