One of my friends, Erik, nearly died at Everest Base Camp.
It was Oct. 20 — also the 1-year anniversary of his round-the-world trip. He was at 5200m, about 17,000ft. At that altitude anything can happen to anyone. In his case, Erik’s “cause of death (would have been): high altitude pulmonary edema, high altitude cerebral edema”. The victim’s only chance of survival is to get them to a lower altitude, and immediate medical attention.
He’s doing okay — I’ll be raising a few toasts to Erik, his swift recovery, and every yak, angel, sherpa, oxygen bottle and bit of luck that got him through.
What’s freaky about this for me, is that Claudia and I were at Everest Base Camp only a few months ago, in May (albeit on the Tibetan side, whereas Erik was on the Nepali side). We were short of breath, and could hardly walk to the bathroom without needing to rest. But the worst thing to happen to us was that Claudia spent the entire night hallucinating reincarnations of the Buddha (“I saw crazy whirling green goddesses EVERYWHERE,” she told me in the morning.)
Altitude sickness is a fickle, fickle thing. Erik, I’m glad you’re okay, buddy. Swift recovery and better health to you, and you’ll be in my thoughts.