Everest Diary: Lobuche - Poor hygiene means midnight blues on the top of the world

WEATHER permitting, we will move up to Everest Base Camp tomorrow and the more serious phase of our expedition to the top of the world will begin. For almost two weeks we have been winding our way deeper into the Khumbu, the tree line was left behind several days ago and now we are in a land of dazzling ice cliffs and glacial moraine.

I am just starting to enjoy the trip again after a couple of days suffering from the rotten guts that seems to have afflicted most of our Himalayan Kingdom's team at some point during the walk-in. The "call of the Khumbu" is the unarguable midnight summons to the stinking shack at the back of the lodges where we have been staying.

Most climbers and trekkers get ill at some point and it is not difficult to see why. Although the lodge menus contain familiar and seemingly safe dishes such as egg on toast, pancakes, and chips - the local potatoes are delicious, particularly with something like a Yak steak sizzler - kitchen hygiene is a bit rudimentary for sensitive Western stomachs.

Lodge kitchens certainly have atmosphere; thick with wood smoke from the black stove, all the Sherpa family is there somewhere in the shadows. Grubby fingers are dipped into pots to test the temperature and the dish is quite likely to be brought to the table by a child who will inevitably have a face smeared with snot. I make no complaint. God forbid that European hygiene regulations should be applied here. But just beware.

So, for our four-hour walk yesterday, up from Dingboche at 4,350m to the "Hotel 8000 Inn" at 5,100m, just above the hamlet of Lobuche, I was on auto-pilot after starving out my system. Once in the lodge I got into my sleeping bag and reached for the Discman. Andy Kirkpatrick, the sage and assistant at the Derbyshire gear shop Outside, who I have quoted before, said there were two essentials for Himalayan climbing: "A pee bottle and a personal stereo". Well, we haven't yet reached an altitude where the former is a necessity when tent bound, but the stereo is certainly an invaluable retreat.

Around the lodge was the sound of yak bells and rushing glacial water, while inside my head I was cruising the Alfa down to a sunny beach in Cornwall to the blues rhythms of Mike Henderson and the Bluebloods. Thus was a recovery made.

Arriving at Base Camp tomorrow, assuming we do, will be like stepping into one of the most famous addresses in mountaineering history - the starting point of Hillary and Tensing's first ascent in 1953, Chris Bonington's 1975 South West Face expedition and many others. Our Sherpa, Sirdar Pema, and his crew, are already there and the tents should be set up. Arjun, the cook, went up today.

On the walk-in we have had little contact with the other expeditions bound for Everest in this pre-monsoon season. In Namche we met briefly several members of an Iranian team. There are 17 of them but their Himalayan experience is scant. I saw three trying to buy rope in a Namche store and reportedly a concerned shopkeeper actually turned away business by advising the Iranians against buying clothing he thought inadequate. Ill- equipped and inexperienced teams who are hell-bent on planting their national flag is one of the biggest worries as the South Col route up Everest becomes crowded around summit time.

A Singaporean team, also hoping to establish a national first, is already installed at Base Camp. They got an early taste of what the mountain weather is capable of when high winds demolished several of their smaller tents. It promises to be quite an international circus.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Assistant

£17900 - £20300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An enthusiastic Marketing Assis...

Recruitment Genius: Chef / Managers

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This contract caterer is proud ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'