I think this was the worst night I had spent on this expedition. The cough that I seem to have caught from my tent partner has got worse for both of us, so that we cannot spend more than 5 minutes without coughing…a cough that strains the ribs, scrapes the throat, and produces copious phlegm.
The continual coughing also gave me a thumping headache which just got worse with every cough, and the cold air I was breathing irritated the lining of my throat, forcing me to cough etc etc…there was just no way out of the vicious cycle, and in the end I was begging God for it to be morning so I could stop sleeping.
The sleeping bags were lighter than the ones lower down the mountain, so they were colder. I slept with clothes on, but I had such cold feet that I kept dreaming I was putting chemical heat warmers in my socks…unfortunately, it was only a dream so I continued to have cold feet.
Finally the night ended, and we got up at 0530 and began the slow process of packing up camp and getting ready for the descent. I was looking forward to getting down the hill in about 4 hours, and getting some hot food and drink, and trying to find some relief from this ridiculous cough.
And then if I was feeling good, perhaps head off to Everest Base camp so I could spend the night with all my equipment in my own tent. After all, we would finally be heading off to climb Everest in a few days…at last, the real deal!
I was about an hour into the descent, practising the two methods of descent I had been shown…when disaster struck…