I owe you a report on my recent visit to Nepal. The entire journey & trek still remains like some unrealistic happening of my life. Much of what I experienced was completely unexpected and much different from what I anticipated. To suddenly wake up in a vertical world is certainly mind boggling and difficult to assimilate.
To top the Cho La pass or reach the top of Gokyo Ri are both extreme physical and physiological achievements that may release uncontrolled emotions. It was unfortunate that the weather at Gorak shep did not permit similar exploits. Especially, Cho La Pass remains in memories forever. This came very close to real mountaineering in encountering fresh on hard snow and whiteout conditions.
In all these cases it was proven that it “can be done” in spite of the odds (and age as you know I was in my early 80’s). I was fortunate that I did not encounter any symptoms of altitude sickness, thanks to the well worked out acclimatization program. At the same time my appetite remained good and I did not suffer any headaches. Walking and climbing at altitudes above 4500m was difficult due to the lack of oxygen but could be coped with frequent short rests and slow progress. I am sure that some fitness training before the trek should also help. Upper leg strength is important and I found a marked improvement in my legs towards the end of the trek.
Age has become such a great variable from one person to the next. I might even be considered a freak by some people in my age group. Much depends on the mind and every person will have to decide for himself. One is often surprised by the performance of an unlikely candidate. The combination of mind and body often gives unexpected results.
As a tour guide one could insist on recording the common old age illnesses such as high blood pressure, diabetes, joint problems (knees) before departure. Availability of alternatives on the trek may be built in from the start. Above 70 some pertinent questions should be asked such as chronic ailments and treatments.
Just a general comment:
Old men find a squat pan toilet very inconvenient !
Thanking you once again for a great experience that really changes my perspective of entire life.
Sarel v. Rensburg
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