The ascending part of an Everest Base Camp Trek is slow, as the body needs to acclimatise to the increasing altitude. However, you can descend as fast as you can. Hence a typical EBC trek is two thirds ascent, one third descent.
It would have been a fast-paced four days return trek back to Lukla, culminating in an armrest-gripping flight back to Kathmandu as the small plane hurtled down the steep slope of the Lukla runway.
But there was a quicker way.
Our trekking company had told us stories of many travellers who would trek to Everest Base Camp and because they couldn’t be bothered to walk down again, they would “fake” altitude sickness, call their travel insurance company and get evacuated by helicopter to Kathmandu, all expenses covered.
“Haha, funny idea,” we both thought.
On the first night of our descent, we feasted on vegetarian fried rice with egg to celebrate our Bucket List achievement. NOTE TO SELF: No more eating egg in remote locations.
Food poisoning combined with high altitudes, freezing temperatures, aching muscles and energy depleted bodies makes for some fun times making midnight runs to frozen squat toilets, while being rugged up like Michelin eskimo-men.
Andrew copped it horribly, no doubt due to devouring one and a half servings of the potent egg. We were due to embark by 8am, but upon advice from our trekking guide, slept in until 10am, then 11am. But alas, the sickness would not go away, and by this time Andrew’s headache, nausea and shivering was enough to press the EMERGENCY button.
Our trekking guide told us that if you ever get sick at these altitudes, in these conditions, the body will never get better until you get out.
Call in the helicopter!
USD $7500 upfront, half-hour helicopter flight through the most stunning Himalayan mountains, half-hour ride in the back of a shoddy ambulance through the dusty streets of Kathmandu, three days in a hospital bed connected to an IV drip and doped up on whatever, and Andrew was as good as new.
Glad we had travel insurance.
- Travel insurance is a MUST
- Eggs can be bad
- Helicopters are awesome
- Helicopters through the Himalayas are awesome
- Helicopters through the Himalayas for free are awesome
- Nepalese hospitals are not that awesome
At least we survived the Everest Base Camp Trek.