Stinks to High Heaven : Travelling Lhasa to Everest

You learn something new every day .. like from this Chinese travel agency´s altitude acclimatization section :

2. Please don’t take shower at the first two days when you are in Lhasa..

Setting this level it´s hardly surprising that their first advice is to avoid using oxygen , when this is at hand. But they have a very clear agenda here , acclimatizing as hard & fast as possible , with a bat out of hell approach from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp : one night in Shigatse (3850 , two hundred meters higher than Lhasa ) and the next night .. Rongbuk Monastery  at 5050 meters.

Some things are exactly as easy as they seem : choosing a location two hundred meters higher as a midway point between 3660 and 5050 gives small , next to  none , chances of adapting . Safety guide lines are routinely broken on road travel both in Tibet and the Indian Himalayas , and most scrape by (even though it may involve some frantic scurrying to rustle up medication and a night transport ) but taken far enough it sometimes involves the ultimate vacation failure : you die .

I’ve had the unfortunate experience of finding a deceased person in a guesthouse one morning (at 5000m elevation) the trip leader denied any responsibility what-so-ever when it was very obviously cerebral edema (= bad case of altitude illness) from ascending way to fast and then sleeping high.

You´ll find another example a Lhasa to oblivion tour in High Altitude Illness by Steven Bezruchka , MD.

Making safe tour from Lhasa to EBC is easy : get at least a night around 4000 , and visit , but don´t stay  overnight.

For a night stay in EBC  you need (apart from basic acclimatization to Lhasa´s altitude ) two nights to come close to safety guide lines : one night around 4000 , one night well over 4000. Common options are :

Gyantse (4025)

Lhatse (4020)

Sakya (4315)

Shegar (4300-ish ? )

Tashi Dzom

The more time (i.e. nights ) you put in at 4000+ , the more you will get out of the experience. For everyone who struggles to to make it through the night there are a lot more who are incapacitated , for every  one who is incapacitated there are a lot more who miss out on parts of what is happening from the subtler effects of hypoxia : mild nausea , lack of concentration , affected color vision , etc…

Quotes from TT thread , starting  here ( didn’t survive the Lonely Planet reconstruction in 2014 , apparently )

UPDATE :  Itinerary changed (one stop in Lhatse ) – but apparently it´s still dangerous to shower ..


2 thoughts on “Stinks to High Heaven : Travelling Lhasa to Everest

  1. Is it safe for Seniors age 70 and 67 to go the Mt Everest base camp? We are on a 6/7 days trip from Lhasa to the base Camp.Is there are other accommodation other than the Camps and their basic toilet that one can stay in.
    What if we seniors wanted to Avoid the overnight in the base camp,what should our alternatives be?
    Is any medications suggested that we should take with us? Where can one rent Oxygen tents for this leg.Any advise appreciated.It seems we will be driven by Coach, is it better in the 4WD

  2. I wouldn´t base any decisions on this – but the senior ( 50+ ) group actually cope somewhat better with altitude changes. Diamox is the only proven preventive medication – everyone who can take this ( which you obviously should decide with a doctor ) should take it on these short & fast runs. Best medicine remains a good map : plan your itinerary well and you have little reason to worry.

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