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Daily update: The "Endless Mile" installment

High in the Khumbu, no one hears your screams. It started with a cough. It always does...


4/27/00
Phakding, Nepal

Well, we're gleaning the last of the battery power from all sources, so tonight's dispatch will be mercifully brief. For those of you aching for the Stephen King-ish dispatch, stay tuned. I'll be forwarding more from Kathmandu. I know you're waiting with bated breath. Mike's already got a taste of it. He approves. But what choice does he have? I have a captive audience. He also says I should give you a brief installment. Good idea. I'll call it my "Endless Mile" installment. So, for a few paragraphs, here goes.

Endless Mile, part 1
High in the Khumbu, no one hears your screams.

It started with a cough. It always does. Mike watched his climbing partner toss and turn in his sleeping bag. This was night three of no sleep. One more night like this one and… he didn't want to think about it. David had been his friend for too long to consider any morbid end—for either of them. They had been warned about the Khumbu cough. The hacking, dry cough of a tuberculin zombie, where your lungs feel like stuffed blood sausages and you can't get enough oxygen in your system to inflate a condom.

But something had gone wrong. Seriously wrong.

Mike switched on his headlamp. The low watt bulb vomited forth its yellow glow into the interior of the North Face Expedition tent. Mike gave one more worried look at the restless form in the opposing sleeping bag, saw no movement, then reached for the camel satchel containing the gel-cell battery.

"This had better work tonight," he mumbled. The battery, though reliable, weighed in at just under 25 pounds. On an expedition, the weight you carried was as precious as blood—your own. "Might as well be toting a corpse up the moraine." The thought came on its own, cutting through his brain like a hot surgical knife—no time to stop it. Once more Mike shuddered, then shook the thought away.

"One more dispatch, Dave, that's all. One more and then we can go home." Mike's words were meant more for himself than his tent mate, therefore when an answer followed, he nearly emptied his bladder.

"Home? Home is where the heart is. Right Mikey?"

Here ends part 1. In part 2, you'll learn how remarkable Dave's recovery is, and just what secret Mike is holding onto. Until then, sleep tight.

Trail news:

Another five-hour day. Mostly downhill for a change, but still enough uphill segments to keep our legs honest. We wouldn't want to go soft now, would we?

We were honored today by our guide Nawanz, and his wife. Invited into their home, we were given blessing scarves called Katas. I'll let Mike fill you in on the details, but suffice it to say, I think the experience tops off my trip. It touched me deeply.

More tomorrow from Lukla. Yes, a night in that town with the little uphill airstrip, and then back to Kathmandu. Can't say I'm sorry.

Until then,
Namaste
Dave
Want to win a TechRepublic baseball cap? Share your climbing experiences or give the guys encouraging words by posting your comment below, or send us an e-mail. It's that simple.And so you don't miss one step of David and Mike's climb up Island Peak, subscribe to our free TrekMail. Be one of the first 2,000 subscribers to our TrekMail, and you'll get a cool TechRepublic flying disc!

David Bard has been a fixture at TechRepublic for some time now. At one time he was editor in chief of LinuxRepublic and then AdminRepublic. Currently, he occupies space as an editor in chief with TechProGuild. In addition, he’s a freelance writer who has covered extreme sports for years. He also is a writer of horror and—contrary to what his climbing partner may think—is hoping the expedition to Nepal doesn’t provide fodder for his next story. When he’s not at home teaching his year-and-a-half-old daughter why it’s not a good idea to eat rocks, or trying to convince his wife why yet another expedition really is necessary, he’s usually off in some remote section of woods trying to discover himself. He’s still looking.

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