Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tough Day on the Slopes

I spoke to both Randy and Anders a couple times this evening.  Things are looking better as of their latest call, but they did have a very challenging day. Today's task was to climb back up to Camp 2 (17,800 ft) and then sleep tonight at that higher elevation.  They had to transport everything from Camp 1, so they all had heavier loads today than yesterday.  Randy said he was carrying about 50 pounds, which felt like 100 in this thin mountain air.  They took about 5 hours to ascend.  Randy felt pretty good for the first 3 hours, but admitted the last 2 hours he had to dig deep.  He said he was definitely tired, not something I hear from him often! Turns out his oxygen saturation level had dropped to about 60%.  It is expected to drop as they get into the higher altitudes, but they like to make sure it stays around 80%.  Anders was still feeling "surprisingly strong"as he put it; his oxygen level was almost 90%.  So the guides and Randy and Anders had a big discussion about what this meant, and decided they needed to keep monitoring Randy to see if the oxygen levels would increase.  Thankfully, Anders called back a few hours later (thank you so much Anders!) to let me know Randy's oxygen level was steadily rising, and was already up into the 70's.  Phew.  They are very lucky to have a doctor as one of their teammates, so he is in on the discussion too.  They assured me that this sometimes happens, and the key will be how he feels tomorrow.  The whole team is taking a rest day tomorrow, so that should help a lot.  The guides will take a trip to Camp 3, about a mile away and at 19,500 ft.  They will drop off a bunch of gear and come back to Camp 2.  This means the whole team will have a lighter load when they climb to Camp 3 on Friday.  The guides sound amazing!

Last Anders told me, Randy was reading his Kindle in the tent and feeling really good.  They are all encouraged because Randy has absolutely none of the other signs of altitude sickness.  He is not short of breath (anymore than anyone else is at 18, 000 ft); he is not delirious, weak, shaking, nauseous. So, they think his oxygen level will gradually creep back to normal and everything will be fine. 

Anders is completely on top of this all; I am so proud and thankful of how responsible and careful he is.  When I talked to Anders the first time, he said he wouldn't call me back tonight unless there was a problem.  A couple hours later the phone rang and when I saw the number, I had a pit in my stomach.  But he was calling to tell me things were looking up.  I'm not even sure if I'm supposed to be sharing all this on the blog, but oh well.....  They left me in charge!  Tonight Anders will check Randy's oxygen level every hour to make sure it is on the rise.  If it drops, they have some "just in case" medicine to help, but let's all pray that by tomorrow he is back in the normal range.  (If you are thinking this all sounds a bit surreal, I can't agree more.)

When you read this, you might be asking yourself, like I do, why they would do this.  I guess if you look at this picture below, here is one of the reasons.  Anders said the view is "absolutely stunning" and there are no words to describe it.

Anders said he's taken a ton of pictures, but it's hard to capture the unbelievably amazing panoramic view.  He feels very confident that Randy will improve, that the guides are super conservative and incredibly knowledgable about all the altitudes issues, and things were looking up.  They did hear that they may have some snow coming in the next few days, so they have to monitor that carefully and see if and when there is a reasonable summit window.  But more on that tomorrow!

One thing to make you smile: Today is Randy's mom's birthday, Darlene.  She is a very young 76 years old!  Randy surprised her and called from 17,800 feet, and she was thrilled!  I happened to call her right after she hung up with Randy, and she was very choked up to have that unexpected surprise on her special day!  Happy Birthday Nanny!

1 comment:

michael stricklin said...

Great update Judy... Happy birthday Darlene.... Tomorrow is another day... Keeping optimistic