29 Mar 2009: After nearly a week trekking in the Khumbu Valley...

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Lessons Learned from the Khumbu Valley

After nearly a week trekking in the Khumbu Valley, most of our team arrived in Pheriche (approximately 14,000 ft.). Two members of our team, suffering from illnesses remained in Debouche for an extra day rest. During the past week, I have learned many lessons about trekking in the remote Himalayas of Nepal.

I truly appreciate the value added by hiring a local guide company to lead the trek. Our team is working with www.peakpromotionnepal.com Peak Promotion of Nepal</a>. Many “big name” guide companies offer similar treks to Everest Base Camp for a higher cost than our team is paying for the services of Peak Promotions. At each village we stop, we stay in the nicest lodge in the village, our food is unbeatable, and the service of the local Sherpas is impeccable. In addition, the locals possess in-depth knowledge of the area, the culture, and its history. I think we are receiving a great value from Peak Promotion.

I cannot emphasize enough the value of traveling with physicians trained in wilderness medicine who have experience traveling in the region. Many suffer from illnesses when traveling abroad, as I did. Luckily, our team is trekking with two physicians with specific training in wilderness medicine and experience in Nepal. They knew the precise medication administration that got me on my feet quickly. I am not sure I would have recovered as quickly without the services of a wilderness medicine-trained physician.
I look forward to learning more about wilderness medicine when I work with Dr. Freer to present a wilderness medicine continuing medical education seminar in Yellowstone
National Park in the fall. It seems that this training would benefit any health care provider who enjoys the wilderness. For more information on this training, please visit Wilderness Pack Trips.
The third and most important lesson I have learned was the foolishness of my youthful, testosterone-induced behavior in the past in the wilderness. In the past, I would drive from 5,200 feet of elevation to a trailhead at 10,000 feet, and practically run to summit a 14,000-foot peak before the afternoon thunderstorms struck. In my oblivion I assumed that the feeling I had that my head might explode with pain was due to poor fitness. On this trek, I have learned the value of pacing, and taking time in the local area to acclimate and adjust.

In addition to the acclimation that our experienced guide established for us, I have been fortunate to receive the proper administration and dosage of Diamox. I am trekking at 14,000 feet now and I feel great. What a difference, and what great lessons.

This post was submitted by Gary Matthews.