I woke up shortly after falling asleep feeling weird. My heartbeat, which had been under control at rest earlier in the day seemed louder than normal and no matter which position I flopped myself into I could still feel it reverberating in my chest. My throat was tight. In theory I was comfortable, all snuggled down into my sleeping bag, but the moment my eyes wanted to closed an alternate force tugged them back open. I was restless. I felt strongly that I needed to get up and move around. My heart beat harder. My throat constricted. I tried to calm my mind and my body, only to have my eyes flick open, roving frantically around the tent. Finally, it all overwhelmed me, my body felt flooded with heat and tingling and I sat up, clawing my way out of my sleeping bag. Nausea and fever came in waves over my body as I let my body find the most comfortable position possible, hunched over the foot box of my sleeping bag, the cold air nipping at my long johns. I lay there panting as the prickly feeling on my skin subsided and my body stilled. I could hear Sarah breathing raggedly from their tent.
It wasn’t a great night to say the least. Sarah experienced some sort of crazy stomach ache that kept her up most of the night, groaning in pain. My body didn’t repeat the nausea/fever/panic wave, but I slept very little, confused about which position felt the most comfortable and spending most of the night huddled in child’s pose. I could not wait for daylight.
The next morning I felt fine, although my stomach still felt extremely tight. I couldn’t tell if it just needed some food in it, we hadn’t eaten a ton since our big lunch the day before. I felt much better after eating a Mountain House. Sarah was still feeling crappy, so Kyle and I grabbed our packs and some water and headed up the mountain for an acclimatization hike. We made it up through the scree and the rock to where to snow began (around 14,700ft) before turning around. We didn’t want to wear ourselves out, just warm up the legs and scout out the “trail” before we attempted to summit early the next morning. There were plenty of different footpaths winding their way through the dust and rubble, but picking the correct one didn’t seem that challenging and we felt good about the route we had chosen. As we were heading back down we saw Carl coming up. We exchanged notes as we passed each other. I felt great. My heartbeat and my breathing were regular, all the way up and all the way down. I felt strong.
When we got back to camp we began cooking a mac and cheese lunch. Lunch was so huge the four of us couldn’t finish it and had to leave it in the pot for later. We climbed onto the highest bunk in the hut for a few games of boggle before heading back to the tents for a nap. Later we ate another Mountain House and packed our packs for the next morning. We were planning on waking up at 12:30am, gathering up our stuff quickly, and hitting the trail by 1:00am. We knew that was when the guided group was also planning on heading up the mountain so we figured we would be in good company.
I went to bed that night a little nervous, but not nervous about the mountain. I felt more nervous about being able to get some sleep before having to wake up early, and about staying hydrated throughout the night without having to wake up and pee every five minutes. Before long the alarm was going off. It was 12:30am. Time to climb.