Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Day 4 : Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Yet another eventful day, I really do seem to attract them.  Cronje seemed much better this morning, a bit of colour in his cheeks and he managed to get eat a reasonable amount of food for breakfast.  I ate about twice the amount I should have and I'm starting to feel much more organised and, at least thus far, really strong.

The Barranco wall starts just above the tents and is a bit of a scramble in places.  Even taking a diagonal line up the wall is pretty steep in places as one can see from the photograph below. 

The first obstacle of the day was the Barranco wall which is a bit of climb with a little bit of scrambling thrown in but we were going at Cronje's pace so it was really very easy.  Even though Cronje is definitely better than yesterday he was clearly in trouble and it doesn't look like it has anything to do with altitude sickness.

From the top of the wall we parted ways and they eventually ambled into camp and hour after we arrived, still clearly not very well.  Cronje was saying that as long as his heart rate didn't go above 145bpm he felt absolutely fine but if his heart rate went over that then he would get a strong pain in his chest and all the way down his left bicep.  During the walk Shirley and Cronje had talked to several doctors and nurses that happened to be hiking and had received conflicting advice and it didn't seem to be going anywhere.  When he described his symptoms to me I vaguely remembered that Rob had something similar so I phoned Rob up but it turned out that the symptoms were completely different but he did recognise the symptoms as being the same as one would get from angina which is a heart attack and suggested that Cronje descend immediately.  Thereafter followed a chaotic leaderless charade with Cronje, who felt fine unless he was working, thinking that we were all over-reacting.  Rob had given me a number for heart specialist and between many dropped calls the doctor convinced Cronje that he should descend as soon as possible and once the decision was made it all started to happen in a slow chaotic African manner.  Simon, frustrated with the indecision and pace, also entered the fray to give some direction which helped, not so much to change the direction but at least to speed things up and lend some urgency.  Shirley was beside herself with worry which was totally understandable but once a plan was decided she at least had something to work on and towards.  The plan was was that Shirley and Cronje would walk very slowly down to Millenium Camp which was 4km away and from there he could be stretchered or air-lifted out.  The doctor had prescribed 300mg of aspirin immediately and 150mg every day until such time as he reached a hospital.  At the moment we don't know how they are but we did see them crest the last rise after which there was only downhill all the way to the Millenium Camp.

I found it very interesting the different leadership styles between Simon and myself.  I am much more the co-operative, arrive at a decision together type which is fine in lots if not most situations but thinking back on this afternoon, this isn't one of them.  I think Simons command type leadership was more appropriate.  Anyway, they have gone and are hopefully at a hospital by now and I feel really stupid that I didn't take the symptoms more seriously yesterday not that it would have made much difference because they would have had to take the same route out in any case.

As soon as Shirley and Cronje had left the three of us took a hike up  a long hill up to 4263m and sat there and admired the scenery before descending before sun set.  I had a great shower just as the sun dipped over the horizon and then spent some time sorting things out in the tent ready for tomorrow.

We had tea and supper in the mess tent as well as a bit of a chat before Andre and Simon left for bed at 20:30.  All of us are feeling good and strong so we are looking forward to tomorrow although I will take another disprin even though the headache is barely there.  Having now seen two couples depart where the one partner was fit and strong but had to forego the climb out of consideration for the other partner we resolved that if one of us had problems, the others would still press on and climb and not feel regret at leaving the other behind.  I felt very sorry for Petrie and Shirley both of whom were showing absolutely no signs of distress on the walk.

I felt really strong on this afternoons climb so it looks like my body is finally starting to get into the swing of things.  I really enjoyed the walk this morning after we had separated from Shirley and Cronje and we could walk at our own pace and there were a couple of hills where I really enjoyed sucking in big lungfuls of air and going up at a nice clip.

Although I really enjoyed today I could have done without the medical issues; I don't go on holiday to make decisions and try to lead and it really felt like Shirley was looking to me to lead and because I'm not a doctor I felt a bit out of my depth.  I really hope that they are okay because they make a great couple.

The cell phone signal exists but it is very unreliable which was very frustrating but at least I did get hold of Rob and spoke to a number of doctors who all said the same thing.  It was a little like in a movie where someone has to tell another something really important ... and then the signal goes but this was real life and it was unbelievably frustrating.

Decorum is taking a bit of beating, at the start of the hike we would walk 50m off the track for a pee and every day this distance has come down until now when we just turn around.

Prosper came back from Millenium Camp fairly late where he had left Shirley and Cronje in the care of a doctor and they were going to sleep there and then continue down slowly.  Hopefully at lower altitude he will be able to manage his heart rate a bit better.  Arthur has been renamed "Pilletjies", I think he was hoping that quantity of pills would get him to the top instead of his legs; still not really sure why he gave up.

I spent a bit of time fashioning a strap for Andre's hat because the wind is bound to blow it away sometime.  After that I shortened the chest strap of my heart rate monitor because it is now measuring bubbles in my colon instead of my heart rate.

The statistics for the day are:
Distance : 5km
Altitude : 20m climbed camp to camp.
kcal : unknown
heartrate : unknown
walking time : 5 hours

The end of the day showing Mount Meru in the distance.

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