Day 27 – 7 May – Pain pain go away…

The day I arrived in the festering flea pit of Tashyzom at 4200m in an effort to try and recover from Pulmonary edema, my front tooth started to become very painful. I had left basecamp in a hurry to drive the 2 hours down to Tashyzom, and hence had packed very minimally. The only medicine I had was toothpaste, 6 panadol, some toilet paper and a strip of strepsils. After some remote consultations by email (thanks to Dughal and Marie Aitken), we were pretty sure it was an abscess. As the closest dentist was a few days drive away in Kathmandu, the only practical option was to control the abscess with penicillin (which was back up at basecamp).

The length of my stay in Tashyzom therefore became a trade-off between staying at the lower elevation long enough to recover from Pulminary edema, as to how long I could withstand the pain from my abscessing tooth and also how long I could remain in Tashyzom without getting food poisoning.

The answer to the above question was 3 days and nights. By the 3rd day I had used up all my panadol and it was no longer strong enough to control the pain. I had tried David Lim’s homemade recipe of holding strepsils to the infected gum area without sucking them and leaving them there as long as possible. I had developed diarrhea which was no surprise. I cannot begin to describe the filth of Tashyzom. Attached below is a photo of the toilet. If you wipe your backside with dirt and then cook someone dinner without washing your hands then its only a matter of time before they will get sick.

The Tashyzom toilet - the dirt piled up around the edges is to wipe yourself with.

A highlight of my stay in Tashyzom was on the second day when I decided to go for a walk down the road and came across about 20 snotty nosed school kids who after requesting money (and not getting any from me) then pelted me with Yak shit. Between this, the filth and not being able to sleep at all during night-time due to the wild dogs barking and fighting incessantly I was pretty happy to getting out of the place.

After making contact with basecamp on day 3 to let them know I needed to get back urgently, I was informed that the only way I could get back that day was on a motorbike as all the 4WD vehicles were busy. So for 3 bumpy and dusty hours I sat on the back of a small 150CC chinese motorbike as it bounced its way up to basecamp. Every jolt was soothing to my face, kind of like someone sticking a red-hot needle into my tooth and jaw. I was happy to reach basecamp.

As fast as I dropped my pack at basecamp I dived into a course of Amoxycillin. I had been told this would probably not take effect for 24 – 36 hours. By now the pain had started to make it difficult to concentrate on other more positive things in life. I woke up yesterday morning with a fever and spent the entire day in my tent running hot and cold and dozing on and off while sucking painkillers and praying to my Amoxycillin tablet every 8 hours as I chewed it down to please start working soon.

Never have I been more glad of small white pill’s than this morning when I woke up. The incessant shooting pain in my jaw has gone to be replaced by pain only when I touch the tooth. I also am over the fever and for the first time could start to think about the future.

I had a long talk with Jamie (team leader) this morning and I told him that I want to try again to re-ascend. Based on advice from Jamie, my independent research and also from a doctor in New Zealand, I realise the risks are high for developing pulmonary edema again upon re-ascent. Therefore any re-ascent needs to be carefully controlled, I need to listen to my body very carefully and at the first sign of any problem come down. I also cannot afford to be by myself and must have support with me, in terms of someone who will be carrying oxygen. Thus we will try to minimize the risk as much as possible, as if it does happen again, it will be more severe than the first time and I will need immediate assistance to get down asap. It will really be one step at a time, ascend camp by camp and see how I feel at each camp.

So that’s the situation at present – I have not set a date to re-ascend – however it maybe tomorrow or the next day. The last few days have really been a miserable and stressful time. Thinking and planning the re-ascent is also a nerve-wracking experience. I know the risks. Its my decision ultimately. I pray my body will support my decision.

I have to say a huge thank you after my last blog to all the people who sent me comments and messages. I read and savor every single message and they do an enormous effort in terms of boosting my morale. In my weakest hours it’s this support (and Amoxycillin!) that I have needed the most. A special thanks to Blair and Phillipa, Greg Moore, Linda, Helen, David Lim, Tom and Barclay, Dr Terri Bidwell and Dughall and Marie Aitken. And to Stephanie – sorry for putting you through this worry, as you say, maybe I am due for some good luck soon.

Over and out from Everest Basecamp at 5150m


Posted on May 7, 2011, in Everest 2011. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Good luck Grant and be safe.


  2. chris reynolds

    Right now i wouldnt swap my life for yours for a big clock. However I knew you would give it another go, I just hope you are well enough to do it. Once you reach the top I will be jealous as hell. Good luck mate take more photos of the mountain and not the toilets. be well thats the main thing


  3. Greg and Yoke Moore

    Bro, You know the HAPE signs now and are highly aware of the risks, you have the mental strength, therefore we believe you will make the right decision at the right time. Plan well.

    PS – There must be a dentist in Tingri? Refer to the photo of Luke with the Tingri Babe!!! Refer to your blog:


  4. Hang tough mate. These bitter experiences will make it taste even sweeter when you’re atop the world.


  5. Very proud of your courage n tenacity. Be safe always!


  6. Axe,

    You must be looking forward to a beer at the SCC by now 🙂 Meeting Lamby tomorrow, no doubt we will be chatting about you. Take care mate im really enjoying your messages, luck is due to swing around keep positive and take care!


  7. All the best mate. Ive had an abscess before and it hurts like hell and that’s with a dentist at the end of the street. You will look back on this and have a chuckle for sure. Stop brushing your teeth with yak shit.


  8. another great post, what an adventure! best of luck for the next stage.


  9. Charmaine Murphy

    Greetings from Whangamomona again. I ran into your Mum & Dad in town today (Mother’s Day) and we spoke of you and said how I follow your blog with great interest. All the best with going on and upward but certainly take care and yes, listen to your body – good luck.


  10. Listen to the body Axe, take it a step at the time. It get’s very easy to focus only on the aim, especially when you have trained so hard for so long. You will know if it is right but don’t kid yourself.

    I am back and patched up. I am with the surgeon tomorrow to see if the top of the thumb can be saved from the frostbite but I can answer that question myself without the doctor qualifications. Enough to say I should have listened to my own advice!

    I have sworn myself to 3 months cooling off but already considering another attempt next year. The team made it to the Pole on Friday and they are now safely back at South Camp.

    Stay within limits and god speed


  11. We’ve been waiting to hear the next installment … gruesome! Rapt that you are ready to give it another shot! AMx


  12. Hang in there Grant. The tooth pain will go shortly, therefore only leaving the high altitude strangulation thingy. Good luck.


  13. Man, I’m over-awed with your tenacity. I’m heading up to Basecamp in September so will get to see and feel just a little of your discomforts. I’ll have a look at the ‘big mother’ Chomolungma from Island Peak and then consider putting myself through what you are presently experiencing. Mate, I know how important this climb is to you and I also know you would know how important it is to recognise your body’s (if not your mental) level of competence. There is, no doubt, an extraordinary level of admiration among your friends and family, just for your endeavour to attempt this enormous feat which is in itself testomy to your courage – and count me among them. Keep up the mental stamina and retain the fortitude to continue but never be
    depressed about not being able to reach your goal for it is ALWAYS the journey that is more important and being able to tell of it. Stay strong and keep some in reserve to get down safely. It’s only a mountain –albiet, a big mother……! Ciao


  14. Chuckle, chuckle! I liked the post about brushing your teeth with Yak shit!


  15. Good luck Axe. Stay safe and listen to your body. Thinking of you everyday and good to see your blog this morning. The Shortys xxx


  16. Not even 4 years in Dunedin could have prepared you for this! Good luck mate, we are all thinking of you. You’re a legend no matter what happens.


  17. Linda McKenzie

    We will support your decision Grant but will be extremely worried… can’t help it la! Pleeeeease take care and see you home when you’re done to hear all about it!


  18. Hi Grant
    Thinking of you and your Health problems.Hope you get it sorted and can carry on. Dad rang me last was 48yrs since we went to Waioru [11/5/63]Cath & I and Jack & Ngaire are going to “42 Street” on Should be a good night.Chin up, remember where you came from – the ‘naki !!
    Cheers Alan Morris


  19. Axe – bet you’re now wishing you had had your front teeth knocked out by some bruiser of a forward some time ago !! Hope you are recovering as well as can be expected in the circumstances and sure you feel better for being back up on the mountain and away from the village – still however surrounded by yak s**t no doubt !! Its compelling reading your messages and getting the rundown, warts and all – too easy reading some of the climbing books, they never really succeed in describing the crappy bits of the “journey”. Really hope the tooth sorted and the acclimitization now goes how you want it to.As you mention in your blog – listen to what your body tells you – you know it best.Aye..Youngie


  20. Ellen Cathrine Hellberg

    Hi Grant, fingers crossed & good luck :o)) Br Ellen Cathrine Hellberg, Kongsberg Maritime, Horten


  21. Hey Axe
    Lloydy’s passed on your blog – exceptional writing considering all that you’re going through and the conditions. It makes for an amazing read. Was all the talk at touch on Saturday in the sweltering heat! Can you imagine that right now in your -25 whatever degrees!
    All the best for your next attempt, will look forward to reading more updates – you are quite inspiring to anyone who has ever had a dream.
    Lyndy xo


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