Today is one of our acclimatisation ‘rest’ days. Which means we go up a mountain (and I think we’re going to breach 4000 metres) and then come back down to sleep at the lower altitude. I got up early to take some photos of Khumjung and the mani stones that lined the avenue from the mountain pass. Got a great cow-yak photo.
It’s also the day of the ‘Everest Factor’. A piece of bonding fun that was dreamed up by Jamo Peterson. Some of the players got involved in teaching the kids at the Khumjung School the finer points of cricket. (The kids are on holiday this week but from the turnout it looks like they came just for the experience of meeting us. From what I saw, there seemed to be at least 3 different ages of kids. Some were really young and didn’t really do much cricket training but seemed to play loads of catching games. British Bulldog was one of them. Very sweet to see our lot playing mit kinder.
I got some lovely shots of people playing cricket and such the like with the slightly older kids. The Staveleys treated me to an apple pie and hotish chocolate which was a welcome treat. It was good to finally have some fruit, albeit tinned. When we got back to the teahouse, it was a great relief to see the Sharlands there. Neil looked much better than when I saw him yesterday morning and Tom was glad to be back with the pack.
Before lunch we went to the Khumjung Hospital which gets a lot of funding from various Hillary Foundations around the world, especially the Canadian branch. Hopefully our donations will help these good doctors get medical help to the local population. It was the only hospital in the district and seemed to serve around 7000 people, some of whom would travel the 3-4 hours to get to the hospital. The good doctor was one of three that was always on call at the hospital and seemed particularly proud that the women in their catchment area were very good at getting their children immunised and particular about showing off their immunisation records. For the ante-natal clinics that they run, the women would travel to the hospital on foot for the miles to get the right medical help and advice.
A small lunch break back at the teahouse and then the trek up the hill to acclimatise. Joe Williams and Chris Martin (not of Coldplay fame) dressed in costume to get comedy photos up the peak. Apparently Chrissy has really low-hangers. I wasn’t sure. I just thought that his tights were bunching funnily. We walked past the hospital again up some low rolling hills to the peak where there was a boulder on which we took turns to pose. The HomoErotic Super Heroes (Joe and Chris) made comedy poses on the same boulder, while beyond them the hill fell away to what looked like a 3000+ metre drop to the bottom of the mountain.
Now chat is important to most people, it really brings out our character and thinking. Somehow James Butler’s query of ‘Were the Jews involved in World War 2?’ earned him ‘Dick of The Day’ Award. Dick of the Day usually means wearing a cowbell on your pack (or around your neck) for the whole of the trek day. It must be more annoying than you think, especially after the first hour when you have this low-hanging thing hitting your legs constantly. My sympathies go out to Chris Martin and possibly his bedpartners.
The afternoon on the ridge was fairly relaxed, I managed to get some nice photos of people and was able to enjoy myself amongst the chatter. The tightness around my head was noticeable and was a concern today. I took it as read that this is what normally happens when you ascend so I didn’t mention it as it wasn’t a headache. This constant worry about my brain is beginning to wear thin though. It just kinda makes me pensive and probably aloof. But that's all it is. It also kinda makes me want to be on my own a lot of the time. Must change that.
Back at the teahouse after the trek down the teams got ready for the Everest Factor. Nerves were apparent, tensions were rising. Dinner out of the way and we start. Jamo takes the stage as emcee for the proceedings. I must say that I’ve never really appreciated James Peterson. I knew that he was amusing and had a wry Radio 4 sense of humour but seeing it translated to something useful is absolutely charming. He should consider it as a career.
The event itself was a bit of fun for the teams. Once the Hillarities realised that they had an actor among the teams, they tried to enrol me as honorary Hillarian. Sorry lads, teams have been picked. I’m a Trektator and proud. During last night’s rehearsal we’d heard that the Hillarities were doing the same song as us with the rather tedious 500 Miles. As Trektators, we’d decided to go with that first but change some of the lyrics to reflect the trek a bit more and that’d be our ‘edge’. It was also our weakest song.
I have no idea what the other teams sang (something to do with not recognising the song, or is that unfair? Haha) but perhaps because I just don’t know songs. I’m reliably informed that the Zingers did ‘Stand By Me’, the Hillarians did ‘Wonderful World’ and we did 500 Miles which saw the players tied and us with really low points. Rounds Two started with the Zingers doing ‘Living On A Prayer’ which started with a bit of theatrical genius. Not the fact that the boys were in costume (underwear from Primark over leggings. Very erm…. Fetching) but the fact that they had flashing head torches providing a bit of atmosphere. Not that that was theatrical genius but Haydn Main’s head torch didn’t have a ‘flash’ setting so he had to manually flash it by flapping his hand in front of the light to simulate it. Titters for those that noticed. Toovey did his best screaming through a sore throat. The Hillarians did ‘Afternoon Delight’ which I didn’t recognise but it got laughs in appropriate places and Chris Martin’s vocal instrumentation was par. We did Summer Loving which was always Rachel and my Karaoke favourite, though I could never get the end harmony so I just encouraged everyone to sing the last chorus. I knew it was going to be a winner mainly because it was an acting song and I knew how to play it. I did have to turn down the offer of sex from someone, goddamit. Yeah, even these boys were looking good after 4 days of trekking. Round 3 started with the Hillaries doing 500 Miles which was done in earnest and probably better sung than our version, and it had a bit of action. We did ‘We Are The Champions’ which was hilarious as there was a line which the rest of us could never sing so we just left it to Helen Curr to do. I gave my best Mercury impression (just a lot lower. He is a tenor with a high belt). The Zingers made us all go outside in the cold to watch theirs. And despite the Hillaries making taunts at them, I was moved by the Haka which was Preston’s idea, and I believe done with the utmost respect and integrity. Back inside we had a break while the scores were totted up to which the Sherpa sang us two traditional songs which to us sounded like ‘Bring on the Milky Tea’ or sounds to that effect, but got them singing and dancing and enjoying the night with us.
It was a load of fun for everyone and provided a perfect bonding-cum-light relief for everyone, showing each other that we don’t take ourselves that seriously. It ended up with the Sherpa coming first, garnering a perfect 10 from the judges, the Players got joint third and the Trektators got second place (or 1st in the Foreign Team category). I could say that it reflected the talent on board but I swear I saw Sharon Osbourne pass Simon Cowell his score, before even he knew what score he was giving. A fix? No… of course not. I'm sure it was all above board. Yeah. Right. But anyway, it was fun for everyone to be a bit silly for an evening.
I must say that even the judges had loads of fun. Ian Ditchburn’s Louis Walsh was double-entendre heaven. Dr Nick’s Randy Jackson was spot on, and Isla’s Sharon was aptly catty and sharp. Breck Lord’s Simon Cowell was amusing. Well, to me anyway. Whenever I hear Australians try to do English, they do end up sounding gay. But I suppose Simon Cowell sounds kinda gay and Breck was being accurate.
I had my first cigarette in 4 days as I was finally in a good mood. Perhaps buoyed by people coming up to me and commenting on the quality of my singing (according to Joe Williams I have the voice of an angel, bless him, and wants me to sing him to sleep, ahaha) but perhaps it was the first time in 5 days I was able to relax a bit. Tomorrow we go to Tengboche. It’s a monastery, one of the highest, if not the highest, in Nepal.