So what happened at Expedition India? I have been told the website didn’t have much information and that news of our team being pulled out of the race was first seen on Facebook. We have been racking our brains trying to figure out what went wrong as well. To an outsider it looks like we went too hard and blew up but that is far from true.
The transition onto the last trek was a casual one, we sipped coke and Jonas and I even had a shower. Then we walked up to the homestay in the blistering heat where we stopped for another two hours, slept 1:45 of it and had hot noodles, soup and eggs.
We headed up to base camp which was about 25km away and increasing about 500-1000m in elevation, so a gradual climb. We took our time and had rests along the way to catch our breath and eat and drink. It was the early hours of the morning when we were approaching the base camp and we were freezing, the temp was around -7°C and we did not have enough clothes. We thought we would have a rest at base camp and then continue over the pass and down to the finish, however when our oxygen saturation levels were testes we all failed. It had to be over 75 to continue and we were well below.
So that was it, race over and we had to head back 25km to the homestead. We couldn’t stay at base camp in hope of getting better, staying at altitude would only make us worse so we had to descend. We started walking back and Jonas was not in good shape, we were travelling 1km/hour and having to stop for 30 min naps. This walk could potentially take us 24 hours and not get low enough in elevation fast enough. We pushed the emergency beacon button and about half an hour after a guy came down from base camp. He asked us if we were ok and we said no, but he gave us two juice boxes and carried on his way, English wasn’t his best. We assumed that was the emergency help and we had no choice but to keep crawling along.
About 2km from the homestay we received help. Jonas and I got helicoptered off the mountain and taken to Hospital in Leh where we were treated overnight for low oxygen and Jonas had water in his lungs. Simon and Marten went to the homestay and then a car ride back around to Leh.
Was it the exposure to the heat on the way to the homestay and then our bodies freezing before the basecamp that made us have such low levels? Were we just simply not acclimatised for that height yet? I think it was a combination of both. And it sucks so much we weren’t allowed to carry on, really gutting. Especially when it is out of your control to do anything about it.
I must describe the hospital; we were taken to the tourist ward where there was a room of people on oxygen just because the town itself is at 3500m. We asked for a shower and no we weren’t allowed a shower because it is low oxygen, I think because of the humidity. Then I went to the toilet but there wasn’t any toilet paper, so I asked for some. No toilet paper, no tissues, no water, no food, no wifi. I pulled out money and begged for water from some sort of vending machine or something but no. The nurses said they give drugs only, everything else is BYO.
All of the things you are craving after finishing a race and we weren’t allowed. I pretty much got myself into the sink in the bathroom to have a wash, then the race organisers visited us and came with food and water, legends. I cant thank you Heidi enough, it was like you knew 🙂 Actually thank you Heidi and Steffan for organising a brilliant event and couple of weeks, I highly recommend the work that you do and can’t wait to come to Africa one day.
Thank you first to Corrinne and Skylotec for the opportunity. Bobby and his family for the extra work done on the farm without me. Also to my sponsors Liv Cycling NZ, Cycle Obsession, Tailwind Nutrition, Restore Massage, Bivouac, PowerSmart Solar and the team sponsors, Skylotec, OMM, MBT Footwear, 24hour Meals, Squeezy Sports Nutrition. We couldn’t do this demanding sport without you.
I’m now recovering from a horrible cold, feeding calves and then teaming up with Isla and Georgia for Spring Challenge this weekend. Girl time! At low altitude!
Photos by Jana Julian